Cover image from Eric Wilson's BFI Classics book on the film "Point Blank" (1967).  The cover features a drawing of Lee Marvin  looking at the viewer, while over his shoulder a figure in green points a pistol  away at an unseen target.

On Tuesday, October 3, 2023, at 6 pm in Scales 102, the Department of English will host a film screening and discussion in celebration of Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English Eric G. Wilson’s study of John Boorman’s Point Blank for the British Film Institute’s distinguished BFI Classics Series.

A reception and book signing will follow. This event is free and open to the campus community and the public.

About Point Blank: 

John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967) has long been recognised as one of the seminal films of the sixties, with its revisionary mix of genres including neo-noir, New Wave, and spaghetti western. Its lasting influence can be traced throughout the decades in films like Mean Streets (1973), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Heat (1995), The Limey (1999) and Memento (2000).

Eric Wilson’s compelling study of the film examines its significance to New Hollywood cinema. He argues that Boorman revises traditional Hollywood crime films by probing a second connotation of ‘point blank’. On the one hand, it is a neo-noir that aptly depicts close range violence, but, it also points toward blankness, a nothingness that is the consequence of corporate America unchecked, where humans are reduced to commodities and stripped of agency and playfulness.

He goes on to reimagine the film’s experimental style as a representation of and possible remedy for trauma. Examining Boorman’s formal innovations, including his favouring of gesture over language and blurring of boundaries between dream and reality, he also positions the film as a grimly comical exploration of toxic masculinity and gender fluidity.

Wilson’s close reading of Point Blank reveals it to be a film that innovatively inflects its own generation and speaks powerfully to our own, arguing that it is this amplitude, which encompasses the many major films it has influenced, that qualifies the film as a classic.