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Film Hieroglyphs

2006
Author:

Tom Conley

Film Hieroglyphs

An innovative examination of the way we watch films—with a new introduction

At a time when traditional film theory privileged the purely visual, Film Hieroglyphs introduced a new way of watching film—examining the ways in which writing bears on cinema. Author Tom Conley gives special consideration to the points (ruptures) at which story, image, and writing appear to be at odds with one another.

Teaches a manner of film viewing that is necessary, convincing, and, through the repeated demonstration of method, accessible.

T. Jefferson Kline, Boston University

At a time when traditional film theory privileged the purely visual, Film Hieroglyphs introduced a new way of watching film—examining the ways in which writing bears on cinema. Author Tom Conley gives special consideration to the points (ruptures) at which story, image, and writing appear to be at odds with one another.

Conley hypothesizes that major directors—Renoir, Lang, Walsh, Rossellini—tend unconsciously to meld history and ideology. Graphic elements are seen as simultaneously foreign and integral to the field of the image. From these contradictions hieroglyphs emerge that mark a design attesting to a hidden rhetoric and to configurations of meaning that cinema cannot always control.

Film Hieroglyphs

Tom Conley is Lowell Professor of Romance languages and visual and environmental studies at Harvard University. Among his books are Cartographic Cinema and The Self-Made Map, as well as translations of The Fold by Gilles Deleuze and In the Metro by Marc Augé.

Film Hieroglyphs

Teaches a manner of film viewing that is necessary, convincing, and, through the repeated demonstration of method, accessible.

T. Jefferson Kline, Boston University

A persuasive argument for renovating the ways we ‘read films.’

Bulletin of the History of Medicine

The bold gambit of Conley’s Film Hieroglyphs is to argue the possibility of reading seeming transparent Hollywood cinema as writing—to stop at the level of the screen and read Hollywood films as if they were literally nothing but signs splayed across the white rectangle. Conley represents a distinctive and even unique voice in film studies.

Film Quarterly

Film Hieroglyphs

Contents

Acknowledgments
Hieroglyphs Then and Now

Introduction

1. The Filmic Icon: Boudu sauvé des eaux
2. The Law of the Letter: Scarlet Street
3. Dummies Revived: Manpower
4. The Nether Eye: Objective, Burma!
5. Facts and Figures of History: Paisan
6. The Human Alphabet: La bête humaine
7. Decoding Film Noir: The Killers, High Sierra, and White Heat

Epilogue
Appendix

Notes

Index