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Extraordinarily common film technique.


RENI, Guido, Crucifixion of St Peter (1604–05), Oil on canvas, Vatican.

The human race : Look how bored the guy at the top looks!

Here we have a colossally common film technique from the silent era to the present day (e.g., Alma throughout Phantom Thread)— the guy's face is both light and dark!

In this instance, one wonders why. Theory : he is actually not a terrible human being, but has been tasked with this unhappy assignment. So it's St Peter—or him.




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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The Red/Green Association in the Human Eye


Science tells us that the red and green photoreceptors in our eyes are extremely close in at least two ways :

"The gene that encodes for our green receptor, and the gene that encodes for our red receptor, evolved via a gene duplication. It's likely that they would have originally been almost identical in their sensitivities." James P. Higham, "The red and green specialists: why human colour vision is so odd".

"The molecular genetics of color vision has turned out to be much more complex than originally suspected. This complexity derives in part from the fact that red and green opsin genes are adjacent to one another and they are about 98% identical." Maureen Neitz & Jay Neitz, "Molecular Genetics of Color Vision and Color Vision Defects".

Somehow the Renaissance artists had an inkling of this connection. The red/green combination is a remarkably common color combination of the Renaissance.

Hence, for example :


TERBRUGGHEN, Hendrick, The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John (1624), Oil on canvas,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


And so, of course :


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Magnolia (1999)


1. glowing paper







2. Roland Barthes, S/Z


(2:50:32). S/Z by Roland Barthes is a colossal work of 20th-century Art Comprehension Scholarship. The entire book is a virtual word-for-word analysis of one very short story by Balzac. Includes the truth : "The goal of literary work is to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text."


3. Memories of Thelma Todd


You Made Me Love You (1933). She died of carbon monoxide poisoning when she fell asleep in a car in a garage in 1935.




4. Powell and Loy, I Love You Again (1940)






5. Hitting the lens.





6. "Water flares"





7. Typeface




8. The whites of the eyes.




9. The rainbow




10. Crying for Kubrick?




11. Dialogue : "Good Boy"


Death Proof (19:53)




12. And lastly . . .




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Split Personality in Taxi Driver and The Shining




Back in 1976, Travis Bickle speaking to himself in the mirror (“You talkin to me?”) was an extremely uncanny Situation. Peering into a mirror, he pretends to confront someone, and carries on an aggressive conversation of insults, threats, and finally an act of simulated murder. That Situation, however, is only the first layer of the scene. A second layer of the scene is even stranger : One part of Travis’ mind is speaking to another part : like a call from afar to afar. This is the truly uncanny element of the scene. Travis Bickle is a split personality in conversation with himself. All of his insults are directed towards himself.


So when Travis “kills” the man in the mirror, it’s proleptical of the climax of the film, in which Travis attempts to commit suicide, but is out of bullets. The "You talkin to me?" scene conveys Travis Bickle's self-hatred and mental illness.


This specific Situation (“You talkin to me?”) returns in The Shining (1980), in the 1921 Gold Room sequence. Jack, facing the mirrors in the red bathroom, carries on a conversation with Delbert Grady. The audience sees the character of Delbert Grady “in the flesh” (so to speak). But Grady may not be there with Jack.


Let us recall that we see Jack wearing his 1970s clothing—in the year 1921. Those present at the party, however, will be seeing him wearing a tuxedo (i.e., the photograph in the film's final shot). What the audience sees as Jack is not what the characters see as Jack. With respect to the audience, seeing isn’t believing in this particular case.


We in the audience see Delbert Grady just as we see Jack’s 1970s clothing. So, again : What if Delbert Grady is not standing there? What if Jack is speaking to himself in the mirror?


In the Gold Room sequence, Jack speaking while facing the mirror is “doing” a Travis Bickle.


A person in extended conversation with someone who is not present is a not uncommon element of mental illness.


This concept appears in Norman Mailer’s Harlot’s Ghost (1991), 1.5 : a scene in which the wife of the main character stares at the bedroom wall and carries on a conversation with her deceased first husband.


That The Shining resonates with Taxi Driver is no coincidence. One of the many themes of The Shining is the death of the vibrant 1970s. The spirited Jack of The Last Detail (1973) is now a nasty, unhappy loser trapped in the claustrophobia of a disturbed family going nowhere. The creativity, the innovation, the excitement of 1970s Hollywood are all dead by 1980. The Dream is dead.




One of the first major films of the 1970s was McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), starring Warren Beatty, and shot by master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Compare the last shot of Jack in The Shining with the last shot of Beatty in McCabe :




Coincidence? No. We are in a magic circle. When Jack dies at the end of The Shining, his frozen form is a monument (in the manner of a grave-marker) of the 1970s, Hollywood’s last golden age. Gone forever.




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Irrational Man (2015) : tribute to the lost 1970s.


Why did Woody Allen chose to shoot Irrational Man in anamorphic Panavision widescreen—which everyone knows is not his “go-to” film ratio format?


Irrational Man is Woody Allen’s remake (so to speak) of Taxi Driver.


 Shot 1 of Irrational Man, 1:11; and Taxi Driver, 19:39.


In shot 1 of Irrational Man we see, vaguely, a truncated version of the classic Panavision horizontal blue lens flare. Here is the second iteration in the film :


(1:30:03) This lens flare is the classic Panavision lens flare. Hello, 1970s.


Paul Schrader


(21:47) Schrader indulged in Russian roulette throughout the late-1970s (see Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, ch. 14).


Irrational Man (2015) is a tribute to the lost 1970s. As in the words of Hunter S. Thompson : it is “an eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.”


Goodbye, 1970s.


Cinematographer : Darius Khondji.




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Telephoto curiosities


Anything Else (2003), 10:02. Cinematographer : Darius Khondji.


Munich (2005), 1:08. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.


Anything Else used a Panavision camera and lenses, while Munich used Arricam and Arriflex cameras and Cooke and Cinetal lenses. Yet the out-of-focus highlights in both films here look pretty similar, except for the direction of the parallel lines. What does this mean? Perhaps that all such imagery, when blown up in size, looks similar in texture? Let's test this theory.


(41:18). Arriflex camera, Zeiss Super Speed lenses. Cinematographer : Michael Chapman.


No. Let's try a more modern film : Bridge of Spies (2015) and Kaminski : Arricam and Arriflex camera, Hawk V-Lite, V-Lite Vintage '74 and V-Plus lenses.




No. So : Anything Else and Munich use completely different equipment, yet produce a similar telephoto lighting effect. What does this mean? Well, I know that I'm insane.

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Entering the Slave Plantation, Virginia, 1794


In the stinging glare of sunlight the Plantation stood isolate, sweltering. This would be William Wormeley’s only stop in Essex County in eastern Virginia, a swathe of the United States the locals out of distinguished pretentiousness styled the Old Dominion. The imposing pile had already been visible a couple of miles back. From such a distance the estate exhibited the absorbed fixity of a museum piece,—to wit, a diorama of agricultural progress: sprawling fields of yellow enwreathing a toy red casket of a home in their midst, with the sparkling blue contour of a waterway on the periphery, a vision ably blotted from the young man’s view with one cunningly positioned fingertip. A Northerner, recent graduate of the University of Philadelphia, William eyed the looming estate with unease, with what was almost a leer.


The interloper approached on horseback, the plantation surging in and lunging out of his sight according to the pattern of the woodline. In time a gravelly lane came into view leading from the primary road up towards the Hall. Nailed to a tree trunk adjacent to the entranceway was a wooden sign with the inscription LYLOCK FARMS burned into it; but the board was weathered, a split passed vertically just touching the ends of the F so that at first glance William thought to have read LYLOCK HARMS. Amused, William gained the turn in and followed its three-hundred-yard ascent embraced by the thick resinous aroma of colonnades of poplars. They were mightily impressive, these poplars, each aspiring well-nigh seventy feet high. Wrens in the branches warbled in a dulcet sonority. The corridor of trees eventually gave way and opened up onto a hard flat dirt courtyard. On the far end maybe fifty feet back stood the Great Hall, the baronial seat of the Page dynasty. The Hall was composed of sedate Georgian proportions, its mathematical precision having arisen out of the chaos of body brokering, its handsome masonry an underburnt salmon color. Stolid in the hazed peace, its rows of windows were bare of shutters, as if resolute in keeping painstaking watch over its prerogative. This Hall, imposing (supposedly), was set among a scatter of outbuildings, most of them small wooden shacks spread in a horseshoe pattern around a central dusty square. Caught amid this ticky-tacky clutter, William sniffed; the mansion seemed merely another barn. Oh, it was just like William,—newly arrived, and he was already rehearsing aspersions to spice coffee-house chatter back home. A young man yet, William Wormeley couldn’t help it, he was constitutionally judgmental, ultracrepidarianistic, he was quick to scorn what was alien to his experience. In this, though,—in his defense—he wasn’t much different from his peers, who squushed what was unconcealed to sight into private mind-maps of their own making, attenuated maps, with much left out, in the manner of antique projections of the world from a couple of hundred years back when the internal shape of the world was very much a mystery;—those designs of Speed, Ortelius, Jansson, Blaeu, in which the continent of America swelled outwards uncertainly as it rose northward, infundibulariform, to disappear off the top of the map, into uncharted, mysterious, mystic space.... Being realistic where the Almighty Dollar was concerned William Wormeley well knew a three-thousand-acre estate was nothing to gainsay, and so for that reason he determined to restrain himself from too-hastily disdaining the Southern proprietor, the suzerain of this domain, a certain Mr. George Page, a powerful man in these parts, and filthy, nay, ghoulishly, rich. Conscientiously situated, the three-storied mansion commanded a view of the wide blue tidal Rappahannock River,—beside the glimmering meander of which, on the other side of the carriage road from whence the Philadelphian had come, the plantation’s all-important boathouse and landing place were set, the conduit, presently lifeless, into the free-for-all of international commerce. At first glance, perhaps, William developed, the classical-looking estate could be described as, yes, deliciously idyllic, a serene autarkic retreat set sundrunk amid a haven of venerable trees, a mild sanctuary. But in truth, to tell it straight with senses other than the eyes, the countryseat was a sore spot, the air here galled, out-of-doors seemed unventilated, tropical, the atmosphere an hypnotic magnitude. It was just after noon and staggeringly oppressive. His neck and the backs of his hands smarted from the persistent exposure to the torrid southern sun.


As young William entered in on his mare the color of lacquered mahogany he saw something less than idyllic, something he had expected, a painfully vulgar, nay, deranged scene. Negro slaves. Barefoot chattel populating the outer buildings, harrowed figures clad in shirts and drawers of slimsy hemp linen; workers practiced in the trades, curing ham and bacon in the smokehouse, churning butter in the dairy, beating horseshoes out of slat iron rods in the smithery, sweating hotly in the laundry, baking dainties for the Page family in the bakehouse. All these captive human hearts, all that beauty, muffled. Treading into the acrid square William counted at least two-dozen slaves caught lolling in the unhurried industry of what seemed a small sleepy town. New out in the world and having no idea whether or not he was to acknowledge these slaves with a civil nod if their eyes, their louring dark eyes, met his own, he chose not to gaze pointedly at their faces; instead he sent uncomfortable glances this way and that through the airborne overlay of dust, catching glimpses on the fly. A shriveled crone, squatting and slurping water from a wooden dipper. Babies crying and given the breast to suck. Kinks brushed with howling strokes to a beehive tuft. Scabs flaking off scars on backs. A clump of gaunt male slaves, young and old, their limbs taut with visible ligature, concentrated tensile strength being siphoned away systematically, ruinously, were seen loitering by a corn-shed, squinting into the lunging sunburst, that familiar enigma, the impenetrable yellow outbreak in the sky, shaking their heads ruefully, toilworn, eating dry crumbly corn meal with their fingers. William flinched before these lank unsmiling forms, this amalgam of sulks and hangdog faces, live souls reduced to dawdling flesh. Pinched. Humiliated. To William’s eyes at the first this gathering seemed a distortion of the natural order, a bizarre glimpse into an improbability;—The mixture of dusky slaves appeared in his mind to be an optical illusion thrown up by dovetailing mirrors, in which one angled form, one superior being becomes multiplied by the dozen, by the thousandfold, clones mutating with the generations contriving a heaping up of sad languishing anatomy, a web of minds cross-connected in a recondite synchrony. Hard to place they were, these strangers, these remarkable weather-beaten persons seemingly keeping to themselves some cataclysmic secret. Over it all, matting the quadrangle entire, a suspense vaguely hung, the air was thick with the gloom of simmering stratagems, suppressed hope, sick acceptance, irascible apathy. This slavocracy, this deadlock—it was like visiting the caldera of a volcano. Faced with such mortification, William felt himself somehow undermined, exposed. Stiffly he pressed on into the disorganized assembly of strangers; and the uncanny moment passed.


The young man, a recent university graduate, eased himself into pedagogic mode. Indeed, it is a grisly shambles, history. More like red, black and blue. These Negroes, they were acculturated to misery, they who had never been our enemies,—captives dominated by mean-minded convention and consolidated into a work force, with prejudice, an insupportable belittling and underestimation of color and kind, being the primary problem here in America;—Prejudice was the feeble cornerstone on which this degenerate edifice sustained and justified itself. This irrational prejudice had been codified time and again in myriad ways in rational Law. Law, so William ruminated, at once fructifies and impoverishes. What an amphigourical world it was! Rather than angling for a cure to this curse, this beastly depreciation of both black and white, the Southerners who grew up in this low milieu learned to rationalize it, to go ahead and drink the poison of their inheritance, to become themselves slaves to rotten custom, co-conspirators in an old outrage, willingly complicit with abysmal wrong. It was an awkward world these pseudo-capitalists had made, William judged, these Southerners hoggish and unidealistic;—even diseases were to be exploited. If pollution pays, more power to taint! It would be tacky, this scathing plantation, if it weren’t so godawfully shameless. Thus were William Wormeley’s catty, hypercritical first impressions on his approach to the cool rectilineal Big House.


At all quarters this strange municipality was abuzz with tired activity. Negroes, some girt in bracelets, neckchains or sundry rings of low material, were seeing to the activity in the two barns. Cattle, sheep, hogs, the poultry, they all needed tending. The dozen horses, bred to race, which were caught up in the stables out of the sunlight,—all of them had to be fed. There was a herd of docile deer, pets of the Page family, cooped-up in the stockade, and they needed watering down. Down in the kennel a slave dangled dripping offal at the clapping jaws of the bloodhounds, which were kept in the event that a thrall fleeing into the perimeter compelled pursuit and capture. Closer to William was a carriagehouse which sheltered a coach of four wheels (a luxury, as one was taxed by the wheel); as he passed silently by he watched a slave at work: a boy no more than ten years old wiping clean of dust with a soiled cloth two parked coaches of two wheels each, recent arrivals it would seem; while another, even younger captive boy stood around waving away airborne pests from the eyeballs of the two lingering coach-horses. Scruffy mongrels barked at the plodding hoofs of William’s horse as he proceeded further in. As varied as all the slaves’ ages, William could see, were their skin colors; the convention of calling all Negroes ‘darkies’ or ‘blacks’ was an obvious solecism, a brainless custom, for here on show was a pretty variety of bodily hues: gingerbread, caramel, snuff, pitch, ground coffee, ebony, gingko leaf, fawn. He would have to remember to note this observation in his memorandum book. Any and all Negroes wearing a cap or a hat removed it abruptly with downcast eyes as the incoming white man on horseback passed them by; it was an involuntary gesture, just as one would open an umbrella in the rain. William looked and saw rage boiling under the glazed stare; heard the dejection echoing through the sporadic laughter. He wondered: this tension, this pressure, when would it prove too much and explode? The gagged turmoil, the unconcealed bitterness, this lackadaisical allegiance to the callous status quo, so offensive to the life spirit;—Suddenly nauseated, William thought he would swoon from such obnoxious air. Then, just like that, he shrugged off his indignation, detached himself from the misery, the wastage. Ah, yes, this was the countermove to such crushing indignity: bland withdrawal. Perhaps he was too tired for pity. Weary from travel and the malarial air, his shoulders felt like a cumbrous plank of wood weighing his slack body down. Perspiration ran down his brow into his eyes, stinging them.


As William approached he eyed with suspicion the neat façade of the red-brick Great House. He saw further outbuildings set alongside the right end of the dwelling, including an ample storehouse, a brick kiln, a distillery. Beyond these on the other side of a split-rail fence was a superabundant panorama of grain receding back flatly under the sun towards the yellow leaves of tobacco. There were Negro girls, unbonneted, out there in the sun, topping and pruning the Indian weed. Dead trees punctuated the crops at various points,—gaunt arthritic fingers pawing at the air. Sere boughs in July among bending hands blurred by the undulations of heatwaves did make for a picturesque sight, William granted, frowning. These Negro hands, born into bondage, presumably illiterate, must be led on by incentives, such as extra food and drink, for how else could they muster the will to work as they do day in day out? Self-love must be a rarity here, he reckoned, here where depression, desperation and defeat were routine, humanity willingly mangled, in this miserable peace.


From the lofty height of his self-estimation William Wormeley pitied Mr. George Page’s slaves, he felt for their pathetic submission, their implacable alienation; yet, in truth, being young and full of great expectations, as well as feeling the exhilarated detachment often attendant upon the witnessing of someone else’s disaster, William couldn’t help but in the event enjoy a quickening of his own reaching ambition and a narrowing of his vision to the cushy bourne of his favorable future. Watching these grim captives, piqued by their inertia, William prided himself on the luck of his own auspicious birth into a world of opportunity and elevation. Never would he have audibly admitted it but the meek souls removing their hats in his presence infused him with pride, sent a feathery thrill of sensual self-admiration through his body. Though he was fagged out from long hours of travel in the saddle, in the event the obsequious slaves provoked him to hold his head high in wealth-complected complacency. And then in an instant the antithesis to his moral scorn of moments earlier flashed in his head and he suddenly became an apologist for Mr. George Page and his ilk. If only to play devil’s advocate, William endeavored to make sense of it all, he tried to rationalize the wrong. These slaves are clothed, fed and sheltered, he observed, so could we not in a way style them no more than wage-slaves in the manner of white menial workers? Was that so terrible? There were Sundays off, family life, a safe haven for children, job security. Were not these Negroes, all things considered, actually better off than a great deal of other peoples of the planet, for instance the Russian serfs? Then the extravagant instant passed and William returned to the opposing abolitionistic view,—in part because in his life he has been habituated to sneer at Southerners, growing up as he had hearing all manner of anti-Southern jokes and tirades. As a child walking through the streets of his beloved hometown of Philadelphia, William Wormeley, four years old back in 1780, had encountered at that time as much whanging on the necessity of outlawing slavery as he had heard news and rumors regarding the protracted War for Independence. Pavement expositors, many of them in the dour shadbelly coats that Quakers wore, had regaled his impressionable senses with reflections on how the trafficking of the Negro race dehumanized humanity and irrationalized rationality. Youngling William had set to collecting polemics against the ‘infernal scourge Slavery’ dispensed freely by pamphleteers. It was true that in the early days Pennsylvania had capitalized as much as the next colony upon the woebegone plight of the Africans. No, William wasn’t naive, he knew that the history of his own home was not itself unburdened by wrong. William Penn himself, the spiritual forefather of Pennsylvania, had been an early, vocal advocate of the use of Negro slaves. Penn’s estate at Pennsbury had been unembarrassedly populated with transplanted Africans chained to the soil for pious Penn’s profit. For well over a hundred years, from the outset of the colony at Jamestown up to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, slave traffic in the North, Philadelphia included, had progressively intensified. Negroes were shipped in from West Africa, as from the Indies, or South Carolina, brought to suffer on alien land, to sweat in the ironworks, to help build the very ships which would bring more hapless Africans to servitude. Pennsylvania had been the last colony of the North to legitimate slavery in the law books. Eighty years later, in 1780, it became the first state of the incipient country to pass an abolition law. It was in the abolitionist fervent of that latter time that William came to know his own mind. At present William would be pleased to point out, full as he was of sectional pride, that the rest of the sagacious North seemed intent on following Pennsylvania’s wise lead. In 1790, just four years earlier, at the time when William was mired in Greek-to-Latin-to-English translation exercises, admirable Massachusetts had proclaimed its boundaries free of slavery. This colossal turnaround for the Bay State had eventuated from a most humble of incidents: Quock Walker, a Negro slave, suing his master for assault and battery,—it had been a two-hour whipping. Originating in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, the complaint eventually reached the Supreme Judicial Court of the state which thereupon ruled for the total manumission state-wide of all Negro servants. That was a judgment that had sent thrills down student William’s spine. If reports were accurate, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey and the other northern states would surely be quick to emulate, to sanitate the old unsound wounds, to carry out with monumental fidelity the principles of the Declaration of Independence, a thrilling patriotic ennobling act. So William, child of the progressive North, entering into Mr. George Page’s dismal compound felt himself passing into a time warp, into a graveyard of obsolescent wrongs. Page’s toft was the dump of progress, old news, a lagging behind, a contemptible impedance to Reason. Yet, even accounting for his genuine hostility, William’s observations, at bottom, were superficial things; detached, well-nigh ironic, he felt no guilt, he felt right at home in his white skin. The corrosive reaction to viewing others’ pain—indifference—was setting in strongly. And as it happened, William was shrewd enough, opportunistic enough, to use what he witnessed to his advantage. It was easy for William while taking in the depraved scene to feel morally superior to Virginians; and this high-handed feeling ushered in the charm and the confidence he knew he would need to match the politesse of the wealthy, but obviously uncouth, Southerners.


The sojourner dismounted in front of the Great House and tethered his horse to one of the hitching posts. He took a moment to pendiculate, kneading with his knuckles his lower back muscles, his nostrils catching fitfully salty scents from the Rappahannock in between parching blasts of sun-baked air. He dusted off his hat and his camel-colored cape; smoothed out his beige waistcoat and trousers, both of linen made; tugged at the cuffs and collar of his creamy-white shirt;—all the while conscious of a swarm of dark eyes trained on his form. The young man set his face into a picture of Indomitable Intelligence and resolved to avoid gaucherie. He appreciated in spite of himself the elaborately-carved cornice over the pedimented doorway as he ascended the five granite steps to the front door the size and color of a billiards table, upon which hung a sparkling brass knocker in the shape of a lion’s snarling long-toothed phiz. Tasteless, he judged, yet saliently expensive. Letter of introduction in hand, rapping with the lion, William Wormeley determined not to be intimidated by luxury, not to simper at Mammon’s clammy paw.

to be continued


from the novel HT (1998), unpublished by the women of London.

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How many film references are in this one sequence?


 Burn After Reading (2008) 1:00:22–1:05:21. Cinematographer : Emmanuel Lubezki.



883263757_02bburn12240.thumb.jpg.55442acc547699e0f9af7a9d462398b0.jpg1:00:56 Halloween (1978)





Blue Velvet (1986), 38:25; also 1:00:58–1:02:33 David Lynch–like ominous ambient hum throughout Brad Pitt’s entire Situation.



1:01:08–1:01:11 George Clooney singing “So close . . . and yet so far” recalls


“So Near and Yet So Far” in You’ll Never Get Rich (1941), 1:01:20.





Halloween (again), 4:02.





1:02:34–1:02:39 To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)



1:05:15–1:05:21 Well-nigh a music cue from Psycho (1960), to end the sequence.

Such as at 1:16:47–1:16:50 :


How many other resonances are in this one sequence of five minutes?





Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Two Wonders of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017).


1. First-Rate Cinematic Vision.


(9:43) and (9:44). Director and editor create a transition that maintains the abstract continuum of motion (a complex technique mentioned elsewhere with respect to Throne of Blood and Vertigo and E.T.). The straightforward motion of the three airplanes transitions to the straightforward motion of the band of soldiers moving at a similar pace (cinematically speaking), continuing the abstract sense of moving forward.


This visual magic trick corresponds with the audience’s deepening immersion in the developing story : the audience travelling the Stargate of Dunkirk. This transition is an editing technique deployed to assist in gathering the audience’s fullest attention—and it works unconsciously on the audience.


2. Fine Use of Contrast.


(5:09) No matter how many this times your presently-lucid author watches Dunkirk, there remains a mystery, something strange, an I-can’t-put-it-into-words phenomenon about the relationship between these two characters.


The Writer/Director foregrounds this characterological mystery through the use of contrast. Fast upon their ambiguous introduction, the Englishman has an absolutely clear and straightforward exchange with someone else : “It’s grenadiers, mate.” (5:37).




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Dunkirk : The Memorial of the Fighter Pilots.


(1:26:33). The heroism of the fighter pilots of WWI and WWII was beyond imagination. In WWI, they entrusted their lives to flimsy wood; in WWII, to tin cans. Talk about real men. These fighter pilots were not “vulnerable males”. And they didn't have Top Gun computers to help them. All they had was old-fashioned brains. Where have all these real men gone? They've been replaced by the male who plays with joysticks. Dunkirk rightly celebrates the best a man can be : the pilots who gave their lives for their country.


The Writer/Director of this film had the great-hearted humanity to create this filmic memorial moment.

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Dunkirk (2017) and Storytelling History


1:15:28–1:26:00 : It is the theory of your humble, calm-thoughted author that this running time of Dunkirk is one of the most significant sequences committed to Hollywood film in our lifetimes. In this sequence a large number of different story strands come together and interweave as a forward-moving continuum and not simply as a “summing up” assembly of parts. That is to say, all the story strands fuse and move forward, each still discrete, yet all working together to contribute to one colossal story. The story structure is magnificent, absolutely no question.


Personal point : Such is no “opinion”, no “review”—such phenomena is for Inhumans (a concept we haven’t touched upon yet). The genius structure of Dunkirk is crushingly obvious to a person who has translated the Iliad. If Homer didn’t have deep fundamental story principles, would he have lasted this long? Obviously Homer is the benchmark of storytelling. The person who knows Homer knows how to tell a story—but I don’t mean inept academic fakers who produce unreadable translations because they lack artistry in their hearts.


Another point on Dunkirk : For a Hollywood “blockbuster”, Dunkirk is remarkably “complex” in its character interaction. I don’t mean we’re comparing it to Sophocles' Oedipus or Eugene O'Neill's Long Day’s Journey into Night : that would be ridiculous. Dunkirk is not attempting to compete with them. By complex character interaction in Dunkirk, I mean, for example, the looks characters give, especially to one another, which are loaded with the unstated. Most generally, Hollywood-speaking, Dunkirk can be slotted into the same Blockbuster phenomenon as, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which this author saw five times in the movie theater when he was a young kid. Now comes the point : for all of the genius of Raiders, product of Spielberg and Lucas, the far more complex movie is Dunkirk.


That last point bodes well for society, or it should : Christopher Nolan gave audiences the benefit of the doubt and shot a "blockbuster" way more complex than, say, Raiders. Young audiences responded—meaning young people do indeed have brains. It’s just that Tyranny daily degenerates those brains. Luckily Art exists as a fighting comeback to Tyranny.


Summing-up theory which has taken this author six years to realize : Dunkirk is one of the great large-scale Hollywood films in our lifetime—which means for all of Hollywood history.




Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Contemporary Hollywood Idiocy.


Warner Brothers letting Christopher Nolan go is one of the largest absurdities in Hollywood history (or is that splitting hairs?). He's made the studio at least $5 billion. It’s especially sad that Warner Brothers did this—such a move seems so antithetical to its history. Did WB not let Kubrick shoot Barry Lyndon, a movie I assume they thought (let’s be serious) was going to gross $1? The point here is that Hollywood is in meltdown. But all is not completely lost for everyone. Just now, Universal is popping the champagne and fist-pumping, because Nolan’s next after Oppenheimer will no doubt be a billion-dollar grosser and WB will look like the abject idiots they are. In 2023, Evil is unable to let go of a single dollar; it only craves more, more, more : it’s a power game and mental illness of imbeciles.





Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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How many story strands join in Dunkirk?


1:15:28–1:26:00. Here are the foregrounded elements. Note the one shot of Dunkirk-the-place from the air. To combine all this and still keep the audience's complete immediacy of Understanding throughout the one colossal scene-sequence is equivalent to six Super Bowl wins at the very least.


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Example of a split-second “complex look” in Dunkirk


(1:24:45–1:24:49) This pilot sees the foundering German aircraft coming in to crash-land onto the oil-slicked waters. He then contemplates the soldiers floundering in the waters round his boat. A split-decision is made : a measurement taken : “Go!”





Edited by Jeff Bernstein
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Rectilinearity Reinforcement


The actor’s geometrical relationship to the lens at these moments are split-second instances of “rectilinearity reinforcement”.


Blondie of the Follies (1932), 36:11






Inherent Vice, 1:29:17


The camera can reinforce rectilinearity on its own; for example :





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