This book explores Georg Lukács' writings on film. The Hungarian Marxist critic Georg Lukács is primarily known as a literary theorist, but he also wrote extensively on the cinema. These writings have remained little known in the English-speaking world because the great majority of them have never actually been translated into English until now. This book contains the most important writings and the translations. This book thus makes a decisive contribution to understandings of Lukács within the field of film studies, and, in doing so, also challenges many existing preconceptions concerning his theoretical position. For example, whilst Lukács' literary theory is well known for its repudiation of naturalism, in his writings on film Lukács appears to advance a theory and practice of film that can best be described as naturalist. Lukácsian film theory and cinema is divided into two parts. In part one, Lukács' writings on film are explored, and placed within relevant historical and intellectual contexts, whilst part two consists of the essays themselves.
This book embraces studies of cinematic realism and nineteenth-century tradition; the realist film theories of Lukács, Grierson, Bazin and Kracauer; and the relationship of realist film theory to the general field of film theory and philosophy. It attempts a rigorous and systematic application of realist film theory to the analysis of particular films, suggesting new ways forward for a new series of studies in cinematic realism, and for a new form of film theory based on realism. The book stresses the importance of the question of realism both in film studies and in contemporary life.
This chapter explores the early aesthetic of Georg Lukács. It discusses the factors that influenced Lukács' conception of modernity: romantic anti-capitalism and Hungarian culture and society. The chapter provides a more conditional delineation of the early aesthetic as a prelude to a more substantive analysis of Luk'cs' first engagement with film theory in his ‘Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the Cinema’/‘Gedanken zu einer Ästhetic des Kino’ (1911/1913).
This chapter explores the continuities and discontinuities that exist between Georg Lukács' early aesthetic of the middle period (1908–16 period). It first presents an outline of Lukács' political involvement and writings from 1918 to 1957. The chapter then argues that the writings of the Lukács' middle period seek to establish an aesthetic typology which has a starting point that is instituted within The Theory of the Novel.
The Specificity of the Aesthetic/Die Eigenart des Ästhetischen
The bulk of Georg Lukács' major writings over the 1931–63 period were concerned with questions of literary criticism or political philosophy. This chapter focuses on The Specificity of the Aesthetic (1963), which marks the return of Lukáacs to the questions of abstract philosophy and high aesthetic theory, as well as his reengagement with issues relating to film.
This chapter discusses the political commentaries of Georg Lukács on the subject of socialist renewal. Lukács argued for the establishment of a humanist-socialist society within the existing communist system in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. His work, Toward the Ontology of Social Being (1971–73) marks his revisionist philosophical attempt to return to the classical roots of Marxism.
Georg Lukács' writings on film during the final period of his career consist of impromptu responses to questions put during interviews. This chapter explores the themes within these writings: ideological manipulation, technical reason, shock, resistance to manipulation from the ground up, form and content, authorship, expression of thought in film, and totality.
This chapter discusses Lukács' position on modernism and realism. During the 1950s, Lukács was a leading figure in the Leninist opposition to Stalin. He consistently opposed Stalinism and campaigned for the democratisation of existing communism. The chapter also discusses the reconstructed model of Lukácsian cinematic realism.
This chapter compares the aesthetics of cinema and the theatre. Cinema is a new and cheaper competitor to the theatre. It also could eventually come to replace theatre as a result of the technology employed in cinema and a better performance of the actors, as opposed to the theatre, which is dependent upon the inconsistency of accessible performers, and performance. The chapter, however, presents an argument concerning the absence of the ‘present’ being-here of the actors and states that they merely have movements but no ‘souls’.
This chapter discusses film production and explores certain principal questions of film art. It considers the relationship between film and technology and examines the aesthetic problems related to the cinematic imagery present in silent films.