Tag Archive: great scenes

cinema poetry

I just discovered the video blog Cinema Poetry, which has collected twenty (so far) of the most remarkable scenes in the history of cinema.

The first of the two ride films below, the Lumiere brothers’ rickshaw film from an Indochinese village, is beautiful (watch it in full screen with the sound turned all the way up):

This makes good viewing alongside Sean Cubitt’s description of cinematic firstness, which he calls “the pixel” in The Cinema Effect.

Kvond’s “great scenes” suggestion of a wonderful clip from “Andrei Rublev” (starting at 3’24″) reminded me of Yuri Illienko’s brilliant camerawork in one of my favorite films, Sergei Paradjanov’s “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.” Cinema Poetry includes a scene from that, but here’s another:


There are moments like this in the film where the camera swirls around as if it were the eye of a tornado, or alternatively as if it were the tornado circling around the eye. What would Deleuze call this? The spiral-image? It’s not quite Michael Snow’s La région centrale”, but it’s heading in that direction. (Snow’s specially constructed camera swings, swirls, twists, and circles around for a couple of hours, like Emerson’s transparent eyeball gone wild in the subarctic tundra of northern Quebec…)

Illienko’s “A Forest Song” (Lisova Pisnia: Mavka) is full of that kind of delirious camerawork (unlike Snow, integrated into the narrative). Unfortunately all I can find of it online is a poor copy of what appears to be the whole thing chopped into segments, dubbed into Russian with no subtitles. See also his Eve of Ivan Kupalo, perhaps the peak of Ukrainian magic realism.


There are two ways of being an academic. One is to burrow ever deeper into the little field one cultivates, to become a master of it, all the while propping up the fenceposts around that field to ensure that one’s terrain is left undisturbed by poachers, wild boars or raccoons, dissonant ideas, and so on. The other is to keep moving, following nomadic lines of connection from one thing to another, roping them in from time to time, but always getting diverted by the next thing that appears on the horizon. That may be the Next Big Thing (poststructuralism, postcolonialism, complexity theory, cognitive neuroscience, ecocriticism, or what have you), but it could also be a responsiveness to the world, which is always throwing up next (little) things if we pay attention to it rather than getting caught in our models of it.

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food & desert mansions

(great scenes, part 4)


A propos the previous post

This may be one of Antonioni’s worst, or at least most dated, films, but the climactic scene is certainly memorable, especially if you know Pink Floyd’s “Careful with that axe, Eugene” (though, honestly, once the screaming starts, the music feels pretty dated too). It’s a Deleuzian time-image if I’ve ever seen one. (Non-vegetarians might wish to fast-forward to about 3’20″ to get to the meat of it.)

Visiting the point itself in Death Valley several years ago — during one of those springs when it was blooming like it very rarely does — made me realize that both the mansion and the movie are a little out of place at the real Zabriskie Point.

But the slowly exploding food does resonate with latter-day food politics, doesn’t it?

more great scenes


From Bande a Part. (Thanks to Annette for suggesting it.)

Or these two from Blow Up:

But I distinctly remember someone else coming along and kicking what was left of Jeff Beck’s guitar neck right after this. Am I misremembering? Did I see something that was never there in the first place, like the David Hemmings character hearing the tennis ball hit the rackets in the final scene of the film (below)?

two or three scenes…

How à propos: Today’s Guardian’s piece on The Greatest Film Scenes Ever Shot.

What are your favorite scenes, your most indelibly etched screen memories, those “tiny pieces of time” as the article quotes James Stewart saying, that have remained with you ever since seeing them? (The comments open things up to a wider range than the actual article.)

How about the coffee cup scene from Two or Three Things I Know About Her?

Forty-four years haven’t dated it as much as I thought it would have.

Or the library, subway (below), and Nick Cave concert scenes in Wings of Desire?

Gilles Deleuze’s cinema books make for difficult reading, and if one is to make headway into them, it helps not only to know something about Bergsonian philosophy, Piercian semiotics, and (a lot about) the history of film, but also to have clips at hand of the films Deleuze discusses. Fortunately, Corry Shores has been very helpfully compiling such clips, accompanied by excerpts from the books, at his Deleuze Cinema Project 1 blog site.

The two books are books of philosophy centered on the moving image — a term that is somewhat redundant in a Deleuzian/Bergsonian framework, for which everything is (in) movement and becoming, and in which the image, which is both visual and auditory, is part of the very texture, or nature, of things. Deleuze, in other words, does not distinguish between a thing and its representation; rather, there are things, which are always in motion, in process, in becoming, and these things appear as “images,” which can be visual, auditory, etc., depending on the sensory equipment that is brought to them. Since the images are always in motion, it is cinema, the art of the moving image, that has best come to capture this quality of world-in-motion. The books are primarily dedicated to articulating Deleuze’s Bergsonian (and Piercian) schema and to setting out a fairly detailed typology of images. Its historical argument — that a shift after World War II allowed for the emergence of the “time-image”, which comes to supplement and ultimately supplant the “movement-image” — can be taken, albeit loosely, or left, but its ontological underpinnings are original, powerful, and I believe very useful for an emergent eco/geophilosophy.

Marcy Saude’s 5 or 6 minutes on cinematic time is a nice short video discussing Deleuze’s “time-image” concept over clips from Rosselini’s Umberto D, Bela Tarr’s Satantango and Gus van Sant’s Gerry:

As I see it, there are at least three reasons why Deleuzian film theory should be of interest to ecophilosophy. The first is the same reason why Deleuze is of interest more generally: because in providing one of the most coherent and self-consistent accounts of the world as process and change, his philosophy helps us understand the ways that things — i.e. relational systems from the molecular to the social to the ecological — come together and drift apart, territorialize and detteritorialize, with us, psycho-biological processes that we are, caught amidst them and acting from within them upon them (and upon ourselves).

The second reason is Deleuze’s Bergsonian and Piercian (and somewhat biosemiotic) focus on the image and its nature as carrier of affect. This brings imagination — the perception of things as not only a passive “reception” of what is “out there” but also an active reconception and engagement with the images and image-affects — to the center of cultural and environmental theory. Environmentalism needs a better understanding of how images do their work in the world; Deleuze can help with that.

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