"In this stunningly brilliant excursus of a single moment in Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud, James Schamus has written a work of alchemical ekphrasis. Schamus has forged a new mode of film writing that should encourage scholars to emulate the depth and breadth of its investigation."
-Anne Friedberg, University of Southern California
"Schamus creates an intricate web of connections that sheds light especially on the conflicted relation of image and text in Dreyer's films."
-Brigitte Peucker, Yale University
"Lovers of cinema know Gertrud as a 'difficult' film, yet one that raises heated passions. To know why Gertrud is a film of passion is also to understand that what makes a great work of cinematic modernism is not always immediately visible. In this engaging and erudite book, James Schamus gives new and compelling reasons to love this often unloved film about the excesses and limits of love. Similar to T. J. Clark's compelling experiment in The Sight of Death, Schamus turns and returns to key moments of the film to unravel the myriad historical, philosophical, and aesthetic threads that design Dreyer's picture of modernism and the impossibility of love. Like Gertrud contemplating a tapestry and refinding a dream, Schamus leads us, in this beautifully written book, to recognize in an image a ciphered desire from which an entire story can unfold."
-D. N. Rodowick, Harvard University
"Gertrud, at once monumental and mysterious, finds its ideal critic in James Schamus. His brief, probing chapters illuminate the film from so many angles - Dreyer's life, the original play, the history of aesthetics, the institutions of cinema both then and now - that we return to this 'failed masterpiece' with new respect, even awe. Informed by deep research and shrewd looking and listening, this study offers something one seldom finds in modern film studies: tactful eloquence in the face of sheer, enigmatic beauty. Schamus scrutinizes the monument and celebrates the mystery."
-David Bordwell, Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"A nimble monograph. Schamus is a true cosmopolite of the movies - an Oscar-nominated producer and screenwriter, the CEO of Focus Features, a Columbia University film professor, and now, it turns out, a first-rate scholarly critic. Watch (Gertrude) with care, read Schamus's action-packed study, and your cinematic life will be genuinely, and permanently, enriched."
"Schamus, best known as Ang Lee's regular screenwriter/producer (Brokeback Mountain, Lust Caution), pens a fascinating study of a single scene in Carl Dreyer's late, Ibsenite masterpiece Gertrud (1964). Mainly for film wonks, but with passages of hypnotic perception."