The "Godard Is" Issue of the new VERTIGO

Image from Histoire(s) du cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard, 1988-99)

Film Studies For Free had a nagging doubt that it was omitting something BIG from its recent entry of links to Godard studies. And, boy, it was!

It really should have waited….

Some time back, the very kind people at the great Close Up film centre were in touch to announce their relaunch of excellent film magazine Vertigo as an online publication.

The (just published) reboot issue — Godard Is. — is astonishingly, mouth-wateringly good! The luscious links are below.

A très contrite FSFF has added the link to Vertigo to its permanent listing of online Film Studies journals.

Close Up Films is on Facebook and Twitter. Follow them. Like them. Thank you.

VERTIGO, Issue 30 | Spring 2012: Godard Is.

Contents

From the Archive

The Veridical Artist: Jean Epstein Studies

“With the notion of photogénie was born the idea of cinema art.”
[Jean Epstein, quoted in Ian Christie, "French Avant-Garde Film in the Twenties," in Film as Film (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979), 38

  Sequences from La Chute de la maison Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (Jean Epstein, 1928)

Sequence from Le Tempestaire/The Storm Tamer (Jean Epstein, 1947) 
In the early twentieth century scientists recognized cinematic slow motion, along with its opposite, time-lapse photography, as providing major tools for observation and demonstration. Enabling through cinema the extension and compression of the flow of time respectively, these techniques revealed aspects of the world that human vision could not otherwise see, and yet they did not distort the world into an aesthetic image. Rather they opened up a new visual dimension. Epstein’s manipulation of time in cinema revealed a different rhythm to the universe, a ballet of matter. Thus, the intuition of Roderick Usher, the protagonist of Poe’s story, that matter itself may have a sentient and animate dimension was visualized in Epstein film’s La Chute de la maison Usher through the use of slow motion. The constant vibration of the material world, whether the flowing of fabric caught in the breeze or the cascade of dust falling from a suddenly struck bell does not simply provide a visual metaphor for the haunted house of Usher. Rather, they capture a universal vibration shared by the soul of things and the structures of the psyche, invoking the senses of both vision and sound (and even touch) placed before us on the screen. In his penultimate masterpiece from 1947, Le Tempestaire, Epstein not only used slow motion to display the currents of ocean surf as he had in his earlier silent films made in Brittany, but innovatively introduced the timbre and resonance of slowed down recorded sound, enfolding us as auditors not simply in defamiliarized sonority, but allowing us to dwell within an extended soundscape filled with the uncanny echoes of nature. [Tom Gunning, 'Preface', to Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations, edited by Sarah Keller and Jason N. Paul (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012)]
As Jean Epstein went on to say, the camera is the veridical artist. But the role of this veridical artist can be understood in two ways, as can the relation between its artistic power and its veridicality. On the one hand, the camera is the artist, because it produces a kind of writing, and more precisely because it has an impersonal power in it—the light—which writes. The sensory milieu, then, is one in which light and movement constitute a new writing. Yet, on the other hand, it is a veridical artist insofar as it does not write anything, insofar as all it yields is a document, pieces of information, just as machines yields them to men who work on machines and are instrumentalized by them, to men who must learn from them a new way of being but also domesticate them for their own use. [Jacques Rancière, 'What Medium Can Mean', Translated by Steven Corcoran, Parrhesia, 11, 2011: 35-43]

Epstein, at the beginning of his career, claimed that cinema has nothing to do with logic or any other kind of intellectual reasoning. He relegated films to the realm of the so-called emotional reflex, fundamentally irrational in its premises. At the same time, however, he elaborated his own notion of photogénie as an almost mystical increase in the meaning of a cinematic image. A photogenic image, according to him, is not simply one transformed by the camera lens, but it is also purified and abstracted. Thus, a photogenic image belongs to the world of the intellect as well as the world of physical phenomena:

This is why the cinema is psychic. It offers us a quintessence, a product twice distilled. My eye presents me with an idea of a form; the film stock also contains an idea of a form, an idea established independently of my awareness, an idea without awareness, a latent, secret but marvelous idea; and from the screen I get an idea, my eye’s idea extracted from the camera; in other words, so flexible is this algebra, an idea that is the square root of an idea.

This abstracting of an image allows Epstein to explore the subject of cinematic logic that will come to occupy a dominant place in his later film theorizing [...]. In his books starting from 1946 (L’intelligence d’une machine), Epstein claims that cinema is not beyond logic but develops its own logic, whose laws are still obscure and mysterious. Epstein calls this logic ‘la pensée méchanique’ – mechanical thought. This thought is not human, but is produced by the cinematic machine itself. [...] According to Epstein, cinema produces thinking because it generates forms of time and space. [Mikhail Iampolski, 'The Logic of an Illusion Notes on the Genealogy of Intellectual Cinema', in Allen, Richard, Malcolm Turvey (eds), Camera Obscura, Camera Lucida: Essays in Honor of Annette Michelson (Amsterdam University Press, 2004), pp. 44-45]

Filmmaker and theoretician Jean Epstein profoundly influenced film practice, criticism and reception in France during the 1920s and well beyond. His work not only forms the crux of the debates of his time, but also remains key to understanding later developments in film practice and theory. Epstein’s film criticism is among the most wide-ranging, provocative and poetic writing about cinema and his often breathtaking films offer insights into cinema and the experience of modernity.
      This collection – the first comprehensive study in English of Epstein’s far-reaching influence – arrives as several of the concerns most central to Epstein’s work are being reexamined, including theories of perception, realism, and the relationship between cinema and other arts. The volume also includes new translations from every major theoretical work Epstein published, presenting the widest possible historical and contextual range of Epstein’s work, from his beginnings as a biology student and literary critic to his late film projects and posthumously published writings. [Blurb for Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations, edited by Sarah Keller and Jason N. Paul (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012)]

Film Studies For Free today celebrates the publication of a wonderful, and hugely important, new book on a wonderful, and hugely important, old figure in film history: Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations edited by Sarah Keller and Jason N. Paul.

Epstein has been a very neglected figure in anglophone film scholarship. Unduly so, as Tom Gunning writes (in his preface to Keller and Paul’s collection),

To my mind Jean Epstein is not only the most original and the most poetic silent filmmaker in France, surpassing impressive figures like Abel Gance, Jacques Feyder, Marcel L’Herbier and even Louis Feuillade; I also consider him one of the finest film theorists of the silent era, worthy to be placed alongside the Soviet theorists (Eisenstein, Vertov and Kuleshov) and the equal of the extraordinary German-language cinema theorist, Béla Balázs. [Gunning, 'Preface'; hyperlinks added by FSFF]

The book, available for purchase in print, has also been made openly accessible online thanks to its publisher Amsterdam University Press‘s laudable partnership with the online OAPEN library (Open Access Publishing in European Networks). The volume is part of the AUP series Film Theory in Media History, published in cooperation with the Permanent Seminar for the History of Film Theories (read FSFF’s post on the Permanent Seminar), and edited by Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger (Frankfurt), Dr. Trond Lundemo (Stockholm), and Prof. Dr. Oliver Fahle (Bochum).

This series

explores the epistemological and theoretical foundations of the study of film through texts by classical authors as well as anthologies and monographs on key issues and developments in film theory. Adopting a historical perspective, but with a firm eye to the further development of the field, the series provides a platform for ground-breaking new research into film theory and media history and features high-profile editorial projects that offer resources for teaching and scholarship. Combining the book form with open access online publishing the series reaches the broadest possible audience of scholars, students, and other readers with a passion for film and theory.


FSFF is very excited by the prospect of subsequent open access publications in this series. Below, it has reproduced the table of remarkable contents of the AUP volume. As it always likes to add scholarly value in its entries, below the table of contents, there are direct links to further wonderful Open Access resources on Epstein.

Jean Epstein: Critical Essays and New Translations, edited by Sarah Keller and Jason N. Paul (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012)

Table of Contents

  • ‘Preface’ by Tom Gunning
  • ‘Introduction’ by Sarah Keller

Essays

  • ‘Epstein’s Photogénie as Corporeal Vision: Inner Sensation, Queer Embodiment, and Ethics’ by Christophe Wall-Romana
  • ‘Novelty and Poiesis in the Early Writings of Jean Epstein’ by Stuart Liebman
  • ‘The Cinema of the Kaleidoscope’ by Katie Kirtland
  • ‘Distance Is [Im]material: Epstein Versus Etna’ by Jennifer Wild
  • ‘“The Supremacy of the Mathematical Poem”: Jean Epstein’s Conceptions of Rhythm’ by Laurent Guido
  • ‘The “Microscope of Time”: Slow Motion in Jean Epstein’s Writings’ by Ludovic Cortade
  • ‘A Different Nature’ by Rachel Moore
  • ‘Cinema Seen from the Seas: Epstein and the Oceanic’ by James Schneider ‘A Temporal Perspective: Jean Epstein’s Writings on Technology and Subjectivity’ by Trond Lundemo
  • ‘Ultra-Modern: Jean Epstein, or Cinema “Serving the Forces of Transgression and Revolt”’ by Nicole Brenez
  • ‘Thoughts on Photogénie Plastique’ by Érik Bullot

Translations

  • ‘Introduction: Epstein’s Writings’
  • La Poésie d’aujourd’hui, un nouvel état d’intelligence (1921); Introduction / Sarah Keller; Cinema and Modern Literature
  • Bonjour Cinéma (1921) Introduction / Sarah Keller; Continuous Screenings
  • La Lyrosophie (1922) Introduction / Katie Kirtland Excerpts from La Lyrosophie
  • Le Cinématographe vu de l’Etna (1926) Introduction / Stuart Liebman; The Cinema Seen from Etna; On Certain Characteristics of Photogénie; Langue d’Or; The Photogenic Element; For a New Avant-Garde; Amour de Charlot; Amour de Sessue;
  • L’Intelligence d’une machine (1946) Introduction / Trond Lundemo Excerpts from L’Intelligence d’une machine; Le Cinéma du diable (1947) Introduction / Ludovic Cortade Indictment To a Second Reality, a Second Reason

Later Works

  • Introduction to Esprit de cinéma and Alcool et Cinéma / Christophe Wall-Romana
    Esprit de cinéma; The Logic of Images; Rapidity and Fatigue of the Homo spectatoris; Ciné-analysis, or Poetry in an Industrial Quantity; Dramaturgy in Space; Dramaturgy in Time; Visual Fabric; Pure Cinema and Sound Film; Seeing and Hearing Thought; The Counterpoint of Sound; The Close-up of Sound; The Delirium of a Machine

Late Articles

  • The Slow Motion of Sound; The Fluid World of the Screen; Alcool et cinéma; Logic of Fluidity; Logic of Variable Time
  • ‘Afterword: Reclaiming Jean Epstein’ by Richard Abel
    Filmography; Select Bibliography; Notes on Contributors; Index of Names; Index of Films and Major Writings by Jean Epstein; Index of Films

Further Open Access Epstein Studies

"Global Cinema: Cinéma Engagé or Cinéma Commerciale?" Special Issue of SITUATIONS

Framegrab from Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu , 2006)

Babel sets out to be a new sort of film that attempts to create a “world cinema” gaze within a commercial Hollywood framework. I examine how it approaches this and ask whether the film succeeds in this attempt. I explore the tensions between progressive and conservative political agendas, and pay particular attention to the ways “other” cultures are seen in a film with “Third World” pretensions and U.S money behind it. I frame my analysis around a key question: does the Iñárritu-led outfit successfully create a paradigmatic “transnational world cinema” text that de-centers U.S. hegemony, or is this a utopian project doomed to failure in a film funded predominantly by major U.S. studios? I examine the ways in which the film engages with the tourist gaze and ask whether the film replaces this gaze with a world cinema gaze or merely reproduces it in new ways . [Deborah Shaw, "Babel and the Global Hollywood Gaze", Situations, 4.1, 2011]

Film Studies For Free is delighted to announce the publication of a new film issue of the Open Access journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination. The special issue is entitled “Global Cinema: Cinéma Engagé or Cinéma Commerciale?” and it contains ten essays on modern international films and cinemas, including those of Iran, Nigeria, Mexico, Romania, France, China, Argentina, and India as well as on contemporary film festivals and on films documenting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the editors write:

The issue has a global reach in its coverage of countries and regions of the world ranging from Hollywood’s own “Global Gaze,” to a placement of Nigerian Cinema as the equal of Africa’s modernist cinema, to Venezuela’s difficult negotiation of a Bolivarian cinema in a neoliberal context, to a questioning of the radical othering of Eastern European cinema whose concerns now seem much closer to those of the West, and, finally, to a tracing of a complex multiperspectival fashioning of the image of the Chinese peasantry in a moment when the distinction between city and country are rapidly fading.  The global reach of the issue extends as well to the range of theoretical positions used to examine contemporary global cinema, be it:  structural-materialist aspects of the questioning of the Israeli-Palestinian problematic; the integration of economic and aesthetic methodologies in a post-Adornian examination of the Cannes Film Festival; feminist and subaltern theory utilized to critique the patriarchal aspects of what is sometimes viewed as India’s most politically progressive cinema; a rereading and deconstruction of French radical workerist post-1968 cinema; and a linking of feminist and anti-colonial perspectives to highlight the way that in Iran Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten spotlights Muslim women’s emancipation.

Below are direct links to the contents, as per usual here at FSFF.

Situation homepage  Archives

Vol 4, No 1 (2011) Table of Contents PDF

  • Terri Ginsberg, Dennis Broe, “Whither Globalization? An Idea Whose Time Has Come or Whose Time Has Come and Gone?” PDF
  • Deborah Shaw, “Babel and the Global Hollywood Gaze” PDF
  • Dennis Broe, “The Film Festival as Site of Resistance: Pro or Cannes” PDF
  • Hossein Khosrowjah , “Neither a Victim nor a Crusading Heroine” PDF
  • Jonathon Haynes , “African Cinema and Nollywood: Contradictions” PDF
  • Terri Ginsberg, ” Radical Rationalism as Cinema Aesthetics: The Palestinian–Israeli Conflict in North American Documentary and Experimental Film” PDF
  • Paul Douglas Grant, “Just Some of the Ways to Shoot a Strike: Militant Filmmaking in France from Arc to the Groupe Medvedkine” PDF
  • Noah Zweig, “Villa del Cine (Cinema City): Constructing Bolivarian Citizens for the Twenty-First Century” PDF
  • Ping Fu, “Encircling the City: Peasant Migration in Contemporary Chinese Media” PDF
  • Gayatri Devi, “Between Personal Cataclysms and National Conflicts: The Missing Labor Class in Malayalam Cinema” PDF PDF
  • “Eastern European Cinema on the Margins” by Meta Mazaj PDF
  • Contributors, Film Issue PDF

Great Film Studies Theses from Texas Universities

Image from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). You can read about this film in Chi Hyun Park’s 2008 PhD thesis: Orientalism in U.S. cyberpunk cinema from Blade Runner to the Matrix

Film Studies For Free brings you one of its regular reports from eRepositories. This time it’s the turn of the institutes of higher learning located in the largest state of the contiguous U.S.A., the online theses of which are kindly and neatly hosted by the wonderful folks at the Texas Digital Repository.

Seek, and ye shall find, and FSFF did indeed seek and find some graduate work of excellent quality, and on an incredibly wide range of topics. Ye can find it linked to below.

The PhD theses, in particular, will shortly be added to FSFF‘s permanent listing of Online Film and Moving Image Studies PhD and MPhil Theses.

Ye all come back now!