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Records of Material Objects in the Cinema #7, or: How to Make An American Thriller in Europe

Two thrillers by François Truffaut and Wim Wenders surprisingly share the exact same cinephilic object.

Strange, how objects travel between films, across times, spaces and fictions. Here: An Econolite train motion lamp, with "General" engine. Apparently a prerequisite for European auteurs making post-modern, American-style Hitchcock pastiches. A way to simultaneously signify an intimate, cozy family atmosphere, fold contemporary-seeming references to American cinema further back to pre-cinema optical illusions, and, most movingly, take on a kind of parental cinephilia, directors not just referencing movies but creating family spaces imbued fictionally and meta-fictionally with a love for cinema, passing it down to children.

From François Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black (1968), featuring Jeanne Moreau and Christophe Bruno; cinematography by Raoul Coutard.

From Wim Wender's The American Friend (1977), featuring Bruno Ganz and Andreas Dedecke; cinematography by Robby Müller.

I haven’t seen The American Friend for almost twenty years and though I remember it very fondly one of the only concrete things I could remember about it was that lamp.

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