All films have texture. If we take texture as inviting or appealing to touch through tactile properties of material — rough, smooth, slimy, knobbly — there are many moments of film that spark a felt connection. Some films are prominently textured, featuring elements of clothing, environment and bodies that appeal to our tactile sense. Examples that spring to mind encompass a range of categories of film, from recent art house The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr, 2011) to studio-era Hollywood The Scarlet Empress1 (Josef von Sternberg, 1934) (Figure 0.1); from British costume drama The Governess (Sandra Goldbacher, 1998) to French horror Amer (Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, 2009). There are moments that directly address touch and stand out in recollection because of their synaesthetic effects. The sensory appeal of touch on-screen is underlined when Mrs Danvers asks the second Mrs de Winter to caress the rich furs and delicate lace contained within Rebecca’s wardrobe in Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) (Figure 0.2). Sound too evokes the tactile properties of surface, as with the disconcertingly metallic fluidity created by the mushy gloopy sounds accompanying any occasion when the hardened body of the T1000 cyborg is pierced in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991). Even transitions, between shots and narratives, can be made through tactile encounters, as with the connection of interlocking stories made via the corresponding textures of raised hair on an arm and on a tree in The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006).
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Lucy Fife Donaldson
- Palgrave Macmillan UK