Movies as mythologically informed literature. Cinema Discourse looks at current and classic movies from a literary, and particularly a mythological, point of view.
We also have top movie reviews, current movie reviews, film ratings, movie blogs and movie history.

About

// About Cinema Discourse //

There are three main parts to this site: a journal, resources, and interactive forums.

The Journal of Cinema Discourse

The Journal publishes serious works of analysis that look at current and classic movies from a literary, and particularly a mythological point of view. We accept submissions. Feel free to submit articles and proposals for articles. Submissions

Resources

We link to reviews and commentaries on current and classic movies and issues of interest regarding movies, as well as books and web sites, academic programs, and events. We welcome your suggestions for additional links.

Forums

This site provides an opportunity for those interested in movies as literature to discuss their reactions to current and classic movies and to broader issues related to movies, to react to articles in the Journal, and to respond to each other. Please participate.

The editors of Cinema Discourse are John David Ebert and John Lobell

John David Ebert
John Ebert is an independent cultural critic whose essays, reviews and interviews have appeared in periodicals such as Lapis, Alexandria, Utne Reader and The Antioch Review. He is the author of Celluloid Heroes & Mechanical Dragons: Film as the Mythology of Electronic Society (Cybereditions.com: 2005) and Twilight of the Clockwork God: Conversations on Science & Spirituality at the End of an Age (Council Oak Books: 1999) . Formerly, he was an editor at the Joseph Campbell Foundation. johnebert@mac.com

John Lobell
John Lobell received architecture degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. His continuing studies have included mythology with Joseph Campbell, and quantum theory. Lobell is a professor at Pratt Institute where he teaches architectural history and theory, and issues in technology and culture. He is the author of Joseph Campbell: The Man and His Ideas and Between Silence and Light: Spirit in the Architecture of Louis I. Kahn. See JohnLobell.com for more. JohnLobell@CinemaDiscourse.com

The Visionary Movie: A Manifesto

Over the past forty years the dominant art form in America has shifted from the novel to the movie. Yet for the most part, the movie is not addressed with the same level of critical analysis as is the novel. The purpose of this site is to remedy that lack.

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There are currently 6 responses to “About”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On May 8th, 2010, Stu Grimson said:

    Hello Mr. Ebert,

    I am a big fan. I love your books and all of your YouTube material. I had three questions for you, two of which are related:

    1) What did you think of John Hillcoat’s version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road?

    2) What do you think of Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece, Blood Meridian, and what do you think of the possibility of transferring it to film?

    3) Have you considered doing any reviews of, or reflecting on the different possibilities of, some of the serials and mini-series’ out there? I am thinking of shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, etc. and historical mini’s like Rome and Deadwood. Many of these seem right up your alley in many ways. Most TV is worthless garbage, but some of these are wonderful.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  2. 2 On November 20th, 2010, Stu Grimson said:

    Mr. Ebert,

    I’ve written you once before to give kudos, and you gave a polite and prompt response that encouraged me in my own studies. I frequently check for updates on your site and YouTube, and have turned several people on to your work and passed out your book as gifts. After a recent visit to the Joseph Campbell library at Pacifica, I thought about writing you again, if only to remind you that there are those of us out there inspired by your work. If ever my thoughts are gathered enough to contribute to the web/published ongoing dialogue regarding our subject, your name will be near the top of the list of acknowledgements, and I believe your name will be remembered prominently as one of those who not only continued, but brought into the modern world, the trail blazed by titans like Campbell himself, as well as more esoteric travelers like Gebser and even Steiner. Your own modesty will not permit you to admit it, but synthesizers of your type are difficult to create without driving them off the deep ends of sentimentalism or polemic. Thanks again for your work, and keep it up.

    Stu

  3. 3 On July 8th, 2012, R. Hull said:

    Love your site. Read your book, Celluloid Heroes and Mechanical Dragons. I finally got Star Wars :)

    I wanted to mention an English language Norwegian film I saw recently that had a bunch of mythological elements and maybe get your thoughts if you’ve seen it. Here’s a review I wrote on Netflix (though I had to shorten it a bit to post):

    “I Am Dina” could just as well be called “I Am Death.” This is a story with abundant mythological symbolism of a girl who by an early trauma becomes unbalanced in her femininity and divorced from full manifestation in this world, especially when her father leaves her. (Girls need dads too!) She becomes identified with the shadow, dark aspect of the Norse goddess Freya: the War-Goddess, the “chooser of the slain,” the Queen of the Valkyries. Note the quotes, “Look at me. Look at me. Let all the cares and sorrows of this world fall away from you…” that she says as she watches men die, particularly as she throws her husband off a cliff (into hell). “They all die… And the ones that don’t die… I kill.”

    She has become the negative aspect of the eternal feminine – the mother who takes back the life she gives, the goddess of death from world mythology. She even hunts birds, an archetypal symbol of the soul, and snacks on an apple as she asserts control of her pseudo-stepson’s inheritance. She is Eve’s evil twin, Lilith. And like Lilith she is not a good mother; she cannot nurse the child she birthed in cave (can ya get more mythological than that?).

    Note the water imagery throughout the film. She is intimately connected with the female element (her mother) and so constantly drinks water; she nearly breathes it in the end when she almost drowns. But she is connected through death. This is why her old-man husband wanted to marry her: all men have a fascination with death and want to conqueror it; but she conquers him and makes him weak in business and bed, as all domineering women often do. And it’s why her teacher writes to her and asks that she “find life, not death.” But she can only find life by balancing her distorted femininity – by becoming married to a man of fire. Notice how the fire erupts just before her final lover, Leo Zhukovsky, appears. Unlike her though, he can control the shadow side of his element; he puts the fire out (in contrast to her father earlier who let a fire burn); he relaxes by the water by smoking; and he’s immune to immersion in his opposite element when he dives into save her at the end: he can bring her out of the water. But he does not want to marry death. In the underworld/prison he asks, “I’m sorry, are we to be married?” He will be with her in life, on his terms, not hers. But she finds balance with him in the end when he says, “I’m always going to be leaving you, Dina, but I will always come back.” The mother of life and death is balanced by the comfort that life will always come back. In the last scene she is shown in repose in a light green dress – the color of spring.

    There are quite a few alchemical symbols and mythemes throughout the film that weave together a modern myth – the way her crazy step-son drinks fire-water, her crossing the river on a boat that she won’t let her son on as she journeys to the underworld/prison to rescue her lover, her proclivity for heights…. The fun part is picking them out and seeing how they all tie in together to create a narrative that goes deeper than some intellectual essay on the cycle of life and death and the necessity of balanced femininity and masculinity. This is a fine cinematic psychodrama that elevates the soul through vicarious participation in a myth to give a deeper understanding of the goddess of death. It goes right to the unconscious, the watery realm of myth.

  4. 4 On July 8th, 2012, R. Hull said:

    Another pattern in I Am Dina I just thought of is the Tarot Major Arcana, the Hero’s Journey as told in archetypal patterns. The movie has the following sequence of cards: Wheel of Fortune (#10), Justice (#11), Hanged Man (#12), Death (#13), Temperance (#14), Devil (#15), Tower (#16) and then the Star (#17). Each of these archetypes are seen in this film. The scene when she sees Leo as evil would correspond to the Devil and then shoots him as the Tower. The final scene she becomes the essence of the Star card: a woman in balance with control of her water. (The others are pretty obvious when you see the movie, there is even actually a Hanged Man!)

  5. 5 On June 22nd, 2013, Matthew Henson said:

    1) I’ve watched David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis after seeing a review of it here on you website but it seems to have been deleted could you repost it please so I can read it

    2) And could you please do a review for James Franco’s Child of God when it is released and of Thomas Pynchon’s The Bleeding Edge

    Thankyou for the website

  6. 6 On June 22nd, 2013, Matthew Henson said:

    Dear Cinema Discourse

    I have three questions:

    1) I’ve just watched David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis after seeing a review of it here on your website but it seems to have been deleted could you please repost so I can read it to find out your opinion of the ending.

    2) And could you do a review for James Franco’s Child of God when it is released

    3) And could you post your insights on books like Thomas Pynchon’s The Bleeding Edge

    Thankyou for the website and your time

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