Untangling time

Following our re-watch of Twelve Monkeys, I thought there would be interest in getting some insight into theories of time. This question will come up again when we screen Arrival (2016).

One thing to think about now is whether any of the these theories are helpful in making sense of the narrative in Twelve Monkeys.

First, here is a Guardian science podcast that features a conversation with different physicists about their, often competing, theories of time. The podcast is just under 35 minutes.

Second, this interview with physicist Carlo Rovelli about his new book, The Order of Time, addresses his view that time is simply a way of expressing how humans experience the universe. What makes this interesting in the context of Twelve Monkeys is that he argues that time is always a story we tell ourselves, and not just when we might be "mentally divergent."

Long take follow-up

This article by film scholar David Bordwell is a detailed critical discussion of the purposes and uses of the long take.

The following is a compilation of long takes from Children of Men:

Children of Men - every shot 45 seconds or longer from Refocused Media on Vimeo.

 And here is a feature on how the long takes were accomplished:


Here are links to the excerpts we watched in class: Russian Ark (1 & 2), Big Night, Citizen Kane, The Long Good Friday, Birdman, and Children of Men

Mise-en-scene references

This set of slides breaks mis-en-scene (m-e-s) into fifteen points. Note that some of these points - such as "shot and camera proxemics" and "lens/filter/stock" - are more commonly associated with analysis of the shot as a separate from m-e-s. In this course, these elements are treated as distinct but related to m-e-s: how the camera is used and outfitted necessarily affects how we see and experience what's in the frame.

This page at College Film & Media Studies provides a more streamlined perspective on the analysis of m-e-s. Two key points that are distinct from the resource in the first link are the inclusion of "setting" and "costume" and also "performance style." 

Chapter 3 in Spadoni, which we will discuss in week 3, takes a view closer to College Film & Media Studies than the view presented in the slides from the first link. The overarching theme in Spadoni is "stylization," or how filmmakers use the visual elements in the frame to create a distinct sense of space and place in a film.

Mise-en-scéne readings

Here are the readings on m-e-s I referenced in class:

Please note that these sources provide differing interpretations of mise-en-scéne, and that both are also distinct from the understanding I am presenting in class (remember that you will be able to link to those presentations from the Calendar).

*This presentation is based on Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies (2007), chapter 2, 49-101, which is available at Hamersly Library.

Begin practicing analysis of mise-en-scéne in comments to this entry and with the following images from A Trip to the Moon and The Great Train Robbery:

Trip to the Moon at 9:28:


Great Train Robbery at 2:43:


Auteur theory

In class, I mentioned "auteur theory" as an important moment in the development of film studies and also that the structure of this course, around the works of three directors, is an example of the influence of that theory.

  • Here you can read an overview of the history of auteur theory in the United States.
  • This (pdf) is film critic Andrew Sarris' influential account of the theory, and here is a reflection on his influence following his death in 2012.
  • Finally, you can watch a video discussion of auteur theory by University of Nebraska Lincoln professor, Wheeler Winston Dixon.

These resources are also collected on the course Storify page


Jim Jarmusch on Netflix & Hulu

There are a number of Jim Jarmusch directed films available for streaming.

On Netflix:

On Huluplus: