Student Profile

Martin Silverton


Doctor of Philosophy

Thesis Title

Untimely Mediations: How Film Makes History


Laleen Jayamanne

Richard Smith

Thesis Abstract

My research explores the intersection of cinema, music, and historiography through Nietzsche’s concept of the “untimely” and its transformation by the cinematic philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, within the still active body of cinematic work of Jean-Luc Godard. I am interested in defining and theorizing new ways of apprehending how cinema creates historical thought after 'the death of cinema' theorized by Godard, especially in his videographic manipulations of cinema as an archive of images, sounds and texts in his eight-part series of video essays Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998), and elsewhere. I examine a number of other filmmakers whose work shows unexpected or unusual signs of historical thinking through the specificity of cinema such as Tarkovsky, Luhrmann, Tarantino, Malick, and the partnership of Powell and Pressburger. This study investigates “montage” as a method of historiography, with a particular focus on the “historical montage” created by Godard in Histoire(s) du cinéma to show how this concept extends to other feature films that think about history in their moving images and sounds.

Professional and/or Community Engagement

Since 2011, I have tutored and given invited lectures in the Department of Art History and Film Studies.

As a professional orchestral musician, I have contributed to the recording of many film scores in the past three decades including Crocodile Dundee (1986), The Delinquents (1989), Black Robe (1991), Strictly Ballroom (1992), The Bank (2001), Moulin Rouge! (2001), December Boys (2007), Australia (2008) and Mao’s Last Dancer (2009). I have also performed live for screenings of classic films at the Sydney Opera House such as Fritz Lang's recently restored Metropolis (1927), Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Perhaps my favorite experiences have been meeting and performing with such legends of film music as Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley Bassey, Georges Delerue, Burt Bacharach, Carmine Coppola, Bill Conti, Howard Shore and Lalo Schifrin.

Conference Presentations

Martin Silverton, ‘By the boab tree: Elgar and Aboriginality at the end of Australia’ (paper presented at the AULLA Conference, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 10 – 12 July 2013)

Martin Silverton, ‘The Enigma of Elgar and Empire: Why Elgar’s Music Belongs in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia’ (paper presented at the Cultural Studies Association of Australia Annual Conference, ‘Materialities: Economies, Empiricism & Things’, Sydney, Dec 4 – 6, 2012)

Martin Silverton, ‘Mediating Visual Histories: Eisenstein and Tarkovsky: a Dialectical Relation?’ (paper presented at the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, ‘Together<>Apart’, Sydney, 12 -14 July 2012)

Favourite Films

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975)
Le Mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)