This article describes how Kamal Amrohi's Pakeezah distils the idioms of the historical courtesan film, poised as they are between the glorification of courtesan culture and lamenting the debased status of the courtesan; between a nostalgic yearning for the feudal world of the kotha and a utopian desire to escape from it. The article argues that Pakeezah self-consciously defines the particular “chronotope”, or space-time, of the historical courtesan genre by showing that nothing less than a transformation of the idioms of that genre is required to liberate the courtesan from her claustrophobic milieu—whose underlying state is one of enervation and death—into the open space and lived time of modernity.
Richard Allen and Ira Bhaskar
Non-Metropolitan Representations of Homosexuality in Three French Films
This article offers a reflection on the ways in which the representation of gays and lesbians in contemporary French cinema has mostly focused on specific and limiting traits. With their choice of locales (Paris and other cities) and bodily characteristics (young, fit), these films convey a restrictive view of homosexuality. Such portrayals have gained traction due to their numerous iterations in films and in the media. By focusing on the works of three directors who have adopted a radically different perspective in their portrayals of homosexuality, this article will highlight the close ties that exist between sexuality and topography. Providing a more true-to-life account of homosexuality, the films move away from cities to investigate the geographical margins. In so doing, they question the tenets of France’s republican ideals, where differences tend to be smoothed out in favor of unity and homogeneity. These films reinstate diversity and individuality at the heart of their narratives.
Two Hong Kong Women Filmmakers’ Perspectives on Sex after 1997
Kong bodies serve as somatic markers of this geopolitical transition through the shaping of their outward appearances, physical locations, erotic expressions, and sexual identities. Cinematic depictions of these post-1997 Handover bodies as desiring
Evolution has equipped us with the ability to conceive of people and their actions in hypothetical, purely fictional, and fantastic scenarios. The way we conceive of real people, the way we make sense of fictional character, and the way we process needs and desires related to other people in our fantasies are all interconnected with one another. These are all instances of blending, often based on rather minimal direct information but supported by shared character-related schemata and mental simulation, the latter typically eliciting a degree of partial identification. The structural relationships and interconnectedness between these three processes can be examined in terms of the formalist notion of motivation.
Lalita Pandit Hogan
This article discusses filmic emotion by focusing on how the dominant color (blue in Gabbeh and Meenaxi; red in Mirch Masala) is used to elicit emotion. Through alienation effect, the viewer is distanced from the aims and goals of characters, and is less likely to experience the sorts of emotions that result from identification. The first two films use multiple frames of narration leading to character(s) in the outer frame becoming like spectators, invested in, for instance, fortune of others emotions that are central to the enjoyment of movies. In Mirch Masala, narration focuses on class struggle; there is minimal engagement with characters' individual aims, goals, and desires. While the red film foregrounds social anger, the blue films foreground consciousness. The three films together ask questions about what makes war and what makes peace, and how human action and human consciousness, represented through colors, figures in all this.
Lissa Weinstein and Banu Seckin
When Craig, an oft-humiliated and unsuccessful street puppeteer, discovers a portal into the body of John Malkovich, he finds that fusion with a live “celebrity puppet” offers a solution to the dilemmas of being human— imperfection, vulnerability, and death. In this fantastical context, the filmmakers raise questions about intention, identity, authorship, and the wisdom of elevating narcissism over Eros. Although a desire to transcend the limitations of the mortal body may be ubiquitous, the unique solution offered in Being John Malkovich is the apparent triumph of this narcissistic fantasy, rather than an acceptance of reality. This article first explores the film's use of the universal imagery of narcissism and then examines how technology, which allows widespread access to a visually oriented media culture, and changes in the meaning of fame have altered the expression of narcissistic fantasies, as well as the anxieties that accompany their fulfillment.
This issue of Projections features an impressive diversity of research questions and research methods. In our first article, Timothy Justus investigates the question of how film music represents meaning from three distinct methodological perspectives—music theory, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Following a model of naturalized aesthetics proposed by Murray Smith in Film, Art, and the Third Culture (see the book symposium in Projections 12.2), Justus argues for the importance of “triangulating” the methods and approaches of each field—more generally, of the humanities, the behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences. Our second article, by Gal Raz, Giancarlo Valente, Michele Svanera, Sergio Benini, and András Bálint Kovács, also explores the effects fostered by a specific formal device of cinema—in this case, shot-scale. And again, distinct research methods are put to complementary use. Raz and colleagues’ starting point is a desire to empirically test a hypothesis advanced by art historians Alois Riegl and Heinrich Wölfflin. To do this, they apply a machine-learning model to neurological data supplied by a set of fMRI scans. Methodology is the explicit topic of our third article, by Jose Cañas-Bajo, Teresa Cañas-Bajo, Juri-Petri Valtanen, and Pertti Saariluoma, who outline a new mixed (qualitative and quantitative) method approach to the study of how feature films elicit viewer interest.
According to constructivist theory a film cues us to apply a variety of schemata in mentally constructing a narrative and the diegetic world in which it takes place. But to what extent and with what degree of precision do we mentally construct time, space, causality, and the characters when we watch a film? We are not aware of the real world and our immediate environment much in excess of what our interests, needs, and desires are in any given situation. Similarly, we do not conceive of a complete fictional world when watching a film. Rather, a film cues us to fill in to the extent and with a precision that is relevant to our attempts at making sense of what is happening, often as focalized in terms of character interest. The cueing takes place through an interplay of what Thompson (1988) has defined as the realistic and the aesthetic background construction. This article outlines how this interplay functions to override apparent discrepancies in the material on the one hand, and to produce a variety of aesthetic effects on the other hand. Von Trier's Antichrist serves as an example of how the partial blocking of the filling in function can serve intriguing aesthetic purposes.
The Fleshy Horror of the Unknowable Other in Spring and Honeymoon
also tends to overlook the fact that some of the problems that affect theory contemplates—subjectivity, trauma, desire, structures of feeling—have a rich history of study in psychoanalysis. Of course, many works that exclude psychoanalytic thought do so
Nouri Bouzid, Abdellah Taïa, and the Transnational Tourist
Walter S. Temple
map cartographies of queer desire as captured by the camera’s lens during two contrastingly different moments in history—and, perhaps more importantly, as spoken by highly distinguishable voices. These two films will be compared and contrasted as we