In Kelly Reichardt’s masterful 2013 meditation on terrorism Night Moves, we’re slowly introduced to a trio of disaffected young people staging a dramatic intervention: the explosion of a dam. Memorably, and in true Reichardt fashion, that explosion, which by all standard narrative conventions should occupy the film’s central spot, registers in the narrative instead as a muted, distant noise.
There are no doubt a number of reasons why the name Germaine Dulac is not as immediately familiar to most folks, including cinephiles, as her contemporaries Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, or her collaborator-turned-detractor Antonin Artaud. Here are two: the casual misogyny of the Surrealist Boy’s Club, and the fact that Dulac’s films don’t really fit the Surrealist mold very well in the first place.
Though not the first of his stories to appear on film, The Fall of the House of Usher is perhaps Edgar Allan Poe’s most well-known Gothic tale, and arguably the best suited for cinema. Its central themes — the embodiment of individual interiority in physical architecture, the more or less haunted house, the living grave, the unreliable narrator, the tension between what is seen and what is felt, the rampant doublings of character — all seem appropriate to an imagistic treatment.
Part of an ongoing effort to watch a set of films from non-White, non-U.S., non-male, and/or non-straight filmmakers and depart a little from the Western canon. The intro and full list can be found here.
Jean Cocteau rejected the label “Surrealist.” Contrary to notions of fundamentally unknowable art, born of dream and mining allusion, he began 1932’s Blood of a Poet with a title card that reads almost like a battle cry:
Every poem is a coat of arms.