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TitleThinking in the Dark: Cinema, Theory, Practice
PublisherRutgers University Press
ISBN 139780813566283
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size12.1 MB
Total Pages284
Document Text Contents
Page 1

f :, ' ) . ) )

Thinking in the Dark

Cinema, Theory, Practice

Bogazici~niversity Library

111111111111111111111111111111111111111 ~
39001107402768

EDITED BY

MURRAY POMERANCE

R. BARTON PALMER

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PRESS

NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY, AND LONDON

Page 2

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING'-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
iii

Thinking in the dark : Cinema, theory, practice I edited by Murray Pomerance and
I

R. Barton Palmer.
pages em

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-o-8135-6629-0 (hardcover : alk. paper) -ISBN 978-o-8135-6628-3
(pbk. : alk paper)- ISBN 978-o-8135-6630-6 (e-book (web pdf))-

ISBN 978-o-8135-7560-5 (e-book (epub))
r. Film criticism. 2. Film critics. 3. Motion pictures-Philosophy.

I. Pomerance, Murray, 1946- editor. ll. Palmer, R. Barton, 1946- editor.

PN1995. T 44 2015
791.4301-dc23

2015002732

A Britisq,C:a.t.~J.!o~ing-in-Publication record for this book is available from the
British Library.

This collection copyright © 2016 by Rutgers, The State University

Individual chapters copyright © 2016 in the names of their authors

All rights reserved

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
written permission from the publisher. Please contact Rutgers University Press, ro6
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Manufactured in the United States of America

Page 142

132 WILLIAM ROTHMAN

but to reveal a part of herself that is no less real for being fictional. The
Madeleine with whom Scottie falls in love, the Madeleine who in Vertigo's world
is only Judy playing a role, is just as real, in the same way, as the Judy who plays
her. We can say that Kim Noval< becomes possessed by Judy, as long as we keep
in mind that within Vertigo's world, it is Judy who is possessed by Kim Noval<.

That Rouch himself never tried to think through how the concept of pos-
session casts light on fiction films is not a reason to doubt the concept's poten-
tial fruitfulness for thinldng theoretically about cinema in general. It only
testifies to Rouch's own ever more focused commitment to what he called
"shared anthropology." He eventually became less interested in thinldng
about the camera's ability to provoke individuals to reveal the "most real part"
of themselves. That is because he became less interested in thinldng about
individuals.

Rouch regularly screened his footage for the Songhay and Dogon villagers
he filmed, and questioned them about events he had captured with his camera.
Their answers helped him film in ways that enabled him to ask new questions
and receive new answers. His goal was to help these "ethnographic others"-the
traditional objects of ethnographic study-to become subjects who shared in
the pursuit of knowledge. And screening his films to Western audiences was his
strategy for winning converts to his filmmaldng procedures. Malting films to
beget films, he hoped to further his radical practice of "shared anthropology"
whose goal was to transform anthropology, with its claims to know others with
scientific objectivity, into a practice at once scientific and artistic, a practice no
less rigorous for acknowledging the unknowable, unsayable value of breaking
down the walls that separate what we know from the way we live. He believed
there were no such walls in traditional African societies, so that tapping into
the knowledge inscribed in Songhay and Dogon rituals was the key to advancing
toward his goal.

~ouch's way of filming, which he devoutly wished others to emulate, was
also a way of thinldng and living that embraced the magical, the strange, the
fantastic, and the fabulous, and promised freedom from the alienation, the
joylessness, to which we would otherwise be consigned by Western society
where the individual is privileged-a condition Rouch increasingly saw as an
affliction.

Funeral at Bongo

Funeral at Bongo: The Old Anai" (1848-1971) "documents" the spectacular funeral
dances occasioned by the death-at the age of 122!-of Ana! Dolo, a revered
elder. There is a passage in which the participants reenact the 1895 battle
between the Dogon and their French colonizers that left Ana! seriously
wounded. At one point, dancers aim their archaic rifles directly at Rouch

Page 143

JEAN ROUCH: THE CAMERA AS PROVOCATEUR 133

behind the camera: Rouch being French was a fact that wasn't lost on them, or
on him. But pointing their guns at the camera had another symbolic meaning
as well. A soul separated from its body is vulnerable, the Dogon believe, and
also dangerous. However much the dead man's spirit wanted to stay in the
village, it had to be made to leave, even if this meant frightening it away.
Pointing their guns at Rouch as he was filming underscored that these Dogon
villagers associated the camera with the invisible spirit of the dead Ana!, as if
Rouch-the-camera, too, was to them a disembodied spirit, vulnerable and dan-
gerous, haunting a world in which he was homeless, longing to rest in peace,
yet reluctant to sever ties with the living.

When dancers perform the "dances of burial" in the public square, Rouch
tells us, they are malting visible the "system of the world" that finds expression
in every facet of Dogon society. In these dances, which reenact the life of one
individual, the history of the Dogon people, and the creation of the universe,
the invisible plays essential roles as characters and audience: dead souls,
ancestors, gods. In filming Ana!'s funeral, Rouch wasn't interested in conveying
any individual's "inner experience." His challenge was to convey the full
dimension of a reality in which, in the Dogon worldview, there are no walls
sepel!ating the visible and the invi~ib~e, the living and the dead, the present
and the past, the individual and the collective. To Westerners, such a reality is
a distant dream. But in the Dogon world, as Anai· envisions it, that dream is
reality. If this vision is also a fiction, as surely it is, it is a fiction that enables
the "most real part" of the Dogon world-and the "most real part" of Rouch's
art-to reveal itself.

In the Dama ritual that Ambara Dama documents, dancers wearing tall
masks reenact the first death of a human being. They reenact, as well, the per-
formance of the first Dama ritual, which was meant to empower the soul of the
first man who died to follow the long path to the land of the dead, but which
led to the contagion that caused death to spread so widely that it became
universal-a necessity, not a mere possibility for all human beings. At the heart
of Ambara Dama is a passage in which Rouch, drawing his words from Marcel
Griaule's writings, reflects on the "inner experience" of the beholders of the
ritual, linldng it with the role the original Dama played in spreading death. At
the very moment the dancers "enchanted the dead through their masks, they
themselves were enchanted. The funeral choreography enchanted people of the
mask society to the point where they provoked the contagion of death.
Displayed in museums, shorn of pulsing drumbeats, Dogon masks retain little
if any of their power to enchant." All this time, the camera has been lingering
on the mask of one of the dancers, but in an extraordinary gesture Rouch slows
down the image (and the sound track, lowering the music's pitch two octaves
and dulling its pulsing beat)-not to enhance the spectacle, but to spare us its
dangerous, potentially deadly, power.

Page 283

INDEX 273

Redner, Gregg, rso
Rembrandt, 225
Remembrance of Things Past (Proust), 73
Republic (Plato), 218
Resnais, Alain, 152, 178
Richter, Hans, 102
Rivette, Jacques, 185
Robertson, Cliff, 192, 194
Rockefeller Foundation, 44
Rodowick, D. N., rso-rsr, 170
Rohmer, Eric, 144, 149, r8s-r86, r88, rgo-191
A Romance of the Redwoods (Cecil B. DeMille,

1917), 25, 27
Room, Abram, 107
Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948), 2rr
Rose, Jacqueline, 3
Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski, rg68), 163
Rosenzweig, Roy, 22
Rosetta Stone, 23
Rossellini, Roberto, 137-138, 144-145, 152
Rouch, Jean, 125-135
Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939), 137
Rushton, Richard, rso, 200
Ruttmann, Walter, 203
Ryder, Winona, 97

Sabzian, Hossain, 126-128, 131
The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, rg86), 74
Sade, Marquis de, 73
Safety Last (Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor,

1923), 203
The Salaried Masses (Kracauer), 44
Salvation Army, 20
Sanders, Julie, 191-192
Sarrasine (Balzac), II3
Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998),

42
Sayre, Robert F., 20
Schaeffer, Pierre, 229, 239
Schafer, R. Murray, 239
Schatz, Thomas, 156
Schefer, Jean-Louis, 176
Schrader, Paul, 192
Scob, Edith, 170, 172
Scorsese, Martin, 154, rg8, 202-204, 206-207
Scott, A. 0., 46-48
Scott, Walter Dill, n
Screen (magazine), 197
Selznick, David 0., 220, 246
Serpico (Sidney Lumet, 1973), 154
Shane (George Stevens, 1953), 167
Sharits, Paul, 3
Shattered (Lupu Pick, 1921), 44
Shaviro, Steven, 150, 152
Shoot the Piano Player (Fran~ois Truffaut,

1960), 144
Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, 2013),

195-196
Silverman, Kaja, 177, 231
Simmel, Georg, 31, 55, 176
Sinatra, Frank, 120
Singer, Ben, 56
Sl<eleton Dance (Disney, 1929), 39
Sloane, Everett, 168-169

Snow, Michael, 3
Sobchack, Vivian, 65
Soderbergh, Steven, 195-196
Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972), 74
Songhay of Niger, 125
Sound on Screen (Chion), 234-235
Spenser, Edmund, 248
Sperb, Jason, 197-1g8
Spielberg, Steven, 42-44, 47-50, 52-53,

62-65, 87
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939), 219-224
Stanton, Harry Dean, 159
Steinskog,Eril<, 58
Stem, William, n
Sternberg, Josef von, 35, 37, 70
Stewart, James, 131, 135, 167
Stoller, Paul, 130
The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999),

159-161
Stril<e (Sergei Eisenstein, 1924), 79-80,

82, 88
The Student of Prague (Paul Wegener, Stellan

Rye, and Hanns Heinz Ewers, 1913), 8
studium (Barthes), ns
Stultifera navis (Brant), 178
Summer with Monil<a (Ingmar Bergman,

1953), 147
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

(F. W. Mumau, 1927), 197, 202-207
Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950 ), 58-63
Surrealism, 3, 108, 166, 217, 231
Sutherland, Kiefer, 72
Sutton, Damian, 150
Swanson, Gloria, 59, 61
Swedenborgianism, 20
Swinton, Tilda, 237, 249
Sword of Damocles, rgo
Symbolic, the (Lacan), 92, 95-100
Symbolic Order, the (Lacan), 92-94, 96-100
S/Z (Barthes), II3-II4

Tamiroff, Akim, 157
Tarkovsky, Andrei, 74
Tati, Jacques, 104-108, li2
Tatum, Channing, 195
Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976), 142, 154
Le Tempestaire (Jean Epstein, 1947), 69
Teshigahara, Hiroshi, 149
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Fritz Lang,

1933), 230-231
Theory of Film (Kracauer), 4, 51-53, 164
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson,

2007), 123
They Live by Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948), 144
The ThiefofBagdad (Raoul Walsh, 1924), 27
This Is Not a Pipe (Foucault), 177
Tierney, Gene, 91, 96
Tolstoy, Leo, 127
Tomlinson, Hugh, 151-152
Tone, Yasunau, 240
Toubiana, Serge, 152
Touch ofEvil (Orson Welles, 1958), 156,

158-159, 161
Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2orr), 29-30

Page 284

274 INDEX

Trevor, Claire, 220, 222
Tristan and Isolde (Wagner opera), 73, 75
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932),

231-232, 237, 240
Truffaut, Franr;ois, 144, 147, 176, 185
Turner, Frederick Jackson, 219-220
Turner, J.M.W., 183
Turu and Bitti: The Drums of Yore Gean Rouch,

197!), 129
Turvey, Malcolm, 56
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick,

rg68), 230

Umberto D (Vittorio De Sica, 1952), 155
University of Leipzig, 9
utopianism, 20, 30, 33, 41, 47, 52-53, 138, 203

Valandrey, Charlotte, 248
Van Sant, Gus, 213, 215
Vasiliu, Laura, 146
vaudeville, 2, II, 20, 79-80, 203
Velasquez, Diego, 175, 177
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958), I3I-I32,

134-135, 163, 167, rgr
Vertov, Dziga, 3, 79-80, 203
Vidor, King, 153
Vieux Colombier (Paris theater), 37
Virilio, Paul, 3
Visible Man (Balazs), 31-34, 37
"Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema"

(Mulvey), 241
Vivre sa vie (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965), 225
The Voice in Cinema (Chion), 229-230,237
von Trier, L~rs, 72-76

WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008), 38-40,46
Wanger, Walter, 222
Wayne, John, 220, 222
Webb,Clifton,94,96
A Wedding (Robert Altman, 1978), 153
Weimar Republic, 44-47, 51-52, 102
Welles, Orson, 78, 88, 149, 152, 156-159,

167-169, 2II
Werckmeister, Otto Karl, 217

What Cinema Is! Bazin 's Quest and Its Charge
(Andrew), 145

What Is Cinema? (Bazin), 65, 137
Whitney,Ryan,1rr
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemeclds,

1988), 88
"Why We Go to the 'Movies'" (Miinsterberg),

IO

Wilder, Billy, 59, 61
Williams, Treat, 154
Wilson, Woodrow, 20
Winslet, Kate, 108, III
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 165
The Wizard ofOz (Victor Fleming, 1939),

230
Wolff,Ludwig,34
Wollen, Peter, 78:-79, 81
The Women Who Knew Too Much (Modleski),

244
Wood, John, 250
Woolf, Virginia, 247
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical

Reproduction" (Benjamin), 54-55
World War I, 20, 44, 54, 62
World War II, 3, 32, 49, 54, 84, 149-150,

153-154, 159, 161
Writing Degree Zero (Barthes), II3
The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956),

187, 190
Wundt, Wilhelm, 9
The World Viewed (Cavell), 162-172
World Without Sun (Jacques-Yves Cousteau,

1964), !03

Young, Victor, 208-209
Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, 1939),

49-51,176

Z (Costa-Gavras, 1968), 187
Zaynalzadeh, Moharram, 126
Zeta-Jones, Catherine, 195-196
ZiZek, Slavoj, 3, 89
Zoetrope, 7
Zuccarini, Peter, 183

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