Thursday, May 6, 2010

The obvious, the code, and Double Indemnity

Raymond Bellour, in his 1973 article The Obvious and the Code, examined the workings of a seemingly simple segment from The Big Sleep and concluded that working behind the apparent simplicity of the classical Hollywood style is a highly structured and very deliberate schematic. This schematic, he claimed, is concentrated on repetition, but a repetition which seeks to subvert itself with subtle differences in the use of cinematic codes. Furthermore, this repetition works to create a symmetrical structure which is the very key to narrative.

This article had a huge influence on my approach to film during my college years; at least three of my college writing projects were direct applications of Bellour's ideas. In one of these projects, I examined a scene from one of my favorite movies, Double Indemnity. For this week's post, I have reprinted this piece in what I am calling the Second Reel Annex, a repository for writing I deem too long for a blog.

You can read The Obvious, the Code, and Double Indemnity at the Annex, then return here to post any comments you may have.


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