Cinema And

Make Your Movie Now

Filmmaking Stuff - How To Make, Market and Sell Your Movie

Get Instant Access

The marriage of art and cinema through genre in American cinema often resulted in the identification of art with elitism and deception. In European film history, the post-World War II art film developed in the film industries of France, Germany, and Italy. The film theorist and historian David Bordwell has argued that the ''European art film'' is more of a mode than a genre because its stylistic conventions stem from a general opposition to the rules of Hollywood cinema. Bordwell argues that films such as Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960) and Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966) were born out of the rejection by Italian neo-realism of Hollywood's causal storytelling, goal-oriented protagonists, and emphasis on narrative closure. By choosing ambiguity, unresolved narratives, directorial expressivity, location shooting, and existential malaise with a social consciousness, the European art film was an alternative to Hollywood in the 1950s.

Andre Bazin's influential role as a critic enabled the rise of Italian neorealism and the French New Wave. François Truffaut relied on artistic citations from French impressionism and early modernist painting in such films as Jules et Jim (1962) and Les Deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls, 1972); by contrast, Roberto Rossellini's neorealism has traditionally been praised for its newsreel look and rejection of art-historical sources. However, the argument that Italian neorealism exists outside of art history is naïve. In the Naples episode of Paisa (Paisan, 1946), for example, the relationship between figure and ground, with the big soldier and the small child sitting among the ruins, invokes the end of Renaissance painting's anthropocentric model. The urban landscape is an image of destruction and rubble, yet the two characters occupy the center of the frame so that the ruins amid which they sit acknowledge in reverse the humanist function of architecture in the Italian pictorial tradition.

Bordwell's model of the European art film applies to the self-reflexive, modernist films of the sixties but does not include the pastiche-like postmodernist films that began to appear in the 1970s and 1980s. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) contains many references to Duane Hanson's hyperrealist sculptures, while Bernardo Bertolucci's II Conformista (The Conformist, 1970) uses Rene Magritte's sleek irony and art-deco interiors. Lina Wertmuller's use of spaces suspended in time for Film d'amore e d'anarchia (Love and Anarchy, 1973) echoes the metaphysical atmosphere found in the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. It is also important to remember that there are many other art films that, on the one hand, do not entirely follow Bordwell's model and, on the other, may have little to do with postmodern nostalgia. Thanks to their understanding of art-historical categories, these films are neither simply citational texts nor superficial and seductive pastiches compensating for an increasing sense of loss of memory and authenticity. And, finally, they are not always structured as travelogues of human alienation, a penchant triggered by neorealism's use of vignettes or sketches rather than coherent, causal narratives.

Filmmakers such as F. W. Murnau, Eric Rohmer, Alain Cavalier, and Andrei Tarkovsky are aware of the history of art to the extent that they move beyond it, treating it as a convenient storehouse of images. Their films can be called ''visual form'' films because these filmmakers incorporate the insights of pictorial genres into their own work. By taking seriously the links between landscape painting and subjectivity in, for example, Nosferatu, Murnau models his images on Caspar David Friedrich's vistas with precipices and fogs, eerie peaks and huge rocks. Murnau frames from behind small and lonely human figures, which he juxtaposes against vast natural spaces filled with a sense of the sublime; the director's insertion of an internal viewer matches Friedrich's use of the so-called ruckenfgur, a lone figure in a landscape, to underline how that landscape can be a figment of someone's mind yearning for the divine or sensing the possibility of horror. Nosferatu is therefore an example of the crossover between film and art in the context of silent German expressionism as a national cinema. Visual form is relevant to the tension between neoclassical and French romantic painting in Eric

Rohmer's Die Marquise von O ... (The Marquise of O, 1976), an adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist's novella. By juxtaposing the sensuality of the word to the introspective qualities of the image, Rohmer questions the opposition of Enlightenment rationality and romantic impetuous-ness. Tarkovsky in Andrei Rublev (1969) uses fluid camera movements and shots of doors and windows to explore the hypnotic power of religious icon painting. Likewise, by using many close-ups on objects and an austere color scheme, Alain Cavalier in Thense (1986) links the genre of still-life painting to the humility of servants and the subordination of femininity.

Films that are part of a national cinema tradition (with or without a link to an avant-garde movement), modernist art films and postmodern pastiches, and visual-form films overlap the flexibility of these categories and bears witness to the richness of the encounter between art and film. Although the heyday of the European art film is over, cinema from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa deserves much closer examination in the light of the relation between film and art. For example, the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's use of detailed images and vast landscapes relies heavily on the style of Persian miniature painting in his films Ta'm e guilass (A Taste of Cherry, 1997) and Bad ma ra khahad bord (The Wind Will Carry Us, 1999). Sergei Parajanov's Sayat Nova (Color of Pomegranates, 1968) combines Russian folk culture with performance art, while some of his compositions could easily be called installations and move from the screen to the art gallery. Although most of the critical work on film and art has relied on European case studies, it has become especially urgent to tackle Islamic and African visual traditions in order to achieve a better understanding of the art films that these areas of the world have produced. Japanese and Chinese cinema has drawn heavily from national traditions of woodblock printing and scroll painting.

American avant-garde filmmaking of the 1960s and 1960s was heavily influenced by minimalism in the visual arts. The films of Andy Warhol, Michael Snow, Hollis

Frampton, and Paul Sharits are related to the work of artists such as Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson, all of whom worked in a variety of media. In the light of this awareness that what goes on in the art gallery relates to what happens on the screen, the American artist Eleanor Antin (b. 1935) coined the expression ''black box, white cube''—the first term referring to cinema, the second to the art gallery. This phrase has been increasingly used by artists working in film and video, perhaps because so many mixed-media installations have blurred the boundaries between sculpture, film, architecture, video art, and painting.

see also Art Cinema; Expressionism; Surrealism further reading

Andrew, Dudley. Film in the Aura of Art. Princeton, NJ:

Princeton University Press, 1984. Bordwell, David. Narration in the Fiction Film. Madison:

University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. Dalle Vacche, Angela. Cinema and Painting: How Art Is Used in Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

--, ed. The Visual Turn: Classical Film Theory and Art

History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema. Vol. 1: The Movement-Image. Vol. 2: The Time-Image. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986-1989.

Desser, David, and Linda Ehrlich, eds. Cinematic Landscapes: Observations on the Visual Arts and Cinema of China and Japan. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996. Eisner, Lotte. The Haunted Screen: German Expressionism and the Influence ofMax Reinhardt. Translated by Roger Graves. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Hollander, Anne. Moving Pictures. New York: Knopf: 1989. Schrader, Paul. Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer.

New York: Da Capo Press, 1998. Tashiro, Charles. Pretty Pictures: Production Design and the History Film. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

Angela Dalle Vacche

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment