Razor_sEdge_Notes

Razor_sEdge_Notes - FILM AS AN OVERDETERMINED ART...

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FILM AS AN OVERDETERMINED ART FORM/MEDIUM The Razor’s Edge (1946) Cast: Tyrone Power (Larry Darrell) • Gene Tierney (Isabel Bradley) • John Payne (Gray Maturin) • Anne Baxter (Sophie MacDonald) • Clifton Webb (Elliott Templeton) • Herbert Marshall (W. Somerset Maugham) • Lucile Watson (Louisa Bradley) • Frank Latimore (Bob MacDonald) • Elsa Lanchester (Miss Keith) • Cecile Humphreys (Holy Man) • Fritz Kortner (Kosti) • John Wengraf (Joseph, the Butler) Credits: Directed by Edmund Goulding • Screenplay by Lamar Trotti, based upon the novel The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham • Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck • Cinematography by Arthur Miller • Edited by J. Watson Webb, Jr. • Music by Alfred Newman • Art Direction by Richard Day and Nathan Juran • Set Decoration by Thomas Little • Wardrobe by Charles LeMaire and Oleg Cassini • Makeup by Ben Nye • Sound by Alfred Bruzlin and Roger Heman • Twentieth Century-Fox • Running Time: 146 mins. The form and meanings of a film can rarely be reduced to a single causal influence. Rather, they emerge from a plurality of determining factors, produced through the convergence of numerous cinematic (aesthetic, technological, industrial, critical) and extra-cinematic (historical, socio- economic, cultural, ideological) variables, as well as the distinct reception contexts in which the film is viewed (its original release date as well as through contemporary eyes). Taking into account the many contributions that shape a film’s production and reception—a method we have been working towards over the past 14 weeks, beginning with the consideration of film as a technology, business, art/entertainment, and cultural product—requires understanding film as an overdetermined art form and medium. Overdetermination helps illuminate the complex interplay of intentional and unintentional or even unconscious forces in a film. Darryl F. Zanuck’s ambitious production of The Razor’s Edge , directed by Edmund Goulding and based upon W. Somerset Maugham’s best-selling 1944 novel of the same name, offers a compelling case for elaborating the value of this analytical approach. The clearest determinate for The Razor’s Edge is extra-cinematic: the historical context of World War II and the transition to the postwar pax Americana . Despite the mass euphoria and relief that accompanied the end of the war, the human cost of the fighting was immense and not easily forgotten. At the same time, the mixture of adventure, excitement, and horror characteristic of the soldiering life made the transition to the civilian life and its sedate routines a difficult adjustment for many GI’s. The Razor’s Edge tells the story of Larry Darrell, a celebrated World War I pilot unsettled by his combat experience—“the dead look so terribly dead when they’re dead”—and struggling to readjust to life back home. After witnessing so many arbitrary and horrible deaths in the war, Larry hungers to fully engage and understand life.
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Razor_sEdge_Notes - FILM AS AN OVERDETERMINED ART...

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