Nothing Happens

Nothing Happens

Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday

  • Author: Margulies, Ivone
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • ISBN: 9780822317265
  • eISBN Pdf: 9780822399254
  • Place of publication:  Durham , United States
  • Year of digital publication: 1996
  • Month: February
  • Pages: 228
  • Language: English
Through films that alternate between containment, order, and symmetry on the one hand, and obsession, explosiveness, and a lack of control on the other, Chantal Akerman has gained a reputation as one of the most significant filmmakers working today. Her 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is widely regarded as the most important feminist film of that decade. In Nothing Happens, Ivone Margulies presents the first comprehensive study of this influential avant-garde Belgian filmmaker.
Margulies grounds her critical analysis in detailed discussions of Akerman’s work—from Saute ma ville, a 13-minute black-and-white film made in 1968, through Jeanne Dielman and Je tu il elle to the present. Focusing on the real-time representation of a woman’s everyday experience in Jeanne Dielman, Margulies brings the history of social and progressive realism and the filmmaker’s work into perspective. Pursuing two different but related lines of inquiry, she investigates an interest in the everyday that stretches from postwar neorealist cinema to the feminist rewriting of women’s history in the seventies. She then shows how Akerman’s “corporeal cinema” is informed by both American experiments with performance and duration and the layerings present in works by European modernists Bresson, Rohmer, and Dreyer. This analysis revises the tired opposition between realism and modernism in the cinema, defines Akerman’s minimal-hyperrealist aesthetics in contrast to Godard’s anti-illusionism, and reveals the inadequacies of popular characterizations of Akerman’s films as either simply modernist or feminist.
An essential book for students of Chantal Akerman’s work, Nothing Happens will also interest international film critics and scholars, filmmakers, art historians, and all readers concerned with feminist film theory.
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chantal Akerman's Films: The Politics of the Singular
  • Chapter 1. Nothing Happens: Time for the Everyday in Postwar Realist Cinema
    • Charting the Everyday in Postwar Europe
    • A Realism of Surfaces: Bazin and Neorealist Film
    • From Surface to Structure: Barthes, Godard, and the Textualization of Reality
    • Beyond Cinematic Positivism: The Antirescue Cinema of Andy Warhol
  • Chapter 2. Toward a Corporeal Cinema: Theatricality in the '70s
    • The United States in Real Time: Minimal, Hyperreal, and Structural
    • Quotation Reconsidered: European "Theatrical" Cinema
  • Chapter 3. The Equivalence of Events: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
    • Excess Description: Robbe-Grillet and Cinematic Hyperrealism
    • Bracketing Drama: The Other Scene
    • The Murder, and, and, and . . .: An Aesthetics of Homogeneity
    • The Automaton: Agency and Causality in Jeanne Dielman
  • Chapter 4. Expanding the "I": Character in Experimental Feminist Narrative
    • The Lure of Center in Rainer's Work: A Cautionary Tale
    • The Eroded Index: Liminality in Je tu il elle
    • An Alogical, Fitful, Evidence
    • "Here Is": Redundant Description
    • A Mock Centrality: An A-Individual Singularity
  • Chapter 5. "Her" and Jeanne Dielman: Type as Commerce
    • For Example, "Her": Godard and the "Natural" Sign
    • Jeanne Dielman: An Exceptional Typicality
  • Chapter 6. Forms of Address: Epistolary Performance, Monologue, and Bla Bla Bla
    • Epistolary Performance: News from Home
    • Talk-Blocks: Meetings with Anna
    • Postscript: The Man with the Suitcase and A Filmmaker's Letter
    • What is Wrong with Signing?: A Filmmaker's Letter
  • Chapter 7. The Rhythm of Cliché: Akerman into the '90s
    • Eight Times "Oui": Singularity in Toute une nuit
    • Night and Day and Night: The Cycle Revisited
    • So Let's Sing: The Eighties and Window Shopping
    • Echoes from the East: Histoires D'Amérique and D'Est
  • To Conclude: It Is Time
  • Filmography
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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