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Kracauer - Basic Concepts in Cinema

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Allain Daigle

on 25 April 2014

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Transcript of Kracauer - Basic Concepts in Cinema

Kracauer - Basic Concepts in Cinema
What is the purpose of film?
Film fulfills a desire to capture and manipulate reality.
Reality>Technical | Lumière
Scientific tradition: record the world
Technical>Reality | Méliès
Realistic Tendency
Cinema is always torn between the realistic tendency and the formative tendency.
Formative Tendency
In contrast, the formative tendency represents the world as we imagine it to be.
Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966)
German cultural theorist
Frankfurt School
Media theory isn't unanimous or fixed
Also fled Germany and Europe due to Nazi threat
Personal Criticism
Traces "the use of expressionistic cinematic techniques to instill nationalist sentiment and totalitarian politics by distracting the masses from social and political realities."
Necessity of "realism"
Distrust of political misuse
Thus, film creates a malleable sense of "realism" through both representation and editing.
Film balances two properties: Basic and Technical
Basic: Film captures reality.
Technical: Film arranges reality.
Faithfully reproduce the world as it is
Modern Parallels: GoPro, digital camera development
Kracauer Questions Realism
By itself, simply representing reality without purpose isn't interesting to an audience or particularly useful, really
Méliès substitutes plot for illusion. Captures attention, but not reality as it is.
Emphasizes the technological intervention within reality, and thus, manipulation.
Delight in fantasy
We must always balance representation against reality.
I. Films give image to movement.
II. Films recreate (stage) reality - not only in terms of actions/characters, but also the surrounding world.
The realistic tendency is to represent the world as it is.
What's an inherent flaw in this argument?
Film on Art
Clash of these Tendencies
The realistic tendency is merely the minimum requirement.
Make the most of these tools in service of a substantive concern with our world.
The function of "art" is no longer restricted to aesthetic expressions in the cinema. Its material demands that we let the real world come through.
André Bazin
What purpose does film serve?
Film is a defense against death.
Physical Preservation
Memory and Spirit
Plastic arts have always been torn between formative tendency and the tendency towards duplication.
So has our sense of realism!
But photography frees us from an obligation towards mere reproduction.
The material process of photography (and by extension film) negates boundaries between objective and subjective reality.
Multimedia Practical
Using photography, tell a story in 5 pictures.
I. Create one version where the story is told according to the realistic tendency.
II. Create another version where the story is told according to the formative tendency.
What are characteristics of the realistic and formative tendency?
Quick Primer
Rule of Thirds
Stylistic Considerations
Shot Selection and Angles
Full transcript