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Sam Rohdie

The scene of the fête in La Règle du jeu has two principal elements. The first is the multiplicity of characters and of actions and the second, their interconnection, not simply dramatically but visually. The behaviour of the servants mirrors the situation of the guests and the 'play' of the fête is difficult to distinguish from the (deadly) reality of the intrigues of jealousy and love. In French Cancan, for example, the distinction on-stage/off-stage is blurred from the beginning. There is never exactly an off-stage in Jean Renoir's films, only different levels, intensities and tones of being on stage. The end of French Cancan, the performance of the cancan, the explosion of colour, movement, sensation, energy takes place not on stage but within the space of the audience.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

Jacques Rivette's films are composed of scenes or sequences made up of one shot or only a few. Montage is a linkage or juxtaposition of differential elements and, as Rivette's films bear witness, should not be limited to the joining of shots. Montage, for him, is a seeking out of affinities between different moments of a film that exist in themselves and are there to be found and are the spirit and life of a film. During editing Rivette is interested to discover what a film is saying by itself (par soi-même) rather than what he might have wanted it to say. Shooting and composing in sequences allows Rivette to follow the action as it takes place and develops. A sequence shot is a shot of things developing in real time.

in Montage
Sam Rohdie

None of the images that are effaced by Michelangelo Antonioni's enlargements ever truly disappear. They make their presence felt as phantom shadows. The same is true with other disappearances, returns, repetitions and meanderings characteristic of Antonioni's films. Anna is never more present in L'avventura than when she vanishes. The presence of ghosts that stalk Antonioni's films give power to other scenes of effacement and erasure in L'avventura as when Sandro overturns the bottle of ink on the drawing done by the young man full of hope and inventiveness as Sandro once was in another life. In the classical cinema, the fragmentation of unities into morsels that then replenish the wholeness that they have broken away from is an operation of reconstitution, realignment and continuity.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

Pier Paolo Pasolini's film theory is a sustained opposition to what he called naturalism, a phenomenon that he principally identified with Italian neo-realism. His theory was based on, in his own words, a heretical understanding of semiotics. The notion and practices of the shot sequence were crucial for Pasolini's formulations. The shot sequence, likened to the infinitude of reality needed to be ruptured in order to make reality significant, to make it conscious, to articulate it. The shot sequence as practised in actual films, in the concrete utterances of cinema, is never infinite but part of a system of differential shots. Articulation could only be achieved by montage, by a cutting into the undifferentiated cinema that he likened, not only to reality, but to an infinite shot sequence, a metaphor for the filmic writing of reality.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

The mini-narratives of Takeshi Kitano are arbitrary and necessary: arbitrary, because there is no evident connection between the images in a given narrative; necessary, because once the images are grouped there appears to be a connection (causation, linearity). The secret power of Kitano's mini-narratives are in the opacity and immobility of his photographs like his rigid face, then the outburst, the sudden violence, the turning, that comes apparently from nowhere, from the other side, like a Rossellinian miracle, and that makes time rush backwards into the present. The force and energy of Kitano's images were opportunities for the filmmakers who had been invited by Cahiers du cinéma to play Kitano's game. In Kitano's film Violent Cop, the images are as if deframed, denied perspective, without borders or centre.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

Eadwaerd Muybridge's studies of human and animal locomotion consisted of photographed plates that reproduced bodies in movement in a sequence of still photographs he published in 1887. These reproductions, though sequential, were composed of intermittent, discontinuous immobile units, in effect, a linked series of snapshots. Muybridge's locomotion studies though appearing to be successive moments of a continuous movement were at times faked. In these cases, he had his models pose in a succession of gestures imitating rather than enacting movement. A Muybridge nude descending a staircase or washing linen might, for example, hesitate at each step or each stage of the process. It was her pose in suspension that Muybridge photographed as if in movement. Helped by the objectivity of the camera, it seemed that his narration was less his than the consequence of his means, less an intervention than a recording, and by that fact Muybridge gained his fame.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

Each one of Takeshi Kitano's sixty-nine images contains a narrative and each of the thirty mini-narratives composed by him and by other filmmakers using the archive of sixty-nine images begins with an image, not a narrative or a script. The images do not illustrate a written text, nor do they follow any prearranged, pre-existing pattern. The 'classical' film belonged to a system of legibility. Kitano's game, and his films, proceed from different assumptions. Bazin and the Nouvelle Vague directors and critics who were inspired by him, like Godard, helped to give birth to a new cinema and one that Kitano has inherited. It is perfectly fitting that Kitano was honoured by Cahiers du cinéma and that he invited Cahiers to play a game that was already theirs.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

The film strip is made of still frames that when projected at a set speed of twenty-four frames a second, give the illusion of movement and continuity. Film has had to reconcile these contrary directions of stillness and movement, continuity and rupture, and has done so in one manner or the other, most often in variations of the two. In practice, the different possibilities are considerable. This book addresses what has always been posed by the cinema in this regard and always posed newly, historically and not. It offers specific experiences of montage, not the application of a general model to specific films. Though there are clusters of experiences and practices that films share in common, each film is specific to itself. The book is led by that specificity towards these clusters and away from them then back to the films once more.

in Montage
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Sam Rohdie

"I prefer mythology to history, because history begins with truth and ends in lies, while mythology begins with lies and arrives at the truth." (Jean Cocteau)

in Film modernism
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Sam Rohdie

"I prefer mythology to history, because history begins with truth and ends in lies, while mythology begins with lies and arrives at the truth." (Jean Cocteau)

in Film modernism