846 Chapters
Medium 9780253014078

2. To Leave the Factory: With Cloth and Film

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Cloth – cotton, organza, satin, silk, of many colors, textures, and weaves, some a drab white, worn with endless washing and wearing, hung on a clothesline by a widowed aunt, some luxurious, of many blended colors, preserved in an old dusty metal trunk (a dead mother’s trousseau), and saris in the wardrobe of a young daughter/niece, arranged neatly, some starched and pressed, some in primary colors of red and yellow. There is also the widowed father in his elaborate pastel turbans and pristine white kurtas. An array of woven textiles, both stitched and unstitched (a vital distinction this), blouses, skirts, kurtas, saris, turbans, curtains, rugs, and sheets perform vibrantly and silently in Māyā darpan, Shahani’s first film.

It was the lure of the colors, textures, designs, movements, and above all the affective force of the woven material in this film that led me to research a history of textile production in India as a point of entry into this film. With Shahani’s guidance I began to understand the intimate connection between cloth and film not only for his practice but also for film as such. Fernand Braudel in the third volume of his Civilization and Capitalism discusses the preeminence of Indian textiles in the global market prior to European colonization: “In fact all India processed silk and cotton, sending an incredible quantity of fabrics, from the most ordinary to the most luxurious, all over the world, since through the Europeans even America received a large share of Indian textiles. . . . There can be no doubt that until the English industrial revolution, the Indian cotton industry was the foremost in the world, both in the quality and quantity of its output and the scale of its exports.”1

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Medium 9781864620009

Body consciousness in the films of Jan Svankmajer

Edited by Jayne Pilling John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

I believe that body, figure, extension, movement and place are only fictions of my mind. What, then, shall be considered true? Perhaps only this, that there is nothing certain in the world.1

– Rene Descartes

We shall never completely master nature; and our bodily organism, itself a part of that nature, will always remain a transient structure with a limited capacity for adaptation and achievement. This recognition does not have a paralysing effect. On the contrary, it points the direction for our activity.2

– Sigmund Freud

The work of Jan Svankmajer, celebrated Czechoslovakian animator and avant-garde filmmaker, demonstrates an ongoing pre-occupation with the codes and conditions of bodily function and identity. His fictions are characterised by the recognition of transience in the body and the place of the body as a defining instrument in socio-cultural mechanisms and indeed, as a socio-cultural mechanism. Svankmajer uses the unique vocabulary of animation in expressing these principles and essentially re-defines the conditions by which the body might be represented and re-defined aesthetically and politically.

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Medium 9780861966820

Army Years

Marie Beardmore John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

John left the hallowed walls of Stowe in 1945; the war with Germany was over, but England and Japan were locked into a bloody and protracted battle, predicted to last as long as the German War had, at least four or five years. Before war interrupted, he was all set for Cambridge, but faced with the option of getting his degree or joining-up, John decided on the latter and signed up for three years in the armed-forces.

He coveted a place in the 11th Hussars elite cavalry regiment, once part of the brave Charge of the Light Brigade, but its commissioned ranks were limited to career soldiers not ‘part-timers’ like him. Usually, he would have been refused entry into the squad, but ‘Pussy’ came to the rescue: she knew the colonel, who pulled some strings for her son. John joined the 11th Hussars.

The army proved a life-changing experience for the young Coates, used to mingling in affluent society rather than with ‘ordinary’ folk. Army life started with six weeks basic training at Winchester Barracks. Like other new recruits, John, with brand-new kitbag, was nervous that first day and night. Next morning, he was kitted-out with standard issue battle dress and a rifle, without ammunition – that was allocated on the rifle range.

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Medium 9780253007445

1. Bataille, Stam, and Locations of Trash

Kenneth W. Harrow Indiana University Press ePub

If loving these islands must be my load

Out of corruption my soul takes wings

—Derek Walcott

In Postcolonial African Cinema (2007), I threw down the following challenge:

It is time for a revolution in African film criticism. A revolution against the old tired formulas deployed in justification of filmmaking practices that have not substantially changed in forty years. Time for new voices, a new paradigm, a new view—a new Aristotle to invent the poetics we need for today.

Something trashy, to begin, straight out of the Nigerian video handbook. Something sexy, without the trite poses of exotic behinds spinning the ventilateur for the tourists. Something violent, without the obscenity of trivializing brutality, trivializing phallocentric abuse, without the accompanying violence of Truth holding the whiphand over thought or difference.

Most of all, it is the retreat into safe and comfortable truisms that must be disrupted by this new criticism, this new third cinema challenge. (xi)

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Medium 9780253018441

Civil Rights, Labor, and Sexual Politics on Screen in Nothing But a Man

Edited by David C Wall and Michael T M Indiana University Press ePub

Judith E. Smith

THE FILM NOTHING BUT A MAN OPENS WITH A LONG PAN OF A crew of black railroad workers laying tracks, in a Southern rural landscape. Its first sounds are those of the jackhammer, pounding in the spikes; the camera comes upon the man operating it from behind. The title appears, taken from the refrain of the folk ballad about the legendary black steel-driving man, John Henry. Then the camera shows the face of the jackhammer operator, Ivan Dixon, the film’s steel-driving hero, in two long close-ups. Other black crew members come into focus, laying the rail dropped by a white crane operator. An arresting riff from a blues harmonica joins the soundtrack as the jackhammer sound is dimmed. Nothing But a Man closes with a two-shot of Dixon embracing a pregnant, weeping, Abbey Lincoln, in a modest living room, children’s art on the wall behind them, reassuring her that “It ain’t gonna be easy, baby, but it’s gonna be all right,” ambient sound giving way to the blues harmonica, which plays over the credits.

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