Saturday 6 February 2016

The Terrorist (Santosh Sivan, India, 1998)

Malli is nineteen. Her eyes captivate: large, luminous white with hazel then ebony centres. Her lips are generous, but secretive. Hair lustrous: long, black, straight. Her dark skin glows with vitality. A
face of gentle features, yet with a strength that belies her years. This is how the screen sees Malli – in close-up, and extreme close-up. A dance between the camera and the face of actor Ayesha Dharker. Malli is caught up in events in the world, or a hidden observer looking on, lost in her thoughts, her recollections, and the camera remains on her face, focuses upon her eyes, her mouth, her expression – the shot or sequence lasting a wonderful little eternity. Such shots and sequences will approach silence, except for her breathing and the ever-present sounds of nature; or sometimes such images are overwhelmed by a score of synthetic strings. Everything is in close-up. The whole film is organised around this aesthetic: the dominion and the potential of the close-up. Director Santosh Sivan focuses upon a life, moments in a life, life through the expressions of a woman’s face, expressions of the affects, intensities and forces within. Sivan and Dharker create a film of the icon.

For Deleuze, the icon is an affection-image, a sign of the unfilmable internal intensities of the body expressed through a face in close-up.

To read the full exploration of The Terrorist through the Deleuze's sign of the 'icon,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images

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