Monday, September 7, 2009

Perspective / Christine

John Carpenter has a real way with the frame -- especially if that frame is about 2.4 times as wide as it is tall. A real control of perspective, too, and that's what makes him seem like a descendant of (not an heir to) Alfred Hitchcock, even more so than Brian De Palma. Every image Carpenter makes, he makes with the audience in mind. An image to create (or controls) the perspective of the audience. De Palma approaches every image with the same perspective in mind: his own. Carpenter puts the "tools" a frame provides him with to use; De Palma sees the frame the way a painter sees a commissioned canvas: a space in which he's free to express whatever he wants, as long as it follows certain requirements. This is not an issue of the egoist vs. the storyteller, or something along those lines; no, the approach to perspective is also an issue of perspective -- namely the director's perspective on a director's responsibility. For Carpenter, the responsibility lies with the audience; for De Palma, it lies with cinema.

Christine (1978)

is John Carpenter's most elemental film, the one where all those struggles that in his films would usually only exist in the audience's heads -- those fears, those tensions -- take on shape and color in the image. It's blue vs. red, movement against walls and stillness, machines against each other or against people, bright white headlights against inky highway darkness. As pure in its images as Viva Las Vegas.

1 comment:

Matthew Flanagan said...

'Every image Carpenter makes, he makes with the audience in mind.'

To me, currently watching many of his films for the first time, this says pretty much everything about JC.