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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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The Resonant Gesture


2 Introductory Notes: The Resonant Gesture When I say gesture, my gesture, I mean what my mark is…. It is a struggle for me to both discern and retain what is gestural and personal. ‘Gesture’ must appear out of necessity, not habit. Helen Frankenthaler, painter. Gestures surround us and speak to us in a language both eloquent and obscure. Our hands draw out music and shape colossal figures out of stone. Potential weapons, our hands are capable of almost anything. “Resonance” is a quality usually associated with music, chemistry, phonetics, or physics, but I use it in this section to indicate that rare sense of harmony between persons, or between a person and a geographical place or a work of art. The focus in this section is on the human gesture and how it moves on multiple planes. Gestures of the mime, the dancer, gestures that help us remember moments of correspondence or loss, mysterious gestures difficult to decipher…. The writings in this section travel from France to Canada, Italy, and the Middle East, with several stops in the U.S. along the way. I found one key to this section of writings in representations of children’s gestures on screen. When we study about representations of childhood on screen, we tend to look at children at play, the sentimentalized child, the violent child, the feral child, the child genius, the child as mediator, children at risk, and children as the risk (the “evil child” theme in films like Rosemary’s Baby and...

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