Gilberto Perez

Gilberto Perez, Noble Professor of Art and Cultural History at Sarah Lawrence College, is the author of The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium.

How We Remember: Terrence Malick

Gilberto Perez, 12 September 2013

The family is moving out of town, and as the car drives away the mother looks back at the house they’re leaving behind. ‘The only way to be happy is to love,’ she says in voiceover. ‘Unless you love … your life will flash by.’ We cut to her point of view and, through the car’s rear window, see the pale green two-storey house receding down the quiet...

Bourgeois Nightmares: Michael Haneke

Gilberto Perez, 6 December 2012

‘What I want,’ a young Luis Buñuel announced to the audience at an early screening of his first film, Un Chien Andalou (1929), ‘is for you not to like the film … I’d be sorry if it pleased you.’ The film’s opening scene, which culminates in a close-up of a straight-edge razor being drawn through a woman’s eyeball, is often taken as the epitome of cinema’s potential to do violence to its audience. The suasions of rhetoric, the effects of art on the observer, are of course achieved by inflicting pain as well as eliciting pleasure, by aggression as well as ingratiation.


Comanche from Germany

18 November 2010

I regret that there was no acknowledgment of Diane Stevenson in my piece on the Western (LRB, 18 November). Diane is my wife, but her ideas about The Searchers weren’t tossed at me in marital conversation: they were presented in research papers at academic conferences. I had never heard of Quanah Parker, the historical Comanche chief of mixed race who was, as she established, the inspiration for...

House of Miscegenation: Westerns

Gilberto Perez, 18 November 2010

The hero of the Toy Story trilogy is a toy cowboy. In Toy Story 3 when the toys belonging to Andy, now about to leave for college, find themselves at a daycare centre, and a kindly bear welcomes them into a community of toys freed from their owners, the cowboy alone stays loyal to Andy; and when the toy bear turns out to be a dictator worse than any owner, the cowboy, who was never persuaded...

Building with Wood: Time and Tarkovsky

Gilberto Perez, 26 February 2009

The first film Andrei Tarkovsky shot outside the Soviet Union was Nostalghia – spelled that way because ‘nostalgia’ is too weak an equivalent for the Russian word, the Russian emotion. Made in Italy in 1982-83, it begins with a visit to the Tuscan church where Piero della Francesca painted his fresco of the pregnant Virgin Mary, the Madonna del Parto. But the scene...

The names of the actors appear briefly on a dark screen. We hear the sound of a car on a road. A title reads: ‘This film is based on a true story.’ Then we see a large American car...

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