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Book Cover for: Off the Map, Niles Schwartz

Off the Map

Niles Schwartz

A motion picture chronicling the last adventures of bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), Public Enemies was met with much bafflement upon its 2009 release. Director Michael Mann's terse storytelling and unorthodox use of high-definition digital cameras challenged viewers' familiarity with Hollywood's historical gangland elegance while highlighting Public Enemies' own place in a medium--and culture--undergoing sweeping technological change. In Off the Map, Niles Schwartz immerses us in Mann's representation of Dillinger, a subject increasingly aware of his own role as a romanticized frontier folk hero, in flight from an enveloping bureaucratic system. The cultural issues of Dillinger's 1930s anticipate the 21st century watershed moment for the moving image, as our relationship with the pictures surrounding us increasingly affects our own sense of identity, historical truth, and means of relating to each other. Mann's follow-up, the hacker thriller Blackhat (2015), reflects a world where Public Enemies' abstract surveillance state has since colonized the firmament of our everyday lives. Yet in this virtual labyrinth of surplus images, cinema may inwardly illuminate a transformative path for us. Off the Map places Mann's late works in deep focus, exploring our present relationship to cinema on a backdrop that swings from the blockbuster spectacle of Avatar to the curious intimacy of Moonrise Kingdom, ultimately suggesting the mysterious space between the viewer and the screen may yet become a sanctuary of deep spiritual reflection.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Cascade Books
  • Publish Date: Jun 11st, 2018
  • Pages: 152
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.00in - 5.00in - 0.38in - 0.61lb
  • EAN: 9781532636608
  • Categories: Film - Direction & ProductionFilm - History & CriticismChristian Theology - General

About the Author

Davidson, Elijah Lynn: - Elijah Lynn Davidson is Codirector of Reel Spirituality, a Brehm Center initiative of faith and film at Fuller Theological Seminary. He covers multiple film festivals, hosts the Reel Spirituality podcast, and reviews more than one hundred films each year. He also really likes pie.
Schwartz, Niles: - Niles Schwartz studied at Grand View University, the University of Iowa, and Hamline University. He is the co-founder and critic at the Minneapolis / St. Paul Cinephile Society (, and makes regular contributions to The Point Magazine ( He lives in Minneapolis.

Praise for this book

"Niles Schwartz is one of our true philosophers of film. For some time now he has been asking how the images we confront at the movies can force us to confront ourselves. In this book he gets to develop his ideas about art, media, and the 'religious and transformative' power of film for the first time at length, offering along the way a fascinating reflection on one of our great American directors, Michael Mann. Off the Map is required reading for anyone who cares about the intersection of art and culture today."

--Jon Baskin, The Point Magazine

"Niles Schwartz's brilliant study of two of Michael Mann's least-appreciated features breaks through the director's shimmering surfaces and plumbs their roiling depths."

--Matt Zoller Seitz, editor of, author of The Wes Anderson Collection and The Oliver Stone Experience