Tuesday, 13 July 2010

In Search of Lost Forks. Joseph Mankiewicz. All About Eve

presentation by Corry Shores
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[The following is quotation. My own notes are given in red.]

In Search of Lost Forks
Joseph Mankiewicz
All About Eve

Gilles Deleuze

Cinema 2: The Time Image
Cinéma 2: L'image-temps

Preface to the English Edition

Flashback is only a signpost and, when it is used by great authors, it is there only to show much more complex temporal structures (for example, in Mankiewicz, 'forking' time: recapturing the moment when time could have taken a different course . . .). [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: xii .c]

Ch. 3.
From Recollection to Dreams: Third Commentary on Bergson
Du souvenir aux rêves (troisième commentaire de Bergson

The two poles of the flashback: Carné, Mankiewicz
Les deux pôles du flash-back : Carné, Mankiewicz

It is not simply several people each having a flashback, it is the flashback belonging to several people (three in The Barefoot Contessa, three in A Letter to Three Wives, two in All About Eve). And it is not just the circuits forking between themselves, it is each circuit forking within itself, like a split hair. In the three circuits in A Letter to Three Wives, each of the women wonders in her own way when and how her marriage began to go adrift, to take a forking route. [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 47bc]

Ce ne sont pas seulement plusieurs personnes qui ont chacune un flashback, c'est le flash-back qui est à plusieurs personnes (trois dans « La comtesse aux pieds nus », trois dans « Chaînes conjugales », deux dans « Tout sur Eve »). Et ce ne sont pas seulement les circuits qui bifurquent entre eux, c'est chaque circuit bifurque avec soi-même, comme un cheveu fourchu. Dans les trois circuits de « Chaînes conjugales », chacune des femmes se demande à sa manière quand et comment son mariage a commencé à déraper, à prendre une voie bifurcante. [Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985: 68d]

This is the theatrical element: the dialogue between the character himself, produces a story (All About Eve). [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 49bc]

C'est élément théâtral : le dialogue entre les personnages rapportés, et même parfois le personnage rapporté fait déjà lui-même un récit (« Tout sur Eve »). [Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985:71c]

Ch. 4
The Crystals of Time
Le Cristaux de temps

The actual and the virtual: the smallest circuit
L'actuel et le virtuel : le plus petit circuit

in Mankiewicz, a short circuit is produced between the character who tells a story 'in the past' and the same person in so far as he has surprised something in order to be able to relate it
[Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 66c]

chez Mankiewicz, un court-circuit se fait entre le personnage qui raconte « au passé », et le même en tant qu'il a surpris quelque chose pour pouvoir le raconter
[Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985:92c]

Ch. 6
The Powers of the False
Les puissances du faux

The two regimes of the image: from the point of view of descriptions (organic and crystalline descriptions)
Les deux régimes de l’image : du point de vue des descriptions (description organique et description cristalline)

It is here that we my speak the most precisely of crystal-image: the coalescence of an actual image and its virtual image, the indiscernibility of two distinct images. Passages from one regime to the other, from the organic to the crystalline, can take place imperceptibly or there can be constant overlapping (Mankiewicz, for instance). [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 123]

C’est là qu’on parlera le plus précisément d’image-cristal : la coalescence d’une image actuelle et de son image virtuelle, l’indiscernabilité des deux images distinctes. D’un régime à l’autre, de l’organique au cristallin, les passages peuvent se faire de manière insensible, ou les empiètements se produire sans cesse (par exemple Mankiewicz). [Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985:166-167]

The Components of the Image
Les composantes de l’image

Speech-act and Interaction: Conversation
Acte de parole et interaction : la conversation

Jean Douchet defined Mankiewicz by ‘the cinematographic power of language’. And certainly no author has made such use of the speech-act, which nevertheless owes nothing to the theatre. For the speech-act in Mankiewicz makes visible interactions, but ones which remain at the time imperceptible to many participants, or badly seen, and which allow themselves to be deciphered only by privileged characters gifted with hypertrophy of the eye. So that these interactions (forkings) which come from speech will return to speech: second speech or voice-off, which a can only make visible afterwards what initially escaped the view, because it was too strong, too incredible, or too awful. [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 220-221]

Jean Douchet définissait Mankiewicz par « la vertu cinématographique du langage ». Et certes nul auteur n’a fait un tel usage de l’acte de parole, qui ne doit pourtant rien au théâtre. C’est que l’acte de parole chez Mankiewicz fait voir des interactions, mais qui restent sur le moment imperceptibles à beaucoup de participants, ou bien mal vus, et qui ne se laissent déchiffrer que par des personnages privilégiés doués d’une hypertrophie de l’oeil. Si bien que ces interactions (bifurcations) qui viennent de la parole retourneront à la parole : parole seconde ou voix off, qui ne peut faire voir qu’après coup ce qui a d’abord échappé à la vue, parce que trop fort, trop incroyable ou trop odieux.
[Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985: 298d]

The Talkie Makes Visible and the Visual Image becomes Readable
Le parlant fait voir, et l’image visuelle devient lisible

But, as such, the speech-act is not restricted to making visible; it sometimes itself sees (Michel Chion has analysed the special case of these ‘seeing voices’, which have ‘an eye in the voice’, like that of Lang’s The Testament of Dr Mabuse, or that of the computer in Kubrick’s 2001, to which could be added Mankiewicz’s voices). [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989:224a]

Mais, à ce titre, l’acte de parole ne se contente pas de faire voir, il arrive qu’il voie lui-même (Michel Chion a analysé le cas spécial de ces « voix qui voient », qui ont « un œil dans la voix », comme celle du
Testament du Dr Mabuse » de Lang, ou celle de l’ordinateur dans «2001 » de Kubrick, auxquelles on pourrait joindre les voix de Mankiewicz).
[Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985: 302d]

Ch. 10

From Opsigns and Sonsigns to Crystalline Signs
Des opsignes et sonsignes aux signes cristallins

the flashback as revelation of a time which forks and frees itself in Mankiewicz [Deleuze Cinema 2, 1989: 262ab]

le flash-back comme révélation d’un temps qui bifurque et se libère, chez Mankiewicz [
Deleuze Cinéma 2, 1985: 357d]

[The story takes place at an award ceremony honoring Eve for her acting accomplishments. The flow of the present time spans just one evening. However, people at the ceremony who knew Eve also flashback to the past events leading up to her current success. Eve proved to be consistently unpredictable and untrustable in her efforts to attain fame. The flashbacks begin with the writer's wife, Karen. Note how in her flashback she says, "Funny, the things you remember, and the things you don't". What stands out now as she recalls the events are those crucial moments leading up to the present. (At another time, Karen might have other interests, and remember other events.) These important events involved Eve taking an unexpected turn in her development. So while such an event is happening, even as happening in that present moment, it already presents itself as intensely memorable, as though all its future recollections were implied in it already. Eve will come to take the place of an established actress, Margo. As Margo felt herself gradually being replaced through the deceit of a younger woman, she began to act out her frustration on her friends and loved ones. Karen wanted to teach her a lesson, so she schemed to prevent Margo from making it to a performance. Eve was her understudy, and she put on a performance that impressed the theater critics that she arranged to attend the show. Note the part where Karen expresses guilt to Margo for having sabotaged her. We see a look of regret in her face, as though she knows already she will be haunted by the memory of this moment. It is a memory created in advance of it being in the past. In a way, these momentous unpredictable occurrences take-on the mark of the past even as they are happening. But the reason Karen expresses regret at that moment is because she finds the real reason for Margo's behavior. This makes her look back at her act of draining the gas, all while that act of looking back in regret is already a memory in the future. Because the movie is a flashback taking place at the award ceremony, we see how this past event, when it happened in its own present, was both itself a recollection of a deeper past, all while itself being a recollection that will happen in a future present. So we see that there is a continual conjunction of the past and present. Both the event and her recollection happen together, they crystallize with one another. And what made it so was its momentous unpredictability. So what makes the past and present (the actual and virtual images) continually conjoined is the fact that events are continuous forkings. The unpredictability of events in the passing of time is what keeps our past intimate with us all while we remain completely undetermined by that past.]

[Movie should play, despite showing no image until the button is pressed.]

[We see that the narrators now change. It is Addison the critic who now recalls events. It is as if the recollections are passed like a relay baton. The flashbacks end as we return to the award ceremony, and the movie ends shortly after with the remaining events of that night.]


[Also, Margo's flashback can be seen in the second clip in this entry.]

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2: The Time Image. Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. London & New York: 1989.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinéma 2: L'image-temps. Paris: Les éditions de minuit, 1985.

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