July 13, 2009

entr' acte


1. The interval between two acts of a play, or
2. A dance, piece of music, or interlude performed between two acts of a play. (Webster 3)
Synonyms: interlude, intermezzo (Italian)

In Use:
[Film director Christian Nolan's] Caped Crusader, Christian Bale (who also starred in Mr. Nolan's entr'acte between the Batman films, "The Prestige"), recalls how "people would kind of laugh" when they heard that he and Mr. Nolan were taking Batman seriously.
The sentence comes from an article by David M. Halbfinger in the Film section of the New York Times of March 9, 2008 titled "Batman's Burden: Darkness and Death."

The article describes the swift rise of film director Christian Nolan into the "top tier of mainstream filmmakers." His work includes two Batman films,"Batman Begins," which appeared in 2005 to moderate success at the box office but to critical acclaim for the director, and Mr. Nolan's follow-up to that film, "The Dark Knight," which opened on July 18, 2008.

Stated simply, between Mr.Nolan's "Batman Begins" and its sequel
"Batman's Burden: Darkness and Death," he directed a sans-Batman entr'acte titled "The Prestige."

Film Director Christian Nolan
The New York Times Company
Copyright 2007

Given the syntax Halbfinger has initiated, it is hard for this writer to imagine a word or phrase other than entr'acte to satisfy the needs of the clause containing it. One could hardly substitute with grace and economy such phrases as "non-Batman film." "film interrupting the Batman series," "film devoid of the Caped Crusader," "departure from Batmania." Perhaps the reader knows of a suitable substitute.

Besides fitting into the syntactical need of
Halbfinger's subordinate clause, entr'acte — a term of dramatistic and cinematic jargon — rises to support the global persuasive intent of the essay, namely, to invite readers to think of Nolan's films not just as popular entertainment, but most assuredly as high cinematic art as well.

Post Script:

This posting is dedicated to my friend and former colleague Ann H., who sought me out and found me on Facebook. Good to be back in touch with one who loves English and teaching! May she and all of my readers benefit from Words Worth as it resumes publication (with a word a week).


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