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Andre Bazin & Italian Neorealism. Siefried Kracauer (1889-1966). CINEMATIC REALISM : Philosophy Critic of “modernity” (Frankfurt School) Human condition characterized by alienation Mass culture/society manipulates individuals

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siefried kracauer 1889 1966
Siefried Kracauer(1889-1966)

CINEMATIC REALISM : Philosophy

  • Critic of “modernity” (Frankfurt School)
  • Human condition characterized by alienation
  • Mass culture/society manipulates individuals
  • Materialistic values have replaced religion, metaphysical, romantic convictions, resulting in disenchantment
  • People live distracted lives
  • Film as a “redemptive” experience that can show man damaged condition of modernity and help him transcend materialism
siefried kracauer 1889 19663
Siefried Kracauer(1889-1966)

CINEMATIC REALISM

  • Foreshadowed and predicted dehumanizing power of mass media
  • “Mass ornaments”--film, military parades and sporting events
  • “Real” world of the individual desubstantiated by spectacle and empty rituals
  • Film must “reengage” individual with nature and the Kantian real world
andre bazin 1918 1958
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • Views cinema as a “redemptive” art
  • The role of cinema is to help man in his search for truth and understanding in an ambiguous and uncertain world
  • Man can transcend alienation and modernity
  • Film can be a religious experience
  • “Love” and “state of grace”
andre bazin 1918 19585
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

Bergson’s concept of “creative evolution”

  • Close experiential scrutiny reveals deep structures/meanings behind phenomena
  • Under scrutiny of inquiry [artistic analysis]these deep structures are brought into the light
  • Cinema and photography are media that an artist can utilize to review the deeper meanings behind the phenomena of existence
andre bazin 1918 19586
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of reality, absolute, mysterious, which no one will ever see.
andre bazin 1918 19587
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • Film image “embalms” time & wrenches phenomena from the flux of life
  • Symbolic power of cinematic imagery combined with empirical density of cinematic realism
  • The spirit behind the “real” object
  • The “long hard gaze”
  • Disliked over-expressive, over-ornamental, or overuse of montage
andre bazin 1918 19588
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • “Montage...chops the world up into little fragments, and disturbs the natural unity in people and things.”
andre bazin 1918 19589
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • “German expressionism did violence to the image by ways of sets and lighting.”
andre bazin 1918 195810
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • Liked films that focused on everyday psychological experience
    • Italian neorealism (The Bicyle Thief)
  • Disliked modernist, expressionistic
  • Disliked films that imposed a political ideology on the viewer
  • Long takes, of surrounding environment
  • Impact of environment on people(French determinism)
andre bazin 1918 195811
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)
  • Francois Truffaut
  • Erich von Stroheim
  • Roberto Rossellini
  • Vittorio De Sica
  • Robert Bresson
  • Jean Renoir
  • Orson Welles
  • William Wyler
andre bazin 1918 195812
Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

Depth of focus

  • Respect for the continuity of dramatic space and the flow of time
  • Composition in depth“Dramatic effects for which we had formerly relied on montage were created out of the movements of the actors within a fixed framework.”
  • Ambiguity of expression closer to reality; viewer must choose
cinematic realism marxism 1930 present
Cinematic Realism & Marxism (1930-present)
  • Film as a reactionary medium
  • Expose the shallowness of modern capitalistic society
  • Real-life problems of the common man
  • Poverty, crime, social injustice common themes
  • Italian Neorealism
  • British Social Realism
italian neorealism 1940 50s
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

  • 1937-1945: Fascists controlled cinema(founded Cinecitta--largest studio in Europe)
  • Propaganda films
  • After WWII, Socialists and Communists in government tolerated Neorealism’s left-wing ideology (former resistance movement)
  • Economy in shambles
  • Cost of studio production, film, lighting, etc.became prohibitive
  • Reflected desire for social reform
italian neorealism 1940 50s15
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)
  • Response to artificiality of cinema of the Fascist period
  • Influenced by French poetic realism and American literary naturalism (e.g., Hemingway)
  • Experiences of poor and socially marginalized
  • “Slice of life”; things and facts in time and place (versimo)
  • Ambivalence of everyday experience
  • Some took strong social political stance
  • Marxist, with ahopeful, humanistic dimension
italian neorealism 1940 50s16
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CHARACTERISTICS

  • On-location shooting
  • Long takes
  • Natural light
  • Medium and long shots
  • Non-professional actors
  • Working class protagonists
  • Environment as important as actors
italian neorealism 1940 50s17
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CESARE ZAVATTINI

Three basics tenets of neorealism

1. Portray real or everyday people, using nonprofessional actors in real settings

2. Examine socially significant themes

3. Promote the “organic” development of situations--the “real flow of life”--in which complications are rarely resolved

italian neorealism 1940 50s18
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CESARE ZAVATTINI

“Some Ideas on the Cinema” (1953)

1. Portray real or everyday people, using nonprofessional actors in real settings

2. Examine socially significant themes

3. Promote the “organic” development of situations--the “real flow of life”--in which complications are rarely resolved

italian neorealism 1940 50s19
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CESARE ZAVATTINI

  • “Identification with the common man in the crowd.”
  • “Take dialogue and actors from the street.”
  • “Reality in American films is unnaturally filtered.”
italian neorealism 1940 50s20
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CESARE ZAVATTINI

  • “The world goes on getting worse because we are not truly aware of reality.”
  • The job of the director is to “observe reality, and not extract fictions from it.”
  • “The frequent habit of identifying oneself with fictional characters will become very dangerous.”
italian neorealism 1940 50s21
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)

CESARE ZAVATTINI

  • “The world goes on getting worse because we are not truly aware of reality.”
  • The job of the director is to “observe reality, and not extract fictions from it.”
  • “The frequent habit of identifying oneself with fictional characters will become very dangerous.”
italian neorealism 1940 50s22
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)
  • Criticized for negative depiction of Italy
  • Lack of positive heroes
  • Negative displays of human flesh
  • Catholic Church: “forbidden for believers”
italian neorealism 1940 50s23
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)
  • Not the most popular cinema of the times in Italy
  • People didn’t want to be reminded of problems
  • Hollywood and “capitalist” system of filmmaking an overpowering force
  • BUT the movement did influence the French New Wave, Hollywood and TV
italian neorealism 1940 50s24
Italian Neorealism (1940-50s)
  • Roberto Rossellini
  • Luchino Visconti
  • Guisippe DeSantis
  • Giovanni Verga
  • Vittorio De Sica
  • Federico Fellini
  • Michelangelo Antonioni
  • Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Francesco Rosi