Muscle: Variations on the Cinematic Car Crash

A video essay from May/Sep 2016.

This video is the result of an assignment I was given at a workshop on the video essay at Maynooth University in May 2016. The workshop leaders, Catherine Grant and Liz Green, asked us to think of a recurring cinematic image or trope, which could occur within one film or across a body of films. We were asked to assemble clips of the trope as quickly as we could (using YouTube or other online clips), and to use at least one piece of music or sound over the clips. We could assemble the clips in any fashion we liked, but there should be some through-line, such as an argument or a loose narrative.

As I began looking at clips of classic car chase sequences, it became immediately clear how many visual cues these sequences have in common: spin outs, tunnels, close-ups on the drivers’ faces, etc. So I began by attempting to edit a few famous chase scenes (e.g., “Bullit,” “The French Connection”) as if they were one continuous chase.

However, as I combed the web for clips, one of the things I also noticed was how male-centric the car chase sequence tends to be. So as I began cutting the clips together, I also started integrating images from women-centered chase sequences. This dramatically affected not only the “story” this essay ended up telling, but also led directly to my choice of music. In the end, as loose as they may be, I think the essay includes both a narrative and and an argument.

The entire process – including downloading clips and music and editing – took about 4-5 hours. The quality could probably be improved quite a bit, but I thought I’d leave it as is as an example of how the exercise worked (or didn’t!).

For educational purposes only.

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