It has been a long wait, longer than expected, but finally the new design is up and running. However, readers should keep in mind that this is the beginning of a process rather than its conclusion. There is still much refining to take place, not all of the new site’s capabilities are as yet fully functional and users may encounter problems as they navigate their way around the site. Therefore, a few housekeeping matters are in order.
All of Senses of Cinema’s archival material from Issue 51 back will remain accessible and can be accessed either via http://archive.sensesofcinema.com or through following the Archive link in the navigation bar. We will be migrating all of Senses’ archival content from past issues into our Content Management System (CMS); meanwhile, you can still access it in the manner to which you have long been accustomed.
Senses’ new CMS allows the “tagging” via keywords of articles, so that related material across multiple articles – and later, upon the migration of Senses’ archival material, across multiple issues – can readily be browsed. To take one example, in this issue there are articles tagged “Chris Marker” in the feature articles, book reviews and Cinémathèque Annotations on Film sections. Clicking the “Chris Marker” tag on any of those articles produces links to all of the articles so tagged. If you hit this link, you’ll get a concrete demonstration of this.
Given that Senses has an archive of some 2500 articles, as the system is populated over time an extraordinary wealth of interconnected material will begin to appear at the touch of a button.
In tandem with the introduction of “tagging” to Senses, we now offer “RSS feeds” for every keyword we tag, be it a director’s name, a film genre, a film movement, a national cinema, etc. A common abbreviation for “Really Simple Syndication”, these RSS feeds will allow readers to “subscribe” to a feed on any given keyword such that they will always know when we have added another article – whether from our archive, or through the addition of altogether new material in future issues of Senses – which we have deemed of significant pertinence to that given keyword.
Readers can also subscribe to an RSS feed for the website as a whole.
For more on RSS please visit Wikipedia.
The other feature introduced with this issue is the “Lightbox”. To see it in action, click on any image within an article to access both enlarged versions of the article’s images and to automatically skip to the full gallery of images within any given article.
To state the obvious, users will notice a series of icons at the top of each article which will allow readers to share Senses’ content with friends/peers/colleagues through a variety of social networking websites.
Icons in the blue bar on the right-hand side of articles allow readers to print the articles in print-friendly format, send a link to an article to a friend, or to bookmark the article. Some of these functions pre-existed the new site, but they have now been made much more economical and efficient in their use.
Issue 52 is in some way a test run to see how the new software for the site is functioning, both from our point of view and that of our subscribers. So, any feedback would be much appreciated.
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However, when it comes right down it, we all know that ultimately a journal’s reputation rests not on matters of design or functionality, but on the quality of its content. In that light, and for all the technical distractions in producing this issue, all along we have very much kept at the forefront of our minds our responsibility to present an issue that is as rich and varied in reading material as any in our archives.
Issue 52 leads off with an interview with Terry Gilliam that is as frank and candid as any on record. He is a filmmaker that has encountered his fair share of travails and setbacks, to wit the documentary Lost in La Mancha (2002) that records the saga of his aborted Don Quixote project (which is now back on the radar). Through it all he has endured and, even now, with the death of Heath Ledger, he managed to bring to fruition The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
One gets the sense that Gilliam has an opinion about everything and isn’t afraid to give it, even if at times he skirts controversy. As, for example, when he compares Walt Disney and Hitler (favourably!), or, why the Monty Python team loved wearing Nazi uniforms. When our interviewer Maša Peče deems to interject with an “Okay, you’re going to get yourself into trouble now”, you know the interview has entered uncharted terrain. And, anyway, there is no way of stopping him. Nor should one.
Gilliam’s contentious and humorous comments on what others would see as taboo are best read in the light of Robert Reimer’s “Does Laughter Make the Crime Disappear?: An Analysis of Cinematic Images of Hitler and the Nazis, 1940-2007”, which confronts this very issue head on as it examines a plethora of films that satirise the Third Reich.
Also, he openly and honestly passes judgment on a whole range of films by his contemporaries. “There’s no heart in it, no soul”, he says of Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009), one of the more anticipated films of the year, and a film given a more extended analysis in this issue by Jay Rothermel’s Marxist reading of the film. This among other things raises the question of class critique that goes with Mann’s fixation on the professional career-criminals that litter his cinema from Thief (1981) onwards. Perhaps for the better, Gilliam doesn’t give his opinion on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (more Nazi uniforms!); however, Joseph Natoli provides a surprising defense of the film on moral grounds in another of our featured articles.
Though focusing on two different æsthetic traditions, there are two interrelated essays on the influence of artworks on filmmakers. Regular contributor Sally Shafto writes on the Straubs’ interest in Paul Cézanne, while Gabrielle Murray analyses the presence of the Russian icon tradition in Sergei Eisenstein’s compositions for ¡Que Viva México! (1931).
Doubling up also are two pieces centred on adaptations of two key American novels. Bruce Jackson discusses the impossibility of filming The Great Gatsby to the letter, and Michael Da Silva argues for the success of Adrian Lyne’s approach to Lolita.
Continuing in the vein of our dossier in Issue 51 on “Towards an Ecology of Cinema”, a theme we will continue to pursue in future issues, Michael J. Anderson contributes an insightful history of the so-called Safari genre.
And, there is much else in the issue that makes for rewarding reading…
Finally, and sadly, we also want to acknowledge the tragic passing of our friends Nika Bohinc and Alexis Tioseco. They will not be forgotten as people, nor will their contribution to international film culture in general.
Rolando Caputo & Scott Murray
Editors, Senses of Cinema