Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same

Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film

Amy Herzog
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsf3n
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  • Book Info
    Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7058-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-38)

    Jean-Paul Sartre ends his novelNauseawith a single moment of aesthetic transcendence. Roquentin, the narrator-writer whose existential dissolution the novel follows, sits in a café, asking the barmaid to play again and again the same record. He contemplates a small skip in the recording: “Someone must have scratched the record at that spot because it makes an odd noise. And there is something that clutches the heart: the melody is absolutely untouched by this tiny coughing of the needle on the record.”¹ The untimeliness of the record overwhelms Roquentin, a fragment whose duration, caught within the imperfect grooves of...

  4. One Illustrating Music: The Impossible Embodiments of the Jukebox Film
    (pp. 39-72)

    Michel Chion, writing on the distinction between film and television, argues that “the difference . . . lies not so much in the visual specificity of their images, as in the different roles of sound in each.”¹ Referring to television as “illustrated radio,” Chion describes the medium as driven by sound, speech, and music. The image in television and video serves to supplement the sound, which bears the primary burden of conveying meaning. The examples Chion draws on (televised sporting events, video art, and the music video) all share this quality; the sound track tells us what is happening, while...

  5. Two Dissonant Refrains: Carmen on Film
    (pp. 73-114)

    InA Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia,Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari introduce the notion of the ritornello, or the refrain. Using an amalgam of musical, scientific, and philosophical terminology, they expand the definition of the refrain from its colloquial usage to encompass a highly complex phenomenon. On the most basic level, refrains are fragments of sounds, colors, gestures, or other expressive elements that circulate and repeat through individual articulations. These circulations contain temporal facets, marking with each variation a certain duration; yet they also have an involved relationship to space. The refrain becomes a means ofterritorialization,an utterance...

  6. Three En Chanté: Music, Memory, and Perversity in the Films of Jacques Demy
    (pp. 115-153)

    Henri Bergson’s theories of perception, memory, and time fly in the face of our most commonplace assumptions about these processes. We presume that perception is the processing of stimuli by our sensory organs, that memories are highly individualized neurological images stored in our brains, and that time, despite our relative perceptions of it, unfolds as a series of moments that are strung like beads onto the thread of the past. According to Bergson, however, perception is a reflective interaction between the perceiver and the perceived, a reciprocal exchange that takes place in the space between them, not in the mind...

  7. Four Becoming-Fluid: History, Corporeality, and the Musical Spectacle
    (pp. 154-201)

    In “The Mass Ornament,” Siegfried Kracauer describes the spectacle of the Tiller Girls, a franchise of dance troupes that performed synchronized routines in geometrical formations. Kracauer writes:

    These products of American distraction factories are no longer individual girls, but indissoluble girl clusters, whose movements are demonstrations of mathematics . . . One need only glance at the screen to learn that the ornaments are composed of thousands of bodies, sexless bodies in bathing suits. The regularity of their patterns is cheered by the masses, themselves arranged by the stands in tier upon ordered tier.¹

    For Kracauer, the fragmentation and abstraction...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 202-206)

    The musical film is a locus for a number of conflicting tendencies. The musical is rife with stereotype, cliché, habitual structures, and repetition. But it simultaneously allows for multiplicity, hybridity, chance, perversion; for assemblages between diverse types of bodies; and for a free-play of difference. Musicals are nostalgic; they obsess over the past and offer images of utopian futures that often only reassert the conditions of the present. Yet the musical film is also able to free itself from the strictures of chronology, to leap into the virtual past, creating fluid connections and disruptive juxtapositions that destabilize teleological histories. Musicals...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 207-208)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 209-228)
  11. Index
    (pp. 229-236)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 237-237)