When writing on Deleuze and Cassavetes, I wanted to examine how Cassavetes was able to take Deleuze’s modern elements of cinema and create a highly affective film. Cassavetes has the ability to draw emotional responses from his viewers, and I used Deleuze’s writings to better understand the way in which he is able to accomplish this in his films. The following is a scene that I consider to be a solid representation of Cassavetes’ directing style. In this scene, Mabel is confronted by her husband, Nick, about her deteriorating mental state. Nick’s mother and Dr. Zepp are called to the house to help regulate the situation and enforce her institutionalization. I have a love-hate relationship with this scene each time I view it. I find it unsettling and difficult to endure because of the intensity of the acting and the subject matter. However, I don’t want to look away from the action either. This scene also exemplifies the way in which Cassavetes would force the audience to fully experience an entire situation with the actors on screen. He lingers in the scene and refused to make any unnecessary edits. According to Cassavetes, experiencing the entirety of the scene was imperative the structure of the film. “You can’t edit the film any more than you can direct the film. You’re not able to make the film play any better than it plays…Take the scene of Mabel’s breakdown, for example. We had to prolong it. The sequence was full because unless you actually see them do that, unless you actually see the continuity of that, the actual idea that he would do this and carry it through could have been weakened.” Also, it is easy to detect Cassavetes’ stance on the use of cinematography. The DP was told to follow the action he felt was important in that moment, instead of having distinct set-ups for each shot. Overall, this scene exemplifies many elements of Deleuze’s concepts of modern cinema, along with the emergence of thought and the mental-image in film.
Here are the links to the majority of Mabel's breakdown scene (my apologies for having to navigate away from the page, but uploading was not possible due to the size of the two clips):
- Stephanie Class