An Excerpt from ‘Cinema at the Margins’ (Anthem New Perspectives on World Cinema)

Cinema at the Margins is a collection of essays by Wheeler Winston Dixon. They provide a much-needed analysis of the forgotten films and filmmakers of the past that are being marginalized and pushed aside by the current loss of historical perspective in film. Find more information about the book here.

An excerpt from the introduction:

“Unlocking these phantom visions, then, and seeking the work that comes from the margins is the task that I have set for myself with these essays and interviews. My goal is to document the films that have moved me deeply and yet have been omitted from the dominant canon of film history. Film history is dynamic, not static, but values that we have inscribed in our hearts and minds – values that often have been passed on to us and which we have accepted without fully understanding – keep us from a deeper understanding of our cinematic heritage. No, everything must not go. Instead, as film archivists around the world are fond of saying, everything must be saved. Not all films will be, certainly, and many of the films described in this volume are phantoms already, but brought to light, these oft-obscured titles can teach us much about life as it really was during certain eras – life not as the dominant cinema wishes us to remember it, but rather, as it actually was.

Even as I write these words, the present is inexorably receding into the past. Film, by its very nature, is the sarcophagus of the eternal return of the past, resurrected with each new screening again and again on demand, but only if that demand exists. This is the realm of the cinema, which captures life or, in the words of Jean Cocteau, “photographs death at work” – a machinery of phantoms, dreams and desires in which constructed realities compete with each other for our collective attention. The world presented here is at once remote and omnipresent, tactile and elusive, present and inextricably linked to the past. And, yet, by the very act of discussing these films and their makers, we can bring them back to a sort of life and celebrate both their existence and their collective hold on our imaginations. The cinema is endless, boundless, too rich to be encompassed by any one history, or even any one set of histories. But, with this book, there is the hope that at least a part of that history is brought to light.”

Cinema at the Margins is part of Anthem’s New Perspectives on World Cinema series. This series publishes engagingly written, highly accessible, and extremely useful books for the educated reader and the student as well as the scholar. The goal of the series is not only to address subject areas in which adequate classroom texts are lacking, but also to open up additional avenues for film research, theoretical speculation and practical criticism.
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