Volume 10, Issue 3 / March 2006

In this issue

This is a mixed bag issue which offers a variety of critical approaches and subjects, including the fruits of long term research on the “audiovisual” language of Sergei Eisenstein by author Robert Robertson, whose method brings together a diversity of fields, including music, art history, poetry, alchemy, and philosophy, to a study of one of cinema’s most complex thinkers and filmmakers. This essay, “Eisenstein, Synaesthesia, Symbolism and the Occult Traditions,” is a continuation of a two-part essay which appeared in an earlier Issue of Offscreen, and is linked at the end of this current essay. Stephane Grasso’s approach to director King Hu bears some resemblance to Robertson’s in spirit if not letter, in his contextualisation of Hu’s innovative treatment of the Wuxia Pan (‘heroic tale’ or, more broadly, the martial arts/swordplay) genre within the broader Chinese arts (Beijing Opera, landscape painting, music). In a more indirect way, I would say that the legacy of Eisenstein’s ‘audiovisual’ approach to montage cinema is in strong evidence in King Hu’s visceral and dynamic approach to the Wuxia Pan genre (the latter which Grasso’s essay aptly illustrates). Daniel Garrett’s analysis of several contemporary narrative films concentrates on the many delicate nuances of ‘character’ in cinema. Although not only a study of acting, Garrett’s analysis is keenly aware of the importance of the actor to the human element in cinema; and how questions of identity, moral worth, integrity, and existence are filtered through the actor. Completing the issue are two festival reports of considerable difference, from Donato Totaro and Philip Gillett, one a US based (Cinefest in Syracuse, New York) festival unlike many others, that prides itself on the rarity (if not always quality) of its silent and early sound programming; and one hailing from the (roughly) middle of England (Bradford) which offers a more usual festival fare of premieres, previews, and retrospectives. Coincidently, the festivals overlapped by a few days (March 16-19 and March 3-18).

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