The Thinking Machine #56


In their series The Thinking Machine, critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin create a new video essay for De Filmkrant every month.

In 1921, at the tender age of 24, filmmaker and theorist Jean Epstein (1897-1953) described the screen spectacle of a person smiling. In close-up. The smallest movements and vibrations on this face – designated neither male nor female – rouse Epstein to invent a delirious carnival of metaphors. The face is a landscape, a décor, a piano; a smile is an earthquake, a storm, a theatre curtain rising. Everything is dramatic, but there is not – not yet – any story. A single 30-second close-up of Carola Regnier in Stephen Dwoskin’s Behindert (1974) – a type of shot he often made – can incite the same reverie.