Gravity's Rainbow, Operation Crossbow and the Culture of Containment



Since its publication in 1973, Gravity's Rainbow has attracted critics interested in the representation of film in Pynchon's third novel. The novel contains numerous allusions to actual films and film actors and a fictional film community directed by Gerhardt von Göll and starring Greta Erdmann and Max Schlepzig. In one of the novel's more memorable moments, Slothrop and Greta re-enact a scene from von Göll's masterpiece, Alpdrücken, which re-enactment dissolves into the experience Franz Pokier had of viewing Alpdrücken when it was first released. Pynchon shows a special interest in film and in the play between the real and the reel. For some readers, the closing scene in the Orpheus Theatre signifies that we have always been at the movies in Gravity's Rainbow. Nonetheless, most of the previous critical work on film in Gravity's Rainbow has focused primarily on the films alluded to and on their relation to the thematic arguments in the novel. In this essay, I explore a different cinematic path and suggest some ways Gravity's Rainbow relates to a film released during the time of its writing, the 1965 film Operation Crossbow.


How to Cite: Duyfhuizen, B. (1998) “Gravity's Rainbow, Operation Crossbow and the Culture of Containment”, Pynchon Notes.(0). doi: