Art Cinema Narration Essay

9869 words - 39 pages

"Art-Cinema Narration"by David BordwellThe predominance of classical Holly​wood films, and consequently classi​cal narration, is a historical fact, but film history is not a monolith. Under various circumstances, there have appeared alternative modes of narration, the most prominent one of which I shall consider in this chapter. As a start, ostensive definition might be best. L'Eclisse, The Green Room, Rocco and His Brothers, Repulsion, Scenes from a Marriage, Accident, Teorema, Ma nuit chez Maude, Rome Open City, Love and Anarchy: whatever you think of these films, they form a class that filmmakers and film viewers distinguish from Rio Bravo on the one hand and Mothlight on the other. Not all films shown in "art theaters" utilize distinct narrational procedures, but many do. Within a machinery of production, distribution, and consumption-the "international art cinema," as it is generally known-there exists a body of films which appeal to norms of syuzhet and style which I shall call art-cinema narration.We could characterize this mode by simply inventorying our theoretical catego​ries. We could say that the syuzhet here is not as redundant as in the classical film; that there are permanent and suppressed gaps; that exposition is delayed and distributed to a greater degree; that the narration tends to be less generically motivated; and several other things. Such an atomistic list, while informative, would not get at the underlying principles that enable the viewer to comprehend the film. Our study of The Spider's Stratagem in Chapter 6 has already shown how its temporal manipulations are based on three broader interlocking procedural schemata-"objective" realism, "expressive" or subjective realism, and narrational commentary. The same schemata explain the various narrational strategies, and their instantiation in syuzhet and style, characteristic of this mode of filmmaking.Objectivity, Subjectivity, AuthorityThe Russian Formalist critics pointed out that artists often justify novelty as a new realism, and this observation is borne out by art-cinema narration. For the classical cinema, rooted in the popular novel, short story, and well-made drama of the late nineteenth century, "reality" is assumed to be a tacit coherence among events, a consistency and clarity of indi​vidual identity. Realistic motivation corroborates the com​positional motivation achieved through cause and effect. But art-cinema narration, taking its cue from literary modern​ism, questions such a definition of the real the world's laws may not be knowable, personal psychology may be indeter​minate. Here new aesthetic conventions claim to seize other "realities": the aleatoric world of "objective" reality and the fleeting states that characterize "subjective" reality. In 1966, Marcel Martin summed up these two new sort of verisimilitude. The contemporary cinema, he claimed, fol​lows Neorealism in seeking to depict the vagaries of...

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