The third level the whole the composition of movement images and the indirect image of time

.Montage is the determination of the whole (the third Bergsonian level) by means of continuities, cutting and false continuities, f'isenstein continually reminds us that montage is the whole of the film, the Idea. But why should the whole be the object of montage Between the beginning and the end of a film something changes, something has changed. But this whole which changes, this time or duration, only seems to be capable of being apprehended indirectly, in relation to the movement-images...

Towards a gaseous perception

In the 'cine-eye', Vertov was aiming to attain or regain the system of universal variation, in itself. All the images vary as a function of each other, on all their facets and in all their parts. Vertov himself defined the cine-eye it is that which 'couplcs together any point whatsoever of the universe in any temporal order whatsoever .14 Fvcrything is at the servicc of variation and interaction slow or high speed shots, supcrimposition, fragmentation, deceleration demultiplication , micro-...

Peirces thirdness and mental relations

After having distinguished between affection and action, which he calls Firstness and Secondness, Peirce added a third kind of image the 'mental' or Thirdness. The point of thirdness was a term that referred to a second term through the intermediary of another term or terms. This third instance appeared in signification, law or relation. This may seem to be already included in action, but this is not so. An action, that is to say a duel or a pair of forces, obeys laws which make it possible,...

The construction of anyspacewhatevers

How can any-space-whatever be constructed (in the studio or on location) How can any-space-whatcver be extracted from a given state of things, from a determinate space T he first way was shadow, shadows a space full of shadows, or covered with shadows, becomes any-space-whatever. We have seen how Expressionism operates with darkness and light, the opaque black background and the luminous principle the two powers couple together gripping like wrestlers, giving space a great depth, a prominent...

The law of the small forn and burlesque

We have seen how the classical genres of the cinema could, in a summary fashion, be assigned to one of the two forms of the action-image. There is one genre which seems to be exclusively devoted to the small form, to the extent of having created it, and of having served as the condition for the comedy of manners the burlesque. In it the formula of the form AS is most fully developed a very slight difference in the action, or between two actions, which brings out an infinite distance between two...

The laws of organic composition

What are the laws of the action-image across all these genres The first concerns the action-image as organic representation in its entirety ensemble . It is structural because the places and the moments are well defined in their oppositions and their complementarities. From the point of view of the situation (S), from the point of view of space, of the frame and of the shot, it organises the way in which the milieu carries several powers into effect, the weight given to each one. For example,...

Preface to the English edition

This l)ook docs not set out to produce a history of the cinema but to isolate certain cinematographic concepts. These concepts are not technical (such as the various kinds of shot or the different camera movements) or critical (for example the great genres, the Western, the detective film, the historical film, etc.). Neither are they linguistic, in the sense in which it has been said that the cinema was the universal language, or in the sense in which it has been said that the cinema is a...

The figures of the Large and the Small in Herzog

As Ideas, the Small and the I .arge designate both two forms and two conceptions. These arc distinct, but capable of passing into one another. They have yet a third sense and designate Visions which deserve even more to be called Ideas. And, although this is true of all the directors that we are studying, we should like to consider Hcrzog's action cinema as an extreme case in this respect. For his work divides up according to two obsessive themes, which are like visual and musical motifs.6 In...

The prewar French school

In the pre-war French school (whose recognised leader, in certain respects, was Gance) we also witness a break with the principle of organic composition. This, however, was not a case of Vertovism, even of a moderated form. Should we call it Impressionism in order to contrast it with German Expressionism The French school might be better defined by a sort of Cartesianism these directors were primarily interested in the quantity of movement and in the metrical relations which allow us to define...

Mobility montage and movement of the camera

What happened when the camera was fixed The situation has often been described. In the first place, the frame is defined by a unique and frontal point of view which is that of the spectator on an invariable set there is therefore no communication of mutually referring variable sets. In the second place, the shot is a uniquely spatial determination, indicating a 'slice of space' at a particular distance from the camera, from close-up to long shot (immobile sections) movement is therefore not...

The Western in Hawks functionalism

Finally, the Western poses the same problem in particularly fertile conditions. We have seen that the large 'respiration' form was not content with the epic but, throughout its varieties, sustained an encompassing milieu, a global situation, which would give rise to an action, capable in its turn of modifying the situation from within. I his great organic representation - for example in Ford had precise characteristics it comprised one or several fundamental groups, each well-defined,...

The affect as entity

We have seen the two poles of the affect power and quality - and how the face necessarily passes from one to the other depending on the particular case. What compromises the integrity of the close-up in this respect is the idea that it presents to us a partial object, detached from a set or torn away from a set of which it would form part. Psychoanalysis and linguistics both get something out of this view, the one bccause it believes that it has discovered in it a structure of the unconscious...

The identity of the image and the movement

The historical crisis of psychology coincided with the moment at which it was no longer possible to hold a certain position. This position involved placing images in consciousness and movements in space. In consciousness there would only be images - these were qualitative and without extension. In space there would only be movements these were extended and quantitative. But how is it possible to pass from one order to the other How is it possible to explain that movements, all of a sudden,...

Third thesis movement and change

And this is Bergson's third thesis, which is also contained in Creative Evolution. If we tried to reduce it to a bare formula, it would be this not only is the instant an immobile section of movement, but movement is a mobile section of duration, that is, of the Whole, or of a whole. Which implies that movement expresses something more profound, which is the change in duration or in the whole. To say that duration is change is part of its definition it changes and does not stop changing. For...

The Soviet school

While he fully acknowledges his debt to Griffith, Kisenstein nevertheless makes two objections. Firstly, it might be said that the differentiated parts of the set are given of themselves, as independent phenomena. Just like bacon, with its alternation of lean meat and fat, there are rich and poor, good and bad, Whites and Blacks, etc. Thus when the representatives of these parts confront each other, it must be in the form of individual duels where narrowly personal motifs for example, a love...

The two poles of the face power and quality

The affection-image is the close-up, and the close-up is the face. . . . Eisenstein suggested that the close-up was not merely one type of image among others, but gave an affective reading of the whole film. This is true of the affection-image it is both a type of image and a component of all images. But that is not all there is to it. In what sense is the close-up identical to the whole affection-image And why would the face be identical to the close-up, since the latter merely seems to carry...

The origin of the crisis Italian neorealism and the French new wave

But can a crisis of the action-image be presented as something new Was this not the constant state of the cinema Ihe purest action films have always had value in episodes outside the action, or in idle periods between actions, through a whole set of extra-actions and infra-actions which cannot be cut out in montage without disfiguring the film hence the formidable power of producers . At all times too, the cinema's potentialities, its vocation for changes of location, have caused directors to...

Naturalism

When qualities and powers are apprehended as actualised in states of things, in milieux whieh are geographically and historically determinable, we enter into the realm of the action-image. The realism of the action-image is opposed to the idealism of the affection-image. However, between the two, between firstness and secondness, there is something which is like the 'degenerate' affect, or the 'embryonic' action. It is no longer the affection-image, but is not yet the action-image. As we have...

Montage

1 On the close-up and binary structure in Griffith, cf. Jacques Fieschi, 'Griffith le pr curseur', Cin matographe, no. 24, February 1977. On iriffith's close-up and the process of miniaturisation and subjectivation, cf. Yann Lardeau, 'King David', Cahiers du cinema, no. 346, April 1983. 2 S. Eisenstein's brilliant analysis consists in showing that parallel montage, in its practicc as well as its conception, relates to bourgeois society in its conception of itself and in its practice Film Form,...

Towards another state of perception liquid perception

This solution, however, only relates to a nominal definition of 'subjective' and 'objective'. It implies that the cinema has reached an evolved state, having learned to mistrust the movement-image. But what happens if we take as our starting-point a real definition of the two poles, or of the double system Bergsonianism suggested the following definition a subjective perception is one in which the images vary in relation to a central and privileged image an objective perception is one where, as...

First commentary on Bergson

1 First thesis movement and instant Bergson does not just put forward one thesis on movement, but three. The first is the most famous, and threatens to obscure the other two. It is, however, only an introduction to the others. According to the first thesis, movement is distinct from the space covered. Space covered is past, movement is present, the act of covering. The space covered is divisible, indeed infinitely divisible, whilst movement is indivisible, or cannot be divided without changing...

The first level frame set or closed system

We will start with very simple definitions, even though they may have to be corrected later. We will call the determination of a closed system, a relatively closed system which includes everything which is present in the image - sets, characters and props - framing. The frame therefore forms a set which has a great number of parts, that is of elements, which themselves form sub-sets. It can be broken down. Obviously these parts are themselves in image en image . This is why Jakobson calls them...

Theses on movement

1 Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell, 1954 p. 322 hereafter CE . 5 On the organic and the pathetic, cf. S. Eisenstein, La non-indiff rente Nature, I, 10 18. 6 Arthur Knight, Revue du cin ma, no. 10. 7 Jean Mitry, Histoire du cin ma muet. III, pp. 49 51. 10 On all these points, cf. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, 1911, Chapter IV. 15 Ibid., p. 16. Ihe only resemblance between Bergson and Heidegger and it is a considerable one lies here both base the specificity of time...

The two poles objective and subjective

We have seen that perception was double, or rather had a double reference. It can be objective or subjective. But the difficulty lies in knowing how an objective perception-image and a subjective perception-image arc presented in the cinema. What distinguishes them It could be said that the subjective-image is the thing seen by someone 'qualified', or the set as it is seen by someone who forms part of that set. This reference of the image to the person who sees is marked by various factors....

The spiritual affect and space in Bresson

Although the close-up extracts the face or its equivalent from all spatio-temporal co-ordinates, it can carry with it its own space-time -a scrap of vision, sky, countryside or background. Sometimes it is depth of field which gives the close-up a behind. Sometimes, on the contrary, it is the negation of perspective and of depth which assimilates the medium shot to a close-up. But, if the affect obtains a space for itself in this way, why could it not do so even without the face, and...

Chapter The crisis of the actionimage

1 Peirce's 'thirdness' and mental relations the Marx Brothers the mental image according to Hitchcock marks and symbols how Hitchcock brings the action-image to completion by carrying it to its limit the crisis of the action-image in the American cinema Lumet, Cassavetes, Altman the five characteristics of this crisis the loosening of the sensory-motor link 197 2 The origin of the crisis Italian neo-realism and the French new wave the critical consciousness of cliche problem of a new conception...

The crisis of the actionimage

Peirce, Ecrits sur le signe, Peirce believed that 'thirdness' was one of his principal discoveries. 2 Peirce does not refer explicitly to these two kinds of relations, the distinction between which goes back to Hume. But his theory of the 'interpr tant', and his own distinction between a 'dynamic interpr tant' and a 'final interpr tant', partially coincides with that between the two types of relations. 3 E. Rohmer and C. Chabrol, Hitchcock, p. 124. 4 Cf. Narboni, 'Visages d'Hitchcock', in...

Frame and shot framing and cutting

Pasolini, L'Exp rience h r tique, pp. 263- 5. 2 No l Burch, Praxis du cin ma, p. 86 on the black or white screen, when it no longer simply serves as 'punctuation' but takes on a 'structural value'. 3 Claude Oilier, Souvenirs cran. Cahiers du cin ma, p. 88. It is this which Pasolini analysed as 'obsessive framing' in Antonioni L'Exp rience h r tique, p. 148 . 4 Dominique Villain, in an unpublished work which includes interviews with cameramen cadreurs , analyses these two conceptions...

A characteristic of Bunuels work power of repetition in the image

Ihere are nevertheless great differences between Strohcim's naturalism and that of Bunuel. In literature, there is perhaps something analogous in the relationship between Zola and Huysmans. Huysmans said that Zola only imagined impulses of the body in stereotyped social milieux, where man was only reunited with the originary world of animals. For his part, he wanted a naturalism of the soul, which would tetter recognise the artificial constructions of perversion, but also perhaps the...

Second thesis privileged instants and anyinstantivhatevers

Now Creative Evolution advances a second thesis, which, instead of reducing everything to the same illusion about movement, distinguishes at least two very different illusions. The error remains the same - that of reconstituting movement from instants or positions bur there are two ways of doing this the ancient and the modern. For antiquity, movement refers to intelligible elements, Forms or Ideas which are themselves eternal and immobile. Of course, in order to reconstitute movement, these...

The difficulty of being naturalist

For the moment what interests us is not the way to get outside the limits of naturalism, but rather the manner in which some great directors have failed to come within them despite repeated attempts. This is because, while they were obsessed by the originary world of impulses, their particular genius none the less directed them towards other problems. Visconti, for example, from his first film to his last Obsession and The Innocent tries to reach raw and primordial impulses. But, too...

Figures or the transformation of forms

1 Mikhail Romm in Cahiers du cin ma, no. 219, April 1970. 2 Pudovkin, cited by George Sadoul, Histoire g n rale du cin ma, VI, p. 487. 3 Kisenstein's very detailed commentary can be found in the chapter 'La centrifugeuse et le Graal', non-indiff rente Nature, I. 4 I. Kant, Critique of Judgement, para 59. T his is what Kant calls 'symbol'. 5 P. Fontanier, Iss Figures du discours 1968 . 6 Cf. M.-L. Potrel-Dorget, 'Dialectique du surhomme et du sous-homme dans quelques films d'Herzog', Revue du...

Griffith and Eisenstein

Pabst's Lulu shows the extent to which one goes from one pole to the other in a relatively short sequence first the two faces, of Jack and of Lulu, are relaxed, smiling, dreamy, wondering then Jack's face, above Lulu's shoulder, sees the knife and goes into an ascending series of terror 'the fear becomes a paroxysm. . . his pupils grow wider and wider. . . the man gasps in terror ' finally Jack's face relaxes, Jack accepts his destiny and now reflects death as a quality common to his killer's...

From situation to action secondness

We are approaching a domain which is easier to define derived milieux assert their independence and start to become valid for themselves. Qualities and powers are no longer displayed in any-space-whatevers, no longer inhabit originary worlds, but are actualised directly in determinate, geographical, historical and social space-times. Affects and impulses now only appear as embodied in behaviour, in the form of emotions or passions which order and disorder it. This is Realism. It is true that...