Philippe Grandrieux
in the Underground


Introduction (2022): I have consistently written about the films of Philippe Grandrieux since my first encounter with his work in 1999. Several times commissioned to write for publications in non-English languages (Spanish or French), I have tended to produce an ongoing mosaic, looking now at some general cultural context, at other times the material detail of the films themselves. The following piece, written in 2007, is one of the more general approaches; it should be read in tandem with other material on this website (and also forthcoming in a book of essays on World Cinema directors) addressing particular Grandrieux films and their concrete, formal aspects and effects.

If we really look, at the origin of every great ethical reform we find a little physiological mystery, a dissatisfaction of the flesh, an unease, an anomaly.
                – André Gide, 1923 (1)

I remember Moses and Aaron (1975) by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet: that was a blow, an aesthetic and political shock. I still recall it today. Suddenly – cinema. And what came through bodies, fragmented bodies, legs, the extremely flat earth, the sunlight at its zenith, the brutality of the shots. All of that struck me.
                – Philippe Grandrieux

In the year 2000 in Australia, a new cultural event emerged: the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF). It was formed by filmmakers whose work had been rejected from the official, mainstream Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). So MUFF was a grass roots event, a political gesture of rebellion and resistance that was not dependent on government funding, big business or corporate sponsorship. The event has subsequently soldiered on, through thick and thin, for over two decades.


But what is the ideology of this underground? And which underground, exactly? Because, from its inception in 2000, fierce debate has swirled around this unruly Festival. The cultural heroes held up by the MUFF organisers were not Jonas Mekas or Adolfo Arrieta, Jean-François Ossang or Mara Mattuschka, Yvonne Rainer or Jon Moritsugu. Instead, MUFF lionised two young Melbourne filmmakers who, in 2004, sold their low-budget idea for a gruesome, violent horror film to Hollywood, and then made a huge box-office success from it: Saw, written and directed (and even partly acted) by the team of James Wan and Leigh Whannell.


It may seem odd to begin an essay on Philippe Grandrieux, the militantly experimental director of Sombre (1998), La Vie nouvelle (2003) and Un lac (2008), with a reference to such a mainstream hit as Saw. But let us look for a moment, dispassionately, at what might link these films.


Saw is a film about human brutality, as both Grandrieux’s features also are. Saw can be taken as an allegory about, or a reflection of, the modern, global political scene, in which so many anonymous individuals are relentlessly incarcerated degraded, desubjectified, tortured – whether as prisoners or refugees. Just as scholars of Grandrieux’s work quote the philosophers Giorgio Agamben or Thomas Hobbes to illuminate the pitiless socio-cultural logic revealed by his films, a similar operation could be used to render Saw a highly significant – or at least symptomatic – object.


And there is even a similarity on the level of form: Saw reflects the stylistics of contemporary horror cinema in the school of Dario Argento, always pushing image and sound to unconventional, non-mainstream extremes: rapid editing, black screens, sheets of noise, blurred photography sometimes deliberately refilmed from cheap domestic video or Super-8 for disconcerting effect. In Saw, there is both a grim violence of content, and a pyrotechnical violence of form. (It’s worth noting that Wan & Whannell were taught, in the film course at RMIT in Melbourne, by sophisticated theorist-filmmaker Philip Brophy, someone who himself straddles the horror genre and the artworld avant-garde in his Cronenbergian Body Melt [1993].)


And yet, we would finally want to assert that there is a big difference between Saw and the films of Grandrieux. But where to precisely locate that difference?


These thoughts on Grandrieux were initially prompted by the project of a 2007 issue of the Spanish film journal Archivos de la Filmoteca devoted to “Extreme Cinema”. Here, I want to reflect on the ambiguity of labels such as underground, extreme or sensational – and on the difficulty of finding the best analytical balance between form and content in the discussion of extreme works. The case of Grandrieux offers rich material for such a study in ambiguity. While his second feature, La Vie nouvelle, became briefly available in 2005 as a DVD bonus included in the scholarly tome La Vie nouvelle/nouvelle vision from highbrow publisher Léo Scheer, Sombre was distributed on DVD in France by a small company called Film Office, included in a series named … “Cinéma Extrème”! (2) On British television, Sombre was presented within a program devoted to horror cinema, while La Vie nouvelle – although rating a mention on some websites as a “cult film” – has proved steadfastly resistant to screening and distribution in many countries (the same would happen with his subsequent Malgré la nuit [2014]). When is extreme too extreme, for whom, and why?


Let us return, for a moment, to the cultural chantier of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. What kinds of films do this event show, and thus how does it construe the designation of underground cinema? For the most part, it presented ultra-low budget genre exercises: horror, action and sex pictures that many would consider under the rubric of exploitation (or, in France, cinéma bis) rather than genuine underground cinema. The gods or icons of MUFF were people like Argento (both Dario and Asia), Russ Meyer, George Romero, Australia’s George Miller when he made the first, very low-budget Mad Max (1979), Lars von Trier, Peter Watkins in his sci-fi mode (Punishment Park, 1971) … in short, what was become cemented, in the 21st century, as an ongoing cult movie pantheon.


The MUFF brigade displays little affinity with, or tolerance for, the avant-garde edges of cinema. In fact, almost any non-narrative or purely formalist cinema is anathema to it. The spokespersons for MUFF have a curious, almost contradictory aim, one born from intense ressentiment: rejected by the mainstream culture, they hope (and plan, in grand manifesto-fantasies) to take over that mainstream – the underground crawling above ground! And yet this underground did have its own political agenda. Its members saw themselves as subversive agents within the mainstream system: they would provide content and form that is challenging, provocative, on the cutting edge, and an outrage to politically correct sensibilities … This underground aims, above all, to shock (and one sometimes reads references to shock cinema as another kind of catch-all label).


The exact political line discernible in all of this – and this is a point we will return to in relation to Grandrieux – is disturbingly ambiguous: while MUFF members call upon Anarchism or quote Situationist Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, they also waxed lyrical about something they praised as “transcendental Fascism” … The flagship movie of tF happened to be by MUFF instigator and continuing director Richard Wolstencroft, an inept and distasteful item titled Pearls Before Swine (2000). In 2004, the Festival ran into trouble with the law for daring to show, in the name of free speech, a video of the notorious Holocaust denier, David Irving.


The opposition or alternative to this kind of underground cinema comes from another, older kind of underground cinema: the avant-garde as traditionally defined. This avant-garde underground, too, may frequently be shocking in the images and representations it proposes  – as in the queer films of Jack Smith (Flaming Creatures, 1963), or (early) John Waters and (very early) Pedro Almodóvar, through to Moritsugu and many others. But it does not seek to conquer the mainstream, or (at times) even to address the mainstream, except through its own, coded critique of that system.


Already, however, even this traditional characterisation of a pure underground is showing impure cracks. Jack Smith stayed far enough away from narrative – or either destroyed, mocked, deconstructed or abstracted it so completely – to remain acceptable to the anti-narrative, anti-Hollywood purists of the dominant avant-garde culture of the 1950s and ‘60s (especially in the United States). But can we say the same for Waters, von Trier, Rainer or even George Kuchar, even during their most extreme, no-budget, experimental years? Narrative, character, décor, mise en scène – all the things disregarded or thoroughly taken apart by Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow & co. – return to the foreground in this more theatrical (rather than painterly, musically, poetically or sculpturally informed) avant-garde.


Andy Warhol, as always, stands as the most ambiguous model straddling many types and sectors of culture. He, too, wanted to take over the mainstream with the wildly counter-cultural epic of Chelsea Girls (1966), and dreamt of a studio-style production complete with his own cast of superstars … It is indeed remarkable to look back, today, on such an experimental (and influential) film as Paul Morrissey’s Flesh (1968) and wonder how Warhol could ever have imagined it functioning as a mainstream success – but these films did indeed experience the thrill of a brief crossover between cultural worlds. It was something in the air of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s: equally challenging works including Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971) and Philippe Garrel’s The Inner Scar (1972) were also made in complete expectation that a changing general public could and would accept them within the mainstream market.


How might we locate Grandrieux’s films in relation to all these warring definitions of underground cinema? His work evokes a swirl of very different associations from the full span of cinema history and its modes: the lyrical abstraction of Brakhage, but within a (highly attenuated) narrative format; the serene, visionary qualities of a F.W. Murnau, but within a deliberately confronting portrait of human degradation; an urgent engagement with representation and narration, but aligned with an equally passionate taste for defiguration and destruction worthy of the Lettrists of the ‘40s and beyond; a plastic mastery (of colour, rhythm, texture, sound design) reminiscent of Andrei Tarkovsky, but within an aesthetic devoted to sensory assault, disorientation and upset of the spectator. Perhaps we need to return to a figurehead like Jean Vigo and the scandal (in its day) of Zero for Conduct (1933) to grasp the measure of Grandrieux’s style and approach. Or Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí and their Un Chien andalou (1929) or L’Age d’or (1930). But Grandrieux escapes easy pigeonholing as either an Anarchist like Vigo or a Surrealist like Buñuel.


Likewise, it is not so easy to draw a direct line of lineage between the extremity of Grandrieux’s work and the radicality of Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, Tsai Ming-liang or Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the species of extreme filmmaker favoured by, for instance, Santos Zunzunegui in the Archivos de la Filmoteca dossier) – however much Grandrieux may personally admire any or all of these contemporary filmmakers. In relation to Huillet & Straub, certainly, there is a clear and crucial difference in ethics and aesthetics: their films have always rigorously refused the shock tactics of sensory assault, or the kind of explicit content (of sex or violence) that counts for them as a vulgar, desensitising aspect of the cinema of spectacle (to adapt Debordian terminology). Grandrieux’s work is not anti-spectacular and, in that sense, it is more in the tradition of the aesthetic monumentality of Stanley Kubrick, Miklós Jancsó or Krzysztof Kieślowski than the purified, minimalistic cinema of the post-Bressonian tradition (Sohrab Shahid Saless, Darezhan Omirbaev, Hou Hsiao-hsien, etc.). In fact, it would be more appropriate to describe Grandrieux’s films, in terms of their sensory impact, as maximalist.


Perhaps only one thing can be absolutely said about the strange underground where Grandrieux today dwells, and which stands, in a sense, for a truly new and mutated kind of contemporary cinema: whether we situate it at the exploitation end of cinema or the avant-garde end of cinema, we must certainly see it as inhabiting the position, precisely, of an extreme point. Exploitation and avant-garde define either side, in this sense, of cinema’s safe middle ground – and that middle ground includes both mainstream cinema (from blockbusters to smaller genre films) and the commercial art (or arthouse) cinema. And it is because exploitation and avant-garde both inhabit extreme points in relation to the middle ground that a number of theorists and critics today (such as Roger Koza) naturally prefer to combine them into a rich and varied sensibility of resistance.


Let us turn to the specific terms in which Grandrieux likes to describe his own cinematic project – as well as the way in which he expresses his passion for, as an example, the work of Huillet & Straub (in the interview quoted at the head of this essay). For Grandrieux, imbibing an orientation that we might broadly call Deleuzian, cinema is a matter of intensities, essentially emotional in nature, rather than intellectualised discourses. These intensities first of all arise from bodily sensations, which then reach deep into the churning drives and phantasms of the human psyche. This realm of sensation and psychic phantasm is given an archaic origin: the formless world of a child’s first perceptions (in this, Grandrieux echoes many commentators on theme of the child and cinema including Alain Bergala, Philippe Arnaud and Alain Philippon, and can be linked to filmmakers such as Víctor Erice [The Spirit of the Beehive, 1973], Charles Laughton [The Night of the Hunter, 1955] and the Fritz Lang of Moonfleet [1955]). (3) Grandrieux speaks of his aesthetic ambition in the following terms.


My dream is to create a completely “Spinoza-ist” film, built upon ethical categories: rage, joy, pride … and essentially each of these categories would be a pure block of sensations, passing from one to the other with enormous suddenness. So the film would be a constant vibration of emotions and affects, and all that would reunite us, reinscribe us into the material in which we’re formed: the perceptual material of our first years, our first moments, our childhood. Before speech.


Hence the type of shocks that Grandrieux admired in Moses and Aaron – fragmented bodies, a harsh landscape, intense sunlight, “the brutality of the shots” – which can easily be related to his own vision of cinema as a kind of vibrant, disturbed materiology”. We might see here a rehearsal, or reflection, of Deleuze’s primordial division of cinema into body and brain tendencies (4), with John Cassavetes and Philippe Garrel in one camp and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Harun Farocki in the other. However, examples such as Chantal Akerman, Kira Muratova, Bruno Dumont and indeed Grandrieux himself show that an intellectual cinema can equally be construed and experienced as a sensory one – and vice versa.


Grandrieux is candid about his intention to create work that is, above all else, disquieting. Can it be truly surprising, therefore, that – like Claire Denis in Trouble Every Day (2001), Gaspar Noé in I Stand Alone (1999) and Irreversible (2003), or Dumont in Humanity (1999) and Twentynine Palms (2003) – he naturally moves towards forms, figures, imagery and situations from the extremes of the thriller, action, fantasy and horror genres? Sombre announces, from its opening images, the kinship of his cinema with the most disturbing and gruesome of fairy tales for children. Then it proceeds into a particularly exacerbated and abstracted form of a specific popular subgenre, the serial killer film. Intriguing connections can be drawn between Sombre and other, previous serial-killer films that flirt with a non-psychological approach and display unusual moments of formal experimentation, such as the little-known The Todd Killings (1971) by Barry Shear or John McNaughton’s cult exploitation movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986). However, we would need to travel to far more extremely stylised and internally fractured films, like Bresson’s L’Argent (1983), Bill Mousoulis’ Ladykiller (1994), or Corpse (1983) and With Time to Kill (1987) by avant-gardist James Clayden, in order to ready ourselves for the extremity of Grandrieux’s feature debut.


Let us not forget that Noël Burch, in the 1960s and ‘70s era of his Theory of Film Practice, criticised Bresson and indeed the entire minimalist school for being overly coy about representing sex and violence! And Burch’s own work, both as critic/theorist and filmmaker, points us towards a far more explicit Sadeian tradition in cinema history – itself a frequently underground (even pornographic) history, including Burch’s remarkable short The Noviciat (1964) starring celebrated critics André Labarthe and Annette Michelson. (5)


This cinema of overt sado-masochism (which includes key films by Walerian Borowczyk, Liliana Cavani and Nagisa Oshima) – in which sexual scenarios are frequently interwoven with a highly political dramatisation of the ruses and games of social power – involves a reflection on the concept of Man as Animal, an essentially instinctual and frequently irrational creature, whose achievement of civilisation is usually fragile and fleeting. (6) Camille Paglia may be the most popular commentator on such notions via her epic 1990 book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson but, in international film culture, undoubtedly the most trenchant and sustained discussion along these lines is to be found in the prodigious work of Raymond Durgnat, especially his 1971 Sexual Alienation in the Cinema.


Beyond the films which Durgnat analysed in the ‘70s, the American Punk-inspired movement known as the Cinema of Transgression (whose protagonists included Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch and Richard Hell) carried the “politics of the human animal” aesthetic to even greater extremes, backed up by references to the theories of Georges Bataille on Eros or Jean Baudrillard on the obscene. Dumont, meanwhile, finds his sophisticated literary equivalent in the effortless controversy generated by the best-selling novels of Michel Houellebecq.


Elements of nature, the natural world, circulate intensively in Grandrieux’s work – and they take on a very particular significance in this context of his materiological treatise on the human animal, a meaning very different to that which we find in, for example, the films of Terrence Malick (where nature, although mysterious, contains a spiritual, redemptive plenitude). Grandrieux is closer to the pitiless vision embodied by Werner Herzog – and yet there is an absence of the dark serenity that accompanies the German filmmaker’s vision of the human and animal worlds gazing at each other uncomprehendingly across an abyss of absolute difference (as in Grizzly Man, 2005). Grandrieux gives us, like Murnau, the mutual agitation of humanity by nature and vice versa, a vortex of sensations and affects in which we can never simply reduce one to the expressionistic metaphor for the other (whereby, for instance, stormy weather externalises human passions in King Vidor’s melodramas, or the Cycle of Life is an effect of the passing seasons in Kim Ki-duk).


As a case study, we can trace a veritable network of films that includes Sombre, Jean Renoir’s Partie de campagne (1936), François Truffaut’s Two English Girls (1971/1984) – which its auteur called “not a film about physical love, but a physical film about love” – and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Blissfully Yours (2002). In a sense, each film in this network addresses, even remakes all the others – since they circulate the same motifs or figures. In all of them, the sexual act – placed pointedly within the abundant natural setting of a forest or lake – is associated with the violence of the Man-Woman encounter, with initiation as deflowering, and with a flow of blood, or more generally what Gide called a “dissatisfaction of the flesh”. The physical expression of sexuality does not, in any of these cases, simply fit into or become a part of nature, as a simplistic Lyric Romanticism or Hippie philosophy would imagine. Rather, the bodily incarnation of the sexual drive tears apart both nature and humanity from within, introducing the Eternal Wound of Eros and the unsupportability of desire – the impossibility for this act to find a stable, reassuring ground anywhere, in matter or spirit.


Such a vision reflects a profoundly Lacanian view of sexual relations and existence in general: mutual blindness and misrecognition and a corrosive enslavement to phantasmatic projection rule over an inevitable Bad Encounter – placed as far as it can be from the Sublime Encounter beloved of the Surrealists. In Grandrieux’s career, Sombre gives us a particularly disquieting encounter between (virginal) Beauty and (savage) Beast – the fairy tale dimension, once more – that offers the promise of mutual redemption and fulfilment, but immediately dissolves this in the reiteration of eternal loss and errancy. La Vie nouvelle underlines the ugly, hopeless aspects of its principal Bad Encounter (between the American soldier/tourist and the Eastern European sex-slave/prostitute) from its lurid inception in the strip-club/brothel.


Ultimately, it is a trap for critics to fall into a mere discussion of Grandrieux’s themes or subject matter, disconnected from the rigorous formal work of his cinema. Reproached for the violence (including sexual violence) in his films, Grandrieux replies: “It isn’t a question that can be resolved on the level of a social or psychological morality, but a morality of forms.” To this end, the bridge between exploitation and avant-garde that is erected by Grandrieux’s work can be explored via a particular, felicitous conjuncture of cinema and theory. A mid-‘70s text by Thierry Kuntzel – a former collaborator with Grandrieux in the area of experimental, painterly video art – proposed that the “ideal film” would be “a film of sustained terror(7): sheer, unmitigated, ceaseless terror. Kuntzel’s remark has been misconstrued by Tania Modleski, who decries the prevalent critical fondness for (to her) misogynist forms like the Halloween-style slasher movie. (8) Yet Kuntzel was not talking about the horror genre per se – although he did have in mind certain special films of the fantastique like Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932), which have also so clearly marked the sensibility of Grandrieux. Kuntzel was referring more to the cinematic form that terror or dread can take, from Murnau and Dreyer to Michael Haneke (Funny Games, 1997 & 2007) and Lucille Hadzhihalilovic (Innocence, 2004). What is terror in formal terms? (9)


From Hitchcock to Roman Polanksi, from Brian De Palma to Dario Argento, from Mario Bava to Wes Craven, as well as in Spielberg’s fright-oriented films from Duel (1971) to War of the Worlds (2005) – not to mention the entire Saw franchise (still proceeding as of 2021) – commercial genre cinema has given us its own answer to this question: terror comes from intense moments of sound-and-image confusion, illegibility, chaos, uncertainty, agitation – abrupt camera tremors or plunges into darkness, parts of human figures that cannot be discerned, mysterious apparitions, zones of blur or superimposition in the image. But this is also, of course, a project dear to avant-garde or experimental cinema, particularly when it partakes of signs of horror: Manuel DeLanda’s Raw Nerves: A Lacanian Thriller (1980) or Stan Brakhage’s The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971). For Kuntzel, the ideal film was something like a mystery film that would never resolve its enigmas; in which each pristine sign, each image or sound event, would remain suspended, trembling, never fully absorbed into a coherent or meaningful pattern.


[A] film in which the initial figure would not find its place in the flow of a narrative, in which the configuration of events contained in the formal matrix would not form a progressive order, in which the spectator/subject would never be reassured. (10)


Such a project is, in terms of the kind of ethical aesthetics in cinema that Jean-Luc Godard has made famous, assuredly revolutionary, and every true Grandrieux fan invests their conviction in this assumption of radicality. But are the politics of Grandrieux’s works entirely clear – in their effect, if not in their intention? His devotees may like to think that the filmmaker’s left-wing stance is beyond any zone of ambiguity. But the films themselves, in their opacity, give rise to markedly different readings. The contributors to La Vie nouvelle/nouvelle vision stress the filmmaker’s tragic vision of 20th century history – his revivification, post-Rossellini and contemporary with Abel Ferrara, of disaster as the very symbol of civilisation.


However, Françoise Audé (1938-2005), prolific contributor to Positif from the ‘70s onwards and a pioneer of feminist film criticism, pondered a very different vision of Sombre – outlining an ideology more closely resembling that of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival than of Godard or Chris Marker. Audé, in her short but dense and compelling text “Sombre: Vive la mort?” (“Long live death?”), traces a genealogy of proudly transgressive culture from its artistic roots in Céline and Lautréamont through to the punk performance art of Michel Bulteau and the post-Punk music of Alan Vega that figures on the soundtrack of Sombre. (11) For her, this subculture amounts to – in a thoroughly negative sense – a death-driven vision, and a recourse (even if inverted, Satanic form) to a religious mysticism that obscures and obfuscates any materialist politics, whether Marxist or Surrealist in orientation.


One could extend Audé’s references further afield in order to trace a true rhizome of this particular cultural terrain: the tortured poetry of Georg Trakl (admired by Grandrieux and his musical collaborators Étant Donnés), the fiction of William Burroughs, the industrial music of Throbbing Gristle, David Lynch at his early extreme in Eraserhead (1976), and the provocatively unpleasant avant-garde “rape in the dirt” of Begotten (1989) by E. Elias Merhige – a director whose extremely stylised genre piece Suspect Zero (2004) makes the post-Seven (1995) figure of the brilliant/supernatural serial killer into an almost sympathetic, mystical Saint. And as for Grandrieux’s choice of post-Punk composer-performer Josh Pearson (of the band Lift to Experience) for La Vie nouvelle (where he makes a memorably crazy cameo appearance accompanying Anna Mouglalis in song), it is apposite to note this description from the website of the music label Bella Union: Pearson “rages as the night gathers around him, in his right hand The Book Of Revelations, on fire.”


Will Grandrieux’s cinema, at some future point, marry his kinetic sense of the body’s night to such highly charged religious referents? The movement of cultural currents – to a large extent beyond the individual will or evolution of any artist – may yet bring about such an encounter. In the meantime, he nurtures an intriguing project: a new screen version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (the basis of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now [1979/2001]), coincidental with Akerman’s work on an adaptation of an earlier Conrad novel, Almayer’s Folly (2010).


Near the very end of La Vie nouvelle, Grandrieux literally descends into an underground – a completely darkened labyrinth in which he staged a quasi-happening with his actors (Peter Watkins had done something similar with university students in Australia for The Journey [1987]), who freaked out as he filmed them with a special thermic camera that literally reduces human beings to materiological read-outs of hazy, hot or cold forms. The scene brilliantly conjures – well beyond the reassuring matrix of any strict narrative sense or pretext – all the hellish marriages of scientific technology and the human being as laboratory which have marked the horror movie that is our 20th century, and that show no signs of receding in the 21st. Grandrieux himself describes the scene as a kind of ritual, an act of performance art welded to a photographic technique that allowed the scene to “vibrate” (one of his favourite terms).


This truly disquieting screen spectacle was first envisioned as the beginning of a different project written with La Vie nouvelle collaborator, author Eric Vuillard (who later became a popular author of historical novels). And the name of that other project? A truly Sadeian, post-Punk title: A Natural History of Evil.



NOTES (updated 2022)

1. André Gide, Dostoievsky (Paris: Plon, 1923), p. 265. back

2. His first four fiction features have subsequently been released in 2021 as Coffret Philippe Grandieux by Shellac (France). back

3. See Bergala, The Cinema Hypothesis (Austrian Film Museum/SYNEMA, 2016); Arnaud, Les Paupières du visible. Écrits de cinéma (Crisnée: Yellow Now, 2001); Philippon, Les blanc des origines. Écrits de cinéma (Crisnée: Yellow Now, 2002). back

4. See Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image (London: The Athlone Press, 2005). back

5. Burch later recanted much of this position-taking. See his self-critique, “The Sadeian Aesthetic”, in D. Beech & J. Roberts (eds), The Philistine Controversy (London: Verso, 2002). back

6. For a discussion of these issues in relation to Dumont and others, see the post-Cannes editorial discussion in the June 2006 issue (no. 613) of Cahiers du cinéma. back

7. Thierry Kuntzel, “The Film-Work, 2”, Camera Obscura, no. 5 (1980), p. 25. back

8. Tania Modleski, “The Terror of Pleasure: The Contemporary Horror Film and Postmodern Theory”, in Studies in Entertainment: Critical Approaches to Modern Culture (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1986), pp. 155-166. back

9. My reflection here anticipates the investigation made by Eugenie Brinkema in her The Forms of the Affects (Duke University Press, 2014). See also my 2008 lecture “Entities and Effects” included in Mysteries of Cinema (Amsterdam University Press/University of Western Australia Publishing, 2018/2020). Brinkema seems unaware of this work, alas. back

10. Kuntzel, “The Film-Work, 2”, pp. 24-25. back

11. Françoise Audé, “Sombre: Vive la mort?”, Positif, no. 456 (February 1999), pp. 8-9. back



© Adrian Martin February 2007 (with updates January 2022)

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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