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Screening Statues

Sculpture and Cinema

Steven Jacobs, Susan Felleman, Vito Adriaensens, Lisa Colpaert

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Explores the interaction between sculpture and cinema

Screening Statues: Sculpture and Cinema is the first book to focus on the relationship between sculpture and the silver screen. It covers a broad range of magical, mystical and phenomenological interactions between the two media, from early film’s eroticized tableaux vivants to enigmatic sculptures in modernist cinema. Sculptures are literally brought to life on the silver screen, while living people are turned into, or trapped inside, statuary. The book examines key sculptural motifs and cinematic sculpture in film history through a series of case studies and through an extensive reference gallery of 150 different films. Considering the work of directors like Georges Méliès, Jean Cocteau and Alain Resnais, as well as films like House of Wax, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, this is an innovative exploration of two different media, their artistic traditions and their respective theoretical paradigms.

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Introduction: The Marble Camera, Steven Jacobs


1. The Sculptor’s Dream: Living Statues in Early Cinema, Vito Adriaensens and Steven Jacobs

2. The Mystery…The Blood…the Age of Gold: Sculpture in Surrealist and Surreal Cinema, Susan Felleman

3. Carving Cameras on Thorvaldsen and Rodin: Mid-Twentieth-Century Documentaries on Sculpture, Steven Jacobs

4. Mysteries of the Wax Museum: Anatomy of an Ovidian Cinema, Vito Adriaensens

5. The Night of the Human Body: Statues and Fantasy in Post-War American Cinema, Susan Felleman

6. From Pompei to Marienbad: Classical Sculpture in Post-War European Modernist Cinema, Steven Jacobs and Lisa Colpaert

7. Of Swords, Sandals, and Statues: The Myth of the Living Statue from Hephaistos to the Silver Screen, Vito Adriaensens

8. Coda: Returning the Favor (A Short History of Film Becoming Sculpture), Susan Felleman


Vito Adriaensens and Lisa Colpaert 


About the Authors


About the Author

Steven Jacobs teaches film history and film theory at Ghent University and the University of Antwerp.

Susan Felleman is Professor of Art History and Film and Media Studies at the University of South Carolina.

Vito Adriaensens is a visiting scholar and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Film Department with a Fellowship from the Flemish Research Council and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Project at the University of Antwerp.

Lisa Colpaert is a fashion designer and a film historian. She works as a curator for Cinea at the Royal Belgian Film Archive and is undertaking a practice-based PhD at the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London).


Film, the art of movement, approaches the statue as its other. As this multi-author volume shows, if film represents sculpture in conjunction with dance, it can also petrify actors. And while film can evince sculpture’s tactility, sculpture has had recourse to the filmstrip as its material. Not surprisingly, Pygmalion finds a central place in this volume and tableau vivant does, as well. Historical and informative, yet interpretive and an engaging read, these essays with their gallery of images provide a trove of material to be explored.

- Professor Brigitte Peucker, Yale University

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