Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"In all film there is the desire to capture the motion of life, to refuse immobility," Agnes Varda has noted. But to capture the reality of human experience, cinema must fasten on stillness and inaction as much as motion. Slow Movies investigates movies by acclaimed international directors who in the past three decades have challenged mainstream cinema's reliance on motion and action. More than other realist art cinema, slow movies by Lisandro Alonso, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Pedro Costa, Jia Zhang-ke, Abbas Kiarostami, Cristian Mungiu, Alexander Sokurov, Bela Tarr, Gus Van Sant and others radically adhere to space-times in which emotion is repressed along with motion; editing and dialogue yield to stasis and contemplation; action surrenders to emptiness if not death.
From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947). 18 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 9. 19 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 12. 20 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 12. 21 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 12. 22 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 9. 23 Quoted in “Articles”, p. 14. 24 Quoted in Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century (London: Penguin Books, 2008), p. 264. Cioran’s statement originally appeared in his book, The
framework. Events in Distant also reflect large issues, such as Turkish migration from the countryside to the city and the tension between the urban and rural milieu,30 but as no bold headlines summon wide public attention to these issues, Mahmut and Yusuf’s drama remains private and contained. Besides broadening Eclipse’s narrative context, the headlines in Eclipse’s closing montage deploy words where none are to be heard. The films of both Antonioni and Ceylan are rightly considered to rely on
blockbuster dimensions cited by Manohla Dargis: “big stars, big stories, big productions, big screens … big returns … and all manner of cinematic awesomeness”.33 There remains a further obstacle to the embrace of contemporary slow movies: even mature audiences prefer to avoid the understated emotional pain in this cinema. “America, as a social and political organization, is committed to a cheerful view of life”, wrote Robert Warshow.34 Possibly a similar commitment to optimism prevails in mass
as exhaust billowing from a truck in front of her car that coincides with her coughing. But in most instances the cause is indeterminate. Carol’s physician repeatedly tells her and Greg he can find nothing physically wrong, and finally he recommends a psychiatrist. When her meeting with the psychiatrist begins haltingly, Carol says, “Aren’t you supposed to ask more questions?” to which he replies, “We really need to be hearing from you. What’s going on in you?” Haynes interjects in the DVD
someone who participates in the creation of [the film’s] artistic world”.43 It seems fitting that Kiarostami, having withdrawn from making Five… – having relinquished his movie to chance, to the camera’s automatism, and to the viewer’s creativity – often sounds like a spectator, and not simply a director, in discussing his readings of Five…, his creations or discoveries while viewing the film. Such is the case, for instance, as he marvels at the camera’s ability – without human guidance or