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Preliminary Paper Proposal

At a particularly suspenseful moment in Kathryn Bigelow’s 2009 The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner’s Sergeant First Class William James confronts an Iraqi man in a car at gunpoint. The Iraqi has crossed an American-guarded road block and driven into an area James’ EOD team has blocked off to investigate a possible bomb. The Iraqi’s motives are unclear, and as James stares him down amid cries of his comrades just to shoot, the film refuses to offer any easy explanation for the confrontation or any exit strategy. The game of chicken ends with the Iraqi man flinching first, rewarding James’ machismo and restraint. The moment seemingly vindicates the Rumsfeldian neo-con policy of intervention: to win the War on Terrorism, America needs to do little more than get in the face of the Muslim world and America’s firepower, resolve and sheer testicular fortitude will send the cowardly Islamo-fascist into retreat. The scene ends in a Bush-ian resolution: the Muslim, innocent or not, is led off in cuffs to destinations unknown, guilty, perhaps, of nothing more than being on the wrong side of language and cultural barriers.

But Bigelow’s film reuses such an easy view of the Iraq War, and in a later (again impossibly tense) scene, James tries to extract a helpless Iraqi man from a steel cage before a bomb attached to him explodes. The self-sacrificing American Sergeant ignores the danger he could face to himself and calls for lock cutters to break through the Iraqi Gordian Knot as he tries to save the Iraqi. For the first time, James fails, and he apologizes to the desperate, doomed man before he abandons him for his own safety. James’ agency and calm demeanor deteriorate into impotence and panic. As American hubris confronts an impossibly complex problem, victory becomes temporary at best, impossible at worst.

The Hurt Locker stands as the first Hollywood film that offers a credible approach towards telling the story of the Iraq war. In my paper, I’ll look to explore how Bigelow has played with conventions of the war genre, particularly themes of masculinity, coming-of-age and the divisions between both the enemy and the ally and the home front and the battle field to create a text that has allowed Hollywood, a mere six years into the conflict, its first lesson in how to speak Iraq.

Eye Candy is Junk Food

Okay, so I have to lead discussion on Laura Mulvey’s “Visual pleasure and Narrative Cinema” tomorrow, so I figured I’d post a little primer today.  Let’s just run through her article as I understand it.

Mulvey starts by explaining some Freudian psychoanalysis as it pertains to how women are perceived.  According to Freud, women, what with their lack of penises and all, are seen as castration threats to a male world and thus becomes a symbol of otherness, a symbol that must be controlled.  Women become, as Mulvey puts it, “the bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning.”

She then goes on to explain Hollywood films are influenced by the dominant ideology, and of particular interest to her is how American patriarchy has formed the definitions of pleasure; that is, men have decided and shaped want we want to see on screen.  Visual pleasure, for Mulvey, is a tool for female oppression.

She then goes on to discuss psychoanlytic concepts of visual pleasure, starting with scopophilia.  She explains Freud’s concept of looking at people to take them in as erotic objects.  This pleasure is controlling, as the person doing the looking is determining the identity of the person being looked at.  The cinema is a form of this voyeurism, turning the objectified people on screen into performers while allowing the spectators to remain hidden.

Mulvey then goes into the concept of the mirror phase, which we went over in class a few weeks ago.  According to Lacan, we recognize ourselves in a mirror before we reach full physical development, and recognize the figure in the mirror as being more perfect than our own bodies.  This continues through development in the form of people locating their ideal self being outside of themselves, and help us form a subjective identity.  The cinema, for Mulvey is a physical projection of our ego ideals.

She then attempts, using Freud, to synthesize those two opposed notions of the pleasures of looking, concluding that the structure of pleasure obliterates objectivity, but has not ideological slant in itself.  However, because films are produced by a phallocentric society, they reflect the biases of it.

In the next section, Mulvey explains that women in film are made to be passive objects of male desire: they are to be looked at for the pleasure of a male audience.  They are eroticized to emphasize their, what she calls, to-be-looked-at-ness (I love that phrase, btw).  Interestingly, she notes that this emphasis on looking at the women sexually is not bound by conventions of narrative, and a film will stop right in the middle of action to contemplate how a woman looks.  Check out this clip from Star Wars (you can skip ahead to 3:15):

Star Wars

In the middle of a rushed escape, we get a moment to check out Princess Leia.  Aren’t these guys in a rush?

Next, she points out that the male-dominated film industry does not treat men the same way it does women, because “Man is reluctant to gaze at his exhibitionist like.”  To illustrate this, check out how nudity is handled differently in the following clips:

Fast Times at Ridgemont High


Both these scenes are, ostensibly, comic, but only one of these clips could really be considered erotic.  The Pheobe Cates scene is particularly interesting, I think, because one the one hand, it’s about the voyeur getting his comeuppance and it addresses the masturbatory nature of visual pleasure, but on the other hand it is guilty of everything Mulvey accuses phallocentric cinema of representing.  Both clips feature voyeurs, but Judge Reinhold is a willing and enthusiastic voyeur of the female object featured, where the elevator patrons (and, in a sense, the “cameraman”) in Borat are disgusted and decidedly not in control.  Men in film, as Mulvey puts it, are part of the landscape, and if a film breaks with that tradition, it’s played off for laughs (see also: Hot Tub Time Machine or Walk Hard). The process of editing makes the Fast Times clip erotic and makes the Borat clip ridiculous (although it’s hard to imagine an erotic shot of Ken Davitian).

Mulvey then explains how the techniques of editing serve to control women, again bringing up castration anxiety.  According to her, patriarchal films have two methods of putting women into a male-dominated order.  The first way is to demystify female characters through the story, eventually punishing or rescuing them for or from their otherness.  the other is to chop women up into little bits by using close-ups, turning the threatening woman into a safe fetish object.  Here’s a fun clip (skip to 7:00):

Double Indemnity

In this, Barbara Stanwyck is an intimidating figure at first, towering over Fred MacMurray and, you  know, being naked and way sexier than him.  But then she goes to get dressed, and the film starts to demystify her.  MacMurray snoops around a bit, learning about her  without her consent.  Then, when Stanwyk is reintroduced, the camera shows her ankles, puffy slippers and little anklet.  Those are controllable objects, and MacMurray is given a position of power for the rest of the scene, sitting higher than her and talking down. In addition we, the audience, become more powerful than the puffy slippers and little anklet that Stanwyk is reduced to.

Mulvey then goes onto explain the differences between how Sternberg and Hitchcock use some of these techniques, but I’m running out of time, so I’ll skip to the conclusion.

In her summary, Mulvey explains that there are three types of gaze involved in cinema: The camera’s gaze at the “profilmic event,” the audience’s gaze at the screen and the character’s gaze at each other.  Hollywood techniques, according to Mulvey, suppress the importance of the first two to present a seamless product for its audience.  The emphasis on the third gaze, that of the character, forces the audience to see the film as the typically male, patriarchally-trained main character.    Check out this Pepsi commercial, which featured kids as the voyeurs:

Pepsi Commercial

We see Cindy Crawford as the kids see her, and because of this, the kids are given the power in the scene and we identify the male spectators as in control.

Mulvey finishes by arguing for a new cinema that changes the emphasis form the male gaze towards a “passionate detachment.”  She explains that this might make film uglier, but it will also make it fair.

Research Project Pitch


Okay, so, for my paper I think I want to look at The Hurt Locker from a film genre perspective.  I need to do more reading on the whole concept of genre, natch (and I have to watch the film again, double natch), but I want to take a look at how it fits into the war movie genre, how it deviates from the genre’s conventions and, you know, what all that means.

Again, I need to do more reading about genre in general, and war movies in particular, but here’s my pre-preliminary thoughts on the matter:

1. The war movie as bildungsroman

Traditionally, war films follow a neophyte as he (and it’s nearly always a he) becomes initiated into the culture of war, and, by doing so, he also becomes a man.    The Hurt Locker doesn’t seem, at least on the surface, to follow this convention.  Why not?  Is this a comment on the genre?  Or is there a coming of age story in this film, just presented in a different way?

On a related note, the war movie also traditionally features an FNG, either as the protagonist or a sidekick, through which the audience is initiated into the culture of war.  Does The Hurt Locker have this? (That’s an honest question, actually. I don’t remember.  Like I said, I’ll have to watch it again.)  What does it say if there isn’t?  If there is, is the convention altered or treated differently?

Similar to the bildungsroman:

2. The war movie and masculine identity

The war movie traditionally (I feel like I’m going to be writing “traditionally” or “conventionally” an awful lot in this post, so from now on, when I write “war movie,” just read “traditional war movie”) involves bringing a character (normally the protagonist) into a community of manhood, as the film’s definition of masculinity is constructed through the actions of the characters.

The Hurt Locker is kinda all about what it means to be a man, was it not?  For one thing, there’s hardly any women in the thing, so all the relationships in it are homosocial (if not homosexual).  And there’s a lot of arguments about The Right Thing To Do, which could be read as an ethical discussion, but in the context of the film they feel like they’re more about what it means to be a man.  (This is all, perhaps, complicated by the fact that it was directed by a woman, a lamentably rare situation)  What is the film saying about being a man?  Are there similar comments being made on masculinity in other, contemporary war movies?  Are there not?

And continuing on with the related notes,

3. The segregation and gendering of space in the war movie

There’s normally a clear division between the feminine-gendered domestic world and the masculine-gendered battlefield in war movies.   This is pretty unmistakable in The Hurt Locker.  Are there any riffs on this convention, though?  Do other contemporary war movies do this to the same degree?

4. Political Messaging/Propaganda and the war movie

God, that’s a pretty general/useless bullet point description, right?  Ok, but here’s what I’m getting at- war films traditionally (there’s that word again) had an overt political message, from the hawkish Sands of Iwo Jima to the dovish Paths of Glory.  And while it’s impossible to create a movie without some sort of political message, The Hurt Locker doesn’t spell its message out for the audience.  The word “apolitical” has been used to describe it (for instance, here’s a Reuters article), and while that’s poppycock, there does seem to be a downplay of the politics of the real war in Iraq.  Do other Iraq/OIF/GWoT movies treat politics similarly?  What does it all mean?

There are lots of other things to look at, of course.  The Individual vs. the Unit.  The Othering of the Enemy (or, in this film’s case, the complete invisibleness of the enemy).  The emphasis on “Authenticity.”  The emphasis on going home. Experiments with nihilism. On and on and on.  I’ll obviously need to focus my research and try to get to some sort of thesis by concentrating on one or two or maybe three of these points and try to come to something meaningful/interesting to say about the text.  But the movie’s new, right?  And it’s popular and respected and, ya know, important, mebbe?  So maybe I can come up with something worth reading about it.

As for taking it on from a genre perspective, that basically means watching a lot of other films, right?  So here’s some I can think of (Wikipedia lists 30 films about the Iraq War.  I won’t be watching nearly that many.):

  • Green Zone
  • Generation Kill (not really a film. Ruling?)
  • Jarhead
  • Three Kings (older, maybe not so relevant.  Maybe for contrast)
  • The Kingdom
  • Stop-Loss
  • Grace is Gone
  • In the Valley of Elah
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Brothers
  • Homecoming (also maybe not a film.  Almost certainly not a war movie. But Joe Dante! )
  • Home of the Brave
  • Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • Rambo IV (god help me)

Ok, so, like I said, I’m not gonna watch all these.  But once I focus my thesis I can choose which ones I should zero in on.  And I can be convinced that it might bear more fruit to look at The Hurt Locker as an entry in a different genre. Like, are the films about the wars in the Middle East our new westerns, with gunmen bringing order, law and “civilization” to the untamed, “savage” frontier (does the word “savage” even need quotes around it anymore?  Is it ever used unironically?  I mean, of course, outside of the New York Post?)?  Is Moktada al-Sadr the new Chief Cicatriz?  Is Donald Rumsfeld the new Tom Doniphon? Or the new Sentenza?  I mean, the wars were started by a shit-kicking cowboy, right?

But I think I want to focus on The Hurt Locker and I’m pretty sure I want to look at it as a war movie.  I only have questions at this point, but I think that’s a good thing, right?

Oh, jeez, I just looked back on the syllabus and saw this was supposed to be a pitch, instead of a rambling bout of nonsense.  Ummm, did I sell anyone on it?

Post-Colonial Texts: Book vs. Film

Before we leave third cinema for semiology, I just wanted to make a quick comment on something I never realized.  I’ve studied post-colonial literature before, but never had much chance to look at post-colonial cinema.  I guess I knew the two disciplines would be a little different, but it wasn’t until last week that I realized how fundamentally different the two media are when it comes to how they handle post-colonial texts.  One thing that is a large concern among post-colonial writers is something so basic, attention sometimes needs to be deliberately brought to it or it could be missed (at least for numbskulls like me): the choice of language used in the work.  Writers like Chinua Achebe had (and have) to, in sense, justify why they chose to write works in English or other languages of colonizers.  For some writers, like Achebe, writing in the colonizer’s tongue became (becomes) a subversive political act.  Others felt that the real need was to write in native languages in order to construct a new identity free from colonization.

I can’t say I’m qualified to say which side is more right, but I realized, in class as we were watching The Hour of the Furnaces (or, more accurately, La hora de los hornos), that the choice of language used is not nearly as important for filmmakers as it is for novelists.  While (as Metz was saying in this week’s reading) some of the meaning of a film image is constructed through the lens of the specific culture it is viewed in, because film is primarily a visual medium, a lot of a film’s message will carry it across language barriers.  On the one hand, subtitles are pretty cheap to create and slap on the bottom of the screen, and on the other, its difficult to imagine a culture that would prevent a viewer from seeing the parallels Getino and Solanas were making between the colonized Argentinians and the slaughtered cows, even if there were no translation on screen to guide him or her.

Maybe film is a better medium for tackling questions of post-colonial identity.  Or maybe the lessened importance of questions about language causes film to miss an important aspect of colonial subjugation and identities of resistance.  I don’t know, but I thought I’d share.

Also: the cow slaughter didn’t bug my vegetarian self nearly as much as the runaway chicken in City of God.  I mean, the filmmakers of Furnaces were, I suppose,  just documenting slaughter that would happen anyway, but Meirelles and Lund would have been throwing a chicken (or, more probably, multiple chickens) in front of a moving car to film it as it runs between its tires.  How many of those poor little bastards were run over before they got the shot they wanted?  Bleh.

Can the Subaltern Film?

So, for today we got a lot to read.  I’m not sure if it was more than other weeks, but it sure felt like it.  Not sure why.  Maybe I’m just tired.  A lot of interesting stuff though.

Anyhoo, in the order the readings were listed on the syllabus:

Sloanas and Getino “Towards a Third Cinema.”

A manifesto, is it not? S&G are calling for a Marixst overthrow of the Euro-American film industry’s influence in Latin America, one that they see as a sort of cultural colonization.  They start by asserting that all films, until “recently” (1997?) were no more than consumer goods.  For them, even politically active films that find some root in Hollywood and European films are still Establishment cinema, contributing to the cultural suppression of the colonized nation.  They then move on to ask whether revolutionary film can be made before the revolution, or if the revolution needs revolutionary film to spur it on.    They also refer to the division of art into two sphere: the political and the aesthetic, which we’ve seen a few other writers do so far.

They eventually explain how cinema can be made subversive, into a weapon.  Their guerilla cinema, a movement they see as taking plae across countries throughout the third world, needs to subvert the industry of film and seize production for itself in order to transform (and this is really cool) the camera into “the inexhaustible expropriator[s] of image-weapons” and the projector into “a gun that can shoot 24 frames per second.” !

Rocha, “An Esthetic of Hunger”

Rocha’s work also sees third world cinema as one of violence, since this violence is the outward expression of hunger.  Because of an inability for third-world cinema to communicate suffering to the first world, Cinema Novo, as he calls it, confronts the colonizer with the only thing he understands.  Violence forces recognition.

Espinosa, “For an Imperfect Cinema,”

A waaay interesting take on cinema of revolt, Espinosa, like Solanas and Getino, is mapping a path to an authentic third-world cinema by subversion, but unlike the others, who concentrated on subverting the production, Espinosa writes of subverting the form itself.  He argues that traditional aesthetic evaluation of film needs to be disregarded by revolutionary filmmakers, and that films that would probably be considered “bad” would carry the most political heft.

Stam and Spense, “Colonialism, Racism and Representation,”

This essay, much like Said’s writings on orientalism, explain how film is involved in the “othering” of colonized and subjected peoples, becoming a means of oppression. Minority and third-world people are demonized or, just as importantly, otherwise stereotyped (even with qualities that could be considered “positive”) by traditional films.  History and geography are misrepresented to suit the political needs of the colonizer.  They emphasize that this racsim is systemic, not individualized, and hope to draw attention to it.

Wollen, “Godard and Counter-Cinema,”

Hello?  What’s this one doing in here? No, i think I get it.  Wollen’s also talking about revolutionary filmmaking, but his essay is about a Euro-centric Marxist revolution (am I wrong?), or , at least, a not-specifically-third-world revolution.  He details how Godard’s work subverts the conventional form of cinema in order to lay the groundwork for revolution. Ultimately, he feels Godard’s counter-cinema isn’t truly revolutionary, since, as counter, it only operates in a society with a functioning established cinema.

and, finally, Crofts. “Reconceptualizing National Cinema,” which goes through what he sees as the major forms film had taken across the world in 1993.  He ends by arguing, I believe, against western concepts of film canon,which he sees as far too limiting on the one hand and contributing to the othering of alternate forms of cinema on the other hand (Hey, there’s an Edward Said sighting).


So, there’s a tiff, evidently, in the filmy world in the early 60’s.  (I totally read these articles out of order, so I wound up experiencing these arguments as if they were thrown in a blender or something.)  Andrew Sarris gets the ball a-rolling with his Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962, in which he tries to define Cahiers’ politique des auteurs for an anglophone audience.  Basically, he presents auteur theory as the study of films through a lens that recognizes a director’s unique touches on his or her films.  For auteur critics, these touches become evident only by watching tons of films (or all of the films) by a director.  For Sarris (and Wollen), the Hollywood system, with its emphasis on the fiscal side of the film industry, is the best source for auteurist (?) texts.  Directors like Howard Hawks were consistently put in charge of films they had no say in creating, but their personality would shine through in their films by their use of formal and stylistic choices.  The repetition of these choices through their films (and their deviance from and manipulation of these repeated tropes), gave the clearest glimpse into, as Sarris puts it, the film’s soul (or elan of the soul).

Pauline Kael ain’t buying it.  She calls out auteur theory in “Circles and Squares,” saying it’s insistence on emphasizing potboiler films over films by directors like Ingmar Bergman ignores the best films.   She argues that while genre film directors might occasionally create something great, scholarship should focus on separating bad films form the great ones, no matter who the director is.  She says that by (arbitrarily, as she, perhaps correctly, puts it) declaring a director great, then elevating all that director’s works to a status worthy of scholarship, auteur critics give too much credit to bad films by good directors and not nearly enough to good films by “bad” directors.

Sarris counters by saying (and not entirely without cause), that kael has misrepresented auteur theory, and in his subsequent essay (as well as in Wollen’s), auteur theory is clarified as a  way to see films in an intertextual light.  Of course, they might go to far in insisting that films can ONLY be seen in an intellectual light.

And, again, we’re seeing a lot of “with us” or “against us” stuff going on.  Isn’t film criticism big enough to allow for multiple critical lenses?

By the way, before reading her (and I had somehow managed to get this far in my life without ever reading her, shame on me), I never would have guessed that Pauline Kael would be the Harold Bloom type in the argument.  She seems hip and cool, right?  But Bloom never seemed hip and cool, and I think their arguments about the arts that they both study are pretty similar, right?

But, my question is why were these critics placing so much emphasis on evaluative criticism?  The language both critics use clearly indicate that they are really fighting over what, umm, I dunno, the canon or something will consider to be good films and which ones will be decreed bad.  And isn’t this just about the most boring thing you can ask about a piece of art?  Is it good?  Is it better than these other films?  Is this guy better than that guy?  These are all opinion-based, yes-or-no type questions.  Aren’t there much more important/interesting questions to ask about a film?

Un Chien Andalou

So, I’d never see Un Chien Andalou before last week, and I don’t think I can let the week go by without commenting on it. [I totally closed my eyes during the eye-slicing part.  I’m a big chicken about gore.  But I just watched it on Youtube in case there were, like, ants crawling out of it or something else I missed.  It wasn’t as bad as I imagined.  The cloud cutting through the moon is somehow worse]  I know it’s a fool’s errand to try to cleanly delineate between the two nebulously-defined movements, but I felt like the film was a lot more post-modern than modern.  I mean, the thing’s lousy with Freudian references, and modernists were all about Freud; but the images don’t seem to cleanly add up to what we’d expect them to be, were they just illustrations of Freudian concepts.  You have the grotesque and the unheimlich and the doppelganger and it’s all presented in this dream-like, subconscious framework that Breton explains; but the way they’re presented, they evade simple explanations.  Un Chien Andalou seems to be more about unknowablility than psychoanalysis.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the way I understand it, modernism is kinda the child of Marx, Freud, Darwin, Nietzche and other 19th century thinkers.  While you can certainly see the fingerprints of some of those dudes on this work, I think Un Chien Andalou has more in common with thinkers that would have been more contemporary, like Heisenberg and Einstein- guys the post-modernists loved (love?).    Time, in particular, is treated with a solidly Einsteinian slant.

And then there’s the fragmentation of the work.  There’s a huge emphasis on splitting an event into little chunks of memory, then piecing it back together (something Munsterberg would consider a very filmic thing to do). While there are some definite instances of this popping up in modernist texts, it seems, to me, that the post-modernists were the ones that were really into it.  The fragmentation of memory is sort of about the failure of the mind, and I see that more in a work like Slaughterhouse Five then in something like Mrs. Dalloway.  And speaking of Vonnegut, I’m also reading a huge amount of black humor in Un Chien Andalou, almost to the point of playfulness.  Maybe it’s just me looking for humor in it, but c’mon- a dude that looked like this has to be in on the joke, right?

But, you know, so what?  Who cares if it’s Modernist or Post-modernist?  Would it change our reading of the film if you could say it is definitely one or the other?

No, I don’t think so.  But I did feel, while watching it, the the film was ahead of its time, perhaps shaping, to some extent, the massive movements in art that followed World War II.

Rodchenko, Vertov and more!

In class yesterday, Professor Herzog referred to Alexander Rodchenko’s MoMA exhibit, which, unfortunately, ended its run twelve years ago.  But, were it still around, you could see cool stuff like this:

and this:

But while Rodchenko’s stuff has gone away, right now there’s a kick-ass exhibit featuring Bauhaus and Bauhaus-inspired design, which was a contemporary movement of Soviet Constructivism and Futurism.   Check out some of Jan Tschichold‘s work:

It’s pretty similar to Rodchenko, no? Or another Russian like El Lissitzky:

Anyhoo, the Bauhaus movement was a leftish politically motivated philosophy of art that began in architecture (here’s, uh, the Bauhaus by Walter Gropius) and would spread to almost everything.  Here’s a beautiful font by Herbert Bayer:

So, what does this have to do with our readings?  Well, Vertov’s manifesto calls not just for the politicization of art, but also for art to pervade everyday life, a notion that was also being echoed in Germany between the wars.  The concept of having everything around you is part of a political movement- from the building you live in to the street signs outside your house to the stamps on your envelopes- is pretty alien to me, and more than a little bit scary (thanks, John Carpenter).    But for Vertov, who, at least at the point when he wrote these Kino-Eye letters, was a true believer in the worker’s revolution, this immersion in a political world was a good thing.  And seeing how we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements everywhere we turn nowadays, I wonder if total immersion in a political world is even avoidable.


Okay, so as a newly-converted vegetarian (“new” as in “about a month or so,” not “new” as in “since class today”), I gotta take issue with the killing the cow scene at the end of Strike.  Yeah, I realize that cow was going to be killed anyway, but using the actual death throes of a suffering animal to lend your film emotional resonance is exploitative (and yeah, I realize that Eisenstein wasn’t operating in a profit-driven environment for film makers, so he’s not being exploitative in exactly the same way film exploitation is considered, but it still unethically trades in involuntary suffering to further it’s political agenda).

That said, I can’t say the thought process behind the inclusion of the butchering of the cow was far off.  Like Comrade Vertov suggested, staged drama is unmistakably artificial next to recordings of documentary footage.  As we watched Strike, a transparently manipulative agit-prop work if there ever was one, I noticed a lot of laughing when the bourgeoisie-serving horsemen threw a baby off the roof.  The staged work looks, you know, staged.  When that terrible sequence of the cow’s death ran, though, there wasn’t nearly as many chuckles, and those that did laugh weren’t laughing at the film’s shortcomings the way we were while we watched the baby getting thrown off the roof.

The use of torturous snuff in order to illicit an emotional response from viewers is cheap and unethical, but it’s also incredibly effective.  Eisenstein’s scene hits you right in the gut, and it haunts you long after the movie ends.





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