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Film Quarterly (1978) - The Big-Bang Hypothesis: Blowing up the Image




McCabe and Mrs. Miller, for example, may be thought of as a film about snow, documented in a range of phases which filter the action, as the thaw-fed river mediates the image of a dying cowboy hovering eerily beneath its surface; one of the chief characters is a man frozen into an image, a "rep" that precedes and outlives him, just as his contours are swept smooth in the final snowstorm; and its plot concerns his struggle for control with that matriarchy which usually prevails in Altman's films, and which here offers shelter from the frozen snowscape. Not only does the photograph codify a scene in terms of color tone and shape, but the moving camera analyzes gesture and progression as a series of discrete pictures which, however scrambled, exhibit order and "sense"; so that "cinema," as Bruno says in Le Petit Soldat, " is the truth twenty-four times per second."