Garden in the Machine. A Field Guide to Independent Films about Place

This academic study collects 11 essays that explore how avant-garde film and alternative media have used nature, landscape, and cityscape to evoke an American sense of place. MacDonald (Bard Coll.) flashes back and forth through film history, shuffling metaphors of America as the new Garden of Eden and making a case that the films discussed both intersect with and enlarge the field of American studies, notably 19th- and 20th-century literature, landscape painting, and photography. Densely written chapters measure the contributions of experimental filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas plus a few surprising mainstream films: Twister, Natural Born Killers, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Many of the independent films featured here are obscure, and MacDonald makes a plea for their preservation, wider distribution, and discussion. But while he claims that his book is meant to be accessible to students and general readers, it is marred by reams of less-than-scintillating prose. Comments from the filmmakers would have added variety and relief from the pedantic narrative, which might, however, be useful for spot reference.

Text: Macdonald Scott. cm 15,5×23,5; pp. 506; BW ills.; paperback. Publisher: University of California Press, Los Angeles, 2001.

ISBN: 9780520227385| 0520227387

ID: AM-7896

Product Description

This academic study collects 11 essays that explore how avant-garde film and alternative media have used nature, landscape, and cityscape to evoke an American sense of place. MacDonald (Bard Coll.) flashes back and forth through film history, shuffling metaphors of America as the new Garden of Eden and making a case that the films discussed both intersect with and enlarge the field of American studies, notably 19th- and 20th-century literature, landscape painting, and photography. Densely written chapters measure the contributions of experimental filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas plus a few surprising mainstream films: Twister, Natural Born Killers, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Many of the independent films featured here are obscure, and MacDonald makes a plea for their preservation, wider distribution, and discussion. But while he claims that his book is meant to be accessible to students and general readers, it is marred by reams of less-than-scintillating prose. Comments from the filmmakers would have added variety and relief from the pedantic narrative, which might, however, be useful for spot reference.

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