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Transitions in early film theory: The politics of Siegfried Kracauer as émigré intellectual Transitions: Race, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change. Markus.

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Presentation on theme: "Transitions in early film theory: The politics of Siegfried Kracauer as émigré intellectual Transitions: Race, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change. Markus."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transitions in early film theory: The politics of Siegfried Kracauer as émigré intellectual Transitions: Race, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change. Markus Rheindorf

2 1889: born in Frankfurt/Main 1933: leaves Berlin for Paris 1941: escapes to the U.S. 1941/42: studies of newsreel propaganda 1947: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film 1960: Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality Transitions in early film theory Biographical Outline

3 Transitions in Kracauers theory of film A critique of disciplinary historiography –contradictions and inconsistencies Kracauers conception of language –language in film –film as language Re-articulating the politics of early film theory –a changing cultural context, changing conditions of possibility … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … Transitions in early film theory Structure

4 Conceptions of film as language: An Esperanto of the Eye The (language of the) soliloquy of the collective unconscious The language of things vs. the language of Man … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … Transitions in early film theory Film as Langugage

5 1)Clair, Keaton, and Chaplin: an Esperanto of the Eye... unfolding as one unbroken monologue. (1929) … speaking the language of gestures in a manner that reduces any spoken word to a mere parasite. (1931) … devising gestures and situations which communicate to the children and adults of all peoples a point of view which could only by described with great difficulty in language. (1931) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.1 Film as Langugage – An Esperanto of the Eye Transitions in early film theory...

6 1)Clair, Keaton, and Chaplin: an Esperanto of the Eye... based on an exemplary and common human ground. (1931) … nullifies any differences of class, religion or economic standing. (1931) … layers of material life that words cannot penetrate. (1939) … lures one from the material domain in which everything simply happens into the domain of discursive rationality, in which everything is always already labeled and linguistically digested. (1939) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.1 Film as Langugage – An Esperanto of the Eye Transitions in early film theory...

7 1)Clair, Keaton, and Chaplin: an Esperanto of the Eye visual vs. verbal/linguistic universal image vs. national language tönende Film vs. Sprechfilm Film as language Language in film … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.1 Film as Langugage – An Esperanto of the Eye Transitions in early film theory...

8 2)Film as soliloquy of the collective unconscious From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film … what films reflect are not so much explicit credos as psychological dispositions – those deep layers of collective mentality which extend more or less below the dimension of consciousness. (1947) never the product of an individual and thus embodies a mixture of heterogeneous interests and inclinations, excluding arbitrary handling of screen material in favor of traits common to many people (1947) address themselves appeal to the anonymous masses, therefore satisfy existing mass desires (1947) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.2 Film as Langugage – The Soliloquy of the Collective Unconscious Transitions in early film theory...

9 2)Film as soliloquy of the collective unconscious Establishing the readability of film … the visible hieroglyphs of the unseen dynamics of human relations. (1947) … divulged their messages […] as if they were the confessions of someone talking in his sleep. (1947) … a dreamlike transcription of what the German middle class actually experienced. (1947) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.2 Film as Langugage – The Soliloquy of the Collective Unconscious Transitions in early film theory...

10 2)Film as soliloquy of the collective unconscious Language in film vs. visuals corrupt vs. natural and primal the sphere of articulate reasoning vs. the penetration of the unintentional … This is precisely what the mature silent films had done. They came upon levels below the dimension of consciousness […]. But when dialogue took over, unfathomable imagery withered and intentional meanings prevailed. (1947) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.2 Film as Langugage – The Soliloquy of the Collective Unconscious Transitions in early film theory...

11 2)Film as soliloquy of the collective unconscious … Talkies are as symptomatic of mass attitudes as silent films, although analysis of these attitudes is hampered rather than facilitated by the addition of spoken words. (1947) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.2 Film as Langugage – The Soliloquy of the Collective Unconscious Transitions in early film theory...

12 3)Film as the Language of Things Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality (1960) … an imaginative reader intent on studying and deciphering an elusive text […] steeped in the book of nature … (1960) This field, Rossellini told the cameraman, had been there a hundred, maybe a thousand years, and it had taken nature that long to fashion the field and to distribute and color the rocks, and what right had he, the cameraman, to think he could improve on nature? (1960) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.3 Film as Language – Language of Things vs. Language of Man Transitions in early film theory...

13 3)Film as the Language of Things … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 3.3 Film as Language – Language of Things vs. Language of Man Transitions in early film theory... image neutral observation natural ambiguous natural order of things truth/reality Language of Things word intellectual argument abstraction unequivocal meaning ideology manipulation Language of Man

14 4)Cultural Studiess Contextualism and Theory of Articulation ad 3.1) An Esperanto of the Eye context of the Weimar Republic, its traumata and desperate hopes ad 3.2) Soliloquy of the collective unconscious … deep psychological dispositions predominant in Germany form 1928 to 1933 […] which influences the course of events during that time and which will have to reckoned with in the post-Hitler era. (1947) … help in the planning of films […] which will effectively implement cultural aims of the United Nations. (1947) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 4 A Cultural History of Film Theory Transitions in early film theory...

15 4)Cultural Studiess Contextualism and Theory of Articulation ad 3.2) Soliloquy of the collective unconscious … Homunculus walked about in the flesh. Self-appointed Caligaris hypnotized innumerable Cesares into murder. Raving Mabuses committed fantastic crimes with impunity, and mad Ivans devised unheard-of tortures. (1947) ad 3.2) The Language of Things the spiritually shelterless […] un-American masses, spreading like a highly contagious epidemic. (1960) … die Einheit alles Tönenden überhaupt … 4 A Cultural History of Film Theory Transitions in early film theory...

16 Transitions in early film theory: The politics of Siegfried Kracauer as émigré intellectual Transitions: Race, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change. Markus Rheindorf


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