Archive

A Sociological Approach to Suicide

A sociological approach to distress and suicidal behaviour inevitably emphasises the social and cultural context of distress. Sociological research from the classic work of Durkheim onwards has drawn attention to the significance of social bonds to suicidality. Durkheim’s work was based on macro-level analysis of comparative suicide rates. At the micro-level, sociology has struggled to make sense of individual cases of people in distress. Some sociologists have seen this as the exclusive domain of psychology.

Representations of Warfare and The Hurt Locker

As a teacher in the School of Journalism at Cardiff University my first reactions to this film were through my concern for the way that images and representations of warfare serve to either aid or confound the way that the public understands wars, who fights in them, who is harmed by them and why they are fought. With massive financial cuts across news organisations there has been an increased reliance on stock footage and photographs supplied by specialist corporations.

Psychiatric Disorders and The Military

Active military service is well recognised as a risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorder. Perhaps the most commonly discussed condition is post traumatic stress disorder; characterised by re-experiencing of the traumatic event, for example through nightmares or recurrent distressing thoughts of what happened, avoidance of thinking or talking about it, emotional numbing and hyperarousal including increased vigilance, increased startle reaction, irritability and sleeping difficulties.

Courage and Cowardice in The Hurt Locker

Aristotle argued that every virtue lies between two vices. Courage lies between cowardice and foolhardiness. But his terminology can be misleading. Although cowardice is a 'vice of deficiency' and foolhardiness a 'vice of excess', the scale is not really quantitative. It is not a matter of how frequently one faces down danger. It is rather a matter of behaving appropriately with respect to danger.

The History of Shell Shock and The Hurt Locker

In a review of the film, the Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw explained that the “hurt locker” is a name for the physical trauma of repeatedly being in close proximity to the deafening blast of explosions – or, as Bradshaw put it, ‘basically Shell Shock 2.0’. The term “shell shock” was coined in the early months of the First World War. It originated among the troops as a way of describing the condition experienced by some soldiers caught up in blasts, who might be physically unharmed but suffered strange symptoms such as deafness, blindness, mutism, or amnesia.

Morbid Fascination: Disgust and the Human Centipede

'Disgust is a frequent and powerful component of cinematic experience – in particular in horror movies. So frequent, in fact, that a whole film genre capitalizing on disgust has been coined: ‘cinéma vomitif’. But what does it mean to be disgusted and why do we subject ourselves to such an obviously unpleasant experience?

The Man of Clay

At almost the same time as the film was being made, another version of the golem myth was being transformed into a modern art-work. Nicolae Bretan composed a one-act opera on the topic in 1923. Bretan was the first composer of Romanian opera, being of Transylvanian origin. Based on a poem by Mihali Eminescu, ‘The Ghosts’, the opera is yet another version of a European Jewish myth that has a long history and exists in many transformations. In the opera and the poem, the focus is much more intimate than the film.

Der Golem and Vitalism

Der Golem appears, at first blush, to be very different from other roughly contemporary films – such as James Whales’ version of Frankenstein - in which “dead” matter is reanimated. For a start, it features kabbalistic magic, not science (or rather perhaps a “spectacle” of science). Nonetheless, there is perhaps more, at a deeper level, that unites the two films than is immediately obvious. Frankenstein, with its humming lab apparatus and its evocation of galvanism, and Der Golem’s depiction of the uncanny power of the Word, both depict their cinematic worlds from a vitalist perspective.

The Golem and Me

I appear to be here as a combination of token film studies expert, token folklorist and token Jew; and that’s not an altogether negative position to be in. I’ve had a close relationship with Wegener’s Das Golem for many years now; it has been a film which seems to follow me around. For example, I wrote the short piece on the film in the book 101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die, and when I was curating the St. John’s Jewish Film Society, back in Newfoundland, Canada, it was one of the first films I screened.

What did I learn from The Garden?

Politics is all about power. Politicians cannot be trusted, as they play the power and influence game.Power is ruthless. Power corrupts.Not all community workers are saints.People like Horowitz (the landowner) apparently put their bigotry even before profits.Racism can exist between different non-white communities.