email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training12 and Holding3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days49 Up5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band56 UpA Beautiful MindA Dangerous MethodA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA.M. EnergyAbout SchmidtAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAddictionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlexander the LastAM/PM YogaAmerican TeacherAthlete's Guide to YogaAutism and MeBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBeautiful DreamersBecoming OrgasmicBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond HatredBilly the KidBlue Is the Warmest ColorBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBoy InterruptedBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBreath-Centered YogaBuying SexCalm Body Clear MindCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberCinema's Sinister PsychiatristsCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingClassical Pilates Technique DVDClimatesCoastCollege Inc.Comedy IncarnateCommuneCompulsionControlCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCriminal JusticeCriminal Justice 2DahmerDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDark Beginnings of Sherlock HolmesDarwin's Brave New WorldDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDeleuze and the Concepts of CinemaDetox YogaDirty Filthy Love DVDDoc Martin Series 2Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEl Doctor, Joy Street & AsparagusElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthics at the CinemaEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Examined LifeExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptExileExperimenterFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFagbugFamily YogaFilm StudiesFire on the Mountain DVDFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFragile DVDGabriel & MeGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGirl, InterruptedGirlhoodGoddess WorshipGood FortuneHalf Broken ThingsHappy Yoga DVDHard CandyHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing VoicesHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHeimaHelvetica: A documentary filmHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHer ThirdHigh HopesHit & MissHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy IdentityIn My SkinIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Realms of the UnrealIn Treatment: Season 1Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntense Games DVDInto Great SilenceIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Kind of a Funny StoryIt's Not Me, I Swear!Janis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaJellyfishJulien Donkey-BoyJunebugKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKingdom Series 2Kingdom: Series ThreeKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLa SierraLand GirlsLand Girls Series 2Lars and the Real GirlLast Train HomeLeaving Las VegasLetting Go!Lie to Me: Season OneLife On MarsLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Listening to the WorldLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLouise BourgeoisLunacyLunar Flow YogaMad, Bad and Dangerous?MaidentripManicManufactured LandscapesMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMementoMethadoniaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMonsterMother and SonMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurderballMurderlandMurphy's LawMurphy's Law Series 2My Flesh and BloodMy Sister's KeeperMysterious CreaturesNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1New American TeenagersNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNew Sex Now DVDNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNormalNotes on a ScandalNurembergOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOrgasm Inc.Pain Free at WorkPeople Like OurselvesPeople Love PhotosPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPhantom Museums DVDPhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhrenologyPieces of AprilPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPink Ribbons, Inc.PollockPop & MePornographyPornographyPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPrince of PrisonersPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProofProzac NationPsycho ThrillersPublic EnemiesPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQuick Blast MethodRachel Getting MarriedRadiant Heart Yoga DVDRain ManRated X - A Journey Through PornReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaRelative StrangersRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsRequiem for a Dream DVDResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDScreening SexSeeing Fictions in FilmSeeing the LightSergeant Cribb - The Complete SeriesSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDShameShort Term 12SickoSmashedSolar Flow Yoga DVDSpeakSpecial TreatmentSpectacular NowStarting Out in the EveningStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStephen Fry in AmericaStrandedStranger Than FictionStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSunset StorySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2SylviaSynecdoche New YorkTai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTarnationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTemple GrandinTen Zen Tummy TonersTerrence MalickThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe ClassThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Devil, ProbablyThe f WordThe f WordThe f WordThe F Word - Series ThreeThe f Word -- Series FourThe FIRM Power Yoga DVDThe Horse BoyThe Matrix and PhilosophyThe Medicated ChildThe Perfect ExerciseThe Philosophy of Motion PicturesThe Power of ForgivenessThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe SavagesThe Snake PitThe Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Street Complete CollectionThe Suicide TouristThe Three Faces of EveThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Way Way BackThinThinking XXXThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThrough A Dog's EyesThrough Deaf EyesThumbsuckerTierney GearonTo the WonderToday and TomorrowTotal-Body ToningTransTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTrial and RetributionTrial and Retribution: Set 1Trial and Retribution: Set 3Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUnderstanding LoveUnforgettableUp the YangtzeV-Core WorkoutViniyoga Therapy for AnxietyViniyoga Therapy for DepressionViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersWaking LifeWalk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWall: A World DividedWeight Loss Cardio KickWhat Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWhat to Do When Someone DiesWhen Did You Last See Your Father?When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas after ColumbusWrinklesWristcutters: A Love StoryWrong Side of the BusYin Yoga DVDYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogawomanYoung@HeartYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVD
Irving Singer is a serious philosopher and a prolific writer. A number of his many books and articles involve one or both of two topics, love and film, topics generally shunned by contemporary philosophers. But philosophers, or anyone else for that matter, who overlook Singer's work are doing themselves a great disservice. His books, and Cinematic Mythmaking is no different, traverse the entire collection of cultural artifacts of the Western world (myths, fables, plays, novels, operas, musical compositions, paintings, films) with such ease, it's as if he were gliding through the Alexandrian library on roller blades pointing out interesting pieces of the collection to a group of perspiring, flat-footed tourists trying to keep up with him. The expanse of material that succumbs to Singer's erudition is breathtaking.
The 245-page book consists of five chapters of similar length, with an introduction, endnotes, and index. The books substantive chapters are a series of stand-alone essays, each one focusing on a particular film, filmmaker, or comparison of filmmakers, or group of films. The five chapter titles might offer a good overall view of what the book covers. They are, "The Lady Eve," "Pygmalion Variations," "The Heiress and Washington Square," "Cocteau: The Mythological Poetry of Film," and "Mythmaking in Kubrick and Fellini." There is no stand-alone conclusion to the book. What the chapters have in common is the exploration of philosophical questions, mythmaking, and filmmaking.
The interesting and helpful introduction to Cinematic Mythmaking, "Philosophical Dimensions of Myth and Cinema" both holds the following chapters together and anticipates the obvious questions that come to mind when confronted with a work about philosophy, myth, and film. Can films carry anything more than trivial philosophical content? Is the fact that films traditionally contain mythological themes anything more than an obvious and uninteresting observation? As carriers of mythological themes are films significantly different from other art forms that do the same? Cinematic Mythmaking provides an affirmative answer to each of these questions.
The book's introductory chapter, "Philosophical Dimensions of Myth and Cinema," provides the outline of answers to those questions. The rest of the book offers the substance. The introduction holds the book's other chapters together and provides important definitional work. Singer's interest in Cinematic Mythmaking is "in myths as components in the meaningfulness conveyed through cinematic techniques and therefore pertinent to the philosophic import that films of merit may achieve" (3).
In chapter 1, "The Lady Eve" Singer shows that this comedy sheds the cosmological trappings of the myth that appears in the Book of Genesis and focuses instead on good and evil as they play out in the progress of a hero (the Adam character played by Henry Fonda) and a heroine (the Eve character played by Barbara Stanwyck). Singer applauds how the director and writer of this film, Preston Sturges, offers the viewer a more complex and realistic portrait of a woman than is often presented in traditional myths. The Hebrew myths of Eve showed her to be at first totally innocent, then totally bad. The Christian myths give us Mary Magdalene, the spoiled woman in contrast to Mary, the pure mother of Christ. Sturges gives us Jean/Eve who shows us that women are not good or bad, but are both at once. The interesting theme of this chapter lies not so much in Singer's demonstration that this film contains mythological themes as much as it lies in a demonstration of Sturges's ability to produce the film's mythologic a content through the structure of the film itself. This is the real achievement of Cinematic Mythmaking in general.
Chapter 2, "Pygmalian Variations," covers similar these as the first chapter in that the Pygmalian myth centers on the attempt of a woman to remake herself, to become a new woman. But again the interesting part of this chapter is Singer's examination of certain film techniques help to explain "the mythmaking capacity that is native to the art form" (63). In fact, claims Singer, cinematic techniques are "inherently mythical" (65, emphasis in original). Film can induce a suspension of disbelief by overcoming the normal temporal sequence of events, for example. The film, Pygmalion, compresses months into minutes and allows us to better understand human feelings. Chapter 3, The Heiress and Washington Square examines two film versions of the novel by Henry James, which is best understood, claims Singer, "in its relation to major myths of love that have developed over centuries in Western culture" (84), such as the Don Juan myth. In these films we have another example of the major character being a woman. To this point Singer says The Heiress "contributes to the phase of the women's liberation movement that existed at the time" (125).
Chapter 4, "Cocteau: The Mythological Poetry of Film" is primarily a study of Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete. But it uses Disney's Beauty and the Beast for some interesting contrasts. The most fascinating part of this chapter is that Singer inserts another layer of complexity in the relationship between film, myth, and philosophy by showing that Cocteau approached film as a form of poetry. Singer explains that "Cocteau creates images that are visual equivalents to the figurative devices that distinguish written poetry from prose (139). In chapter 5, "Mythmaking in Kubrick and Fellini" Singer shows that both Kubrick and Fellini, although not rising to the level of film as poetry as does Cocteau, they nevertheless are alike in that rely on what he calls an "aesthetic inventiveness in human nature" (207). Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut are explored as well as Fellini's 8½ along with a number of other of his films.
Cinematic Mythmaking is intended for a general reading audience. It presupposes no specialized philosophical knowledge or training. But it is rather unforgiving of those who don't have some acquaintance with the cultural productions of the west since ancient Greece. In many respects this is a book about women. Perhaps this is the case because so many well-known myths are about women. The only major film discussed by Singer lacking a major female character is Kubrick's 2001. Singer himself points this out as a feature of Kubrick's films. Perhaps what we can learn from Cinematic Mythmaking is that a number of films about women that contain traditional mythological themes, reveal both how far we have come as well as how far yet we still have to go.
© 2011 Ben Mulvey
Ben Mulvey, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the College of Arts and Sciences of Nova Southeastern University. He received his doctorate in philosophy from Michigan State University specializing in political theory and applied ethics. He teaches philosophy at NSU and is a member of the board of advisors of the Florida Bioethics Network.