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Perhaps a close cousin to documentary, the essay film is at its core a personal mode of filmmaking. Structured in a breadth of forms, a partial definition could be said to be part fact, part fiction with an intense intimacy but none of these are necessarily paramount.
Stemming from the literary essay as a form of personal expression borne from in-depth explorations of its chosen topic, the essay film can be agitprop, exploratory, or diaristic and generally rejects narrative progression and concretised conclusions in favour of a thematic ambivalence.
Due to its nature as inherently personal, the term itself is as vague and expansive as the broad collective of films it purports to represent. In built then is an inherent expansiveness that informs a great ambition in the form itself, but as Huxley acknowledges it can only say almost anything; whether extolling the need for a socialist state Man with a Movie Cameradeconstructing the power and status of the image itself Histoire s du Cinema, Images of the World and the Inscription of War, Los Angeles Plays Itself or providing a means to consider ones of past Walden, News from home, Bluethe essay film is only the form of expression, which unlike any other taxonomic term suggests almost nothing about the film itself other than its desire to explore.
Below is an 17 film introduction to the essay film that cannot be pinned down and continue to remake and remodel itself as freely as it sheds connections between any of the films within its own canon.
Man with a Movie Camera Art cinema narration essay. Its propagandist structure does not however belie its beauty. Its propagation of film as the means through which life is realised, that the camera is now an unequivocal feature of modernity and too a powerful political tool, creates a filmic love letter to industrialisation and the humanist elements of physical labour.
In opposition to Eisenstein, Vertov is a master of his own brand of idiosyncratic montage which, with its sublime manipulative technique combined with realist images, rejects the opiate affects of traditional narrative cinema, attempting to create instead a cinematic language in which the camera becomes the pen of the 20th century.
A Propos de Nice dir. The leisurely upper classes of French society are the subjects of a portrayal the blind escapism and ignorance created by modernity. Vigo thus contrasts the bourgeois culture of relaxation with the daily grind of the poor in society.
Engrained in the very structure of modern society is, for Vigo, deep social inequality; life in this case masks its own inequalities through ignorance and selfishness.
Images of women energetically dancing are reduced to slow modern and thus arises from them the absurdity of inherent inequalities. Like a Jay Gatsby party, the excitement and laughter only serves to mask a profound emptiness whose own ridiculousness is an unacknowledged form of societal freakshow, which only those on the outside can perceive.
Jean-Luc Godard In a year of 3 Godard diatribes against neo-capitalism, 2 or 3 Thing I Know About Her is the most contemplative; if La Chinoise a document of the soon to be riotous students, 2 or 3 is the suburban families watching the events unfold on their television screens.
If language is the house one lives in, as Juliette informs her son, then the house is subject to the blind whims of suited right wing repo men. The portrait of Juliette is a composite sketch of the modern citizen, replaceable, replicable to the extent that Godard introduces Juliette first as Marina Vlady, the actress who plays her, before acknowledging her as a fictional creation; a less subtle evocation of the resignation to role playing in post-war France, watching death in Vietnam while decided whether or not to go and wash the car.
Walden; Diaries, Notes, and Sketches dir. Jonas Mekas Walden is the essay film in its most diaristic form. F for Fake dir. Increasingly Welles rejects infallibility in favour of a profound ambivalence that is read across the careers of various forgers to eventually become, as is naturally the case for such a sublime example of the essay film, a personal contemplation of his own career and his self-definition as a perpetual sceptic.
Through rhythmic montage editing and questioning of the structure and the power of the image itself, F for Fake eulogizes the image as a consistently fallible, or deconstructible form, and in true Wellesian style, given it is the form that its director made his career,cannot help but find humour within.
News From Home dir. Chantal Akerman Borne from the influence of the structuralist filmmakers Akerman encountered in New York see Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage and Hollis FramptonNews from Home is a portrait of a city as seen through the eyes of a foreigner, as she attempts to come to terms with her new surroundings and the contrast to the life she left in Brussels constantly referenced in the letters from her mother that are used to narrate the film.
Akerman films New York with the intricate eye of someone completely out of their depth, attempting to survive in a city they hardly know, emphasised by the concern of the letters from her mother.
News from Home is a contemplation of the inescapability of the past and how it informs the present viewed from a perspective of awe, confusion and intense deliberation. Godfrey Reggio Koyaanisqatsi, meaning life out of balance, is a poetic ode to absurdity constructed through cinematographic deconstructions of time and space.Nevertheless, as the essay film merrily traipses through celluloid history it intersects with ‘pure cinema’ at many turns and its form as such owes much to one particularly prominent variety thereof.
17 Essential Movies For An Introduction To Essay Films.
or simultaneously as an invitation into the expansive but hermetic world of the New York art scene in the late 60’s, of which Mekas’ himself was a central fixture. his erudition and poetic narration reinforcing the notion of history itself as recreated and retold by individuals.
16 Art cinema narration Goal bereft protagonists: characters observe rather than acting as causal agents. Elliptical and/or episodic linking of events. a novel, film, website, speech, essay, autobiography). Senior Secondary Australian Curriculum English Glossary Aesthetic A sense of beauty or an appreciation of artistic expression.
DB here: In the fading days of FilmStruck, Kristin and Jeff and I are looking forward to continuing our Observations on Film Art series on the new version of the Criterion Channel in the spring. (If you’re in the areas served, US and Canada, you can sign up here.I did already.
Modernist cinema and non-canonical art films, especially after , repudiate the hegemonistic story regime of classical Hollywood cinema by laying open the conditions of mediality and artificiality or by employing literary strategies not as an empathetic but as an alienating or decidedly modern factor of storytelling.
Thus narration in. Cinema of Attractions: The Features of Cinema Essay - According to Gunning (), spectacle dominates narrative in the early film-making industry (p.
59), whilst this is the most significant feature in the conception of “cinema of attraction”.