Mind Theater

The Cigarette is Cinema | Video Essay

March 21, 2022 Ayo Akingbade Episode 63
Mind Theater
The Cigarette is Cinema | Video Essay
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Show Notes Transcript

Watch on YouTube!: https://youtu.be/ONkpbgjawrs

Video Essay exploring cigarette cool in Rebel Without a Cause, The Maltese Falcon, Goodfellas, and many more.
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Music by Blue Dot Sessions

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Hey guys, It’s Ayo here. This week’s episode of Mind Theater is a special one in that it’s a video essay. I repeat; video essay. So for the full experience of this show you’re gonna wanna watch it on YouTube. It’ll be the first link in the show notes. It’s short but I’m really proud of this one so I hope you guys enjoy and I plan on doing more video essays in the future. Thanks. (tv static)

  1. This is a cigarette. You might remember it’s appearance in movies like The Godfather, or Casino or the Dollars Trilogy, showing up Clint Eastwood on more than one occasion. Watch any noir detective thriller or modern superhero epic and you’re bound to see them, in all their hazy smokey goodness. What more is there to say? They’re deadly, they’re dangerous, but above all else, they’re cinema.
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  3. I could run through a bunch of characters who’ve benefited from co-starring alongside them. I could talk about Deniro switching hands between takes to achieve the look of a  chainsmoker in Casino, I could talk about Hoffman and Phoenix losing their takes between kools, or their cool between takes rather on the set of PTA’s the master. I could say this and that about how they point to a characters’ psyche, their inner darkness, their rebellious nature, who they are, what they’re thinking. I could talk about how anti heroes, not known for growing old in their professions, take up cigarette smoking so easily, able to ignore it’s long lasting dangers. I could talk about how they point to a character’s distrubed mental state, their grizzly pov, their old school nature, their sexiness yada yada yada but this video isn't about that it’s about….that.
  4. It’s funny because being a visual tool so much of the cigarette's lasting power comes from its ability to disappear, to not even call attention to itself. It’s an action that can fade into the background, it comes as easily as breathing or walking, but it still remains stylish and evocative in ways other mundane actions just can't. It’s truly incredible. The light it produces, it’s smoke that fills a room. It serves as another tool in the filmmaker’s arsenal, just as impactful as a dolly, tracking shot, or close up. And therefore just as intimate.
  5. A screenwriter, penning his first spec script can help but include it. It’s so easy, its surgical really, the offering of the cigarette, the asking for a lighter, the intimacy of lighting the cigarette. I mean….look
  6.  I get it, I get the refusal to praise them. Years of anti-smoking ads have primed me to hate them. They’re taboo, they're unhealthy, they’re disgusting, I wont take anything away from the real cost, or the truth initiative, or Luther Terry even . They represent a nasty old habit we should all seek to break. A generational curse that movies definitely had a role in amplifying. But so much of cinema is in the look, and unfortunately cigarettes can't help but look..so damn cool
  7. Mind Theater is a solo effort produced and written by me, Ayo Akingbade. For updates on the show as well as my other content follow mindtheaterpod on twitter, IG, and tiktok. If you wanna show monetary support the ko-fi link is in the shownotes. Thanks for listening, i'll catch ya next time.