May
11
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by btrachtenberg100 on 11-05-2010

The concept of the Avant Garde cinema is one that I feel conflicted with in terms of my feelings of authenticity. Whereas many films contain a very meticulous narrative, I feel too many of thee experimental films are put together haphazardly. Granted, there are so many areas of experimental cinema and the spectrum is so large that to generalize like this would not be right. Thomson and Bordwell describe this particular venue of films as those of personal expression. In the case of Kenneth Anger, or Maya Deren I can understand how their unique perspectives, despite lack of conventional narrative, produce a film that displays the idiosyncrasies and feelings of the filmmakers. When it comes to films that utilize the montage technique exclusively by cutting together completely unrelated footage and attempt to create meaning out of the juxtaposition of images, the meaning becomes to broad and subjective. I’m all for subjectivity, but these films can be read into in so many ways that I feel the filmmaker becomes merely a circumstantial term because of the medium. What I can say about these types of films that I find intriguing is that they seem to make the viewer implement the technique of free association to impose meaning on the images. In this case anyone who applies transitional cutting conventions into the montage can create a film that has infinite meaning.
I happen to be infatuated with Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon for its Freudian symbolism and intimate look into the psyche’s development of the suicidal impulse through the conflict between the different components of the feminine persona. Maya Deren says that there are two types of films; the horizontal, which emphasize plot and structure, and the vertical, which emphasizes what the film means in the moment rather than what it is actually happening. In this sense I can appreciate the compilation method of experimental filmmaking, although I am still a bit skeptical if the filmmaker hasn’t actually shot the footage himself. Although I think Ms Deren would agree with me regarding the antagonism I have for compiled film, for she seems to be of the opinion that surrealism relies to much on the unconscious (as free association does), rather than the “logical extension of a known reality” which are the fundamental components of creativity. Art, in her opinion is a deliberate extension of our creative impulses.
Another issue that bothers me is the idea of films, being considered films if the celluloid haven’t even been exposed to light. Films like Moth light seem to be the products of someone more familiar with the painting canvas. It’s almost as though Picasso made a flipbook. The definition of film seems to impede upon the projection factor rather than the actual filming. If I were to glue frames to a canvas to create a physical expression of film, it would be considered more in line with painting than film, because it would not be able to be run through a projector. With the age of digital weighing down on us, this idea of playing with the raw materials of old fashioned filmmaking seems obsolete and any product in this fashion today seems strictly nostalgic.

May
03
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by btrachtenberg100 on 03-05-2010

I always find it amusing to learn the background and philosophy of a filmmaker. I find it has a similar function to understanding the life of a poet; for once you are put into the context of their work, their work becomes more profound in that you can enter into their mind through the manifested mental construct of poesy. Jean-Luc Godard is an interesting case. He started out as a critic of cinema, and this seems to be directly linked to his style of filmmaking that is clearly reflexive and deconstructs the conventions of Hollywood cinema. Breaking the 180 degree rule, eye line confusion, jump cuts, looking at the camera, ellipses in the action, and lack of clear causality mark his film “Breathless”. Despite these sometimes confusing aspects, the film contains some very complex existential ideas that are reflected in the unconventionality of the narrative.
When Patricia is attending the interview, the subject, a famous author, says that his greatest ambition is to become immortal and then to die. This idea resonates throughout the film and interacts directly with the issues of love and fidelity. The relationship between Michel and Patricia seems a bit muddled and unconventional, but this leaves room for topics such as love to be discussed in a more objective and philosophical manner. I assert that the reason that Michel sticks around is for love, for he asserts that life isn’t worth living without love. At the end of the film, his death leaves this idea unresolved, as love seemed to make Michel immortal in his actions and attitudes yet he dies, but not without a smile on his face. The questions that remain unsolved are posed to us and make us rethink about the roles we play in our own lives.
This breaking down of the fundamental principles of cinema connects really well with “La Jet’ee”; a film that is composed of still images. I find this film fascinating in that it is essentially a series of jump cuts, but each still presupposes a shot that doesn’t actually exist. This feeds into the themes the film explores regarding mortality and the assertion of a future that doesn’t yet exist, yet still exists. The films style is reminds me of the deliberate breaking of conventions used in “Breathless”, in that it directly violates the element that makes a film, film; motion. The series of pictures makes me feel as though I am actually sifting through someone’s memories, almost as though I were flipping through a photo album. Jean-Luc Godard said in the article that “Whoever one films will grow older and die. So one is filming a moment of death at work”. Being that the nature of the film “La Jet’ee” revolves around the circular logic of the inevitability of fate, the still pictures indicate to me a sort of purgatory that is created out of memories and the linking of dreams to reality. The still quality of the film also juxtaposes the ideas of immortality and the ephemeral nature of life. The protagonist in “La Jet’ee” actually achieves this level of immortality by transcending time but ultimately dies through the act of trying to preserve his love, ultimately fulfilling his fate by preserving the memory of his own death in his younger self. Pictures provide a sense of immortality in the film and plays with the idea of being immortal even with the subconscious knowledge of ones own death.

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