Mise-en-sc\u00e8ne

Episodes

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01Sidney Lumet and the Crisis of Liberalism20190715

Michael Goldfarb remembers the political and social mise-en-scène of films from the 1960s and 1970s, including work by Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet and Derek Jarman. "Mise-en-scène" means the arrangement of the scenery, props, on the set of a film or, more broadly, the social setting or surroundings of an event.

Sidney Lumet embodied through his work the high tide and long decline of New Deal Liberalism. That may or may not have been his intention.

In films like The Hill and Network, he (and his screenwriters) brilliantly show humane, reasonable people under inhumane, illiberal pressure. After terrible ordeals, liberal order is re-established and progress resumes. The message is that justice in the end triumphs.

Michael Goldfarb remembers the mise-en-sc\u00e8ne films from the 1960s and 1970s.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

02The Meaning of Sam20190716

Michael Goldfarb remembers the political and social mise-en-scène films from the 1960s and 1970s, including work by Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet and Derek Jarman. "Mise-en-scène" means the arrangement of the scenery, props, on the set of a film or, more broadly, the social setting or surroundings of an event.

Sam Peckinpah films nowadays are almost always discussed in terms of their artistically depicted violence, where they fit in the Western genre, and the director's self-destructive alcoholism. But they are much, much more than that.

They are profound meditations on history. In this essay, Michael talks about his masterpieces, Ride the High Country, The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Aside from their cinematic virtues, these are films about men who outlive their historical times and how they respond to that displacement.

Michael Goldfarb explores the mise-en-sc\u00e8ne filmwork of Sam Peckinpah.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

03The Summation20190717

Michael Goldfarb remembers the political and social mise-en-scène films from the 1960s and 1970s, including work by Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet and Derek Jarman. "Mise-en-scène" means the arrangement of the scenery, props, on the set of a film or, more broadly, the social setting or surroundings of an event.

The word transgressive is one of the most overused by critics on BBC arts programmes. Jarman was the real deal - a genuinely transgressive genius.

A considerable amount of his aesthetic had been formed in New York at the time Michael was driving a cab. They had long conversations about the great NYC avant-garde filmmakers who he knew and whose work he summarised in his films.

This is an essay not just about Jarman but also the New York avant-garde scene of the 1970s, when the forms of film-making were multitudinous and the lifestyle of film-makers had more in common with the avant-garde of early 20th century bohemian Paris than Hollywood.

Michael Goldfarb remembers the mise-en-sc\u00e8ne filmwork of Derek Jarman.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

04The Ghost of the Time20190718

Michael Goldfarb remembers the political and social mise-en-scène films from the 1960s and 1970s, including work by Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet and Derek Jarman. "Mise-en-scène" means the arrangement of the scenery, props, on the set of a film or, more broadly, the social setting or surroundings of an event.

What films give the best idea of what it was like to be an American starting out in adult life as the 1960s bled into the 1970s? No mainstream films ever really got to grips with the Vietnam/Woodstock zeitgeist. Not Apocalypse Now, or The Deer Hunter, or The Big Chill. They were big budget, big studio imaginings.

But the zeitgeist called for films made well outside the studio system. Withnail, Performance, Tracks, Cutter's Way. These four films - two American-based, two English-based - made outside the studio system - or mutilated by it - get at the anarchic heart of the era.

Michael Goldfarb remembers the mise-en-sc\u00e8ne films about Vietnam and Woodstock.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

05The Women in the Cutting Room... and Elsewhere20190719

Michael Goldfarb remembers the political and social mise-en-scène films from the 1960s and 1970s, including work by Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet and Derek Jarman. "Mise-en-scène" means the arrangement of the scenery, props, on the set of a film or, more broadly, the social setting or surroundings of an event.

There were women making films in this decade, but very, very few. And they had to stay in their lanes.

The biggest impact women had on the 70s mise-en-scène was in the cutting room: Thelma Schoonmaker, who cut the Scorsese films, and Dede Allen, who was house editor for Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty.

They brought shape and pace and a second set of directorial eyes to the films the three men made in that decade which is still referred to as Hollywood's Last Golden Age.

Michael Goldfarb remembers the mise-en-sc\u00e8ne filmwork of female editors and directors.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.