André Bazin


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About André Bazin and Italian Neorealism

Temporarily out of stock. Get it by Wednesday, Jun 26 Only 1 left in stock more on the way. Le cinema de la cruaute Jan Andre Bazin and Italian Neorealism Nov Currently unavailable. Cinema of Cruelty Jun Jean Renoir Jan Portuguese Edition Mar Mass Market Paperback. What is Cinema? Bazin Jan More Information. Anything else? Provide feedback about this page. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Audible Download Audiobooks. He was born on 18 April in Angers in north-west France.

Ultimately denied a teaching post because of his stammer, Bazin had the consolation of participating in the Maison des Lettres, an organisation founded to look after students whose schooling had been interrupted by the war. Yet Bazin never entirely lost sight of his educational ambitions, evidenced in a heuristic style of argument that implies more than it states and forces readers to think for themselves.

In all Bazin is said to have penned some 2, pieces he needed to be prolific since by this time he had a family to support — his wife Janine and a small son Florent. The remainder of his life was an uneventful round of festivals, conferences and editorial meetings, progressively overshadowed by the illness with which he was diagnosed in He died at Nogent-sur-Marne on 11 November There was always something a little medieval and monkish about Bazin.

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Renoir compared him to one of the saints pictured in the stained-glass windows at Chartres; Truffaut went so far as to call him a creature from the time before original sin. Nearly everyone acquainted with him eulogised his wisdom alongside his personal goodness — and couched both in terms drawn from religious asceticism. Reading Bazin, you never have the sense of a professional flogging his specialism in return for institutional preferment. Instead, you come into contact with a person — or more correctly, a soul — bound by a sacred charge to enquire after truth.

Read, re-read André Bazin - Premiers Plans - Angers Festival

It is sanctioned to do so precisely because it is an invention of science. Throughout the ages, Bazin argues, mankind has dreamed of being able to see the surface of the world faithfully copied in art The Ontology of the Photographic Image, For Bazin, a photograph holds an irrational power to persuade us of its truth because it results from a process of mechanical reproduction in which human agency plays no part.

A painting, however lifelike, is still the obvious product of human craft and intention, whereas the photographic image is just what happens automatically when the light reflected from objects strikes a layer of sensitive chemical emulsion. It follows that both photography and its spawn, the motion picture, have a special obligation towards reality. Their principal responsibility is to document the world before attempting to interpret or criticise it.

For Bazin, this moral duty is ultimately a sacred one — the photographic media are, in effect, preordained to bear endless witness to the beauty of the cosmos. And as if resolved to tweak the noses of his Marxist opponents, Bazin propounds the fanciful notion that technical change arises less as the outcome of economic and historical forces than from an ineffable something one can only call spiritual will see The Myth of Total Cinema, Photography and cinema, together with such innovations as colour stock, sound recording, anamorphic lenses and 3D, are successive responses to an obscurely planted desire for an ever more perfect approximation of the real.

Here his thought betrays its sizeable debt to the science-cum-mysticism of radical Catholic visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who projected an evolutionary spiralling of human consciousness until it fuses with divine revelation.

André Bazin Revisited

If cinema ever could succeed in becoming the exact double of reality, it would also fail — since it would cease to exist as cinema. Like a mathematical asymptote, filmic representation is always doomed to fall a little short of its goal. Bazin concedes that there is no art without artifice and that one must surrender a measure of reality in the process of translating it on to celluloid.

In this respect Bazin comes closer to endorsing the postmodern shibboleth of pluralism than his adversaries tend to realise — though he happily forgoes its nihilism. Caligari Yet this pristine vision remains, strictly speaking, the inaccessible alpha and omega of the movie medium, since it is inevitably contaminated by human subjectivity.

Individual films and filmmakers carve up the unbroken plenitude of the real, imposing on it style and meaning.

What Bazin objected to in the work of Sergei Eisenstein was how the Soviet director splintered reality into a series of isolated shots, which he then reassembled through the art of montage. Bazin distrusted montage on the grounds that its dynamic juxtaposition of images hurtles the viewer along a predetermined path of attention, the aim being to construct a synthetic reality in support of a propagandist message.

To Bazin this was a minor heresy — since it arrogated the power of God, who alone is entitled to confer meaning on the universe. But in as much as God absents himself from the world and leaves it up to us to detect the signs of his grace, Bazin valued those film artists who respected the mystery imbedded in creation. Bazin recognised that film art always condenses, shapes and orders the reality it records, but what he looked for in filmmakers was a kind of spiritual disposition towards reality — an intention to serve it by a scrupulous effacement of means and a corresponding unwillingness to do violence to it through ideological abstraction or self-aggrandising technique.

Under his tutelage the younger journalists at Cahiers championed such previously patronised talents as Alfred Hitchcock , Howard Hawks and Douglas Sirk , thereby shifting the critical goalposts forever. However, it should be added that Bazin eventually distanced himself from the priestly cult of the director-author because he felt it ignored the commercial context in which most films were produced.

Despite differences in stylistic approach, these film artists converge on the same enigmatic reality like the radii of a mandala. Another charge Bazin brought against montage was its sacrifice of the dimensional integrity of the photographed event. Though we live in duration and extension, montage can only cheat on our experience since it is an art of ellipsis. In the name of a higher realism, then, Bazin celebrated the long, uninterrupted take for its capacity to simulate the most elemental aspect of nature — its continuousness.

His great hero in this regard was Renoir, who, significantly for Bazin, combined long takes with the technique of deep-focus cinematography. Bazin considered this not just one aesthetic option among others but perhaps the very essence of modern cinematic realism. For him, the incalculable virtue of deep focus is its ambiguity.


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Since everything in the film frame can be seen with equal clarity, the audience has to decide for itself what is meaningful or interesting. In short, deep-focus cinematography invites an awareness of both personal freedom and ethical responsibility. In cinema as in life, we must be free to choose our own salvation.

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At no other period in its history has cinema been so enslaved by escapist fantasy — and never have we been less certain of the status of the real. Now the digitisation of the image threatens to cut the umbilical cord between photograph and referent on which Bazin founded his entire theory. Moreover, the particular forms of transparency that he admired have grown opaque in just a few decades. In the end, every living realism petrifies — becomes a relic in the museum of obsolete artistic styles.

All it requires is a leap of faith. Yet the poet in him — the fecund wielder of figure and metaphor, who drew on the fathomless well of his own intuitions — would just as surely have experienced a sense of loss. It was his good fortune to write in the period just before film studies congealed into an institution. He enjoyed the privilege of a critic in being able to cut to the quick of an argument with no other justification than his own unerring instinct.

Yet it was for these very virtues that Bazin came under attack by the budding generation of film pedants — and almost at the same moment as he was canonised as a classic. Bazin, it was claimed, refused to follow due process. His vaunted theory of realism amounted to little more than a loose patchwork of ideas that never coalesced into a stringent system but remained dangerously impressionistic and often flatly contradictory. But there was worse to come.

Cinema & Talk : Actualité d’André Bazin

In the wake of the 60s counterculture film-studies departments across Europe were transformed into hubs of self-styled revolutionary activity. Fuelled by the absolutist views of French structuralist Marxist Louis Althusser who proclaimed the function of the mass media to be an endless replication of ruling-class values , radical academics came not to praise cinema but to bury it. How could anyone be fool enough to suppose that cinema was capable of recording reality directly when the reciprocal insights of semiotics and Lacanian psychoanalysis had demonstrated that human perception is always mediated by language?

It might almost be said that the whole Byzantine edifice of contemporary film theory sprang out of an irresistible itch to prove Bazin wrong. It must be admitted that his earnest belief in the intrinsically realist vocation of film puts him on the far side of postmodern relativism and doubt. Find out more. The Digital Edition and Archive quick link.

Andre Bazin -Part-2 (CH-05)

Log in here to your digital edition and archive subscription, take a look at the packages on offer and buy a subscription. Access the digital edition. A critical confusion. Video essay: What is neorealism? The roots of neorealism.

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