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THE LADY WITH THE TORCH — Ehsan Khoshbakht (dir.)

THE LADY WITH THE TORCH — Ehsan Khoshbakht (dir.)

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    18,1 x 22 cm / 288 pages / August 2024

    English texts / Textes en anglais

    isbn: 978-2-35137-376-7

    Published on the occasion of the retrospective of the 77th Locarno Film Festival (2024)


    Edited by Ehsan Khoshbakht

    Authors: Ehsan Khoshbakht, Matthew H. Bernstein, Pamela Hutchinson, Christina Newland, Christopher Small, Philippe Garnier, Geoffrey O’Brien, Jeremy Arnold, Elena Lazic, David Thompson, Kim Newman, David Cairns, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Imogen Sara Smith, Farran Smith Nehme, Haden Guest, Milan Hain, Paola Cristalli, Chris Fujiwara

    The hyperrealist image of a lady on a pedestal holding a burning bright torch was an idealised vision of Americanism. It proclaimed the arrival of another Columbia Pictures film, very often in black-and-white, most probably short in length but fast and furious in tone and pace. The Columbia films, however, tended to drag this figurehead of liberty down and examine her more unglamorous side. American values were dissected and questioned through tales of fast-talking career women, existentialist cowboys, and prophetic anti‑fascist quickies. Yet, the symbol of the still burning torch over The End title was an affirmation of the values being rebuilt through the skilful art of John Ford, Dorothy Arzner, and Nicholas Ray.

    This book, accompanying a Locarno Film Festival retrospective celebrating the centenary of Columbia Pictures, follows the period of the retrospective, 1929-1959, but expands on its directors and directions.

    This collection of nineteen essays by acclaimed contributors examines the particularities of Columbia in relation to what is generally known as the Genius of the System. It acknowledges the brilliance of the system but finds the genius somewhere between the filmmakers’ vision and the industrial infrastructure that allowed them to nourish.

    Illustrated with hundreds of rare stills, the stories are as much in the images as in the words. Both words and images aim at reconstructing three exuberant decades of incessant creativity, evolution, and growth, reminding us that once upon a time there was a brilliant exchange between art and commerce, between the system and the artist.