Martin essay

In "The Persisting Vision," he champions comprehensive film preservation, citing the case of Hitchcock's  Vertigo , the final entry on his list, now named the greatest film of all time by  Sight and Sound 's critics poll. "When the film came out some people liked it, some didn’t, and then it just went away." When, after decades of obscurity, Vertigo  came back into circulation,  the color was completely wrong," and "the elements — the original picture and sound negatives — needed serious attention." A restoration of the "decaying and severely damaged" film eventually happened, and "more and more people saw  Vertigo  and came to appreciate its hypnotic beauty and very strange, obsessive focus." I, personally, couldn't imagine the world of cinema without it — nor without any of the other pictures Scorsese calls his favorites.

I go back to The Searchers all the time. A few years ago, I watched it with my wife, and I will admit that it gave me pause. Many people have problems with Ford's Irish humor, which is almost always alcohol-related. For some, the frontier-comedy scenes with Ken Curtis are tough to take, but again, I don't think they mar the film; these interludes are as much a part of the director's universe as Shakespeare's clowns are a part of his. For me, the problem was with the scenes involving a plump Comanche woman ( Beulah Archuletta ) that the Hunter character inadvertently takes as a wife. There is some low comedy in these scenes: Hunter kicks her down a hill, and Max Steiner 's score amplifies the moment with a comic flourish. Then the tone shifts dramatically, and Wayne and Hunter both become ruthless and bullying, scaring her away. Later, they find her body in a Comanche camp that has been wiped out by American soldiers, and you can feel their sense of loss. All the same, this passage seemed unnecessarily cruel to me. But the last time I saw The Searchers , the picture seemed even greater than ever, and it's not that the scene had stopped troubling me; in fact, it troubled me on an even deeper level. In truly great films -- the ones that people need to make, the ones that start speaking through them, the ones that keep moving into territory that is more and more unfathomable and uncomfortable -- nothing's ever simple or neatly resolved. You're left with a mystery. In this case, the mystery of a man who spends 10 years of his life searching for someone, realizes his goal, brings her back and then walks away. Only an artist as great as John Ford would dare to end a film on such a note. In its final moment, The Searchers suddenly becomes a ghost story. Ethan's sense of purpose has been fulfilled, and like the man whose eyes he's shot out, he's destined to wander forever between the winds.

What . Wodehouse is to butlers, what Jane Austen is to eligible suitors, what Cormac McCarthy is to horse carcasses, George . Martin is to soup. But there is one thing he likes to describe even more than soup, and that’s soup served inside of bread. His characters are constantly hacking at loaves of bread and hollowing them into trenchers and then ladling soup into the space made therein. (While I’m OK with the unborn puppies and the snake venom, this is where I balk. Soup should not be served inside of bread.) Martin’s obsession with soup reaches its apogee in A Dance With Dragons , the fifth book in the cycle.

Martin essay

martin essay


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