The Thinking Machine #79

James Stewart Approaches

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

We often assume that film directors mould and shape their actors to fit a particular mise en scène or staging. But what if, sometimes, it’s the other way around? Does the actor’s manner of performance suggest or impose its own mise en scène, which then recurs in work by very different directors? In film after film, James Stewart has striking, central moments where he approaches the camera. Is he the rightful auteur of these brilliant pieces of cinema?