Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Gallery of the Cinematic Image

I have decided to open and curate a new museum in honour of the cinematic image. I am asking for anyone who wants to to provide a link to a screenshot of their favourite image(s) in cinema or, if you do not have a favourite, images that show for you the power and beauty of the medium. The criteria used for selection are entirely down to you.

I would be grateful too, if you want, if you could write a little on why you chose them. I hope that we can soon have an extensive gallery of striking images that celebrate Cinema and provide a kind of portrait of the writers, thinkers and readers of the blogosphere. Everybody is welcome.

Thank you.


  1. Stephen, Only one? Absolutely, only one?

  2. JAFB,

    You can pick more if you like. It just has to be something that inspires you - not necessarily be a definitive number one (which I realise is pretty much impossible).

  3. Stephen,

    Here is an unpublished article that I wrote for a site some time ago. These are 10 moments of instant film love for me. There might be some changes to these choices now, but I'm not able to think what they'll be right now...


    All the 10 are not necessarily "images". There are even sequences and set pieces in there. If you are compiling only images - stills that is - take the number one pick (which is quite guessable) as my candidate.

    I can give you a URL of the image when you need it...


  4. Thanks!

    Well, I was thinking of images more than sequences as such but, like I said, it's up to you. It's hard to separate the composition of one frame from its context.

    I should have guessed at that image but I didn't. I think my own choice may come from Satantango but not from the scene you mention here.

    You can give me the URL whenever you want.

  5. Back in the day, on PBS in SF, as a young child, I saw Cocteaus Beauty And The Beast. When she walks down the hall and the hands come out from the wall and the candles light up, and, when she's eating and the eyes on the fireplace follow her..........

    His creativity in his films inspired my looking into all things creative.

    Cheers and look forward to seeing what pops up.

  6. Thanks Coffee Messiah.

    If I can find the shots you mean, would you mind if I put them up?

  7. Having recently watched The Hidden Fortress, here are two.

    It's hard to explain why I like these so much. The first one, I suppose, because it shows you so much about the woman in one frame. The second one, I suppose, because there's so much ambiguity in such a sharp image.

    As can be expected, these are heavily contextual.

    Another few that I can think of: the sugar cube from Blue, the infinite mirror from Citizen Kane, the doubter's face in 12 Angry Men, the opening shot of Sin City, the reflection with a different expression in Spirited Away (can be found in your moments of the decade post), Hans Landa's silly pipe close-up in Inglourious Basterds.

  8. Wow, thanks Ronak. Very interesting.

    "As can be expected, these are heavily contextual."

    Yes. I've been trying to pick one myself that can stand alone as a great image as well as representing its emotional / narrative context.

    I will track down the sugar cube shot and I might include that too.

  9. lol... look at these people giving you a hard time, Stephen! They're either a) giving you multiple images, or b) not giving you any images at all! Haha.

    I'll play the game correctly. Here's my chosen picture. A brief summary follows:


    Hall Bartlett's Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973), based on the novel by Richard Bach, is filled with extraordinary images. But this particular image, photographed with the help of Academy Award-nominated cinematography by Jack Couffer, beautifully illlustrates the solitude of Jonathan, who- as an ambitious seagull banished from his unforgiving flock- dares to take on the natural beauty of the world all by himself, beginning with a brisk flight above the calm ocean, and across that lonely-looking sky.

  10. Hey Adam, interesting you mention JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL, a much critically maligned film from my younger days. But I always felt that film got a bum wrap, and there are some arresting images there!

    My own choice after long deliberation is of rene Falconetti in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, who gives what I consider to be the greatest performance by a man or woman of all-time. Her piercing eyes signal inner torment and fear, and the resolve to forfeit her life to stand by her faith. In the age of silent cinema (and this is my own #1 film) Falconetti's stylized facial expressions, accentuated by Dreyer's compelling use of close-ups, are the spiritual (and cinematic) essence of this staggering masterpiece.


  11. Adam,

    Thanks for 'playing the game' correctly(!) and thanks for the write up on the reasons why.

    A gorgeous image it is too.

  12. Sam,

    I'm aware of the love you hold for THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC and a mesmerising and wonderful choice of shot here.

    Not only a tribute to your favourite film but to the actor's craft.

    Again, thanks for giving a little explanation as to why you chose it. A nice little collection is building up.

  13. Rebekah del Rio in Mulholland Dr.:


    Maybe not my favorite still ever, but a very resonant image from my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies.

  14. Thanks Ed.

    A great Close Up from a top quality film.

  15. This is tough. I'm thinking. When's the deadline?

  16. Carson,

    There's no deadline as such. Sometime next week I suppose. Even if people submit something in a few weeks time I'll just add it on to the post.

    You can pick a few if you're struggling.

  17. After much deliberation, I have selected one of the first images in one of my favorite films, Werckmeister Harmonies.


    It is perhaps true that I could have chosen any single frame from Tarr's masterpiece and rely on it to be spectacularly beautiful, but it is early on in the film that the impact is freshest. This shot, from a long tracking shot watching the main character Janos walk down the barren street of his small Hungarian town, probably registered the strongest emotional response of any individual image from all of the films I've seen. Combined with Mihaly Vig's lilting score, it's an eerily sublime moment that anticipates a stellar film.

    This gallery idea has prompted me to want to write a post about individual frames. It's an interesting pursuit, because since so much of cinema's power comes from montage, it is especially magical when one image resonates.

  18. Yeah, this is tough. Sure you don't want to extend the deadline to a month from now? You'll get more pictures that way... and I'll have an easier time choosing! (tries to make toothy-grin emoticon and fails)

  19. Thanks Carson.

    "This gallery idea has prompted me to want to write a post about individual frames. It's an interesting pursuit, because since so much of cinema's power comes from montage, it is especially magical when one image resonates."

    I'd like to see that post. Yes, most images gain their power from context and movement and then there are those, as you say, that resonate.

    I have been deliberating myself on what to choose and a particular image from Satantango is in the running.

  20. MovieMan,

    It's a moveable feast and, as long as people are still submitting images, I could hold off the final posting.

    However, like I said, just because the gallery is posted doesn't mean it can't be added to. In fact, seeing so many striking images will encourage people to add their own,

  21. Another one that I just simply cannot leave out...


    From Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar, one of the most wrenching images in all of cinema: a final moment of peace before unfair death.

  22. From Parajanov's The Color of Pomegranates:


    a gorgeous, prophetic image of our young poet at perfect peace with an array of fluttering words and ideas encompassing him

  23. I have a second one, from Jacques Rivette's Duelle:


    A pivotal meeting early in the film between two important characters, with a peculiar swirling disco ball and phantom couples dancing in the background, sets up the extraordinary events soon to come.

  24. Carson,

    Thank you.

    It is a wonderful image.

    I've been flicking through Au Hasard Balthazar myself (it deserves better than to be flicked through, I know) for those images that really made an impact on me.

  25. Drew, thank you for the choices, and for elaborating your reasons so eloquently.

    I haven't seen Duelle but Le Pont du Nord is one of my favourite films. The image you chose is, out of any context, very striking.

  26. Sorry about no links before and now. Not sure where to get them to link too ; (

    Another film I saw that made an impression as a youngster was King Of Hearts with Alan Bates. The scene at the end, when he leaves the asylum dressed in his military uniform, only to come back naked holding a bird cage, to go back inside, rather than rejoin his military unit, always and still does make a whole lot of sense.

    Anyway, Cheers!

  27. No problem, Coffee Messiah.

    I've managed to take a screenshot from that La Belle et la Bete scene for you (with the candles). Is this OK?:


    "Another film I saw that made an impression as a youngster was King Of Hearts with Alan Bates"

    Unfortunately I've never heard of this, never mind seen it. Very interesting.

  28. Here's something I think you'll enjoy a special appreciation of, Stephen. It's a website dedicated to exploring and examining the various visual motifs and echoes throughout the "Star Wars" trilogies, and while it isn't too active anymore, there's a tremendous library of previously catalogued images and commentary. I made quite a lot of contributions to it back in the day, and while I more or less gravitated away after a while due to its somewhat insular nature (no connections to films other than "Star Wars" are offered-- not even other Lucas projects), it's still an invaluable resource for anyone who takes those six films as seriously (cinematicaly speaking) as you and I do.


  29. Thanks Bob!

    That site looks marvellous. I can see some of these echoes and parallels being a little spurious or forced but there are so many that resonate.

  30. Bob, just flicking through, I especially like the "Triumph of the Whills" motif you submitted:

    "Parallel imagery between the Rebel Medal ceremony and Vader's introduction of Luke to the Emperor draws the two in considerably as light and dark incarnations of each other..."

    I wonder if I even noticed this subconsciously. Fascinating.

  31. Stephen, yeah, there's a lot of forced observations in there, at times. Most of the parallels were gleaned from old "Star Wars" message forums where fans aren't really looking to plumb that deeply into the series' cinematic roots. I always tried to be go a little more in-depth with my own motifs (like the "Whills" moment), but after a while you can actually accomplish more outside of "Star Wars" fandom than inside.

    At any rate, the main reason I posted that-- I spent a LOT of time pouring over my "favorite images" from Lucas' films in there, and I didn't really feel like going on photobucket to post them all over again. Sheer laziness on my part.

    Here's all my collected motifs, just to make things even simpler: http://gs.michaelhopcroft.com/history.php?view=phrases&uname=Bob%20Clark

  32. My pick is Black Narcissus, the most beautiful Technicolor film ever made:


    Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger are fascinated by the nature of color in Black Narcissus, especially how it is experienced and interpreted by the individual. This culminates in an extraordinary point of view shot (photographed by the peerless Jack Cardiff), flashing red as the overwhelmed character faints. She wakes blue.

  33. Thanks again Bob. I look forward to going through those.

    Is there a particular image you'd like to submit for this 'gallery'?

  34. Thanks Doniphon.

    Thanks too for the explanation, Wonderful stuff.

    I like A Matter of Life and Death more, and sometimes these shots can be a little garish, but so many are beautiful too, like the one you chose here.

  35. I'd say my favorite motifs on the site would be... "Commanding the Verge", "Instigating Rebellion", "Sith Traps", "Imperial Insignia", "Kneeling Geometry" & "Geometric Framings".

    In choosing a single shot from those, I'd pick either the Bird's Eye View of Anakin during the Vader-operation from ROTS (I love the way that they floor-lights around him form the Empire's six-pronged symbol, turning him into a political figure like Patton before Old Glory) or Obi-Wan running towards the hall of red force-fields in the middle of his and Qui-Gon's duel against Maul (the composition of that shot is great with the reflections on the floor, but the whole sceen itself is incredible, with Neeson's Jedi serenely meditating before death, literally displaying the patience of a saint).

    Of course, I have a couple of shots I'd also choose that aren't up there, but then I'd have to go to extra effort to put them online! You wouldn't happen to have an e-mail address I could just send them to, would you?

  36. For me, the whole Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Darth Maul fight is brilliant.

    One image I particularly like from The Phantom Menace is Maul in the desert looking up at the ship leaving, his saber lit up against the sky. Also, that dining room Darth Vader appears in on Bespin that looks like an Art Deco Milkybar.

    You can send your other screenshots to srgfilmstuff@hotmail.co.uk if you like.