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Performance in the Cinema of Hal Hartley By Steven Rawle

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Performance in the Cinema of Hal Hartley

Introduction

The Cinema of Hal Hartley and Performance

As a film-maker, I think primarily in terms of movement anyway. Even if that movement is very small. A close-up is, for me, still choreographed. I believe that as a storyteller I even conceive of characters physically. I like to know how a character walks, sits, stands, sleeps, etc. before I can write what they say. At this point I’m certain this is because, despite the fact that I love story, character and dialogue, when I isolate the primary elements of film I find photography, movement and sound recording—in that order. Only then do I consider dramatic action. Film is essentially graphic for me.1
A Hartley film can be analyzed and justified, and a review can try to mold the intractable material into a more comprehensible form. But why does Hartley make us do all the heavy lifting? Can he consider a film that is self-evident and forthcoming? One that doesn’t require us to plunder the quarterly film magazines for deconstruction?

—Roger Ebert on No Such Thing2