Cinema as Weather
Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change
By Kristi McKim
Routledge – 2013 – 218 pages
How do cinematic portrayals of the weather reflect and affect our experience of the world? While weatherly predictability and surprise can impact our daily experience, the history of cinema attests to the stylistic and narrative significance of snow, rain, wind, sunshine, clouds, and skies. Through analysis of films ranging from The Wizard of Oz to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, from Citizen Kane to In the Mood for Love, Kristi McKim calls our attention to the ways that we read our atmospheres both within and beyond the movies.
Building upon meteorological definitions of weather's dynamism and volatility, this book shows how film weather can reveal character interiority, accelerate plot development, inspire stylistic innovation, comprise a momentary attraction, convey the passage of time, and idealize the world at its greatest meaning-making capacity (unlike our weather, film weather always happens on time, whether for tumultuous, romantic, violent, suspenseful, or melodramatic ends).
Akin to cinema's structuring of ephemera, cinematic weather suggests aesthetic control over what is fleeting, contingent, wildly environmental, and beyond human capacity to tame. This first book-length study of such a meteorological and cinematic affinity casts film weather as a means of artfully and mechanically conquering contingency through contingency, of taming weather through a medium itself ephemeral and enduring.
Using film theory, history, formalist/phenomenological analysis, and eco-criticism, this book casts cinema as weather, insofar as our skies and screens become readable through our interpretation of changing phenomena.
‘Kristi McKim’s Cinema as Weather is an insightful and original contribution to the growing field of environmental film studies. McKim takes up the notion that insofar as the production and screening of cinematic weather mimics actual weatherly phenomena, cinema is weather. McKim’s bold assertions about the nature of cinema are wonderfully nuanced by her critical perspectives on film theory and actual atmospheric conditions.’ – Stephen Rust, University of Oregon, USA
Introduction 1. Revealing Skies and Screens: The Confluence of Weather and Cinema 2. The Cinematic History of Weather, and the History of Cinematic Weather 3. Interiority and Exteriority: Cinematic Weather as Plot and Effect 4. Cinematic Rain 5. Cinematic Snow 6. Cinematic Sunlight and Seasons 7. Conclusion
Kristi McKim is Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Film Studies Program at Hendrix College, US.