Visual pleasure and the male... glare

02 January 2012

The last film I watched in 2011 was Die Hard. The film made the Top 100 I posted in September, but I think it'll be even higher if I revise that list in 2012.

For university a few months ago, I had to read an article in the journal Film & History by Paul Cohen, titled, "Cowboys die hard: real mean businessmen in the Reagan-Era Blockbuster". Naturally, of course, you'll have to pay to access this piece, which offers some analysis of Die Hard and has it down as a conservative film,  how it might be dealing with masculinity by borrowing from the Western, and so on. The movie might also contain a gay subtext.

Whatever of these debatable points though - I have the film down as one in which the cops are relentlessly bumbling, the Feds are thirsty to re-live "fuckin' Saigon", journalists are parasitic and, in one brief scene, an academic shows up to tell the world how the hostages are feeling, though he's never met any of them (all swipes pleasurable, for me) - the film is beautifully shot by Jan de Bont, who makes much use of anamorphic lenses and a shallow depth of field to create meaning (tension, space, power relations, even spectacle) in creative and economical ways.

And there's a lot of glare too, something which I don't remember seeing in more recent actioners. Here are just a few screenshots from the film.