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Deleuze, Altered States and Film

Deleuze, Altered States and Film

Anna Powell
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Deleuze, Altered States and Film
    Book Description:

    This book offers a typology of altered states, defining dream, hallucination, trance, vision and ecstasy in their cinematic expression.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3240-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Altered States, Affect and Film
    (pp. 1-15)

    A man hangs suspended in the blue-lit water of a flotation tank. A fish-eye lens and pale, grainy images compress his naked body and enlarge his head, a human foetus close to birth in the womb of a machine. A slow tracking-shot glides the camera back from peering through the riveted metal porthole of a flotation tank. The long shot reveals neurologist Edward Jessup (William Hurt) in deep trance. He is the subject of a laboratory experiment under observation by fellow scientists. The extensive paraphernalia of experiment: computers, monitors and alpha-rhythm flow charts, form a sharp visual contrast to Jessup’s...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Dream Machine
    (pp. 16-53)

    Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound begins with an on-screen text identifying psychoanalysis as ‘the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane’. Here, as befits a film about the ‘talking cure’, the opening prioritises words. The text is a curious mix of scientific certainty and gothic madness. It assures us that ‘once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappear’. Yet, at the same time it pronounces that ‘the devils of unreason’ will be ‘driven from the human soul’ by analysis as exorcism. Such ambivalence recalls Freud’s own suggestion...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Pharmacoanalysis
    (pp. 54-96)

    In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari announce the replacement of psychoanalysis by ‘pharmacoanalysis’.³ The polemical assertion reveals the impact of drugs, or at least drugs-related art, on their project. In this chapter, I make a Deleuzian intersection of drugs and film. My focus is on cinematic images of drug-use as I discover a specifically intoxicant cluster of images, music, editing and other stylistic techniques. By identifying these, I want to interrogate how far each film impacts on us as an agent of becoming by inducing affectively altered states of consciousness.

    The film Altered States does not just depict Jessup’s...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Altered Body Maps and the Cinematic Sensorium
    (pp. 97-136)

    Glittering fabric from a 1920s ball gown fills the screen, replaced by others in close-up as the camera riffles through an entire wardrobe. Though framing remains static, the dresses dance across the screen by themselves, shimmying from side to side without human agency, not to a Charleston but the rocking rhythm of a bass guitar riff. Gliding closer in to one gown, texture sharpens focus, an invitation to touch, before sequins blur into glinting stars of light on a black ground.

    The close-up face of an unnamed Star (Yvonne Marquis) appears, with a blissed-out expression. Heavily made up flapper-style, she...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Altered States of Time
    (pp. 137-175)

    In Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) three travellers enter a mysterious ‘Zone’ where alien activity is reported. At such a climactic moment, we might well expect clear signs of alien presence or a dramatic encounter. Despite the science-fiction promise of the plot, however, very little appears to be happening in terms of on-screen events. Instead of exciting action, we have long, slow shots that focus in close-up on the care-worn faces of three travellers deep in contemplation. They ride in silence on a rail-cart through a blurred landscape that looks like a back projection. Yet, there is something moving profoundly in this...

  9. Conclusion: Becoming-Fractal
    (pp. 176-188)

    ‘Title 18’: rainbow-coloured clouds form starfish spirals that pulse outwards and spread endlessly. Between the wavering ‘arms’ of the main spiral, innumerable self-same patterns shimmer in anticipation of the zoom that will enter their own shifting formations and on into relative infinity. ‘Title 22’, a classic Mandelbrot fractal, is monochrome with filigree edges of shimmering silver. ‘Title 10’, a circular formation in fiery red and gold, flows out of a black hole at its centre to fill the screen, its jagged points spreading into abstract patterns.⁴

    These clips from basic fractal video ‘films’ (and my basic descriptions of their complex...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-200)
  11. Index
    (pp. 201-214)