Sawing Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in half
- A queer experiment in cinephilic re-spatialisation.
Spatialité (or spatialisation) refers to the ordering or arranging of space (by both the set and the camera) in order for it to be perceived in a specific form...
ALAIN MASSON, 'An Architectural Promenade', Rouge, 2005, fn. 1.
The representation of objects in the actual (absolute) proportions proper to them is, of course, merely a tribute to orthodox formal logic. A subordination to an inviolable order of things [. . .]. Absolute realism is by no means the correct form of perception. It is simply the function of a certain form of social structure.
SERGEI EISENSTEIN, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Ed. and Trans. Jay Leyda. (San Diego: Harcourt, 1949), 34–35
'Fated to be Mated' [a Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dance number in Silk Stockings (Rouben Mamoulian, 1957)] choreographs the sexual relation quite differently, on a more egalitarian ground [...].
A great deal of side-by-side dancing keeps [Astaire and Charisse] together in the frame spatially, and this relation is then reinforced by the precision with which they synchronise their movement while facing the camera. As a consequence, when the many lifts, spins and bends of this rather athletic number physically differentiate the dancers’ positions, they do not connote Astaire’s male superiority so much as continue to keep reconfiguring the dances in relation to each other as two equally spectacular bodies moving through cinematic space they synchronize their movement while facing the camera
STEVEN COHAN, '"Feminizing" the Song-and-Dance Man: Fred Astaire and the Spectacle of Masculinity in the Hollywood Musical' in Cohan and Hark (eds), Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema (Routledge, 1993), 58-59.
FILM: Silk Stockings (Rouben Mamoulian, 1957) starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.
MUSIC: Pyramidia by Ja Prawn is licensed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
WITH WARM THANKS to my interlocutors ADRIAN MARTIN and STEVEN COHAN