This one by ComicTropes
about Bernard Krigstein and his much-analysed story 'The Master Race'
And this one
by Leela Norms about two different film versions of the Jane Austin story 'Emma', one from the 90's and one from just before CORONADOOM.
CITIZEN KANE AND MODERNISM
The ComicTropes video says this Master Race comic has been called 'The Citizen Kane' of comics.
And I thought that was true in more ways than one.
I remember that old screenwriter guy, Robert McKee absolutely hated Citizen Kane. Said its symbology and expressionist elements were crushingly obvious, as in blatant and overwrought. The film makes it agonisingly clear that here there is something SYMBOLIC happening and exactly what that SYMBOL means. He thought that was absolutely not what a story on film should be like or about and that the film had been massively over-praised because of this.
Curious thing; formalism, modernism and a slight dislocation, all shift the perceived media a little more into being 'text'. Not just that they use complex methodology; shifts in perspective, unusual forms and processes, to tell their stories, but that the fact that there are multiple kinds of these forms layered into each other, and happening in sequence, means that the story is calling attention to itself *as a constructed thing*. It is making it obvious and clear that it is being clever, and almost showing you how it is being clever.
This seems to work across THE MASTER RACE, Watchmen, Sin City and Citizen Kane.
(The new 'Emma' doesn't quite match that as it doesn't use the same modernist techniques in the same very obvious way - but it does share the fact that it is a bit more emotionally distant and chilly and more obviously constructed than the 90's Emma.)
These works are almost pre-cognated.
(To re-cognate, or 'recognise' is literally to run something through your mind again, but in a different way, or subject to a different process - first you sense, then you recognise).
But the fact that the modernism of these works makes them easy to analysis, easy to discuss, easy to *see how they work* - perhaps gives them more weight in the world of criticism relative to other things than perhaps they deserve.
(I like all of these things btw)
Other stuff that makes them almost guided missiles aimed at the heads and hearts of the critical classes; all 'dark' with heavy sombre emotions, all very 'male'. The Master Race is a Jewish creator writing about the Holocaust and being analysed by another Jewish Creator (Art Spiegleman) who also did a book about the Holocaust.
If its about the Holocaust it has to be art, its certainly not allowed to be anything else.
WARMTH AS A HARD TO ANALYSE
Warmth, by contrast, is not easy to analyse. Or discuss.
Think about something that made you feel really warm and then think about what you would say about it.
The only things that come to mind for me are connections of real-world memories - things in my life that feeling or moment reminds me of or connects me to. Emotion, as it so often does, acting as a global phenomena inside the mind, connecting many small things across many levels, often in a slightly oblique way.
But these networks of vague memory are, well, vague - soft, delicate, almost formless. Difficult to interrogate. How would you discuss them? and how would you analyse them with others? It would be like discussing a dream you had - you would feel foolish.
One thing I like about Mark Kermode as a film critic is that he will often say if and when he cried during a film he liked - and even say that while he felt the emotion he can't give a precise description of exactly why that part of the story affected him that much - he knows the general reasons, but not the specific engineering of the emotion. And he will do this for relatively 'gauche' or emotional films.
Perhaps because feeling links you with your body and your sense memories, it robs you of analysis, robs you of the human ability to voyage in time within your own mind and to regard yourself. Instead making you intensely *present*.
while modernism and coldness, give you more of those abilities, and provokes them, while robbing you of your body and of the present moment.
Warmth too, is constructed. House on the Prairie is as constructed as 'Watchman' - its just that one is reminding you of it all the time, and providing the means to analyse it within its own substance, while the other _doesn't want you to analyse it_. Warmth doesn't even want you to think about the fact that a story is being told, in fact it aims to seduce you away from exactly such thinking.
It is an invisible skill, as compared to a visible skill.
UNNAMED THIRD SECTION
I actually don't have a strong sense memory of the 90's 'Emma',
what I'm using to fill in that sense are recent re-watchings of the 90's 'Maverick' and 'Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves'.
Both gauche films in many ways - easy to laugh at, Prince of Thieves especially has lots of lumpy bits that do not sing of art in the modernist or fine art sense.
both very warm films
Both family films - about families, friendships, social bonds, warmth, humour. Families are challenged and reconstructed in both films and at the end brought together.
And its strange how when you say 'Family Film' you maybe downgrade it in your personal hierarchy of importance and status - there may be no fundamentally logical reason for it.
This isn't a Tumblr post - I'm not about to lead you in revolution against your own personal status and quality hierarchies because they come from a CORRUPT culture. Humans need hierarchies to think in any kind of systematic way, and we adore them in social functioning, preferably lots and lots of mutually interacting and clashing hierarchies please.
If you destroyed all your cultural programming you would probably be a useless mental case, incapable of crating or understanding anything.
However, though we need them, it is better if we also understand that all those hierarchies are provisional - tools rather than absolute laws. If we understand that we need them then we need them less.
I thought at the time that Prince of Thieves was a film with strong bones, and if you were making a film, or anything, and if you HAD to choose; gauche and low-status, but with "strong bones" and the audience came out crying, OR brilliant and cutting edge, acclaimed, but cold and the audience maybe nodded slightly at one point.
What would you choose?
I think in the future, saying "This was gauche but it moved me" is something I will try to do less. Instead say "This was gauche AND it moved me".