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TitleEuropean Film Theory and Cinema: A Critical Introduction
PublisherIndiana University Press
ISBN 139780253215055
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1.1 MB
Total Pages280
Table of Contents
I. Didacticism and Intuition in Russian Formalism and Weimar Film Theory
II. Determinism and Symbolism in the Film Theory of Eisenstein
III. Aestheticism and Engagement in Weimar Cinematic Modernism and Soviet Montage Cinema
IV. Into the Realm of the Wondrous: French Cinematic Impressionism
V. The World Well Lost: From Structuralism to Relativism
VI. From Political Modernism to Postmodernism
VII. The Redemption of Physical Reality: Theories of Realism in Grierson, Kracauer, Bazin and Lukács
VIII. Late European Cinema and Realism
IX. Post-war Italian and Spanish Realist Cinema
Select Bibliography
Document Text Contents
Page 2

European Film Theory
and Cinema

A Critical Introduction

Ian Aitken

edinburgh university press

Ait_00Prelims 10/5/01, 3:38 pm1

Page 140

Political Modernism to Postmodernism 135

much as before, the events of May did precipitate an acceleration of
what was already a quickly developing process of radicalisation
within certain sectors of French film culture. For example, the
Marxist inspired journal CinØtique published its first issue in 1969,
whilst, in 1970, Cahiers du CinØma sanctioned a new editorial policy
which drew heavily upon Maoist precepts. These journals then
provided a forum for the development of a post-1968 French film
theory and culture which was strongly influenced by the post-
structuralist Marxism of Louis Althusser.

In 1968 Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin formed the Dziga Vertov
Group, a grouping of politically committed film-makers inspired by
Vertov, Althusserian Marxism and Brecht. Godard made eight films
with the Dziga Vertov Group between 1969 and 1972: British Sounds
(1969), Pravda (1969), Vent d�est (Wind From the East, 1969), Luttes
en Italie (Struggles in Italy, 1969), Jusqu�a la victoire (Till Victory,
1970), Vladimir et Rosa (Vladimir and Rosa, 1971), Tout va bien (1972)
and Letter to Jane (1972). Influenced by the context of post-1968
debates over the establishment of a Marxist-materialist, anti-realist
film practice, this group of films combined non-linear narrative
structures, documentary form, political slogans and non-synchron-
ised sound effects in order to both deconstruct dominant forms of
representation, and disrupt processes of spectatorial identification.
However, although a film such as Vent d�est is far more radical in its
rejection of realism and conventional cinematic pleasure than earlier
films had been, the two final films which Godard made with the
Dziga Vertov collective: Tout va bien and Letter to Jane, reintroduce
a greater degree of both. Tout va bien, in particular, marks a move
away from the ‘rigorous’ Althusserian influenced cinema of Vent
d�est, to the more ‘culinary’ Brechtian approach adopted in the
earlier Deux ou trois choses que je sais d�elle.6

In addition to Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group, another group
of film-makers, often referred to as the ‘Left Bank school’, ‘French
new cinema’ or rive gauche, also made films within a modernist
tradition over this period. However, the rive gauche, which included
film-makers such as Alain Resnais, Georges Franju, Jean Cayrol,
Chris Marker, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Agnes Varda and Marguerite
Duras, were even more diverse, and divergent in their film-making,
than had been the case with the film-makers of the nouvelle vague. In
addition, unlike the nouvelle vague, which was primarily influenced
by Hollywood and a repudiation of the cinØma de papa, the rive
gauche was influenced by a more explicitly modernist set of influences,
which included the French poetic modernist documentaries of the
1920s, surrealism, and the nouveau romain. This combination of

Ait_ch06 10/5/01, 4:05 pm135

Page 141

European Film Theory and Cinema136

influences can be seen in films such as Les Yeux sans visage (Eyes
Without a Face, Georges Franju, 1959), Nuit et brouillard (Night and
Fog, Alain Resnais, 1955), Hiroshima mon amour (Hiroshima My
Love, 1959), L�AnnØe derniŁre à Marienbad (Last Year At Marienbad,
Resnais, 1961) and Trans-Europ Express (Trans-Europe Express,
Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1967).

Although the films of the rive gauche are often distinguished from
the work of political modernist film-makers such as Godard, a
number of correspondences can be drawn between the two. Like
Godard, the rive gauche were influenced by a post-structuralist
opposition to cinematic illusionism. Film-makers such as Resnais and
Marker were also familiar with, and influenced by, both Soviet
montage theory and Brechtian aesthetics, whilst Resnais, Varda and
Duras used their films to comment directly on political issues.
However, what differentiates a film such as Robbe-Grillet’s L�Homme
qui ment (The Man Who Lies, 1968) from Godard’s Weekend (1967) is
the extent to which the former is concerned with purely aesthetic
issues. Although many of the rive gauche film-makers were influ-
enced by the post-1968 concern to develop a politically progressive
language of film, this degree of emphasis on the aesthetic places them
outside the central trajectory of European political modernism: a
trajectory which leads from Godard to the film-makers of the young
and new German cinemas.

Just as the nouvelle vague emerged in response to the perceived
complacencies of post-war commercial cinema, so also did the
‘young’ and ‘new’ cinemas in Germany. After the Second World
War a Military Government was established in Germany, and the
country was divided into four zones of occupation, controlled by
British, French, American and Soviet forces respectively. The
Military Government continued to exercise power up to 1949, when
the Federal Republic of West Germany was formed from the British,
French and American zones, and the German Democratic Republic
(DDR) from the Soviet zone. However, whilst the DDR became a
sovereign state in 1949, full sovereignty was only restored to the
Federal Republic in 1955, when the military occupation came to an
end, and the Republic joined NATO.

During the period of the Military Government, one of the central
objectives of the occupying powers was to establish a post-war
constitutional structure in Germany which would inhibit the re-
emergence of right-wing nationalist tendencies. In order to meet this
objective the constitution which was imposed upon the fledgling
Federal Republic in 1949 distributed significant amounts of political
power to the eleven regional governments, or Länder, rather than to

Ait_ch06 10/5/01, 4:05 pm136

Page 279


Sunday in the Country (Un Dimanche à
la campagne), 208

Suprematism, 10, 19
Suprematist Manifesto, 10
Swallow and the Finch, The

(L�Hirondelle et la mØsange), 69–

Syberberg, Hans-Jürgen, 141–3, 145–9,
171, 204, 219, 220, 249

Tallier, Armand, 75
Tarkovsky, Andrei, 60, 222, 224
Tatlin, Vladimir, 11
Tavernier, Bertrand, 207–9
Taviani, Vittorio and Paolo, 244
Téchiné, André, 211
Tedesco, Jean, 75
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, 181–2
Tel Quel, 121
Tenth Symphony, The (La DixiŁme

symphonie), 76
The Pirate (La Pirate), 209
Theorem (Teorema), 239
Theory of Film, 168, 172, 178–9, 203,

Third Man, The, 214
Thompson, E. P., 120
Three Brothers (Tre fratelli), 244
Threepenny Opera, The (Die

Dreigroschenoper), 249
Thriller, 153
Tissé, Edward, 57, 64
To Our Loves (À nos amours), 209
Tolstoy, 4, 196, 223
Tout va bien, 135
tradition de qualitØ, 158, 204–8, 211,

Trauberg, Leonid, 60
Trauerarbeit, 148
Tree of Wooden Clogs, The (L�Albero dei

zoccoli), 244
tremendista, 251
Tretyakov, Sergei, 13, 20
Tristana, 251
Truffaut, François, 133–4, 207
Two or Three Things I Know About Her

(Deux ou trois choses que je sais
d�elle), 134

UFA, 48–9
Ulysses, 37
Umberto D, 185
Under the Roofs of Paris (Sous les toits

de Paris), 74

Van Gogh, 210
Varda, Agnes, 135–6, 206
Veidt, Konrad, 54
Verdun, Visions of History (Verdun,

visions d�histoire), 71
Verfremdungseffekt, 22–3, 132
Verga, Giovanni, 230–1
verismo, 231, 248
Veronika Voss, 149
Vertov, Dziga, 12–15, 23–4, 32, 57, 63,

87, 135
Vigo, Jean, 79, 176
Viridiana, 248
Visconti, Luchino, 229–35, 241, 243,

Visitors of the Evening, The (Les

Visiteurs du soir), 229
von Praunheim, Rosa, 143
von Stroheim, Erich, 184, 187
Voyage to Italy (Viaggio in Italia), 234,


Wages of Fear, The (Le Salaire de la
peur), 205

Wagner, Richard, 146, 148
Wajda, Andrzej, 224–6
War and Peace (Voyna i mir), 223
Watchmaker of Saint Paul, The

(L�Horloger de Saint Paul), 207–8
Waterloo, 223
Waxworks (Wachsfigurenkabinett), 53
Way to the Stars, The, 213
We are the Lambeth Boys, 151
Weber, Max, 1, 15, 168–9
Weekend, 136
Wegener, Paul, 54
Welles, Orson, 184, 187, 190–1
Wenders, Wim, 141, 143, 148
Went The Day Well?, 213
Westfront 1918, 20
Wheel, The (La Roue), 76, 78
White Nights, The (Le Notti bianche), 235

Ait_12Index 10/5/01, 4:38 pm274

Page 280

Index 275

Williams, Raymond, 118
Wind From the East (Vent d�est), 135,

Winter Light (Nattvardsgästerna), 212
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 97
Wollen, Peter, 87, 99, 105–7, 110, 113,

Women of the Bois de Boulogne, The

(Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne),
144, 204, 206

Women on the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de
un attaque de nervios), 253

Woodfall Films, 151
WR: Mysteries of the Organism (WR:

Misteriji organizma), 153
Wyler, William, 184, 190–1

Young and Lost, The (Los Olvidados),

Zabriskie Point, 152
Zanussi, Krsysztof, 225–6
Zavattini, Cesare, 231, 246
Zeitgeist, 167
Zhdanov, Andrei, 20, 62
Ziewer, Christian, 143, 216
Zola, Émile, 69–71, 188, 204
Zone, The (La Zone), 72

Ait_12Index 10/5/01, 4:38 pm275

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