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11 JULY 2014

The Phantom of Liberty: humorous critique of bourgeois conventions

"Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty was quickly dismissed upon its release in 1974. Not only did it have to contend with the lingering success of 1972's similarly themed but significantly less abstract The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, but it was quickly followed by the dreamlike, bi–polar romantic entanglement of the director's last film, That Obscure Object of Desire. Like Discreet Charm, the plot–free Phantom of Liberty is a patchwork of comedic sketches and sight gags through which Buñuel ravages a complacent European culture and the various sexual hang–ups and historical and cultural disconnects of its inhabitants. This heady, almost off–putting masterwork isn't particularly easy to decipher (maybe we aren't meant to), which is why it's best to approach it as a literal comedy of manners.

Films structured around daisy chains of dysfunction are a dime a dozen; most, though, are as tiresomely long–winded as they are content with their own strained circularity. This isn't the case with Phantom of Liberty, which begins with a shot of Goya's 1808 masterpiece 'The Third of May.' The painting depicts Napoleon's army executing a group of faceless Spaniards, and via a reenactment of this struggle, Buñuel depicts how one of Napoleon's captains tries to defile the monument of Doña Elvira only to be smacked on the head by the moving arm of the statue of the woman's husband. (He later intends to sleep with the woman's corpse, and when he opens her coffin, he's amazed by how her beauty has been preserved.) It's the first of many sight gags in the film, each and every one as startling as they are perversely funny. All these moments are possessed by a sense of shocked wonderment and discovery, and they all more or less evoke fragile pasts and characters trying to reconcile their historical detachments."

(Ed Gonzalez, 13 September 2003, Slant Magazine)

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1974absurd situationsabsurdist humourabsurdity • Adolfo Celi • Adriana Asti • Anne-Marie Deschott • apparition • Arch de Triomphe • archaic rules • Bernard Verley • black humour • bourgeois • bourgeoise societycancer • chance encounter • cigarettes • Claude Pieplu • coffin • comedic sketches • comedycomedy of mannerscorpsecritiquecultural conventionscultural pastdaughterdining practicesdinner tabledisappearancedoctor • Dona Elvira • eatingepisodic structureetiquetteEuropean cinema • European culture • faith • Francois Maistre • girl • Goya • Helene Perdriere • hotel • housemaid • humour • impulses • internal logic • intrusion • Jean Rochefort • Jean-Claude Brialy • Julien Bertheau • Le Fantome de la Liberte (1974) • Luis Bunuel • mailman • masterwork • Michael Lonsdale • Michel Piccoli • Milena Vukotic • Monica Vitti • Montparnasse • morality • nanny • narrative preconceptions • obscene • ostrich • parodypatchwork • Paul Frankeur • phallicphallic symbol • Philippe Brigaud • Pierre Maguelon • policepolite societypostcard • postman • psychoanalysisritual • rooster • rulesschool • schoolchildren • Serge Silberman • sexual hang-ups • sexual taboo • sight gag • sketch comedy • sniper • social behavioursocial conventionsSpanish filmsubconscioussurrealist cinemasurrealist filmmakertaboo • That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) • The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) • The Phantom of Liberty (1974) • The Third of May (1808) • toilettriptych • vanished • visual gagzoo

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 OCTOBER 2013

Thai Health Promotion Foundation: Smoking Kid campaign

"The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) used child actors to get adult smokers to think seriously about taking their own advice on the effects of smoking. In the Thai cultural context, adults naturally take action to educate children whenever they misbehave. However, when adults themselves repeat the children's action, they overlook that misbehavior. Children carrying cigarettes approached adults in smoking areas outside busy buildings, asking for a light. Adults commonly refused and warned the children not to smoke. The children asked the adults why they themselves were smoking and gave them a 'quit smoking' brochure. The campaign won a Bronze Outdoor Lion at Cannes in 2012, Gold Special Event and Silver Online awards at the 2013 Clio AWards, Gold for Special Service at the One Show Awards, a Silver Film Lotus at the 2013 Adfest Awards."

(Duncan Macleod, 4 June 2013, The Inspiration Room)

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2012 • Adfest Awards • advertising campaignaltruismappealbrochureCannes Film Festivalchanging our relation • child actor • childrencigarettes • Clio Awards • co-suffering • cognitive dissonancecompassion • concern for others • desire to help • distanced viewpoint • duty of care • emotive manipulationempathetic consciousnessharmhealthheld in abeyanceInspiration Room • kid • pathospersuasively suggestivepsychical distancepublic health campaign • quit smoking • self-harm • smoking area • smoking cigarettes • Smoking Kid (campaign) • Thai Health Promotion Foundation • Thailand • The One Club • THPF

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2008

Miscellany blog: striking advertising and design images

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 AUGUST 2005

NICHT Loschbares Feuer / Inextinguishable Fire

Guerillakino zum Essayfilm
Farocki's film NICHT loschbares Feuer opens with a dramatic and destructive gesture. "During a long shot one sees, in close up, the author who sits at a table in a plain room. While he reads a Vietnamese's witness statement in a flat voice, his eyes meet the camera several times. The statement recounts an attack of a village by the American Air Force, and the use of Napalm, this "inextinguishable fire" that lent the first film its title. Near the end of the statement, he looks up from the paper in his hand directly into the camera and says: "How can we show you napalm in action? And how can we show you the damage caused by napalm? If we show you pictures of napalm damage, you'll close your eyes. First you'll close your eyes to the pictures; then you'll close your eyes to the memory.... Then you'll close your eyes to the facts.... then you'll close your eyes to the connections between them ... We can give you only a weak demonstration of how napalm works. "Then Farocki picks up a burning cigarette while the camera draws closer to show him extinguish the cigarette on the back of his hand. An off–camera voice explains, that a cigarette burns with an average 500 degrees, whereas Napalm burns with 4000 degrees. (...) NICHT loschbares Feuer can be distinguished from most of the other films that were shot in protest against the Vietnam War. This film wants to demonstrate the industrial and personal relations around the production of war, and it wants to point out western scientist's responsibilities for the atrocities committed by American troops in Vietnam..."[1][1] Vom Guerillakino zum Essayfilm. Werkmonographie eines deutschen Autorenfilmers. Tilman Baumgartel. W?rzburg: 1997.

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American Air Force • atrocityattackcameracigarettesdamage • Farocki • Guerillakino zum Essayfilm • Inextinguishable Fire • napalm • NICHT loschbares Feuer • Vietnam
03 FEBRUARY 2005

Oskar Fischinger: Komposition in Blau

"Surfaces dominate in the abstract animated film 'Komposition in Blau/ Lichtkonzert Nr.1' (Composition in Blue / Light Concert No. 1). Colorful geometric figures are set in rhythmic motion. The music from Nicolai's 'The Merry Women of Windsor' is impressively visualized through a blending of form and color. Fischinger created wooden cubes and cylinders as three–dimensional animated models, approximately as tall as a cigarette, some of them painted and others covered with fabric. 'At first the set seems to reveal a room. But then the floor begins to reflect the geometric figures. Cubes perfectly–aligned in a row, forming a flat mosaic–like surface, tumble apart to form a stairway. In this perpetually changing universe, a cylinder pounds at the floor and sets off a series of waves, and a decorative, flat circle flies into the empty space. The beauty of the colored, geometric forms–a yellow rectangle descends gracefully into the frame–escalates to the frenzied magic of the impossible.'"

(William Moritz, Media Art Net)

Source: William Moritz: 'Oskar Fischinger', in: Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt am Main, Optische Poesie. Oskar Fischinger Leben und Werk, Kinematograph Nr. 9, 1993, p. 42)

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TAGS

19353Dabstract animated filmabstract filmabstractionanimated modelsanimationblue • changing • choreographycigarettescirclecolourcolour and music • Composition in Blue • cubecylinderdesign formalismflat • form and colour • geometric figuresgeometric formsKomposition in Blaumosaicmotion designmusic videoOskar Fischingerpioneerrhythmic motionstairwaystop framesurface • three-dimensional • tumble • visual designvisual patternvisualisation • waves • wood • wooden cubes • wooden cylinders

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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