Volume 3 | Issue 6 | Summer 2007


Volume 3 - Issue 6 - Editorial

By Gareth Evans

In the last few months, there has been a strange excavation at work in various stations of the London underground. Old film posters, promoting the likes of popular British films such as Peter’s Friends and The Crying Game have re-emerged in the tunnels and passageways of the Piccadilly and Victoria lines. Clearly aged, covered for years by subsequent advertisements, they appear at a time of particular (albeit ongoing) crisis in the infrastructure of British film, especially, but far from exclusively, around concerns for the future of the British Film Institute. It is almost as if the city itself, aware of the unsettlement within its body, wants to return to a time, however short-lived, when home-grown productions regularly performed well both locally and abroad.
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Crossing the Borderline

By Sophie Mayer

On an elegant walkway in the new extension of the BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre), a copy of an earlier issue of Vertigo shares a wall-mounted glass exhibition case with a number of other film journals, including Undercut.

Reality and Depth: Reflections on Art and Faith, Mind and the World

By David Johnson

The central problem for art, now and always, seems to me to be the nature of the relationship between the mind and the world – or I could have said, between imagination and reality.

Songs from Second Life: Report from a Virtual Reality

By Verena v. Stackelberg

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that Le Pen was voted out of a virtual world called Second Life, an online ‘world’ where over six million people meet, buy property, make ‘friends’ and shop for clothes for their virtual characters (called ‘avatars’).

Turning to Dust: The Gothic Cinema of Philip Ridley

By James Rose

The Reflecting Skin (1990) and The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) are two films that seem to have been forgotten in the steadily growing body of contemporary British Cinema. Written and directed by novelist and playwright Philip Ridley, both films are visionary works...

Faith in the Audiovisible: Into Great Silence and Devotional Cinema

By Catherine Lupton

There exists a cluster of writings touching the theme of film and faith, which are not so much analyses broaching the literal question of how films engage with certain religious precepts, as texts in which the author’s own faith, even if ambivalently experienced or not explicitly declared...

Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema

By Sheila Whitaker

Despite the success of Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention and Hany Abu Assad’s Paradise Now, to many the notion of a Palestinian cinema comes as a surprise. But these films did not appear from nowhere...

Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture and Film

By Chris Darke

While its title emphasises the cartographic nature of Giuliana Bruno’s remarkable book there’s also something of the art catalogue about this volume – it’s almost 500 pages long and with over 180 illustrations – but a catalogue for some impossibly voluminous exhibition...

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

By Gareth Evans

Work presented at the 53rd Oberhausen International Short Film Festival raises profound questions about the nature and role of the contemporary moving image.

Unbearable Lightness of a Moment: Impressions from Oberhausen and Beyond

By Tereza Stehlíková

Despite the chattering voices of the protagonists, the scene contains silence, which allows space for one’s own contemplation. The atmosphere is that of late spring, the air ripe with the mysterious presence of dormant futures.

Filming the ‘Unfilmable’: Thoughts on Shoah

By Libby Saxton

“I began precisely with the impossibility of telling this story”, observed Claude Lanzmann in 1985 on the release of Shoah, his nine-and-a-half hour filmic meditation on memory, testimony and the systematic programme of extermination implemented by the Nazis during the Second World War.

The Mystery, as Always: Raúl Ruiz, Klimt and the Poetics of Cinema

By James Norton

Visionary film-maker Raúl Ruiz may seem too esoteric for London’s West End but the Chilean director recently talked to Vertigo in the snug rococo tearoom of a hotel off Trafalgar Square, his conversation, as aleatory and fertile as his films, mingling with the insistent twang of a nearby harp.

A Dance to the Music of Time

By Gareth Evans

“Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I’d be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life.” The late Susan Sontag on Sátántango. She knew what she liked, and Hungarian film-maker Béla Tarr was one of the artists she most advocated...

Tait Modern

By Gareth Evans

Until recently one of the UK’s most shamefully neglected but wildly talented artist film-makers, the fiercely independent Margaret Tait worked entirely at the edges of both the industry mainstream and the geographical mainland, living between Edinburgh and the Scottish Orkney islands.

Simone Weil: Notes on a Timid Cinema

By Anat Pick

How to show someone who was so modest that they left no trace behind? A woman dead at 34 in an ugly English town she did not know. The forces of gravity, she claimed, determine all earthly movement. Everything travels resolutely downward. Only the miracle of grace pulls us up...

Shaun of the Dead: Witness Reports

By Sophie Mayer | Lady Vervaine

Three years after the tragedy that struck London, we return to the much-documented epicentre of the epidemic to speak with local residents and workers about how that fatal weekend altered their lives.

The Opened Hand: Reflections on Artur Aristakisyan's Palms

By Graeme Hobbs

A hundred years after the invention of cinema, a feature film that is wholly original is a rare discovery. Poetic, spiritual and hallucinatory, Palms is remarkable at every level. The winner of many international awards, this August marks the first release of this unique film on DVD.

Notes on an Indulgence

By Catherine Clinger

At the heart of this triadically manifested project are two distinct archives; one of words, the other, images. The latter is comprised of more than three hundred First Communion commemorative photographs collected by the artist, Christy Johnson.

In the Shell of the Ear: Listening to the School of Sound 2007

By John Bradburn

London’s School of Sound 2007 –  four days of talks, screenings and lectures that gracefully moved from the technical through the theoretical to the spiritual – foregrounding not so much the creation of sound as the beauty and importance of simply listening.

Still/Moving: Desire Paths in Dryden Goodwin's Flight

By Gareth Evans

For Goodwin, the eyes have it every time. A distinctively aesthetic – and to a certain degree ascetic – voyeurism underpins all those of his works which take watching as an almost musical motif, to be revisited in different surroundings...

Strangeness of Seeing

By Nichola Bruce

Strangeness of Seeing is a body of work including a series of 26 films and installations developed over a period of four years in collaboration with artist and performer Rebecca E Marshall.

Songs of Innocence and Experience

By Gareth Evans

250 years on from his birth, artist and poet William Blake remains unassailable as perhaps the most singular and visionary artist these islands have ever produced. Self-described as an ‘author and printer’ he saw angels in the branches of Peckham Rye aged eight...

Gardens in Autumn

By Rob McCrae

Dressed all in black and blazing through cigarettes like a teenager, 73 year old Otar Iosseliani remains a filmmaker with a maverick streak, fearless and outspoken but making films of a playful beauty.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Elizabeth McAlpine's Adventures in Cinema

By Sarah Wood

Watching artist film-maker Elizabeth McAlpine’s intrepid experiments with cinema I’m struck by how clearly she knows the distinction between consciousness and mind. It is not an easy distinction to make.

Once More, into the Zone... Chris Marker Looks Back, in Wonder

By Chris Darke

Back in 1966, Chris Marker made a 49-minute film called Si j’avais quatre dromadaires (If I Had Four Camels) in which an amateur photographer (Marker incognito) and his two friends muse in voice-over at the portfolio of stills the globetrotting lens man has brought back...

London Eyes

By Stephen Barber | Jeremy Reed

London, over the twentieth century, gathered a layered network of resonant filmic imageries of itself that gradually formed a revealing screen, drawing the eye of the urban spectator into the city’s transmutations, expansions and disasters.

Barton Aerodrome: From a Work-in-Process

By Nicholas Royle

Extract from the novelist's work-in-progress.

The Wild East

By Sian Glaessner

Turkmenistan’s desert landscape has a desolate and overwhelming beauty. Travel there today is still difficult, and much is uncertain following the death of the country’s brutal and eccentric dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.

Gravity and Grace

By Gareth Evans

Let us be clear, this is a partisan account... For this reader, the novels, plays and essays of Don DeLillo constitute the most relevant, profound and aesthetically invigorating project in American letters since the Second World War.

The Fragile Relations of Ecology

By Janet Harbord

A scorched hill top... A rope hanging from a tree whipped into motion. A girl perpetually forcing herself under water into the murky filaments floating in a pool... These are some of the images of a film that turns our attention towards the complex fragile relations between people.

Drive, He Said

By Gareth Evans

“Back in the 1970s I drove a lot and liked driving. I thought the portable radio cassette one of the great twentieth century inventions and whoever thought to put a radio in a car was a genius. Music and speed, combined with the ratio of the windscreen...”

How Many Roads...

By Holly Aylett

On March 18th this year UNESCO’s Convention for Cultural Diversity (Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions) became official, with the ratification by 56 states representing about half the world’s population.

In Spite of Co-Production: Surviving to Make Films in Lithuania

By Audrius Juzenas

Lithuania, my homeland, is a small country with three million inhabitants, 90% of them Lithuanians. Our country and cultural “market” is like the filling of a sandwich between the huge “markets” of Scandinavia, Russia, Poland and Germany.

The Poetry of Commitment

By Gareth Evans

Here’s something. In these weeks and weeks of English rain, when the brightness has bled from the sky or is only guessed at in Zen opposition to the gunmetal tenements of cloud climbing the day, the always surprising currents of the world deliver, like wreck-salvaged crates of fruit onto the barren shore...

We do everything for this art, but this art isn’t everything

By George Clark | Redmond Entwistle

The recent death of the filmmaker Danièle Huillet was perceived to mark the end of a certain chapter in film history. The films that she co-authored with Jean-Marie Straub between 1963-2006 stand apart in critical opinion, widely celebrated for their uncompromising rigor and their dedication to the materials of cinema.

Madness Contained: Werner Herzog’s Return to the ‘scene of the crime’

By Brad Prager

Werner Herzog’s My Best Fiend (1999) begins with footage of a young Klaus Kinski engaging in a larger than life concert as part of his “Jesus Tour”. In an over-the-top performance, Kinski explains to the crowd that he is not the Jesus of their parents, but is instead the new Jesus, filled with anger and intolerance.

In the National Interest?: Questions of Independence in Indian Cinema

By Gayatri Chatterjee

While celebrations for the sixtieth year of Indian Independence are being prepared, both here in India and in other countries with large populations of ex-patriots and immigrants, a question surfaces: how was nationalism portrayed in films then and how is it portrayed now?

Andrew Kötting’s Gallivant

By Gareth Evans

Andrew Kötting is one of Britain’s most intriguing artists, and perhaps the only film-maker currently practising who could be said to have taken to heart the spirit of visionary curiosity and hybrid creativity exemplified by the late Derek Jarman.

The Future of the Image

By Chris Darke

This latest collection of essays by the influential French philosopher follows on swiftly from the English translation of his Film Fables (2006), in which he ranged across a veritable cinéphile pantheon to deliver a riveting and informative excursion through modern French film theory...

UbuWeb: The YouTube of the Avant-Garde

By James Norton

If ever there was a website designed to respond to the desires of Vertigo readers, it is to be found at www.ubu.com – UbuWeb, “the YouTube of the avant-garde", a treasure trove of the pantheon of experimental film...

The Andrei Tarkovsky Companion

By Gareth Evans

Anyone who has seen any of Tarkovsky’s films and been significantly touched by them, might approach this highly distinguished new release in two minds. So personal are the late Russian film-maker’s works, both to him and to his viewers, so open to reading and response, that surrounding commentary...

Beyond the Perimeter Fence

By Gareth Evans

Some books are merely written. Other books, rare here as red squirrels now, are made out of such need that they seem at times to have been generated by pure will, by an urgency at once personal and on behalf of the greater assembly. This is such a work.

On Creativity

By David Bohm

The original meaning of the word “art” is “to fit.” This meaning survives in articulate, article, artisan, artifact, and so on. Of course in modern time the word “art” has come to mean mainly “to fit, in an aesthetic, emotional sense.”

Black Sun

By Gary Tarn

In 1978 artist and film-maker Hugues de Montalembert was attacked and permanently blinded while living in New York. Black Sun (2005) is a film based on his narrative describing life and vision from a perspective twenty five years later.

Londres, Bombay: Stations on the Journey

By Patrick Keiller

In November 2005, I was asked to propose an installation for an exhibition provisionally entitled Londres, Bombay: Villes du Futur? at Le Fresnoy: Studio National des Arts Contemporains, at Tourcoing, near Lille.

A Poetry the Quality of Which

By Hugh MacDiarmid

A poetry the quality of which
Is a stand made against intellectual apathy,
Its material… founded on difficult knowledge

Volume 3 – Issue 6 – Summer 2007

This issue is dedicated to the memories of Edward Yang (1947-2007); for the warmth and humanity of his cinema and William Blake (1757-1827); his example and independence, in vision and making, endure.  

“All of us, all of us, all of us,
trying to save our immortal souls, some
ways seemingly more roundabout and
mysterious than others”  

Raymond Carver, from In Switzerland

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor: Nancy Harrison
Original Website: Chris Lane
Marketing Manager: Peter Fraser
Publication Manager: Nancy Harrison
Student Network: Pepe Baena
Intern: Louise Hurtel

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Emilie Bickerton, George Clark, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evans, Gaylene Gould, James Leahy, Thessa Mooij, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley, Sheila Whitaker

Advisory Board: John Akomfrah, Asu Aksoy, Yossi Bal, Gill Branston, Robert Chilcott, Don Coutts, David Curtis, Margaret Dickinson, Catherine Elwes, Alan Fountain, Lina Gopaul, Keith Griffiths, Sylvia Harvey, Judith Higginbottom, Asif Kapadia, Ruth Lingford, Sarah McCarthy, Martin McLoone, Robin MacPherson, Kevin Rockett, Keith Shiri, Sarah Turner.

Original Print Design: Tomasz Zarebski, www.zarebski.co.uk  

Printed by: Alderson Brothers Printers Ltd.  

With Special Thanks to: Yoram Allon, Natalie Brady, Chris Chandler (UK film council), Peter Chappell, Curzon Cinemas, Helen Idle, Joan Leese, Steve Lewis (Artificial Eye), Tina McFarling, Mehelli Modi, Onagono, Gautham Ravindran, Eve Sullivan (ACE), Nicola Williams (UKFC), Sylvia Stevens, Verena von Stackelberg, Rowan Wilson, Bad Idea magazine.  

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance by: Arts Council England, UK Film Council