As I reviewed another textbook for potential use in my classroom, I came across a line that rubbed me the wrong way. However, I couldn't help but wonder if I was reading too much into it, particularly given that, on the whole, I quite like this particular textbook. My negative reaction stemmed from one single caption that accompanied four images of Nicole Kidman as Anna in Birth (Glazer 2004).
Since I don't own the DVD, I can't visually recreate the images used in the textbook; instead, I'll briefly describe the four virtually identical soft-focus close-ups. In the first, her lips are parted, her head titled and her right eyebrow arched; in the second, her lips are closed and her head no longer titled; in the third, her eyes are dewy and her lip is turned up as she seemingly tries to hold back tears; in the fourth, her eyes are closed and her lips parted just slightly. The subtle changes in the tilt of her head, her mouth, and her eyes testify to the character's level of emotional involvement as she becomes increasingly absorbed in a piece of music.
The content of the images is actually beside the point. What I find somewhat problematic is the caption that accompanies them. Intended to explain the film's use of close-ups and long takes, it begins with the following clause: "Great cinematographers love great female beauty, as demonstrated by these four images from Jonathan Glazer's Birth (2004)." I could provide a diatribe explaining my objections, but I'm going to hold off for now. I'll simply say that that little clause got my hackles up. But I can't help but wonder if I'm overreacting. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?
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