fantastic Cinema : Dissociation aesthetic of the gothic

In literature as in cinema, it has long been associated with aesthetic and gothic state of mind romantic, but this couple is still as close today ?

Before the critics do not refer to the aesthetics of a film “gothic”, even before the birth of the cinema, there was already a literary movement called “literary gothic”, which one can still today see the influence in different media. Arising out of the romantic movement in which blossomed the heightened sensibilities of the artists at the end of the Eighteenth century, the gothic as a literary genre recognizable and prolific develops from the first half of the Nineteenth century, mainly among the English and the americans. However, if romanticism allows this generation of novelists and poets to express their state of mind and their philosophy of life, the gothic, on the other hand, is more used to describe the world they represent to house that state of mind. A world enraged by the storms, which are the echo of the storms inland, a world of mist, cemeteries, nights populated by ghosts, of the survival of a terrible past interfering on the temporality of the present. I advise you, moreover, Gothic by Ken Russell, which illustrates perfectly the historical and cultural context, since its characters are none other than the poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, John Polidori (author of the new The Vampire), and Mary Shelley, who in the novel Frankenstein, or Prometheus modern.

The English authors such as Horace Walpote or Ann Radcliffe offered as well through their stories scary, a touch of subversion, and strong emotions in a society that is stilted. Subsequently, americans such as Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe, will continue this british tradition to establish their own civilization puritan and adorn the scenery of the north east (where one speaks of gothic architecture) a culture today still very identifiable.

Beyond adaptations of these novels gothic (Carmilla, Dracula, Sleepy Hollow) who take up most of the time in the atmosphere north-american or british of the Nineteenth century, we note the attribution of the adjective “gothic” to some of the films to the aesthetic choices radicals whose relationship with the literary genre of the original is not always obvious. For example, a link is often established with the film noir, this genre is a bit of a catch-all that combines elements of drama and detective film, as an aesthetic or atmospheric, the state of mind of the tormented protagonist is often made explicit by a representation expressive of dramatic tension and a preponderance of a decor that symbolizes this state of mind (see House by the River de Fritz Lang, where a novelist is sinking into madness after committing a murder). The gothic may thus be freed of its nomenclature original with mansions, horse-drawn carriages and candelabras to fit in with a contemporary decor to the films noirs of the forties and fifties, or even a contemporary setting of present production.

But since this process of deterritorialization as Gilles Deleuze, what is the fate of romantic thought original ? One can always cite some filmmakers like Tim Burton who have chosen as their protagonists characters eminently romantic (Edward scissorhands), bringing with them a melancholy degree, and feeling guided by feelings, violent and contradictory, rather than by reason. If Burton can precisely help us to understand the re-appropriation of contemporary concept gothic : Tim Burton was born in 1959, he grew up in a suburb (too) tranquil of California, before I felt a deep aversion to the way of life conventional of theAmerican way of life. It is therefore a teenager when the rock of Lou Reed and Alice Cooper begins to adopt the aesthetic codes of the gothic, and this is a young artist and adult, which becomes the end of the seventies up to the years four-twenty-ten contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman (Sandman), of painters such as Mark Ryden, and musicians like The Cure, Bauhaus or Siouxsie.

Burton belongs to a time when the visual appearance of certain rock groups are increasingly involved in the collective imagination, to the point of constituting today an entire segment of the counter-culture. The audience of these artists soon adopted their styles, makeup and clothing color to black, in which he acknowledges an emotion radical, provided that a certain imperviousness to other discourses of the aesthetic. Unlike the authors of the genre, those that we now call the “gothic” do not seek to describe a gothic world around them, they became the gothic. They are now the aesthetic objects that bring the world to darkness and melancholy.

The literary influences of the Nineteenth, are thus superimposed the contributions of the aesthetic of rock culture, more provocative and more deviant ; one of the best examples of this evolution is certainly the adaptation of the comics of James O Barr, The Crow in 1994. In this film, ofAlex Proyas, the protagonist is a rocker assassinated, back into the world of the living to take revenge and especially to avenge the woman he was madly in love with it. Then of course, the personality of this hero dressed in black and painted up like a sad clown, poses as the new face of the ‘ tortured, continuing the lineage of the poets maudits and other artists who question the idea of twins cruel death and love. His mission to the endianness ends his novel flamboyant. But precisely, if it is brought back to life by a divine authority, it is to surrender to the violence, to have recourse to a variety of physical threats, to transcend her status as artist’s sentimental to become a fighter as destructive as the world is destroyed. An urban world, failed, corrupted, where violence calls violence, without valve brain to let a chance to any form of transcendence. So we can’t honestly connect the state-of-mind vindictive of the film with romance, such as it was, and lived two centuries earlier.

In a few decades, the generation of Burton and Proyas can in turn be studied in terms of the generations of artists following that it will be influenced. It’s a safe bet that some filmmakers claim a gothic influence, in the sense that they will continue with the development of an aesthetic, without for as much to keep intact the doctrine romantic original. We can now speak of a dissociation aesthetic freeing himself from the semantics that involves the gothic. This part of philosophy, the romantic who held various land thoughts, like metaphysics, for example, where the romantics were caught between the dogmas judeo-christians and the expressions of desires free. The passion of many of them came from this need to think of God differently, and still today, this question of spirituality is an integral part of the DNA of the gothic.

Looking good in the filmography of Burton, in The Crow, Alex Proyas, in the Crimson Peak from Guillermo Del Toro, or in a franchise like Underworld, one eye sharp and patient will find without doubt a few references or symbols related to atheism or agnosticism. But according to me, the dissociation aesthetic has already done its work, the form has cannibalized the background, and if you like the gothic character of these films, it is first of all to the visual creations that he has permitted directors and artistic directors (sumptuous decorations of the house, dark suits and impressive at the time, etc…).


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