Volume 27, Issue 1-2 / January–February 2023

Global Cinema Part 2 and Thoughts on Alfred Hitchcock

The first half of this double issue is a continuation of last month’s special on Global Cinema, which is followed by the second half focus on Alfred Hitchcock. In their essay “The Forestmaker: Reportage, Poetry, and Advocacy” George Lellis and Hans-Bernhard Moeller discuss the important work of social and environmental activist Tony Rinaudo, an Australian agronomist, “who over the past four decades has achieved impressive success restoring arid, desolate areas of Africa to usable farmland movie.” As the authors note, for various reasons (number of spoken languages, Rinaudo’s pushback against colonialist assumptions of Africa, the philosophy of blending cultural tradition with modern technology to forward positive economic change in the affected regions) the film is “an exemplar of modern globalization”, which fits the issue theme like the proverbial glove. Daniel Garrett contributes two articles, the first continuing his contribution to Indian cinema from last issue, with an analysis of two films by Mira Nair, The Namesake (2006) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012). In the second piece Garrett casts a sweeping gaze across two fairly recent Mexican films, Güeros (2014) and The Revenant (2016) which reflect the potential of cinema to reach beyond mere spectacle –although there is much of that in The Revenant– to profound expressions of both the best and the worse of humanity. By situating these two films within the broader rich tradition of modern Mexican literature, Garrett raises a question often not reflected upon when thinking of artist: Can any one work of art or artist represent a country or even a culture? Michael Sooriyakumaran compares two films from idiosyncratic stylists (Danish) Carl Dreyer and (French) directing team Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Gertrud (1964) and Too Early/Too Late (1982). Starting from Leo Braudy’s (The World in a Frame) idea that some directors present a world view through their style that suggests contrasting aesthetics of ‘open’ or ‘closed’ cinema. The difference between an ‘open’ and ‘closed’ world view director often comes down to how strongly the pretext of narrative or thematic motivation is tied to the filmic materiality. And this is often “not a matter of kind but of degree—namely the degree to which their films motivate their materials.” Patrick Galvan looks at Chinese cinema of the 1930s within a political context, specifically Sports Queen (Sun Yu, 1934) starring rising star actress Li Lili. The Hitchcock half of the issue begins with coverage of the venerable Montreal cultural institute The Cineclub/Film Society, who celebrated their 30th year of offering Montrealers a celluloid experience with a 35mm screening of Vertigo (1957). This is followed by a deep analysis of Hitchcock’s camera movements by Kyle Barrowman, whose writing and research over the past several years has made him one of the most committed analysts and theorists on issues of film style, especially camera movement and the long take. In this essay Barrowman tackles what he perceives as an under-represented part of Hitchcock’s style while challenging contemporary attitudes toward author-based criticism. Elaine Lennon leaves no stone unturned in her meticulously researched two-part assessment of the production history behind the film Hitchcock often cited as his personal favorite, Shadow of a Doubt. Elaine Lennon gives a precise abstract: “Hitchcock’s positioning of the Gothic heroine as teen detective in Shadow of a Doubt (1943) marks a narrative nod to Daphne du Maurier’s influence on the trends of Forties cinema, principally through Rebecca (1940), which Hitchcock had made in collaboration with David O. Selznick. It is also an expression of the characteristics at play in creating the new Hitchcock signature and the transition to a more pessimistic form. The small-town location is a lens through which to forensically examine the underbelly of family life and mores, creating a uniquely satirical moral tilt at conventional cinematic representation. A survey of the screenplay, its influences, and some of the literature analysing the film, reveals it as a compendium of Hitchcock’s interests, past and future.” To give your reading eyes a break, the issue concludes with my own audio-visual essay on the legacy of the famous Jungle Jim scene in Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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