When V.F. Perkins writes that ‘One must respond to the textures of [Nicholas] Ray’s films before one can understand their meanings. One must appreciate their dynamics before one can see, embodied in their turbulent movement, an ethical and poetic vision of the universe and of man’s place in it’, he is arguing that responsiveness to total form is a crucial part of understanding film (1963: 8). This book emerges from a desire to make sense of certain film moments in a way that that captures their affect and to explore the rich interrelationship of elements that combine to generate feeling in the viewer. Teaching undergraduate courses on Hitchcock and Sirk has involved repeated viewings of scenes from their films. In the process of engaging students in discussions of the feelings they experience in watching Madeleine’s first appearance at Ernie’s in Vertigo or Kyle’s drugstore meeting with the doctor in Written on the Wind, I am always struck by the consistency of my own feelings for such scenes, and it is from this kernel of thought that my interest in texture developed. My use of texture as a critical concept is a direct response to the power of these moments; richly felt scenes designed to evoke powerful feelings and sensuously concentrated in the density of relationships between their component parts: performance, music, movement, colour, fabric, surface, precisely woven together to present and draw us into a narrative moment.
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Lucy Fife Donaldson
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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