Number 2, November 1996


On this second issue of p.o.v.

  1. Functions of the Film Title
    Bodil Marie Thomsen:
    - The Spy and the Cabaret Singer
    Søren Kolstrup:
    - The Film Title and Its Historical Ancestors, or
    How Did We Get Where We Are?

  2. On the Concepts of Set-Up and Pay-Off
    Zoran Petrovic:
    - A Stratification of Set-Ups and Pay-Offs
    Richard Raskin:
    - Set-up/Pay-Off and a Related Figure

  3. How Films End
    Edvin Kau:
    - Great Beginnings and Endings. Made by Orson Welles
    Richard Raskin:
    - A Note on Closure in Truffaut's Les 400 Coups
    - Closure in The Third Man:
    On the Dynamics of an Unhappy Ending

On this second issue of p.o.v.

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The first issue of p.o.v. was devoted to three recent short fiction films: Liz Hughes' Cat's Cradle (Australia, 1991), Didier Flamand's La Vis (France, 1993), and Gregor Nicholas' Avondale Dogs (New Zealand, 1994).

The present issue focuses on: 1) functions of the film title; 2) the concepts of set-up and pay-off; and 3) how films end. Each subject is viewed in different perspectives by two researchers.

1. Functions of the film title

Bodil Marie Thomsen compares Josef von Sternberg's Der Blaue Engel (1930) with Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lili Marlene (1981), with respect to their titles and in relation to a number of broader ideological and æsthetic issues, within a theoretical perspective inspired by Kracauer. Søren Kolstrup looks at the titles of film and television fiction as related to the historical use of titles or headlines in printed media, drawing largely on recent work devoted to the concept of the "paratext", and citing examples ranging from La chanson de Roland to Hill Street Blues.

2. On the concepts of set-up and pay-off

Zoran Petrovic studies the concepts of set-up and pay-off at plot, story, thematic and parametric levels, illustrating his stratification model with examples drawn from Ossessione, In Cold Blood, The Maltese Falcon, Pretty Woman, Fargo and Drowning by Numbers. In my own article on set-up and pay-off, and the related threat/relief figure, examples are drawn from Mrs. Miniver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Little Big Man, RoboCop and Bad Day at Black Rock, with a concluding section on the line, "Round up the usual suspects," in Casablanca.

3. How films end

Edvin Kau's article on beginnings and endings in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil and Othello, raises questions concerning the nature of storytelling in film and the relationship between reality and the worlds of cinematic fiction. In my own note on the final freeze-frame in Truffaut's Les 400 Coups, I deal with both the closure and open-endedness of the film, while in an essay on The Third Man, I try to explore the paradox of an unhappy ending that is immensely satisfying.

As an experiment, enabling us to reach a wider public, all of the articles in this issue were written in English, and once again, we have made a special effort to provide stills from the films we discuss.

Richard Raskin to the top of the page