Making movies is a time-based art, but what happens when the timeline gets altered? Video essayists chop, slice, distill, blow up and tease out the rich cinematic worlds that would otherwise move right by at the speed of life, helping viewers like us get more deeply at the layers of meaning — cultural, textual, technical and historical — in the films we love. Their obsession is our gain!
Keyframe, Fandor’s online film journal, has been cranking out so many amazing video essays that we have barely had time to watch them all. So, we decided to collect some of our recent favorites here. From super-insightful to brilliantly silly, these pieces stand just fine on their own, but also make great companions to the films from which they draw.
Without further ado, here are the video essays we’ve been loving:
(Oh, and if you need a quick review on what makes a video essay, Conor Bateman has you covered!)
This is a quick and fun opener to get you in the video essay spirit! Here, Jonathan Kiefer mashes up two beloved Japanese cinematic icons. For more, click here to read his full rundown on this clever mashup.
We can’t get enough of this essay by Drew Morton, which examines how an idea — in this case, the American Dream — is constructed and shown in many different movies made across time, from Citizen Kane to Scarface and more recently The Wolf of Wall Street. You can read the accompanying Keyframe article on this fascinating exercise here.
For another overview of a trend across film, check out Tope Ogundare’s “Strange Adventures in Film Language”, which ferrets out difference between original dialogue, subtitles, and dubbing in famous foreign films like Belle de jour and Aguirre, the Wrath of God. What gets lost in translation, and what transcends language? Click here for the full accompanying article.
For a more focused approach that takes us on a deep dive into one film, try Drew Morton‘s essay on personal myth-making (and how it changes us) in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. Full text of this examination of legend and fact (and the gaps between) is here.
If you’d rather immerse yourself in the romances of Eric Rohmer than the glorious grindhouse send-ups of Tarantino, cool off with this look at the role of water in his oeuvre. Granted, Rohmer’s restless lovers are often on holiday, could there to be more to this occurring symbolism? Tope Ogundare is diving in! See the full article here.
And finally, sometimes we just really want to get granular. That’s especially true if a film happens to be over twelve hours long, like durational legend Out 1. Luckily, we have Fandor’s chief video essayist, Kevin B. Lee! Watch as Lee dissects, with the help of fellow critic Daniel Fairfax, but one scene of this epic film. It just goes to show how much every single minute of celluloid matters, even in a project this huge. Get more info on this incredible film and Lee’s choice of scene here.
With that, we’ll leave you until next week, when we’ll have more movie goodness to share. Until then, we hope you enjoy these video essays as much as we did! Who knows? Maybe they’ll help you find your next favorite film.