What Frame of Film Would You Take With You Into Eternity
Our readers share their forever frame
In the last issue of The Review, our curated biweekly digital digest (subscribe here!) Connor Jessup asked a bunch of people from the world of film a simple but profound question: If you died today, and could keep only one frame from a film with you for all eternity, which image would you choose?
He also put the question to our audience, and a lot of you sent us thoughtful, beautiful answers.
Check out our readers' frames below. Thanks to everyone who shared their love of film with us.
Eternal frame: Cinema Paradiso, 1988, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
Why: “This frame from Giuseppe Tornatore’s Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988) showing Toto joyfully uncovering the magic of film movement emanating from a series of tiny still photos. His mentor/surrogate father/artistic guide, Alfredo, stands by the machine which makes it all possible and which will change Toto’s own movement through life."
Eternal frame: Battleship Potemkin, 1925, directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Why: “I think I've already taken the frame of the closeup of the eye with me wherever I go. It's already with me eternally! It's frightening and mesmerizing at the same time. What it represents from an editing standpoint rings so true as it evokes a visceral emotion from me that I can barely articulate. I feel both fear and wonder and it's amazing to me that a single frame can forever haunt you in this way.”
Eternal frame: Goodbye, Dragon Inn, 2003, directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Why: “The frame I would choose would be this moment, near the end of Tsai Ming-liang's masterpiece, Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Tsai is fascinated by duration and the way emotions simmer during moments of spatial isolation. Here, that form is expressed through something we cinephiles know all too well: the solitary act of moviegoing, of sitting in the dark, silently allowing images to have an impact on us. As the film (and the film within the film) come to an end, his characters file out of the theatre, leaving the room empty for the final time, before it is due to be shut down. Here, he allows the cinema to breathe its final breath, a moment shrouded in darkness before turning on the harsh lights of the room. He, and we as an audience, pay tribute to the spaces we have frequented and been transformed by; a final act of cinemagoing as communion. ”
Eternal frame: Dersu Uzala, 1975, directed by Akira Kurosawa
Why: “When Dersu Uzala is near the river hearing the noise. Because the moment reminds me that we still depend on nature.”
Eternal frame: La Jetée, 1962, directed by Chris Marker
Why: “In a film entire composed of still frames, there is a moment where the woman, the beloved, sleeps. The images come together in shorter cuts, suggesting animation, and then... there's a moment where she opens her eyes and looks at the camera, a split second of 24 frames per second. Life recorded, remembered, become real on the screen of our imaginations. The moment of life and love remembered by our time traveler. The moment where I, as a viewer, connected with the "reality" of the film and remembered those simple and profound moments with past loves, now left to sweet memories. Marker caught that moment, something that we, I, hope to never forget.”
Eternal frame: Gone With the Wind, 1939, directed by Victor Fleming.
Why: "In Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh in the field raising her fist. 'As God is my witness I'll never be hungry again.'"
Eternal Frame: The Night of the Hunter, 1955, directed by Charles Laughton
Why: "There are some movies that almost reach an elemental power. They are often few and far between but when they find you it's impossible to forget them. Charles Laughton directed only one film in his long, storied career but so captured the essence of good vs. evil on screen that no amount of super hero heroics that have graced our screens as of late can come close to touching it.
It's a difficult task to choose just one image from a film that feels literally built around composition. If it has to be one, let it be the image of Shelley Winters, buckled to a car, submerged underwater; throat slit, sitting tranquil. Encapsulating such a mood of terror, despair and danger that the film's villain (played flawlessly by Robert Mitchum) is capable of inflicting in the name of a higher power.
Few films are a one-of-a-kind piece of art but The Night of the Hunter belongs to a select group of such films. A journey down river to some sort of salvation."