The Maze of Susan Lowell

The video essay takes the form of its object of fascination: it reflects on film in a format that is very much akin to the subject it studies. It can therefore also use the same strategies, the same formats as those that films themselves employ. Take side-by-side video essays: those take the cinematic split screen technique and use it as an analytical tool.


This great and imaginative essay utilizes another film-related format: that of the trailer. In a video for Fandor, essayists Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin fashion a fake trailer for 1955 film noir The Big Combo. They don’t use all footage from that movie: they limit themselves to the scenes in which the main female character appears. In the movie, she is a mere prize for which the two main male characters compete. But this trailer recasts her as the protagonist, thus commenting not only on this particular movie but also on the typical template (and genders issues) of its genre.