In the soft focus of his gaze, Costner shows us a man seeing his own life superimposed onto itself, the uncanny vertiginous struggle to reconcile your existence as someone’s child with your existence as someone’s parent, the effort to locate your own life through triangulation between lives spent and lives just beginning to unfold.
There are a number of striking, iconic frames in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice—but I want to talk about that shot of Darcy’s hand.
Here, on the beach, Ada and Flora don't appear to be waiting so much as creating something new. Looking at this frame now, as a global pandemic distorts the hours that fill our days, I see a kind of hope and perseverance in how the characters interact with time.
John Smith's Home Suite showcases not just the formal tension of the speaker’s narration at odds with an ephemeral image, but the actual stress of his particular circumstance, where the stability of the act of making a film is a last attempt at verticality against the flattening, devastating forces waiting outside his door.
To be bold, to dare to be stupid: this single frame in The Great Dictator is the most essential frame occurring in Charles Chaplin’s filmography. It is the most elegant and achy navigation out of comedy, straight through tragedy, and into something like the human struggle ever captured by camera.
It's a fleeting moment in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a shot of a small canvas bathed in shadow which horizontal brushstrokes have primed a deep brown. The image of Marianne’s hands at work, Héloïse and Sophie slowly appearing on her canvas, is a rejection of solitude and an embrace of the vulnerability that true sorority requires.
That ineffable quality that made Alain Delon a star, before all of the ugliness crept in, is suspended in this frame forever, in our memory always and indelibly empty, hollow, and blank.
I like noticing new things in Mermaids—about Charlotte, about Joe, about Charlotte and Joe—with each pass of the film, realizing that there’s no real villain in their story, and that neither can claim to be the hero.
I remember The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I remember those swirling lights and the clutched breath and the deep longing. I think about this frame of Agatha, frozen in time, holding her lover’s gaze—holding our gaze—as the darkness briefly clouds her face.