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Still Dots #53

Second #3224, 53:44 Like a stealthy criminal escaping from a crime in one of so many heist films, Holly has escaped danger into a crowd, this time by delivering a lecture to them. As the last two posts drew out, the lecture stunk, but nonetheless, Holly has been able to escape the near certain danger […]

Second #3224, 53:44

Like a stealthy criminal escaping from a crime in one of so many heist films, Holly has escaped danger into a crowd, this time by delivering a lecture to them. As the last two posts drew out, the lecture stunk, but nonetheless, Holly has been able to escape the near certain danger that seems to be closing in on him from all sides. Of course, this respite has been short-lived, and as the safety in numbers fades, Holly’s wary gaze begins to scan the back of the room like a lone gazelle at the edge of a field of tall grass. And as Holly’s eyes lock onto the two thugs who flank the nefarious Popescu, his legs begin to skitter toward an exit, even at this canted angle. Crabbin, seemingly ignorant of the fact that his audience has left, continues to blather about the honor of having an American novelist visit their fair city. He is apparently also ignorant of the poor quality of the speech itself, but around this doddering academic, Holly’s ears begin to twitch and hidden in a dark canted corner of the frame, we can see the staircase that will be his salvation. What comes next is a masterful use of tropes of suspense, for how else could Holly escape from this Literary purgatory than through tropes?

Today’s Still Dots operates on a slightly different formula than most. Seeing this frame as both a punctuation mark and a starter’s pistol, we must now focus on the space between the dots. The illusion of cinema itself is the deception that lives between the film frames, that conceptual jump that transforms a series of still images into a living and moving shot, and that magic lives in the formless darkness that flashes itself between the frames. Lacan might call that meaningless space that makes our artifice a whole, The Real, but for our cinematic purposes we will call it the space between the frames. This week’s Still Dots will try to emulate that life-making space, by occupying the space between this post and the next.

But of course, to do that would be to break the rules of our project, since the collision points of our project are the intent of this analysis. This method approximates the methodology of film, by creating meaning with a series of still images presented sequentially, and to break that rhythm would break the illusion of our coherent analysis. So instead of using images from this space, and because of the profoundly cinematic nature of this scene, I present highlights from the next 62 seconds of film time approximated from other moments in cinema history.

Three shadowy figures, two henchmen and a major villain, block our hero's exit and threaten him with implied violence in The Matrix (1999), Image © Warner Brothers

Our hero, with no allies at his side, walks to face up to almost certain doom in High Noon (1952), Image © United Artists

Making a run for it, our hero hits the spiral stairs in Vertigo (1958), Image © Universal Pictures

Two thugs pursue our hero up a staircase in Casino Royale (2006), Image © MGM

Hiding in a dark room, our hero comes face-to-face with a bird in The Maltese Falcon (1941), Image © Warner Brothers

The cockatoo (Orson Welles put it in to "Wake 'em up!") startles and attacks our hero in Citizen Kane (1941), Image © MGM

Over the absolute length of one year — two times per week — Still Dots will grab a frame every 62 seconds of Carol Reed’s The Third Man. This project will run until December 2012, when we finish at second 6324For a complete archive of the project, click here. For an introduction to the project, click here.