From literary modernism to photogénie
in Jean Epstein
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Jean Epstein belongs to the generation that came of age during the protracted carnage of World War One, as did André Breton, Tristan Tzara, René Clair, or László Moholy-Nagy. Like his contemporaries Tzara and Breton, Epstein started from the diagnostic that instrumental reason alone was no longer a valid basis for the future of Western civilization and culture. This chapter delves into Epstein's characterization of photogénie, then turn to his best-known film, La Chute de la maison Usher, which deals with the legacy of Symbolism. In La Chute de la maison Usher, Epstein finds remarkable ways to construct uncertainty using purely visual and sensorial means. Epstein sees photogénie not as a partial feature, but as a total relation between pro-filmic reality, what stands in front of the camera, filmic images, and the embodied viewer.

Jean Epstein

Corporeal cinema and film philosophy

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