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It is in the nature of cinema to create empathy, and its danger lies in drawing us to places we should not go. But some great films refuse to play this trick

By Mark Cousins   October 2004

The award-winning new British film My Summer of Love starts with a young red-headed girl lying in a field. We see a huge upside-down close-up of her eye, then, again upside-down, what she is looking at. A posh girl on a horse. Immediately this visual couplet – an example of field-reverse field shooting, in film parlance – positions us as the looker. More than any other art form, cinema trades on empathy. People pay a fiver to be Luke Skywalker or Scarlett O’Hara. Certain directors, like Ken Loach in his latest film, Ae Fond Kiss, use minimal lights, camera moves,…

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