On his return to London from Berlin he arrived in my office one morning looking better than I had seen him for some time. He asked me if I still wanted to do the exhibition with him. I said yes, very much so. Broodthaers took the historical, cultural, social and political connections of this location as his starting point for his new work.
I soon realized that I was not in any conventional curatorial role. I would not be dealing with existing works or trying to secure loans from museums or collecting, but I would be working with an artist who wished to make an entire new work that would be constructed as his ideas progressed through the making of the exhibition. Neither Broodthaers nor myself would see the exhibition until it was installed, but we could both visualize it as his ideas developed and we acquired the necessary objects.
It was very much a case of a search for form, a search for meaning. At first this seemed an impossible task as I visited museums that had such items in their collections and I was received as if I was somewhat deranged. On one occasion I was refused a loan from the Army Museum in London, and not wanting to again meet with the artist empty handed, I visited the museum shop and purchased a jigsaw puzzle of a painting of the Battle of Waterloo.
A green-flash reading list
I intended this as a present for his daughter Marie-Puck. This anecdote is an example of how Broodthaers was always refining his ideas and continually, sometimes up to the last minute, responding creatively to a new and unexpected set of events.
- Reminiscence of the Light.
- Lesson Plans In a Strange Room?
- The Pretend Baker?
For Broodthaers it was very fitting that we had found all we needed, and much more, from a company that supplied the professional film industry. This ensemble became the subject of his film The Battle of Waterloo. Subsequently in conversations I had with Broodthaers after the exhibition opened and while he was making and editing the film, he focused on the future and his further interests. Sadly, the Paris exhibition was his last and he died in Cologne on January 28, So Broodthaers left behind poems, objects, paintings, books, but much more in the form of a living heritage.
Over his lifetime he worked long and very hard to enrich our cultural and intellectual life for very little financial reward. It is now for those who have known his work for a long time and those who are interested but new to it to keep his work fresh and alive for a forever-expanding contemporary audience. Even during his lifetime, and particularly now, Broodthaers has been difficult to categorize; he has never fitted easily into Surrealism or Conceptual Art.
Roselee Goldberg: There is much excitement about your forthcoming Performa Commission, inspired by your rehearsals in Yokohama last month. Read More. Simon Castets: In a recent text, you described your practice as a way to convey the sense of freedom you…. Marcel Broodthaers.
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Installation view at Milton Keynes Gallery, Courtesy Milton Keynes. Without an explicit summary, Raymond ensures that the reader knows who the characters are and where they stand, but not much more besides that: reconstructing the previous three episodes is impossible and implicitly useless.
What is emphasized here is the micro-event, the fall towards the dragon, and the rest of the narrative is only accessible to readers with a good memory or those who kept clippings of the series. Captions are located so as to be read before the event they describe and supplement: Flash is going to catch the pipe, he is going to save the princess, there are going to be dragons.
Events thus unfold twice, verbally then visually, until the sixth panel, where Aura utters the first word balloon on the page that spells the end of this sequence of closely connected panels. The next two rows of the page make use of scene-to-scene transitions, alternating between characters and sceneries, except for the last two panels, connected by a moment-to-moment transition, visually unified by the blue background sky.
This opening sequence ends with a jaw-shaped wipe, before the action resumes cf. Cutting from the summary to the establishing shot. Frederick Stephani, sc. A conventional strategy was therefore to reuse some of the footage of the previous episode, editing it slightly, so as to create an overlap between the two episodes, which provides some necessary context for the resolution of the cliffhanger.
Accordingly, the first sequence of ToT begins after the fight in the arena, but before the fall, with an establishing shot showing the whole of the spectacular throne room set. This points again to the fact that unlike the comic strip, the serial has a complete story to tell, written and shot entirely before being shown: the existence of a narrative arc over the 13 episodes justifies the presence of the summaries and enables a pertinent selection of information relevant to the whole narrative. While the serial is not meant to function as a complete, fluid narrative, the promise of continuity inherent in this title sequence and mirrored by the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, were key ingredients to secure the loyalty of the audience over the three months during which the serial would play.
Their presence is justified by the setting of the scene, with Ming and Dale watching the fight from the top of the monumental staircase, but their recurrence — there are 8 such shots in a minute and a half — reveals their function as rhythmical devices. The master shot of the action is thus cut, but the reaction shots are inserted between frames, their length is not compensated by any deletion in the master shot.
In the example below, Aura picks up a raygun on the floor and starts getting up. The scene cuts to long shot including Dale and Ming, with Ming rising up from his throne, lasting slightly more than a second.
Then the scene cuts back to Aura, in the same position as she was, who gets up briskly and starts running toward the lower right corner of the screen. Here and in many other occurrences in the same scene, cuts to the spectators or even to different aspects of the action when Flash and Aura are not in the frame at the same time imply simultaneity rather than chronology. A one second reaction shot to expand the action. After another special effect shot, Flash and Dale are shown from above as they hit the net, then they are shown hitting the net again, but this time from the side of the pit, in a shot framed similarly to the first two panels of the episode in the comic strip cf.
Though the editing of serials is not always faultless, because of the constraints of matching stock-shots with original footage, in this case, there is no doubt that this was deliberately done to emphasize this moment when the cliffhanger set up in the previous episode and reiterated in the first minute and a half of ToT is resolved at last. Aura and Flash fall on the net twice, in these two consecutive shots.
Flash does not leap above the dragons but he still gets to hold Aura in his arms before she opens a passage to a secret staircase. Right: Alex Raymond, Flash Gordon. Laden with special effect shots, the battle lasts a little more than four minutes, at the exact center of the episode. Although this is the longest scene in the episode, it is also the fastest, with an ASL of 2.
There again, events shown in successive shots but in different locations are treated as simultaneous rather than consecutive, and the cliffhanger shows Flash fainting in the claw of the monster which guards the room where the ceremony is about to end. A variety of spectacular swipe transitions, even between short scenes, emphasizes the disconnection between these various moments and places, and reveals by contrast the unity of the long action sequences.
A sophisticated composition. As the priest leaves by the back door, the camera pans to the right to frame Ming and Zarkov as equals, at a time when the scientist's role is still ambiguous for the viewer. In spite of a limited budget when compared to a feature film, 16 in spite of its recycled props and sets, Space Soldiers therefore manages to briefly capture one of the essential features of the strip, through demanding but fairly inexpensive cinematographic choices.
Buster Crabbe, who dyed his hair blond for the film, looks strikingly like Raymond's portrayal, and even though Jean Rogers is blonde, she is suitably sensuous and beautiful in her impersonation of Dale Arden. With the notable exception of Prince Barin in later episodes, the rest of the cast is aptly chosen and convincing make-up and props are used for fantastic characters, notably for Ming, as well as for Vultan of the hawkmen Nevertheless, for all the care and craft devoted to the adaptation, reading Flash Gordon and watching Space Soldiers are very different experiences.
In part, this can be explained by the oft-noted fact that the comics page can contain scenes that would be difficult or — in the digital age — expensive to replicate on the movie screen LEFEVRE, Some of the differences between the strip and the serial thus derive from the specific role played by technology, and Space Soldiers is obsolete in the sense that, stylistic considerations aside, a modern professional production would easily improve on most of its selling points, which does not hold true in the case of the comic strip.
The role of technical limitations should therefore not be overstated, and recent digital blockbusters have demonstrated the difficulty of capturing comic book imagery, even when this imagery is not tied to an idiosyncratic style Sin City in which Frank Miller was heavily involved, is arguably a counterexample MILLER, Its main effect is the constant re-use of sets, shots and even short sequences from episode to episode. However, in ToT, only one shot seem to be used more than once: a special effect shot of Flash's rocket over a scrolling background simulating a rightward movement at 9'.
This obvious constraint in the design of the serial as a whole is thus all but absent from the individual episode seen as a narrative unit. Similarly, the reuse of sets, music and costumes Ming's regular soldiers wear Roman uniforms is at times conspicuous, but not much more so than Raymond's own borrowing of preexisting elements from other popular sources, from the evil Asian mastermind to the pagan god KINNARD, , p. The serial makes this process of borrowing and recomposition of a fictional world more open and blunter, but the process is remarkably similar.
While the relatively sparse use of stock shots creates some visual discontinuity, notably when an impressive number of dancers undulate around a massive statue at 16', the extract taken from The Midnight Sun , HARMON, , p.
It is also not specific to the serial, even though the discontinuities caused by stock shots and moving models tend to be less conspicuous in contemporary feature films. It is therefore not only technique which distinguishes the serial from the comic strip, but diverging narrative strategies. The difference seems to lie in their respective treatment of scene to scene continuity, which ultimately reflects on the scale of the events being depicted.
However, within this sequence, at least two ellipses take place, between panel 9 and 10, then between panel 11 and 12, made explicit by the captions. Moreover, the amount of diegetic time elapsing within a single panel appears to vary considerably. Again, through the device of the television screen, the page unfolds without a narrative break, but with several ellipses and changes of rhythm, explicated by the captions cf.
Image Captions help explain a daring ellipsis. If we consider the three page sequence as a whole for comparison's sake, a further discontinuity appears between the first two pages, with the action shifting from Flash to Aura and Ming and apparently moving backward chronologically. Discontinuities are underlined, as scene-to-scene transitions are accompanied by varied graphical swipes, and there are eight such transitions in the course of the twenty-minute episode.
A different balance is struck, whereby all three major characters are presented as important to the story, while the comic strip at that time all but excludes Zarkov, and to a lesser extent Dale, from the story. Ming still watches the battle on a television screen, again changing the location of the action without an explicit scene break and Flash still initiates the aerial battle after having discovered the gyros from the rocket, as shown through a point of view shot.
In the final scene of the episode, cross-cutting between Flash's rescue attempt and the wedding ceremony between Aura and Ming, the underlined transitions are also notably absent.
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In effect, every occurrence of the swipe denotes a transition that is not directly motivated by the previous scene or by the character's action. Paradoxically, this fragmentation of the narrative in almost disjointed fragments, limited to the lulls between the three main events of the episode the opening, the aerial battle, the rescue attempt , aims at filling-in the blanks in the original story. The disjunctions in the narrative are used to depict peripheral events, to complete the trajectories of the main characters to the detriment of the main storyline.
The lacunary but roughly linear structure of the comic page is replaced by a sprawling narration, jumping from place to place for the sake of completeness. To the variation in rhythm of the comic strip, the serial substitutes a refusal of ellipsis, which culminates in these moments when simultaneous events are depicted sequentially. The serial therefore appears to move at a steady rhythm, roughly coinciding with real time.
The five repetitions of the special effect shot displaying the travelling rocket not only serve to pad out the episode, but also suggest that the entirety of the flight is shown. While the rocket was shown only in flight in the February 4 and February 11 Sunday pages, the serial adds the take-off and the crash, in addition to the flight itself. Similarly, characters are shown entering and exiting rooms, transitory moments that do not serve any purpose except conveying the notion that the entire duration of their presence has been narrated.
The rhythm is that of individual action, with no shift to a different scale. Whenever Flash's rocket maneuvers, he is shown piloting, inside of the ship. By contrast, Raymond only shows him in the rocket before take-off and as he is about to crash. While the comic strip takes some distance, narration in the serial is firmly anchored to individual time and individual actions. The numerous reaction shots serve the same purpose: they ensure that no character is left out, even at times when they do not directly participate.
In Raymond's strip, an explicit narrator is present in addition to the implicit narrative instance implied by the layout and framing. The reader cannot ignore that he is told a story, and while this narrative voice uses a narrative present, the presence of the narrator and the ad hoc variations in rhythm all point to an overarching order.
This omniscient narrator points to the fact that there are many things in the diegetic universe outside the grasp of the main characters and also provides a sense of a scale greater than the individual. They also enlarge the scale to the point where the heroic deeds of its stoical main character, such as saving a princess from dragons or rescuing a city, take a mythical resonance.
Nothing in ToT suggests the existence of an off-screen diegetic universe, since the script and the editing purport to play out every action in its entirety. Realism is not the object, but Flash has to be shown trying out the controls for a few seconds before he can master the controls of the rocket, for instance. Conversely, the constant reduction of the grandiose the aerial battle to the individual scale Flash and Thun in their respective ships negates the dissociation between the story and the characters at work in the comic strip.
This results in a much more humane but also more trivial story. Buster Crabbe's Flash is a more sympathetic and charismatic character than Raymond's stoic statue. The same remarks apply to Dale and Zakov, who are promoted from props to characters, and whose importance is much accrued in the translation. In the three pages corresponding to ToT, Zarkov does not appear and Dale is present in only three panels; in two of those, she is bound and silent. It is most of all through a choice in editing and in scene-to-scene transitions, supplemented by the disappearance of the omniscient narrator that this shift from the grandiose to the personal is accomplished.
There are two types of cliffhangers in three Sunday pages considered so far. The other would be a cliffhanger of present danger: the hero faces imminent peril, so dire as to appear unavoidable. The February 11 page presents such a case, with Flash lying unconscious as Thun is about to hit him with his saber cf.
Symptomatically, ToT reframes the cliffhanger of anticipation Flash in front of the monster as a cliffhanger of present danger, by allowing the beginning of the fight itself to take place within the episode. Both types of cliffhanger have the same function, inducing the reader or viewer to invest him or herself in the following episode, so as to develop his or her fidelity to the serialized narrative.
It also ensures that a given episode ends on its most thrilling moment, if only because it remains unfinished. ToT emphasizes its characters, short-term effects and constant thrills. This, in essence, is the difference between these two narratives, which share so much content and even stylistic options in other respects. The differences in modes of consumption are not negligible, but it is mostly in scene-to-scene continuity and in the distance from the characters that the two versions diverge.
Hiroshima's literary legacy: the 'blinding flash' that changed the world forever
This proximity with the character might be inherent to the transition from the drawn page to the film. Furthermore, in film, body language and facial expressions are continuous. They do not adhere to the tempo of the action and the dialogues as they do in comics and resist stylization. Many factors include these diverging trajectories but as the present study has sought to show, they were partly inscribed in the cultural objects themselves and in their respective narrative strategies.