The work of Grierson, Bazin and Kracauer
makes up the core of what is here referred to as the intuitionist realist
tradition in film theory. Most of this work has, generally, been classified
as falling into the frame of’ ‘classical’ film theory,
although this is an all-embracing term, often used to consign most film
theory appearing before the rise of the Saussurian paradigm within one
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.
In formulating a notion of filmic reality, this book offers a novel way of understanding our relationship with cinema. It argues that cinema need not be understood in terms of its capacities to refer to, reproduce or represent reality, but should be understood in terms of the kinds of realities it has the ability to create. The book investigates filmic reality by way of six key film theorists: André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. In doing so, it provides comprehensive introductions to each of these thinkers, while also debunking many myths and misconceptions about them. Along the way, a notion of filmic reality is formed that radically reconfigures our understanding of cinema.
One of the first commentators to attempt a balanced reassessment of Pagnol was Cahiers du cinéma founder André Bazin, who in his 1959 classic Qu'est-ce que le cinema? devoted a chapter to the filmmaker as part of an extended reflection on the links between theatre and cinema. Bazin broke new ground by rejecting the longstanding tendency to dismiss Pagnol's work as the cinematic recycling of theatrical convention and by recognising the value of subordinating image to speech. This book offers the first comprehensive, scrupulously documented, and unapologetically critical reading of Pagnol's cinema. It highlights his singular contribution to classic French film as an auteur and businessman while at the same time evaluating the larger cultural and aesthetic stakes of his movies. Rather than adopting a strictly chronological approach, the book traces the emergence of Pagnol's signature style in theatre and presents an epilogue that surveys the afterlife of his work in France since the mid-1970s. It discusses the definitive opening up of Pagnol's theatrically inspired cinema and his maturation from dramatic author into bona fide screen director. While Pagnol battled to defend and perfect his signature brand of cinématurgie, he simultaneously pursued an alternative production model that rejected both theatrical convention and contemporary film industry practice by shooting feature-length pictures on site in the Provençal countryside. The success of Pagnol's business model was unmatched in 1930s French cinema, offering industry insiders and the general public welcome proof that their nation could not only defend its unique cultural identity against Americanisation.
The book aims to provide a balanced appraisal of Eric Rohmer's oeuvre in historical context. Although interpretation of individual films will not be its main objective, representative examples from the director's twenty-five features and fiction shorts will be presented throughout. The focus is on production history and reception in the mainstream French press. This key stylistic editing trait cannot be appreciated without reference to André Bazin's concept of ontological realism, of which Rohmer was a major exponent at Cahiers du cinéma. To establish the intertexts and artistic principles his films put into play, the book reviews the abundant critical writings Rohmer published in France from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. It explores how sound and image are configured, and to what effect. The book then broaches issues central to the director's finest work for the screen. 'Seriality and theme', devoted to the Contes moraux, Comédies et proverbes, and Contes des quatre saisons, looks at how Rohmer's decision to work by thematic series forces the viewer to intuit relations of complementarity, identity, and opposition that lend each cycle a complex, musical texture. It pays close attention to four of the director's costume films. The book concludes with a brief excursus on le rohmérien, that inimitable, instantly recognisable variant of the French language that spectators come to love or to hate.
2 Realism, reality and authenticity
3 Searching for reality: Chronique d’un été
(Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin, 1961)
n terms of the distinction outlined in the previous chapter of this
book, one might ordinarily think that André Bazin’s position
in the history of film theory is set. He is a realist and that means,
quite simply, that his understanding of cinema is predicated on a
distinction between illusion and reality. Some films – especially
those with excessive editing, or with fanciful stage settings – will
deliver illusion, while others – particularly
When France’s leading postwar film
critic, the wildly prolific André Bazin, fell ill with leukaemia in the
late 1950s, he left in Eric Rohmer’s hands the editorship of
Cahiers du cinéma, the internationally renowned journal he had
founded in 1951 with Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Jean-Marie Lo Duca. Two
years Bazin’s junior, Rohmer was seen as his natural successor: an
early contributor to the
relatively whole and time can be given its due, the time of an event being
simply the time of the shot, hence the length of takes with these new
techniques (the opening of Welles’s Touch of Evil, for example,
and the scene in the hotel lounge near the beginning of Visconti’s
La Morte in Venezia). André Bazin would argue (rather too
sweepingly) that such techniques rendered the real more fully than did
montage and that rather
to see it again (that is part of his system) and seeing it again is to see
it differently and to see it as a possibility. In a film by Hawks, you begin
with an idea: definite, clear, logical. In Kitano’s game and in his
films, it is important, to begin with nothing.
What was radical in Bazin’s
position about montage was not his objection to montage as such (which would
have been, if true, absurd), but a position in favour of