Synopses & Reviews
Through films that alternate between containment, order, and symmetry on the one hand, and obsession, explosiveness, and a lack of control on the other, Chantal Akerman has gained a reputation as one of the most significant filmmakers working today. Her 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
is widely regarded as the most important feminist film of that decade. In Nothing Happens
, Ivone Margulies presents the first comprehensive study of this influential avant-garde Belgian filmmaker.
Margulies grounds her critical analysis in detailed discussions of Akermanandrsquo;s workandmdash;from Saute ma ville, a 13-minute black-and-white film made in 1968, through Jeanne Dielman and Je tu il elle to the present. Focusing on the real-time representation of a womanandrsquo;s everyday experience in Jeanne Dielman, Margulies brings the history of social and progressive realism and the filmmakerandrsquo;s work into perspective. Pursuing two different but related lines of inquiry, she investigates an interest in the everyday that stretches from postwar neorealist cinema to the feminist rewriting of womenandrsquo;s history in the seventies. She then shows how Akermanandrsquo;s andldquo;corporeal cinemaandrdquo; is informed by both American experiments with performance and duration and the layerings present in works by European modernists Bresson, Rohmer, and Dreyer. This analysis revises the tired opposition between realism and modernism in the cinema, defines Akermanandrsquo;s minimal-hyperrealist aesthetics in contrast to Godardandrsquo;s anti-illusionism, and reveals the inadequacies of popular characterizations of Akermanandrsquo;s films as either simply modernist or feminist.
An essential book for students of Chantal Akermanandrsquo;s work, Nothing Happens will also interest international film critics and scholars, filmmakers, art historians, and all readers concerned with feminist film theory.
andldquo;A fine writer and a skilled and gifted critic, Margulies offers many new insights into Akermanandrsquo;s important work. The readings of Akermanandrsquo;s filmsandmdash;in particular the contextualization of the work in a wider range of frameworksandmdash;are excellent. An impressive book.andrdquo;andmdash;Judith Mayne, Ohio State University
andldquo;A significant and original contribution, not just to Akerman scholarship, but to film studies generally.andrdquo;andmdash;David James, University of Southern California
Includes bibliographical references (p. -261) and index.
About the Author
Ivone Margulies is Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media at Hunter College of the City University of New York.