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TitleLukácsian Film Theory and Cinema: A Study of Georg Lukács’ Writings on Film 1913-1971
PublisherManchester University Press
ISBN 139780719078842
CategoryArts - Film
LanguageEnglish
File Size6.7 MB
Total Pages295
Table of Contents
                            Lukácsian film theory and cinema: A study of Georg Lukács’ writings on film, 1913–71
Contents
Preface
Part I: An analysis of Lukács’ writings on film
1 The early aesthetic and ‘Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the Cinema’/‘Gedanken zu einer Ästhetic des Kino’
	The early aesthetic
	Romantic anti-capitalism
	The Hungarian context
	Key themes and concepts
	‘Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the Cinema’
	The ‘absolute reality of the moment’
	The ‘kino debate’
	Notes
2 Narrate or describe? Lukács’ literary ‘typology’
	An outline of Lukács’ political involvement and writings, 1918–57
	Lukács’ ‘typologies’
	The source of the typology: the ‘transcendental correlation’ and primitive naturalism
	Conclusions
3 Lukács’ late aesthetic and film theory: The Specificity of the Aesthetic/Die Eigenart des Ästhetischen
	The Aesthetic
	The Aesthetic and film
4 Socialist humanism and Toward the Ontology of Social Being/Zur Ontologie des gesellschaftlichen Seins
	Political commentaries
	The ontological structure of ‘social being’ and ‘everyday life’
	The core intellectual model of the Ontology
	The ontology of being: A schematic intellectual reconstruction
	The underlying intellectual model of the Ontology
		1 The ontology of being
		2 The ontology of human-social being
5 The film journal interviews and other writings
	(a) Manipulation
	(b) Technical reason
	(c) Shock
	(d) Resistance to manipulation from the ground up
	(e) Form and content
	(f) Authorship
	(g) Expression of thought in film
	(h) Totality
	Lukács and Cinema Nuovo
6 Conclusions
Part II: The film writings, 1913–71
7 ‘Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the Cinema’
	Notes
8 ‘Film’
	Notes
9 ‘On Aesthetic Issues of the Cinema’
	Letter to Lukács
	Lukács’ reply
	Notes
10 ‘Blue Devil or Yellow Devil?’
	Umberto Barbaro
	Georg Lukács
11 ‘Cultural Manipulation and the Tasks of Critics’
12 ‘Film, Ideology and the Cult of Personality’
13 ‘Technique, Content, and Problems of Language’
	Enthusiasm and aversion
	The present, and the mistakes of the past
	The problem of rhythm
	Notes
14 ‘Expression of Thought in Film’
	Notes
15 ‘Revolution and Psychology of Everyday Life’
	Distress and social transformation
Bibliography
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
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LUKÁCSIAN
FILM THEORY
AND CINEMA

A STUDY OF GEORG LUKÁCS’ WRITINGS ON FILM, 1913–71

I A N A I T K E N

LUKÁCSIAN
FILM THEORY
AND CINEMA

A STUDY OF GEORG LUKÁCS’ WRITINGS ON FILM, 1913–71

Lukácsian film theory and cinema 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.

Aitken has gathered together Lukács’ most important essays and the
translations appear here, often for the first time.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 will be of considerable interest to scholars and students
working within the fields of film studies, literary studies, intellectual history,

media and cultural studies. It is also intended to be the final volume in a
trilogy of works on cinematic realism, which includes the author’s earlier

European film theory and cinema (2001), and Realist film theory and cinema (2006).

Ian Aitken is Professor of Film Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

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www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk

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LUKÁCSIAN FILM THEORY AND CINEMA: A STUDY OF GEORG LUKÁCS’ WRITINGS ON FILM, 1913–71


Lukácsian film theory and cinema

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LUKÁCSIAN FILM THEORY AND CINEMA: A STUDY OF GEORG LUKÁCS’ WRITINGS ON FILM, 1913–71


136 An analysis of Lukács’ writings on film

1867–1919 period (Lukács, 1968: 410). Although Lukács warns, somewhat
ironically, that the approach adopted in �e Round Up and �e Cold Days is
likely to make Janscó and Kováks unpopular with present day Hungarian ‘bu-
reaucrats or nationalists’, he nevertheless feels that the contribution of these
films ‘constitutes a big step forward … [and] … in the field of of the concep-
tion of history, Janscó and Kovács should be considered as representatives of
a true and authentic avant-garde’ (Lukács, 1968: 411–12) because their films
portray forms of ‘authentic non-conformism’ at the ‘theoretical’ and ‘ethical’
levels (Lukács, 1965: 408).

Lukács also argues that films such as �e Round Up and �e Cold Days
not only illuminate aspects of the Hungarian public sphere in providing an
‘experience of openness that is of value’ (Lukács, 1972: 173), but also do so
by exploring contradictions within historical everyday life �om the ground
up. Thus, these films show how the interaction and activities of ‘common and
mediocre people’ led to social continuity and ‘transformations’ which both
ensured the continued existence of feudalism, and the eventual emergence of
a ‘criminal fascis[m]’ after 1919 (Lukács, 1968: 409). Such an argument fol-
lows a historical materialist trajectory in pre-supposing that historical change
comes about as a result of the influence of popular material forces, rather than
the intervention of ruling elites, or the force of abstract ideological forma-
tions; and this, in turn, reflects Lukács’ determination at the time to revisit
the ancestry of classical Marxism. In addition, Lukács’ argument also corre-
sponds to the model of social being proposed in the Ontology, in that, here,
as there, the interaction and activities of ‘common and mediocre people’ can
be seen to constitute a complex, or series of complexes, which evolve both
upwards, towards the level of the social formation, and synchronically, as the
social formation evolves through time and undergoes a series of transforma-
tions. As is apparent, Lukács’ stance on these films falls fully into line with
his general position at the time over the proper balance of influence which
ought to hold between, on the one hand, understanding and representing
contemporary everyday life in itself and as it unfolds, and, on the other, the
conceptualisation of the everyday from a priori bureaucratic, philosophical,
or even aesthetic-filmic positions. As with contemporary social being, so, in
this discussion of new Hungarian cinema, Lukács contends that superior un-
derstanding, and more sophisticated forms of representation, come from a
close and open scrutiny of and portrayal of the everyday locus of historical
social being; and not from a portrayal of the upper echelons of society, or
adherence to the pre-existing normative interpretations of ‘bureaucrats or na-
tionalists’, or, for that matter, philosophers (Lukács, 1968: 411).

Lukács’ stance on these two films also addresses the issue of authorial ide-
ological expression to a certain extent, in that he argues �e Round Up in

Page 148

137The film journal interviews and other writings

particular expresses ‘a position – very clearly declared’, which Lukács associ-
ates with the viewpoint of the director (Lukács, 1968: 411). Issues relating
to Lukács’ conception of film authorship will be addressed more fully later
in this chapter; all that needs to be clarified here is his conception of autho-
rial ideological expression in relation to the idea of exploring contradictions
within the complex from the bottom up. Lukács argues that the authorial
ideological position within �e Round Up is mainly derived, first, from an
exploration and representation of the particularity of individual relation-
ships, and, second, from an exploration and representation of the way in
which those relationships form interacting ‘complexes’ within the body of
the narrative. While the director may have had a provisional understanding
and position on the historical conjuncture which his film portrays, that po-
sition is modified and more fully informed by an approach which seeks to
explore contradiction within the complex from the ground up. When this
occurs, the film-maker’s position becomes more ‘objective’ (Lukács, 1968:
411). Lukács believes it perfectly proper for a film to express a clear position,
rather than aim at neutral description, so long as that position emerges from
an investigation of particularity within the complex, and, in this sense, and in
terms of ideological expression, the role of the film author is to represent the
transformation of social content in an expressive way, by exploring contradic-
tion within the system of complexes from the ground up. The final authorial-
aesthetic ‘position’, emerges, therefore, in the first place, from the film-maker’s
analysis of ‘The data provided by everyday intercourse with the real world’,
and, in the second place, from an expressive interpretation of that data; and
Lukács’ stance here is thus characterised by a ‘basic empiricism’, and concern
for ‘that primary level of experience, the data of everyday reality, whose theo-
retical relevance [he] emphasises’ (Pinkus et al., in Pinkus (ed.), 1974: 10).

(e) Form and content

The film journal interviews also show Lukács holding fast to a notion which
permeates the work of the middle, late, and final periods: the notion that
issues of ‘form’ must always be considered secondary to issues of ‘content’.
During the middle, late, and final periods this notion is also influenced by the
idea that ‘content’ is equivalent to human meaning and species essence, whie
‘form’ is related to ‘objectivation’ and bureaucratisation; and that, in a situa-
tion where form dominates content, species essence will be made subordinate
to objectified instrumental rationalities. As already argued in Chapter 4, this
theme also takes on added consequence during the final period of Lukács’
career, where, at the political and social level, ‘form’ is identified with existing

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283Index

Stalin, Joseph 37–8, 71, 149, 170, 249
Stalinism 70–2, 128, 159, 170, 172–3,

263, 266
Stendhal 47, 49
Studies in European Realism 54
Szabö, István 244

‘Technique, Content, and Problems of
Language’ 244–55

Ten Thousand Suns, The 256
Terra trema, La 148–9
Theory of Film 176
Theory of the Novel, The 3, 8–9, 15–18,

32, 36, 38–51, 56, 58, 60–2, 64, 68,
75–6, 82, 97, 142, 165, 174–5

‘Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the
Cinema’ 3, 6, 11, 16–29, 31–5, 39,
44, 54, 56, 60–1, 75–6, 87, 89–90,
132, 174–5, 177, 231, 264

Töennies, Ferdinand 3
‘Tolstoy and the Development of Realism’

54, 68
Tolstoy, Leo 9, 48, 59, 73, 174, 197, 228,

265
Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri 229
Toward the Ontology of Social Being 76–7,

96, 105–7, 114–15, 118–22, 127–8,
133, 138–9, 142, 146–7, 150–1,
157–8, 171–2, 176

Twenty Hours, 244, 248–9

‘Tragedy of Heinrich von Kleist, The’
173–4

Unita’L 153, 155, 231, 234

Vajda, Mihály 168
Verdi, Guiseppe 206
Vico, Giambattista 236
Vienna School 159
Vietnam War, the 169
Visconti, Luchino 148–9

Wagner, Richard 195
Walls, The 266
Walton, William 102
War and Peace 9
War is Over, The 257, 260
Weber, Max 3–4, 6
Welles, Orson 195
Wilhelm Meister’s Years of Apprenticeship

47–8
Wittgenstein, Ludwig 120, 159, 160
‘Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical

Reproduction, The’ 187

Young Hegel, The 38, 70, 75

Zhdanov, Alexandrovitch 37, 158, 167,
236

Zola, Emile 55, 164, 174, 211

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