Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Subjective World of Saul Leiter

While watching the "Making Mildred Pierce" segment on HBO, I was introduced to the work of photographer Saul Leiter.  Apparently, director Todd Haynes filmed Mildred Pierce in a style very influenced by Leiter's images. I love Leiter's use of fogged windows and cracked mirrors in these images. To me, they really foreground interesting questions related to perception, identity/subjectivity. I love how the reflections of the photographer/viewer and corporate/advertising-related words are often ghostly presences through which the main figures are presented to us.  Beautiful images, sure, but deeply symbolic ones, too (in my humble opinion). If/when you watch the Mildred Pierce series, you may begin to notice how Haynes often films scenes from the perspective of a character looking out a window (often through lace or fabric curtains) or how he often has Mildred looking at her reflection in mirrors and windows. These visual moments add a level of thematic depth to the show that I'm enjoying (more than I'm enjoying the number of nude scenes in the HBO series. Not sure why the emphasis on physicality yet.  Still need to watch the rest of the series to formulate my final opinion).  






13 comments:

Sara said...

Wow, wonderful pictures!

iLiveinmyLab said...

Oh those are fantastic. Now I need to go do some more research on him...

Fiona Timantti said...

Fantastic photos!

Desiree said...

Oh no! I need to watch the Making Mildred Pierce special right away. These really are beautiful photos.

I can see why the nudity and sex can seem sort of gratuitous but that's the way the book is, and Todd Haynes is really sticking close to the book. He lifts tons of dialogue right from the novel, and the novel deals a lot with Mildred's sexual awakening, her subsequent "masculinization", and, frankly, her forbidden sexual attraction to Veda. The book is pretty filthy when you get right down to it, and that's probably why I couldn't put it down.

Betty Lou said...

Lovely! I saw the making of too and i'm saving the series. Gonna watch them all in a row later with a friend :D

Lauren Hairston said...

Now you've introduced me to Saul Leiter! I can't wait until the miniseries comes out on DVD. We don't have HBO, so I'll just have to wait until then!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Desiree: THANK YOU for this comment. This answers all my questions...I admit I have not yet read the novel (shame on me), but am REALLY eager to do so. The fact Haynes is adapting the book rather than trying to rely on the Joan Crawford film as the source makes me really happy, actually. I do love that the series is gritty, realistic, and not shying away from some controversial tensions and subjects broached in the novel (I think the 40s film is a great film noir, but it steered away from the things you are mentioning are in the novel). Fascinating!!!

Glad you all enjoyed the Leiter images. I'm riveted, too!

Andi B. Goode said...

Yes! I'm sure I came across his work somewhere else and I fell in love. (I downloaded the first three eps last night so I shall have to get around to watching them ASAP - sorry for my pervy tweet, last night. I was half asleep and tend to write the silliest things =\) It's interesting that you say Haynes films through windows, curtains, etc. - even in Velvet Goldmine, there's this beautiful snippet of a scene where Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are being filmed through a lace curtain, moving with the breeze of the open window.
-Andi x

taio said...

superb

Hannah said...

I must read the novel too, I really like the photography it creates a certain kind of atmosphere and idea straight away.

lauren said...

holy wow, i really love these!

Steffys Pros and Cons said...

really awesome pictures!

<3 steffy
Steffys Pros and Cons

Monique said...

I can't wait to see Mildred Pierce. I'm off to watch the making of. These photos are so moody and quite awesome.