Class Notes (838,386)
Canada (510,872)
ENGL 381 (3)
Lecture

ENGL 381 Class Notes.docx

15 Pages
52 Views
Unlock Document

Department
English (Arts)
Course
ENGL 381
Professor
Paula Derdiger
Semester
Winter

Description
January 8, 2013 Introduction Wilder Biography  Course goal: how Wilder’s films illuminate the entire approach to constructing Hollywood films  Born in Germany  Trained in the 1920s with German Expressionists  Moved to the US – Jewish immigrant o Personal connection to space  Wilder is an entertainer o Makes movies, not films o Major figure of film noir Space  Spaces are created or evoked  Basis of thinking about how films work  Capture the “proper American experience”  Shooting not on location o intentionally crafted spaces  literally build spaces o control therefore nothing is incidental  Generate/ constrain crucial narrative effects  Geographical and political spaces  Camera used to convey characters or the narrative  Staged stage o Meta moments Political/gendered identities  Unstable in transitory spaces  Spectatorship January 29, 2013 New York Lecture New York: The Vertical Horizon  New York being built up vs. Los Angeles (the horizontal horizon) which is constantly being taken apart and rebuilt  Picture of economic success – modern skyscrapers  Commonly and critiquely revered  Epitomizes European immigration and old world diversity o Versus Los Angeles which is representative of new world diversity  Glamorizes overcoming adversity o Dealing with the crowds, traffic, crime, filth, etc. of New York  New York is a novelist’s city – the city for a struggling artist o Versus Los Angeles which was a screenwriter’s city  Pomerance: “New York is America” o Obviously this is not true but it’s a rather sentimental way to look at the city Romanticizing New York  New York is commonly and easily romanticized o Example: Woody Allen’s Manhattan clip  Voiceover struggles with romantic appeal of New York – trying to go beyond romanticism  The struggle becomes part of the romanticism  Score/shots of New York romanticize the city  Los Angeles is easy to criticize as people are not as sentimental about Los Angeles (even the people from Los Angeles are not sentimental) o New York is not as easily hated  Physically real Los Angeles is temporary – comprised of movie sets/shooting signs  New York is celebrated for being in movies whereas people are critical of Los Angeles because it is made of movies  Everyone has strong visions of New York – we picture New York through the films we associate with o Indices and icons combine  King Kong has indexical New York buildings  Iconic image of King Kong on the Empire State Building o Fan video: We Love NY... In the Movies  Pomerance: “New York is not exactly a place...The New York we write about is the New York of our screen dreams” o There is no material New York but rather the onscreen New York is the real New York Billy Wilder and The Lost Weekend  Wilder is an antiromantic  The Lost Weekend works with “the film New York as real New York” concept but he it doesn’t romanticize New York o New York becomes a trap for the male protagonist (usually the femme fatale is the trap)  The Lost Weekend clip: Character is an alcoholic desperately trying to sell his typewriter for alcohol money o New York is literally a dark place – plays to vices o New York is inaccessible  Can’t access shops  Walks rather than taking the bus o Protagonist is isolated  He is not included in any groups that give people an identity  Whose city? Lack of ownership  Character barely moving  Being passed by the city  The Lost Weekend sees New York as a dream however it is a bad dream January 31, 2013 The Lost Weekend Lecture The Lost Weekend  Most critically acclaimed of Wilder’s films  The film for which Wilder got his first Oscar  An effort to get Hollywood out of a rut  Wilder cynical of messages his films might have  1/3 of the movie filmed on location o P.J. Clark bar – where the novel was written o Exterior shots of the apartments – where Charles lived  Prior to filming, Ray Millen checked into an alcoholics ward o So disturbed he tried escaping  Ray Millen actually carried the typewriter from 54 -110 street Spaces in The Lost Weekend  The real New York is believed to be a distorted vision  Expresses a dark longing for a different landscape  Relatable to the veterans who would come home o Unemployed males and employed females  Capture the experience of post-war America o Portrays a gritty reality  The city is lost to us – the iconic city is obscured/hidden from us o Only catch a glimpse of the Chrysler building o We see the city as Don sees the city  Travelling among film noir spaces o Don’s apartment defined by alcoholic disorder  whiskey in the light fixture  Ruthlessly male space but a helpless male  Helen is locked out and so are the other females in the film  Urban/rural contrast o Country vs. city  Country  A weekend space that is produced and preserved by successful city life o Success alludes Don and thus he is denied the country  Country as innocent family space  City  The city is a trap for Don  City has elicit sexual temptation  Also contrasted to Midwest Ohio  “man-made mountain peaks of Manhattan” – nothing is natural Glass as a Mediator  We see the city as Don sees the city – through glass  We see movies through glass (the camera lens) o Lens acts as a mediator  Don sees the world through glass o Bottles, glasses, transparent phone booths, windows o Interactions have an extra layer of mediation  Don goes to the bar but is not welcome there o He is separated from the bartender by glasses o Nat and Don converse using a mirror  Alcohol takes Don away from the real New York – an escape o He becomes suspended – representative of his vertical desire  Alcohol precludes him from higher/sophisticated society o Has cultured interests o Goes to the Opera and rather than seeing the performance his gaze is drawn to the glasses/bottles of alcohol and he hallucinates alcohol  Actors are almost cut from the frame of the shot and the champagne glasses they are holding are centered  Use of deep focus to highlight the distance between Don and others  No New York city that can be seen without a mediating glass Concept of circles  Shape of glass usually circular – shape that dominates the film both visually and in terms of the narrative  Set up to pay attention to circles o There is no scene with Don that doesn’t have circles  Don’s brothers glasses are circular and his eyes are often blocked out by circular lights o Implies that Don only sees circles  Main relationship in the film is Don and the bottle  Don’s novel “The Bottle” o We see Don entering the writing process but we don’t see him come out of it – trapped in the writing process  Don’s relationship with Helen is circular o Persistently kept apart o Grabs circular railing that is literally separating Don and Helen o Meet because of Helen’s coat then Don sells the coat at the end of the film  Don subject to gossip – gossip is circular talk  Circle acts as a foil for the verticality of New York  Anything vertical is shut down by circles o Example: The scene in which Don carries the typewriter  Travelling North but physically he doesn’t move  Scene concludes with a circular clock  Clock is a sigh of disorder as Don (and therefore the viewer) never knows the time/day  The narrative is circular o The film begins and ends with the same shot o We didn’t move at all – the viewer is trapped in Don’s distorted view of life February 19, 2013 Comedy Lecture Wilder’s comedy  Relies on historical violence  Stalag 17 is a comedic war movie Theories of comedy  How do films create their own theory?  Why do certain post-war spaces better lend themselves to comedy?  Comedy defies simple definition o As much tonal as it is structural  Comedy is an identifiable mode, tone, or affect  Laughter doesn’t belong to comedy – can be produced by non-funny things  Comedy is an inversion  Comedy may exist in many genres or forms  Comedy is human – humans are the only animals that feel compelled to laugh  Comedy is a social activity  Comedy disrupts realism and demonstrates contingency of experience Etymology of comedy  Comedy = revel/village + singing  Concept of comedy has its roots at the fringes of society  People far from civil life – comedy can transgress boundaries Postmodern comedy  A certain freedom from definition Why is something funny?  Determined by culture  Comedy is produced in relation to the norm the comic is trying to subvert  Comedy is silent/parallel conversation that can erupt at any moment  Comic situation uses a sense of incongruity o Displacement of people, discourses, ideas creating ambiguity o Normality temporarily suspended for pleasure  Jokes produced in a relative relationship to the dominant idea o Monkey funeral comedic because it is obviously different than the normal death ritual  Joking reveals the practical limits of social structures o Norms are only one choice of a possible reality Freud  Comedy is an example of parapraxis (repressed thought)  A joke is a means of negotiating a barrier  Making jokes is almost involuntary o Joking is symptomatic of a division of the human psyche  Laughing, like crying, is an involuntary bodily reaction Comedy Creates a Divide  Comedy invokes both a norm and the perversion of that norm  Duality provides momentary relief  What are the critical potentials?  What do we have a break from? o Distancing from tragic events  What are we returning to?  What are the consequences of the return?  Comedy emphasizes transient spaces such as post-war spaces o Wilder was a Jewish refugee thus post-war spaces are a fitting setting for him February 21, 2013 Stalag 17 Lecture Clip: One, Two, Three  Failure of technology (car)/ decrepit buildings o Implies a temporary space  Prolonged striptease – performance  Torture scene  String of meaningless objects (Bulgarian yogurt, Chinese cigarettes) as currency compared to Coca Cola as a meaningful currency  Makes fun of corporate espionage  Doubling/division of society is a source of comedy  Dysfunction of society is a source of comedy Stalag 17  State of exception o Anything can happen o Doesn’t need to be rational or honorable o Results can be tragic or comedic o Horror relies on state of exception where human logic is suspended  POW camp is a distant space/separate from society o Always under surveillance o People in camp – unique and sacred  Those in camp can be killed with no explanation but can’t be sacrificed because by being put in the camp they are not pure  People are holy – beyond the constraints of society  People are damned – can’t enter society o Place of lowest and highest power in the world  Wilder’s film explores exiled characters o Privileged o Can transgress behaviours o Can do things others cannot o Punished for acting badly Camp  Way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon  There are no political implications  Interested in aesthetics/style over content o Things are exaggerated o Things appear as something that they are not 
More Less

Related notes for ENGL 381

Log In


OR

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


OR

By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.


Submit