cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM The Conversation










‘The Conversation’: A Brilliantly Composed Symbol of Watergate America




Cinephilia and Beyond Another longform form this wonderful film site. Please if you use it make a small contribution.


As an added treat a pdf of the screenplay, by Copploa, written in 1973, which is downloadable, but if you want it not to be popping up up as a webpage but as a file on your PC, make sure to save it as such.


The centre-piece is a facsimile of an interview in Filmmakers Newsletter, 1974, with with Brian De Palma and Coppola getting into the nitty-gitty of The Conversation’s conception and making. De Palma going on to make Blow Out in 1980, starring John Travolta.


NB. Coppola mentions Blow Up as an influence.


Also, for the real enthusiasts: Drew Morton’s video essay, Cross-Cut, looking at Blow Up [1960], The Conversation [1973] and Blow Out [1980], here embedded in this Indewire page with a short intro. It’s only 6 mins long, a true video essay made up of just video, doing the job of comparing and contrasting – film explaining film – not one of those video clip/slide-show type-thingummies with lecture tagged on. Though many of this type can be good, there is that thing about whether such a detailed lecture might be better as a separate essay/paper. That debate about video essays is probably still going on. Now the video essay, a well-thumbed subject in itself, has evolved a lot since the early days, with academics pouring over them in various ways.


If you know your three films well, and you’re into film-making, can’t fail to be impressed by Drew’s brilliant editing.


Before coming across Drew Morton’s essay when he first put it up, had myself spent inordinate amounts of time taking screen grabs of all three films, hoping to construct a slide show doing the same thing, lacking the wherewithall to do clips, again with no audio essay superimposed on the visuals. Having seen Drew’s, the idea was soon dropped, but mine would have gone into a lot more detail of all three films. Self-evidently video essays are not ideal for anyone who doesn’t know the film or films. And one of my pet hates, trailers giving awy too much information, even Drews sparse choice of clips would give too much away, in my extreme trailersist view.


A trailerist of course almost kicks in TV screens while shoutung, No, No, No! trying to stop it when the next episode of a series is laid out in such detail as to provide a clear impression of the whole plot, even if it’s a bit jumbled up.


Drew’s vimeo page shows he’s not been a slacker, producing many classy video essays.


Drew has put up earlier shorter versions of Cross-Cut, linked to below, which each have two intercut quotes, but no voice-over, which point to film essays and the video essay form, rather than directly to the three films.


As he puts in his comments on v .5:


“What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the first – thumbnail – version.”


and v .75 :


“What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the second version – made before the theoretical framing device was ultimately jettisoned.

Differences from Version .5: I realized that I needed to begin intercutting between the three films earlier to establish more of an aesthetic rhythm and conceptual dynamism. If I had stuck with the structure outlined in draft .5, I wouldn’t have introduced THE CONVERSATION until almost 2 minutes in (and BLOW OUT probably nearly three minutes). In short, it was becoming a piece dominated by discrete thirds without really doing much intellectually.”


CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .5)


CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .75)


And again for convenience, v. 1.0 :


CROSS-CUT



September 8, 2018 Posted by | Antonioni, Blow Out, Blow Up [1966], Coppola, De Palma, The Conversation [1974] | , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Conversation 1974










The Conversation looked ahead to a world without privacy


Scott Tobias, The Disolve, 21 April 2015


Forum: The Conversation


Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve, 21 April 2015


Why The Conversation Should Be Required Viewing at the NSA


~ Francis Ford Coppola’s psychological thriller, which turns 40 today, may be the best exploration of the dangers of surveillance that pop culture has ever produced.


Alexander Huls, The Atlantic, 7 April 2014



March 22, 2017 Posted by | Coppola, surveillance cinema, The Conversation | , , | Leave a comment

FILM VIDEO ESSAY Drew Morton’s Cross-Cut





IMG_0056





Cross Cut


By


Drew Morton

Explore the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo
Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian DePalma’s BLOW OUT with this video essay entitled “Cross-Cut.” Note: This video essay originally began as a more theoretical project. The other drafts have been posted to Vimeo for the sake of pedagogy.



CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .5)


CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version .75)


CROSS-CUT (AKA Cinefilea, Version 1.0)

What began as “A poetic introduction to the fiction film as videographic criticism that seeks to illustrate the works of Raymond Bellour and Laura Mulvey through BLOW OUT, BLOW UP, and THE CONVERSATION” eventually became a more modest experiment in exploring the narrative, stylistic, and thematic connections between Michelangelo Antonioni’s BLOW-UP, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, and Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT. This is the final version of the theoretically framed “Cinefilea” version.

Differences from Version .75: Thanks to notes from Benjamin Sampson and Adrian Martin, I’ve tried to be more evocative in the opening (hence the use of the photographs from BLOW OUT and BLOW UP). I’ve also broken up the text quotations to assist in this and the reader.

Rationale for Why This Version Was Ultimately Abandoned:

My objective was to make a video essay about video essays through these three films with three theoretical texts without resorting to voice-over. After asking a range of colleagues for notes (including Corey Creekmur, Chiara Grizzaffi, Adrian Martin, and Benjamin Sampson), it became quickly apparent that clearly did not work. I typically make video essays that are either argumentative and theoretical (and thus voice-over driven and incredibly structured according to a progression of evidence) or largely evocative and poetic pieces. I had never really tried to cross the streams before and this piece functions as an artifact of that rather contradictory impulse and the dialogue that ensued between us afterwards. To boil it down, it isn’t easy to fuse scholarship and poetry when you’re making a found footage film. When I tried to superimpose cinephilia onto these three films, their original meanings and contexts exerted too much of a hold.



Drew’s comments associated with the videos have been included in full.



November 25, 2014 Posted by | Blow Up [1966], Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation [1974], video essay | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment