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Selected Videographic Essays and Criticism by Catherine Grant


A video I made for an entry at Film Studies For Free on Barbara Stanwyck and Film Performance Studies:


"[O]ne of the compositional aims [of my monograph BARBARA STANWYCK (London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)] was to try, using the short form of the little book, to achieve a balance between elaboration and concentration, extraction and distillation. This partly reflects a similar balance achieved in the films and performances, and Catherine Grant’s fascinating video riff, ‘Magnifying Mirror’, which matches the film to my pre-existing text, captures some of this by looping a sequence and in doing so emphasises the moment’s compactness by way of repetition.

I am conscious that [fellow film scholar] E.A. Kaplan is a casualty, and it appears as if her comment on STELLA DALLAS is singled out where actually quite a few accounts are tested in the course of the study and the isolation is a consequence of uprooting. It is true that I take issue with her assessment, but this is a difference over an interpretation, not a charge against her work more generally, or the value of it. I feel that her account reduces, and overlooks an achievement of the film, but this is something that we are all prone to do. Indeed, much nervousness on my part again as the film returns, insistently, to probe my own description and interpretation – alas too late to make adjustments – but also some satisfaction as film and criticism are reunited. This image/speech track relationship struck me as quite different to a DVD commentary (which is limited by the real time of the film) and the narration of audio-visual criticism (which is conceived in relation to the handling of images). I got the sense of a new form of criticism, using audio-visual material, happily meeting an old form of criticism, using words, and not simply exemplifying the ‘close reading’, but enhancing and interrogating, and more generally revivifying (and magnifying). The iteration in Catherine’s video productively interacts with the distension of written representation. The collaboration with Film Studies for Free has illuminated for me the stimulating relationship between commentaries in different forms so that the book gets commented upon in an audio interview and in a video film which in turn gets commented upon in this web statement, allowing the different media to differently elucidate.”