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Cinematic Reveries

Gestures, Stillness, Water


Linda C. Ehrlich

The 29 prose poems in Cinematic Reveries: Gestures, Stillness, Water provide distinctive points of entry into a select group of films through attention to evocative gestures, a sense of stillness, and images of water. These original writings offer film criticism in a new form, with a tone that is at once exploratory, familiar, and elegiac. They explore the precious nature of water; they point to gestures both eloquent and obscure. They offer us moments of arrested motion as well as longer contemplative sequences in films from Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and the U.S. To cite a sentiment expressed by filmmaker Raúl Ruíz in his Poetics of Cinema 2, these are tributes to great films that «recognize [us] like an old relative». The reader is encouraged to explore Cinematic Reveries as a portrait of the cinema which is at times lyrical, sometimes comic, and often tinged with pathos. This celebration of the art film is richly illustrated, with suggestions for further readings and viewings.


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Introduction ix


Introduction In his diary on the making of the film Beauty and the Beast, Jean Cocteau wrote: ¨My method is simple: not to aim at poetry. That must come of its own account…. I shall try to build a table. It will be up to you then to eat at it, to examine it or to chop it up for firewood (Cocteau, Beauty and the Beast: Diary of a film: 6). Cinematic Reveries is a collection of original writings about things we cannot see but which alter our lives. These 29 poetic writings of varied lengths offer points of entry into a select group of films. Rather humble objects, these examples of film criticism in a new form are distillations of years of viewing and writing about the cinema. They make no claims for sweeping structures, and even the longer ones merely suggest. Each of the writings highlights one scene, or an underlying tone, in films from Europe, Asia, South America, the Pacific, North America, and the Middle East. While a few of the films that inspired these poetic writings are products of the Hollywood studio system or of established studios in other countries, the majority originated in small studios, independent productions, and new waves of experimentation with cinematic style. In many cases, they are records of rapidly disappearing traditions preserved on film. They are the kinds of films Raul Ruíz noted in his Poetics of Cinema 2: those that recognize us “as an old relative” (110). Overall inspiration...

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