The Catharsis of Ali

Ali (Will Smith) is an important figure in Mann’s representations of masculinity as tied to professional life and persona. In the boxing world, his style developed a new avenue of discourse such that his position in the history of his profession changed what could be possible in his sport. Most importantly Ali had a crucial impact on the changing and crisis-ridden nature of US culture at the time. Mann’s men are consummate professionals and have codes and styles to ensure that they’re the best at what they do, but Ali’s literal historical iconography allows for Mann’s representations of masculinity to ‘evolve’.

Ali focuses on the ten-year section of the life of Muhammad Ali between 1964 and 1974 – a period which almost exactly overlaps the important first half of the ‘new Hollywood’ period as I’ve defined it. This period encompasses Ali’s emergence as the 22-year-old world heavyweight champion, and ends with arguably his most famous victory against George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ to retain the championship previously stripped away from him as a result of his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War. Where The Insider allowed Mann to use the formal language of the paranoia sub-genre developed during the ‘new Hollywood’ moment, Ali was a direct means to engage with the period itself; but interestingly does not adhere to or formally reference the style of ‘new Hollywood evident in his previous films. Ali can be seen as Mann’s Apocalypse Now, with Muhammad Ali the conduit for the audience to travel through a crucial Historical period alongside one of its emblematic figures. However, Willard’s observer figure also contrasts with Ali because the latter is interacting and participating in the experience, which defined the Civil Rights/Vietnam War period of United States history (broadly the ‘new Hollywood’ period) ‘at home’. The ambivalence of Willard is gone because Ali is unambiguously on the ‘opposite side’.

In order to emphasise the importance of the historical context from which Ali (and Mann) both emerged, the filmmaker seems to relinquish the typical ‘biopic’ concentration on every detail of Ali’s life during the period. Ali became an icon for both the Civil Rights Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War, and personified the internal tension within the United States because he refused to be drafted, questioning how one could possibly participate in a conflict for a country that denied his basic civil rights. This figure came to have immense cultural and political coding far beyond sporting grace and achievements. In Mann’s film, Ali is presented as the symbol and iconic example for the filmmaker’s politically engaged generation to revolt and protest against the injustices of the Vietnam War and deep resistance to the civil rights push in America. Ron Field writes: “By 1966 the Vietnam War had replaced American race relations as the most important matter of international concern. The escalating American military situation in Vietnam did nothing to ease racial tension at home.”[i]

The inclusion of Mann’s own New Mexico documentary footage in the film is further evidence of his cathartic experience in making Ali. This footage, showing riotous protests, appears as a small aside in the film as Howard Bingham (Jeffrey Wright) and Ali watch television at the conclusion of one of his many implied anti-war speeches. The footage shows student riots, and the chaotic and vehement passion that epitomised a politically charged United States that Mann documented as a student filmmaker.

The scene that typifies Ali’s importance as not only a sporting icon but as an iconic figure of Mann’s ‘new Hollywood’ generation takes place as Ali is training for the ‘Rumble in the Jungle.’ Ali begins to run on the outskirts of a shantytown and is surrounded by ecstatic people shouting and cheering his name. The crowd grows and grows, and their excitement and growing numbers humble Ali. As he sees their origins, he quickly diverges into the town with hundreds of followers trailing behind him. This sequence suggests the way in which Ali begins to gain an insight into the prevalent poverty while he’s running. But something slows him – and Mann slows this moment down for the viewer. In amongst the chaos of the crowd’s jubilation to be in the presence of the world champion, Ali seems quiet, and as he stops running two children grab his arms and drag him through the crowd. The crowd arrives at their destination, showing Ali what they needed him to see. Ali views three murals illustrating his comic like portrayal as defeating malaria, the armed forces, and finally an opponent in the ring. These images suggest Ali’s realisation that standing up for his beliefs against the war in Vietnam has resonated even with the people living in the shantytowns of Zaire. It is a necessity that he wins, and it is in the impossibility of his task, and the challenge that he must overcome that characterises his existence. Where Ali does not characteristically share the same existential crisis represented by Mann’s other masculine portrayals, but he is a less-crisis ridden male figure. His identity is richer and makes him less purely professional than Mann’s earlier men. The desperation of the period of his life without boxing (represented in the film) illustrates the necessity and importance of his continuing professional success to the causes that he represents. Following the murals of Ali defeating malaria, victory against an army (standing in for the for the US government), we see the final and most important image is him standing in a ring, victorious after having successfully defeated Foreman. In defeating Foreman the victory will carry the resonance and weight of his political beliefs, being both a literal and metaphorical victory.


Collateral: Taxicab Confessions

Mann’s next film is set in Los Angeles for the first time since Heat, and here we can see a return to a contemporary setting where his portrayals of masculinity are reconceptualised with a variation of his characteristic self/other thematic dynamic previously seen in the relationships of Neil/Hanna and Graham/Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) in Manhunter (1986). However, the Max/Vincent parallel in Collateral is different from previous incarnations of self /other recurrent pairs because, with Vincent’s nihilistic sociopathic killer is contrasted with the humane normality of Max’s timid taxi driver.

Collateral is Mann’s first notable experiment with manipulated cinematic temporality. He admitted that his fascination for the project was the collapsed time frame[ii] (the two hour film covers approximately twelve hours in the ‘real’ world) and what it meant for his character portrayals. Max is a perfectionist but, unlike the majority of Mann’s masculine portrayals, he’s an average man whose fear of failure keeps him closeted within his own little red and yellow world. Here he is able to share his dreams with the masses of his passengers without the judgement that comes from continued evidence of his stagnancy. In his first conversation with Annie (Jada Pinkett-Smith) she assertively advises the specific route that she wishes to take. Max suggests an alternate, she disagrees but is swayed once he offers a free ride if he’s wrong. When Max’s prediction, based upon knowledge of traffic patterns and routes, confirms that he’s right, Annie starts to cross-examine Max:

ANNIE: You take pride in…being good at what you do…?

MAX: What this… this…? This is a …no, this is part-time. This is a fill-in job. Pay the bills. But I WILL be the best at what I do, but that’s something else. [iii]

Max’s nervousness is telling, and he subverts the traditional Mannian protagonist who prides himself on his professionalism. However, Max’s refusal to leave his comfort zone and consequent disappointment veils his professionalism. Max’s timid masculinity is a new element in Mann’s work; He is therefore also the most self-reflexive incarnation aware of his own inadequacy, in order to compensate for his nervousness, and his not-manly-enough quality, Max uses the temporary relationships he has with his customers to play the role of a man temporarily defined by a ‘means-to-an-end’ profession in order to realise his dreams.

The other protagonist, Vincent, on the other hand, is a newly extreme incarnation of criminal professionalism in Mann’s work. His dress is evocative of Neil in Heat, because of its grey and intentionally non-descript nature. But unlike Neil’s territorial manner, and almost tribal philosophy, Vincent is in every sense alone. Also in opposition to Neil, Vincent’s practice is improvising to achieve his goal. He is much more flexible and cunning in his approach and seemingly has no goal that he’s striving for once his work is done. Vincent is on the one hand a nihilist, but on the other hand the most extreme version of professional masculinity.

Despite initial appearances, however, these characters are not binary opposites. Where Max and Vincent are most similar, and illustrate Mann’s other key recurring themes of self and other, is shown within their interaction as a means to veil their own deep insecurities. Here is another dual twist on Mann’s portrayal of the existential crisis of masculinity that holds a troubled mirror to the collective mythic identity of the USA after Vietnam. Sharrett observes of this tendency in Mann’s work: “[T]his decay seems fairly absolute, making Mann’s vision hark back to an earlier (post-Watergate) cinema that encouraged the critical faculties of the audience, and looked beneath the façade of the existing order of things.”[iv] In Collateral Mann uses Vincent as the conduit to critique the stagnancy of normality as well as the true nihilism of professional masculinity at its extreme. Vincent is a chilling truth-teller that looks beneath the pretense of sedentary average American identity, and affirms his place outside of ‘normal’ life. Max uses his anonymity to dream about escaping the mediocrity of cab driving to owning a limo company, and Vincent’s status outside of societal norms sees him criticise every part of Max’s life, his milieu, his job, his relationships – as a means to manipulate, but also to constantly reaffirm, his own non-standard existence. Vincent can really be seen as an extreme version of reactionary US masculinity and capitalism in its most nihilistic figuration. He detests the Los Angeles sprawl for its disconnection of the populous, but his nihilism inhibits his participation in the world. Rayner writes: “Mann foregrounds [this] crisis in and [around] the erosion of conventional, societal values, as criminality emerges as a superior alternative to law-abiding, domestic existence.”[v] Max’s timid nature, introversion and clear neurosis make him an easy target for Vincent’s assertive and violent nihilism to continually berate.

After Vincent kills Fanning (Mark Ruffalo), however, Max begins to rebel. He recognises the similarity of his and Vincent’s performative personae. He begins to deconstruct Vincent’s philosophy, and theorises about his possible origins to illustrate to Vincent that his manipulations are no longer going to work.

MAX: If somebody had a gun to your head and said: “You gotta tell me what’s goin’ on with this person over here or I’m gonna kill you.” What is driving him what was he thinking? You know you couldn’t do it could you because…they would have to kill your ass because you don’t know what anyone else is thinking. I think you’re low my brother, way low. Like what were you one of those institutionalised raised guys? Anybody home? An standard..And The standard parts that are supposed to be there in people..in you aren’t…

Vincent is hurt. The nerve exposed by his reaction to Max’s jibe about his childhood reveals a deep and critical flaw within his psyche. He has to react and reaffirm his dominance over Max.

VINCENT: “Some day, some day my dream’ll come.” One night you’ll wake up and discover it never happened. It’s all turned around on you, it never will and suddenly you are old. … You’ll push into memory and then zone out in your ‘Barca’ lounger being hypnotized by daytime T.V[.] for the rest of your life. So don’t you talk to me about murder. All it ever took was a down payment on a Lincoln town car, for that girl, you can’t even call that girl. What the fuck are you still doin’ driving a cab?

Max rebels from Vincent, realising that he isn’t helpless. He realises that within Vincent’s criticisms there’s a truth that Max can change, and a despite Vincent’s ability to continually improvise, his sociopathic nature will always restrict change. The figure of Vincent is then disturbing and ‘useful’, both regressive and potentially prompting of progressive movement when it comes to contemporary masculine identity. This leads to a destructive critique of reactionary masculinity.

Despite his aesthetic similarity to Neil in Heat, Cruise’s inter-textual performance brings an entirely different ideology and iconography to the ‘baggage’ of Pacino/Hanna and de Niro/Neil. Cruise is an icon of the reactionary masculine. His career can be charted from the end of the ‘new Hollywood’ period to the present in which time he has become identified with huge box office success, and in populist writing was for a long time considered to be one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. Mann’s use of Cruise works to critique extreme masculinity through a deeply flawed or self-concious representation of the ‘80s and ‘90s man, appropriating an icon of blockbuster cinema. The filmmaker highlights the intentionality of casting actors for what their persona brings to the role, and again the intertextual modes of performance brought to the screen by particular actors/personae.

Collateral is an important film in Mann’s body of work because the crisis of identity portrayed is in how each man expresses their lives through performance and professional identity. Both Max and Vincent act out a persona that they hope can persuade not only who they interact with but their own residual self-image. Each man holds a troubled mirror up to the false identity that the other man has created to veil the reality of their situation. michael-mannv2

Mann’s Style & The Sublime

After his return to the setting of Los Angeles, Mann revisits the city of Miami; which was the setting for one of the most popular T.V shows of the ‘80s (which he Produced) Miami Vice. The show was famous for a defining formal/aesthetic look, which had been attributed to Mann. Adrian Martin writes:

Films whose textual economy is pitched at the level of a broad fit between elements of style and elements of subject. This is an extremely prevalent approach to filmmaking in the contemporary [‘90s ] context. Works by Robert Altman, Michael Mann, Abel Ferrara, the Coens and Alan Rudolph provide relatively distinguished examples of this practice, in which general strategies of colour coding, camera viewpoint, sound design and so on enhance or reinforce the general ‘feel’ or meaning of the subject matter.[vi]

In any study of authorship it would be remiss to ignore the characteristic formal style in a filmmaker’s work. In his executive producing role in the Miami Vicetelevision series, Michael Mann was said to have influenced the pastel look and was associated with the overall ‘style’ of the series. This ‘style’ defined the overall tone of the narrative and became its defining feature. Thoret writes: “He was going to forge a new aesthetic, founded on an extreme sophistication ofmise en scène, an excessive taste for design and advertising kitsch.”[vii] Mann’s direction of the movie version of Miami Vice denotes a very notable formal style.  Thoret writes: “Mann’s camera relentlessly pursues to convey the feeling of hallucinatory film where man and nature dissolve in each other, quivering with the same tragic breath.”[viii] The formal style of the film contends with the narrative and subverts the traditional espionage and action narrative models through a less classical form and perspective. For Miami Vice the overall ‘feel’ of the style is important to distinguish itself from the series. Thoret describesMiami Vice as a “mix of formal elegance and brutality.”[ix]

Miami Vice immediately immerses the viewer into an undercover police operation. The unit is establishing a case against a prostitution ring in a nightclub. There is no establishing shot: the audience is immediately looking at a female dancer, silhouetted in front of a screen with continually changing graphics. The viewer is seeing the dancer from the point of view of the Miami Dade police officers, as the camera wheels around in a spherical arc from behind their faces to establish their position in the middle of the club. Mann is constantly shifting the perspective of the viewer as the three police characters that have been framed in the first minute of the film are scanning the room. The camera emulates their succession of subjective glances throughout the nightclub. The high definition digital video look of the film (carried over from his experiments within Ali and Collateral) evokes the feeling that it is a modern retelling, and the film is aesthetically current because of his hand-held camera movement initiated in the opening scene.

Within this film we also see perhaps more clearly than usual Mann’s evocation of a Sublime element motivating the protagonists. Mann contrasts this claustrophobic club sequence with much broader shots of natural beauty outside of the cityscape. Crockett (Colin Farrell) looks to sea during their meeting with Nicholas (Eddie Marsan), quieting the conflict of setting up the meeting with Jose Yero (John Ortiz). Mann borders the shot with Crockett’s profile looking out to the steel grey sky and the dark blue sea. Mann cuts to Crockett’s gaze, evocative of a longing to be outside of the moment, and gradually changes as he readies to reinject himself back into the heated discussion. Martin mentioned above ‘colour coding’ as one of Mann’s favoured formal techniques, and throughout his films there has been a marked affinity with a deep ocean blue. It firstly appears in Graham’s bedroom in Manhunter, and subsequently in Neil’s views of the seas in Heat, then Bergman’s oceanfront escape in The Insider. The effect of this blue is emphasised in Miami Vice not only because of the city’s (Miami) proximity to the ocean but because of the much more pronounced exploration of the sublime in this film. Mann accentuates the prominence of the ocean as Crockett and Isabella travel to Havana in the ‘go-fast-boat’. Mann’s camera towers into the air and centres the boat in a topographical view surrounded by the endless blue of the ocean, as the camera dives down, eases to the left and encircles the boat. The fluidity of the camera move intuits a dive into water. Mann cuts to a stationary shot of the boat travelling towards an elevated point of view and as the boat passes beneath the camera the film cuts to a later scene.

In Miami Vice, the position of the city is a metaphor for the condition of an undercover profession. The sublime can be read not only in the boundless ocean that their ‘go-fast-boat’ slices through, but in Crockett’s relationship with Isabella. The risk of attaining her is not only that she may be dangerous, another timeworn male vision of the sublime as femme fatale perhaps. But also she represents another degree of difficulty in protecting their (Crockett, Tubbs & Co.) undercover performative personae. Crockett and Isabella’s relationship compromises the safety of the Miami Dade operation. This is exemplified by the Havana sequence in the film that constantly contrasts the literal natural sublime of the ocean and beauty of the city of Havana with a fantasy life with Isabella, and one becomes associated with the other. At the film’s conclusion, Crockett ‘allows’ her to escape – not only from the repercussions of being involved with him, but in Mannian masculine terms, she represents a kind of sublimity, and is therefore unattainable and certainly impermanent. The reflexively of this is made clear in Crockett’s line, albeit through language recognisable to the generic mode (again no ‘breaking of character’ is needed):

“This was too good to last”.[x]

Thoret describes “the Mannian imaginary of a mental and geographical extension, of a utopic elsewhere that the film will never realise.”[xi] A key scholarly definition of the sublime comes from Kant’s The Critique of Judgement,in which we read that the “sublime is the name given to what is absolutely great. … [it is] the mere capacity of thinking which evidences a faculty of mind transcending every standard of sense.”[xii] One might say that Michael Mann offers different interpretations of the natural sublime as a means to dichotomise the professionally oriented portrayals of masculinity within his films. Crockett’s capacity to formulate an ideal fantasy with the colleague of drug kingpin transcends his thoughts to maintain the boundaries between his undercover and real persona. But Mann’s characters cannot ‘achieve’ the sublime in any conceivable sense; it remains out of reach, at best a fantasy. Imprisoned by the mechanisms of their professional codes, the sublime is unattainable.

Thoret writes that “[f]or Mann the sea is the canonical image of impossible journeys, those that everyone dreams about but no one is able to take.”[xiii]Graham (William Peterson) in Manhunter (1986) escapes the brutality and horror of his confrontation with Lektor (Brian Cox) by escaping to an oceanfront property. Neil in Heat idealises his ocean view of endless blue haze to the horizon from his aquarium-like apartment, longing for the spectral New Zealand haven that he’s created in his mind that cannot be reached. The manner in which Mann frames Neil in relation to his ocean, is always at a distance, and the window is a clear, stark division between the locked-off fantasy of his sublime and the reality of his masculine professionalism.

      The sublime can also be manifested through kitsch objects and images, which are a conduit for fantasy. Frank in Thief uses his prison collage as an idealised but finally intangible sublime representation of domesticity that he constructs as the fantasy conclusion of his criminal endeavours. Similarly, Mann imbues another photograph as a representation of the sublime for Max in Collateral. Max’s Maldives Island picture is characteristic of both an escape from the banality of his existence and an escape from his life as he lives it. Mann renders Max’s picture on his visor in his cab – a literal window within a window. One window is the defining feature of his job and life that he finds stagnant, and the photograph is a cue for the fantasy of escaping the mediocrity of his chosen profession.
            It is notable that within Mann’s portrayals of crisis-ridden masculinity the idealised fantasy image is repeatedly related to the ocean. Kant mentions the immeasurable ocean alongside the interminable natural power of a Volcano when he writes:

[V]olcanos in all their violence of destruction… the boundless ocean rising with rebellious force… make our power of resistance of trifling moment in comparison with their might. But, provided our own position is secure, their aspect is all the more attractive for its fearfulness; and we readily call these objects sublime, because they raise the forces of the soul above the height of vulgar commonplace, and discover within us a power of resistance of quite another kind, which gives us courage to be able to measure ourselves against the seeming omnipotence of nature.[xiv]

Kant emphasises the security of one’s position when seeking an escape from the ‘vulgar commonplace’. In an everyday sense, Max fits the criteria of the sublime observer. His cab is a ‘safe’ viewing capsule, and the kitsch Maldives photo/postcard placed upon his visor is detracting from the work of his everyday life, shifting his gaze to the fantasy ideal irrespective of its banal imagery. The secure position from which to muse upon the sublime is also evident in de Niro/Neil’s glass aquarium-like apartment Heat. The sublime is a necessary ‘truth’ for the Mannian protagonist. For the viewer, the ultimate dystopic truth shown on screen is perhaps that this fantasy is categorically opposed to the codes of their professionalism. Often attempting to attain this sublime fantasy compromises their lives or their professionalism, which they cannot ultimately allow because it is the only thing — the only key to identity—they have.

Telling the life story of Muhammad Ali afforded Mann the opportunity to examine ‘new Hollywood’ in the ‘present tense’ while being able to examine the life of a most distinctive professional. Ali deconstructs the reactionary US masculinity in favour of a more politically engaged one while maintaining a very masculine power. In a very different way, Collateral deconstructs reactionary masculinity using one of the actors famous for representing Hollywood’s ‘80s and ‘90s men. Through this deconstruction Mann is able to posit an alternative vision of the self/other dynamic via a two-part performance in which Max and Vincent are seemingly the antithesis of each other, but they both struggle with the reality that their respective masculine identity or persona hides deep insecurity and self-doubt as enforced through their antagonistic discourses in the taxi. The boundaries of self/other and continued crises of identity become the commonplace occupation in the city of Miami. Miami Vice allowed for Mann to be able to dictate a more distinct formal style and bringing into centre stage the motif of the sublime – often through oceanic imagery – that is so important, yet understated, in his work through its powerful impact on these in-crisis male figures to imagine another mode of existence. The formal elements of Mann’s rendering of masculinity are here indicative of a continuing pull towards the sublime that is radically alternative to their professional programming – hence its intense attraction, and absolute impossibility.



Michael Mann is clearly a ‘new Hollywood’ filmmaker dislocated from his period of origination. Thoret best describes the ‘brand’ of Mann’s work when he writes: “Mann’s artistic project… [charts] the effects of this era, tracing its origins and testing some of its hypotheses.” [xv] The films of Michael Mann study the effects of ‘new Hollywood’ from its immediate end after Raging Bull to the present, primarily rendered through the frame of masculinity.

The Foucauldian and post-structuralist discourse shifted the perspective of the author, which was essential back-history to recent developments in authorship theory. To validate a modern authorial study on Mann it is key to explore the mode of his existence, when his work was and is circulated and how his work functions within the discourse of society. To align with recent incarnations of authorship, the viewer/critic maintains Mann’s construction as a contextualised subject, however dislocated.

Mann’s expression of masculinity subverts the characteristic ‘remasculinisation’ of Hollywood cinema after 1980 as a reaction to the films of the ‘70s. Rather, his works carries out and develops the ‘hypotheses’ of ‘new Hollywood’s’ crisis of masculinity, and explores it in different contexts through a coded professionalism continually dictating and defining his male characters actions and their place in society.

The Insider afforded Mann the opportunity to be immediate by engaging with a politically/socially important event that involved a corporate/institutional conspiracy. Using the method of the paranoia-sub genre thriller Mann uses the symbiosis of Wigand and Bergman to examine both poles of the genre. Wigand’s sphere of the narrative allowed for Mann to formally evoke the tension and surveillance motif’s universality within the genre. Bergman’s ‘new Hollywood’ media ethos is completely torpedoed by his realisations of the extent of the corporate media constraints on content.

Heat is indicative of Mann’s ‘70s perception of masculinity. His casting of Pacino and de Niro and their inherent intertextual performance enhances the atmosphere of the film. Reyner writes that, “in Mann’s oeuvre, the work of crime for criminals and police officers alike requires a professional and emotional detachment from societal standards of morality and conjugality.”[xvi] Pacino and de Niro suffer a detachment from society because of their professionalism that manifests as a longing for a sublime elsewhere for de Niro/Neil and a realisation of the inevitability of his choice for Pacino/Hanna. The casting of Pacino and de Niro incorporate the identifiably method acting principles of ‘new Hollywood’ into their portrayals; effectively layering their performance so that there is a blurred line between the personae of the character and the personae of the actors and their role history.

Ali represented an opportunity to confront his past and use the professional icon of Muhammad Ali to explore a more all-encompassing portrait of masculinity that both exemplified professionalism but because of his influence outside of the ring went beyond it. Collateral was influenced by Ali because Mann had cathartically dispelled his ‘new Hollywood’ masculine portrayals having engaged with a real life icon of the time that had served as his inspiration. Vincent aesthetically evokes Neil in Heat, but Mann directly opposes the established trademark’s of the ‘70s associated with Pacino and de Niro to use the stamp of ‘80s and ‘90s blockbusters in Cruise to critique the ‘remasculinisation’ phenomena in the films after ‘new Hollywood.’ Mann reveals that beneath the surface a flawed masculinity remains. Max’s regularity, on the other hand, is representative of his repressed Mannian desire that longs for a fantasy escape. Following its invocation in CollateralMiami Vice allows for Mann to more substantially explore his professionals’ affinity for the sublime, with not only the setting of Miami (and its immediate proximity to a boundless ocean) but a more blurred line between the self and other dynamic purged in Heat and The Insider.

Recent theoretical work on film authorship can be more thoroughly and rigorously applied in contemporary film scholarship. Of course the ‘new Hollywood’ historical period has motivated a multitude of critical and theoretical work. But the key figures of Scorsese and Coppola are the continual point of contention for most film scholars of the period. The more marginal characters such as Paul Schrader and Terrence Malick have begun to inspire theoretical discourse but there are a number of other Hollywood figures floating on the fringe of ‘new Hollywood’ that can be addressed so as to further study these films’ portrayal of masculinity, or demonstrate similar authorial formal voices. In saying that, I have purposefully limited my critical focus to this finite period (1968-1980) and refracted that focus through Scorsese and Coppola because of their films’ centrality to the new Hollywood moment and the accompanying identifiable representations of masculinity. Mann is important and worth considering in this conception because his portrayals of masculinity work to both perpetuate and evolve the impression of the ‘new Hollywood’ man. I have intended to add to the under-developed critical account of his work in the hope that further study can help to uncover other examples of the characteristically ‘new Hollywood’ man since the end of the ‘70s, that subvert the narcissism of the ‘remasculinisation’ of Hollywood. There are still other areas of enquiry that remain under-analysed pertaining to these issues at the heart of the ‘new Hollywood’ heritage.  Beyond that particular context, the vein of authorship studies utilized in this thesis offers limitless possibility of application to filmmakers throughout history, from any country, and any context.


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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (Fax Bahr & George

Hickenlooper, 1991)

The Kingdom (Peter Berg, 2007)

Making Taxi Driver (Laurent Bouzereau, 1999)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976)

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola ,1972)

The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola ,1974)

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

Apocalypse Now Redux (Francis Ford Coppola, 2001)

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Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

The Directors: Michael Mann, Robert J. Emory, 2000).

The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987).

American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973).

Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977).

Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976).

Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1999)

The Jericho Mile (Michael Mann, 1979)

Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986)

L.A. Takedown (Michael Mann, 1989)

The Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)

Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)

The Insider (Michael Mann, 1999)

Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)

Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)

All the Presidents Men (Alan J. Pakula, 1976).

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

[i] Ron Field, Civil Rights in America, 1865-1980 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 96


[ii] Michael Mann, Collateral Director’s Commentary 2005

[iii] Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)

[iv] Sharrett, “Michael Mann: Elegies on the Post-Industrial Landscape,” 262.

[v] Rayner, “Masculinity, morality and action: Michael Mann and the heist movie,” 74.

[vi] Adrian Martin, “MIS EN SCENE IS DEAD, or The Expressive, The Excessive, The Technical and The Stylish,” (Continuum 5:2, 1992), pp 90.

[vii] Jean-Baptiste Thoret, “Gravity of the Flux: Michael Mann’s Miami Vice.”Senses of Cinema http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/07/42/miami-vice.html Issue 42, Jan-Mar 2007

[viii] Thoret, “Gravity of the Flux: Michael Mann’s Miami Vice.” Issue 42, Jan-Mar 2007

[ix] Thoret, “Gravity of the Flux: Michael Mann’s Miami Vice.” 42, Jan-Mar 2007

[x] Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)

[xi] Thoret, “Gravity of the Flux: Michael Mann’s Miami Vice.” Issue 42, Jan-Mar 2007

[xii] Kant, The Critique of Judgement

[xiii] Thoret, “The Aquarium Syndrome: On the Films of Michael Mann.” Issue No. 19, March-April 2002.

[xiv] Kant, The Critique of Judgement

[xv] Thoret, “The Aquarium Syndrome: On the Films of Michael Mann.” Issue No. 19, March-April 2002.

[xvi] Rayner, “Masculinity, morality and action: Michael Mann and the heist movie,” 74.