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Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

The Musical Moment in Film

2009
Author:

Amy Herzog

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

Discovers the disruptive power of the musical moment in film

Musical spectacles are excessive and abstract, reconfiguring time and space and creating intense bodily responses. Amy Herzog’s engaging work examines those instances where music and movement erupt from within more linear narrative frameworks. The representational strategies found in these films are often formulaic, repeating familiar story lines and stereotypical depictions of race, gender, and class. Yet she finds the musical moment contains a powerful disruptive potential.

Amy Herzog’s Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film may be one of the more daring of the newest additions to this growing literature.

Southwest Journal of Cultures

Musical spectacles are excessive and abstract, reconfiguring time and space and creating intense bodily responses. Amy Herzog’s engaging work examines those instances where music and movement erupt from within more linear narrative frameworks. The representational strategies found in these films are often formulaic, repeating familiar story lines and stereotypical depictions of race, gender, and class. Yet she finds the musical moment contains a powerful disruptive potential.

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same investigates the tension and the fusion of difference and repetition in films to ask, How does the musical moment work? Herzog looks at an eclectic mix of works, including the Soundie and Scopitone jukebox films, the musicals of French director Jacques Demy, the synchronized swimming spectacles of Esther Williams, and an apocalyptic musical by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang. Several refrains circulate among these texts: their reliance on clichés, their rewriting of cultural narratives, and their hallucinatory treatment of memory and history.

Drawing on the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze, she explores all of these dissonances as productive forces, and in doing so demonstrates the transformative power of the unexpected.

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

Amy Herzog is associate professor of media studies at Queens College, City University of New York.

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

Amy Herzog’s Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film may be one of the more daring of the newest additions to this growing literature.

Southwest Journal of Cultures

A sophisticated treatment of the relationship between homosexuality and urban space that is both historically situated and still relevant to the present.

Journal of Urban History

Her ideas are not endpoints; rather they carry the reader to a threshold that opens out into a vast realm of possibilities.

Film & History

Her [Herzog’s] illustrations of Deleuzian concepts are lucid and accessible even without prior knowledge of Deleuze, whose relevance for the disciplines of Film and Media Studies is made clear. Regardless of whether one is “Deleuzian’ or not, Dreams of Difference is a poignant study of musical films in diverse contexts, which offers useful examples of how one might look at the aural, nonrepresentational elements of cinema.

Journal of Film, Radio, and Television

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

UMP blog: Submersion Doesn't Come Easily: How the musical score in "Inception" is a lesson in collective dreaming. (As well as an ode to Hitchcock's "Vertigo.")

8/04/2010
In a sequence from Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010), we are introduced to the mechanics of shared dreaming alongside the young architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), as she is being recruited by master dream manipulator, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). While sitting at an outdoor Paris café, Dom reveals to Ariadne that they are in fact communing in a dream space of her own subconscious design. As the realization washes over Ariadne, the surrounding streets begin to tremble and fracture. Building facades burst like concrete and glass puffs of popcorn. The earth heaves with a low-end groan, and the air fills with the detritus of what had moments ago been the weighty objects of urban life: produce crates, cobblestones, shards of furniture.