This page is dedicated to the Interpretive Question element of Michigan State Universities FLM 380 course w/ Professor McCallum.


IQ # 11 Andre’ Bazin: Theater, and Cinema

What makes it possible to believe that the cinema exists to discover or create a new set of dramatic facts is its capacity to transform theatrical situations that otherwise would never have reached their maturity.” (79)

From the outset of exposition, Bazin hints to a distaste for theatrical cinema.  His work Theater, and Cinema is both a historical reference, and breakdown of how theatrical works translate on screen. It seems at the heart of Bazin’s debate thrives the difference between the theatrical reality, the reality cinema creates, and how theatrical filmmaker’s do not seem to respect the power of cinema, and it’s importance.

it may be argued that the greater the dramatic quality of a work the more difficult it is to separate off the dramatic from the theatrical element.” (83) Here Bazin is exposing the difficulty in making a dramatic work without having theatrical elements.  At this point, I understand the historical referencing, and argument.  It feels as if he is making a case for theatrical conditioning, and how it has created attrition in the cinematic form.

What is important here is for the spectator to have the feeling of being totally present at what is going on, not as in Welles’ pictures (or in Renoir’s) through depth of focus, but by virtue of diabolic speed of vision which seems for the first time to be wedded here to the pure rhythm of attention.” (91) After reading this, I felt as if Bazin is drawing into question Hollywood aesthetic practices of DOF, and other film trickery by stating a films rhythm is what keeps the audiences attention. “Undoubtedly, all good editing take this into account.” (91)  This makes for a great supporting thought.  It is undeniable that post-production edits in shot-reverse-shot, and other cutting techniques definitely define a films rhythm, and it becomes clear that Bazin is trying to pull the curtain back to the reader, and show the great and powerful OZ who is the director is actually using theatricality in film more than we know, and hiding it with production techniques, and approaches.

To be in the presence of someone is to recognize him as existing contemporaneously with us, and to note that he comes within the actual range of our senses–in the case of cinema of our sight.” (96) I really felt at one with Bazin’s thought here.  As he describes the “presence”, and makes a comparative with the success of Olivier, and Welles, it can only draw comparison to modern day “A” level stars, and how they are paid to help a film succeed merely by billing.  This approach of casting successful actors help place the audience member contemporaneously in the diegetic world is so true.  It seems that Bazin is showing how this approach is also covering the theatricality in cinematic works by way of the presence, or so it reads to me.

Cinema is for them only a complementary form of theater, the chance to produce theater precisely as they feel, and see it.” (124) This final statement by Bazin feels like a  calling out of the system (which I loved). When he draws Welles, and Olivier into the argument, I believe he is making a clear cut case for the whoring of cinema by theatrically based directors. Bazin believes (I as well) the only way to capture a vision fully is by way of the cinema. I felt as if Bazin is saying theatrical director’s do not give cinema the respect it deserves, and instead, use it merely as a tool to capture their ultimate theatrical vision with disregard for the medium itself.

This leads to the questions: Is cinema being used merely as a tool by theatrical directors to realize their ultimate vision in a disrespectful manner?  Does the “presence” truly connect the actor with audience contemporaneously, and blind viewership from the theatrical reality being utilized by  film directors? Does the importance of an editor in film truly dictate rhythm, and cover the theatricality in a production?


IQ #10 Andre’ Bazin: The Ontology of the Photographic Image

“If the plastic arts were put under psychoanalysis, the practice of embalming the dead might turn out to be a fundamental factor in their creation.” (9)

The Ontology of the Photographic Image by Andre’ Bazin is an interesting deluge of personal opinion on why human beings attach deeply to the photographic image. Bazin’s attraction to the chronicling of life in the face of death throughout the piece reminds one of the affinity for realism in film theorists such as Kuleshov, and Kracauers. However, I do see a few differences in opinion, throughout.

The process might reveal that at the origin of painting and sculpture there lies a mummy complex.” (9) From the beginning, Bazin is stating how human beings use art to preserve the reality of existence beyond death. This preoccupation with the chronicling of life (reality) after death hints to the importance of reality in film, similar to Kuleshov when he exposed upon the artists relationship to his surrounding reality, and view of the world. Bazin seems to be taking Kuleshov argument a step further into the realm of artists identity with his own reality, post-life, and how important it is to chronicle one’s own voice through such plastic art.

“For the first time an image of the world is formed automatically, without the creative intervention of man.” (13) In this thought, however, obviously, Bazin is taking a different path than Kuleshov, and looking toward the lens as creating an automatic reality that skips over the creative interventions of man. This reminds me more of Kracauer’s belief that human’s have a primordial need for realism which supersedes the need for theatricality, or artistic merit.

Only the impassive lens, stripping its object of all those ways of seeing it, those piled-up preconceptions, that spiritual dust and grime with which my eyes have covered it, is able to present it in all its virginal purity to my attention and consequently to my love. (15) Here, Bazin seems to be hinting that photography’s realism strips away falsehoods accumulated over time, and produces a timeless chronicle of reality that he loves. The “virginal purity” would speak to the author’s belief that plastic arts chronicle reality first hand, and to Bazin; photography, and cinema in the realist mentality take away any preconceptions, and allow for a true way of seeing. Although Andre’ Bazin does make a specific argument on his theory that photography is timeless chronicle of reality that avoids preconception, I did feel at this point, he is merely exposing upon his thought, and not explaining fully how realism fully accomplishes this.

This leads one to the questions: Does Bazin establish the reason why realist style supersedes preconception? Is the plastic arts truly comparable to the Egyptian mummy in meaning to the spectator? Is realism presenting ‘virginal purity’, or rather relying upon regular conceptions, and perceptions of reality instead?_______________________________________________________________

IQ #9 Siegfried Kracauer: Inherent Affinities

What attracts us in these films is the miracle of movement as such. It adds a touch of cinema to them.” (300)

Inherent Affinities is Siegfried Kracauer’s further attempt at rationalizing the importance of movement in film, reality, theatricality, and it’s failure. What I like best about this writing is Kracauer’s logic-filled approach at showing the good, the bad, and the ugly to the film making process, and it’s attempt at creating realism to cover theatricality.

even a film with stagey settings–to mention this one aspect of stagy-ness may acquire cinematic quality provided it’s technical execution testifies to a sense of the medium: whereby it is understood, though, that such a film is under all circumstances less cinematic than a film devoted to camera reality.” (300) Here, Kracauer is stating film sets are much like a painting being art-like, and still. He uses  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Gates Of Hell as example. He compares how  actors (action) is where the reality in both films is found. When one considers this very basic notion, thinking of someone standing in front of a painting, and then moving, it does support his logic.

Kracauer uses Olivier’s Hamlet to further support his thoughts: “he must divide his attention between the two conflicting worlds which are supposed to merge into a whole, but actually do not blend well: the cinematic world suggested by camera movement, and the deliberately unreal world established by the stage designer.” (300) After watching the clip last week, I must attest, I, too found the constant camera movement in the film a failed attempt at simulating realism. Much like the author references in the writing, no matter what aesthetic approach, or production manipulation may take place while filming, it does seem (in Hamlet, anyway) the two do not blend, and this only exposes further how it is difficult to simulate cinematic realism in a theatrically driven film.

The affinity of film for haphazard contingencies is most strikingly demonstrated by its unwavering susceptibility to the “street.” (301) Kracauer brilliantly uses this example of shot insert, and staging to show how film productions attempt to cover theatricality by way of psychological identification, but this again, makes the theatrical portions of the film still seem “stagy” in comparison. “it might tentatively be said that films favor life in the form of everyday life–an assumption which finds some support in the medium’s primordial concern for actuality.” (305) Here again, the author is showing how film favors everyday life as a tool for immediate audience association, but it does seem as if Kracauer is also stating that human beings have a built-in need for actuality, so, we buy into what we are watching because this same deep-seeded need to see realism.

This can only lead one to the questions: Is it impossible to cover up theatricality in film with nuances of realism? Is there a narrative film in existence with Kracauer’s version of realism? Is the human primordial need for realism stronger, or weaker than the need for fantasy?


IQ # 8 Siegfried Kracauer: Basic Concepts 

Nevertheless photography, especially instantaneous photography, has a legitimate claim to top priority among these elements, for it undeniably is, and remains the decisive factor in establishing film content.” (291)

Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer’s writing Basic Concepts is an interesting one indeed. Kracauer is taken by the power found within instantaneous photography, and writes quite eloquently on how film fulfills the desire to capture, and manipulate reality. Much like the theorist, I often find myself questioning films ability to capture reality when technological intervention, and artistic merit are involved. When one considers how much viewership delights in the fantasy of cinema, his debate regarding reality vs. art in the film form becomes quite interesting.

All of them conveyed the longing for an instrument which would capture the slightest incidents of the world about us.” (291) Here Kracauer is exposing on how much the world was longing for a reflective instrument that could capture the reality of the world around us. It seems to me, however, that Kracauer begins to question the segue between mechanical invention, and artistic merit when he discusses how film uses artistry in creation.

“This implies that even films almost devoid of creative aspirations, such as newsreels, scientific, or educational films, artless documentaries, etc., are tenable propositions from an aesthetic point of view.” (299) This passage says to me the author believes that film of artless creation are tenable, or beyond argument of manipulation.  Kracauer (to me) implies that only film which focus’s on physical  existence have insight, and enjoyment which would be otherwise unattainable.  Considering the author’s deep need for reality/authenticity, I can see his POV, but on this point, I disagree from a personal standpoint because I love the manipulation of artistic merit, and I guess (according to the Kracauer’s definition) I have  low art type beliefs, so, I guess I have low art tastes per the Kracauer theory as well.

Meiles still remained the theater director he had been. He used photography in a pre-photographic spirit-for the reproduction of a paper-mache universe inspired by stage traditions. (294) Although I believe there is an underlying respect for Melies by Kracauer for his filmic innovations, during this passage, I felt as though the author was once again questioning the influence of artistry upon reality in film.  The immediate theatrical, paper-mache universe reference reminds me of Epstein’s theories on some levels.  Although Kracauer is correct (in my opinion) that theatricality in film is a difficult way to potray reality, I, once again, enjoy Melies: A Trip To The Moon with it’s paper-mache universe approach, and I take my own reality (or lack of it) from the aesthetic. Although Melies, and artistic merit in production may not produce reality per the Kracauer definition, it does have many levels of reality in the association viewership makes with a piece from an individual perspective, and relevent standpoint, and I like that element of artistry.

I was not sure in Kracauer’s piece Basic Concepts if he was fully committing to the “artistry is bad for film” theory, or if, in effect, he feels that efforts by a filmmaker can keep with the cinematic approach as long as they benefit in some way the medium’s substantive concern to the visible world. How viewership associates with said work seems really important, and although  I do like Kracauer, and his theories,  I also enjoy the low art end of film, and how it can create a real dialogue for the viewer in reflection.  This can only lead one to such questions: Does the filmmaker keep the cinematic approach when filming begins per the Kracauer theory, or lose it due to artistry?  Is  a filmic approach better, or worse due to said manipulation? and finally, Is Kracauer stating that auteur’s such as Meiles, and his paper-mache universe enhance, or destroy cinema with artistry instead of a more realistic approach?


IQ #7 Maya Deren: Cinematography: The Creative Use Of Reality

“The motion picture camera is perhaps the most paradoxical of all machines, in that, it can be once independently active, and infinitely passive. Kodak’s early slogan, “You push the button, it does the rest,” was not an exaggerated advertising claim.” (146)

In Cinematography: The Creative Use Of Reality, Maya Deren not only explores the world of possibilities found within the frame, but also exposes upon their paradoxical inequalities as well, however, during Ms. Deren’s exposition, I did find myself confused at times.

The photographic medium is, as a matter of fact, so amorphous that it is not merely unobtrusive, but virtually transparent, and so becomes, more than any other medium, susceptible of servitude to all of the others.” (146) I found this statement both eloquent, and confusing. Stating that cinematography is un-obtrusive, is understandable to me only if no one is running the camera, and there is no human influence. I can see how the frame can act in a passive nature, however, my internal dialogue tells me that any poetically inspired cinematographer is controlling, and manipulating the seen image, which makes the un-obtrusive claim a bit confusing because I wasn’t sure if the author meant un-obtrusive before human influence, or after.

And just as the sound film interrupted the development of film form on the commercial level by providing a more finished substitute, so the animated painting” is already being accepted as a form of film art in the few areas where experiments in film form can still find an audience.” (147) This statement by the author appears to support further human artistic influence over the frame, and further confused me as well. I understand her thoughts on the commercial appeal of animated painting, and sound film, but both of these elements (to me) fall under the artistic merit argument, and further seem to prove that a frame composed by an auteur cannot be fully un-obtrusive, and without intent. Although this is a similar thought, I was still on the fence a bit.

If realism is the term for a graphic image which precisely simulates some real object, then a phtograph must be differentiated from it as a form of reality itself.” (149) I really love the authors thought here, and although I am a bit confused by what Deren considers un-obtrusive, I do believe she frames it well by showing that necessary action to correctly capture an image per its demand of documenting is another example of the cinematographers choice upon how, and what is captured in the frame which shows more artistic merit, and less autonomy, or being un-obtrusive. The author is not capturing what is there, but rather, what they choose to let us see, and Deren is slightly alluding to that in this passage I believe.

This can only lead to the question: Is the photographic medium capable of being totally un-obtrusive when the frame is being captured by an artist who is choosing what, or what not to show? Doesn’t the success of elements such as animated painting, and sound film further support the control the artist has over all elements of film, including cinematography? Finally, isn’t the choices made by a cinematographer in how they capture the image less autonomous, and more obtrusive than non?


IQ #6 Epstein: On Certain Characteristics of Photogénie

The cinema is poetry’s most powerful medium, the medium most capable of realizing the unreal, the surreal, as Apollinaire would have said. This is why some of us have entrusted to it our highest hopes.” (296)

In On Certain Characteristics of Photogenie, Epstein continues his emulation, and criticism of cinema’s role, and importance to the world. However, I take issue with the statement above, and the articles irreverent tone that would suggest his theories are absolute with no measure of incontestability.

First, I believe that Epstein has merit when he states: “The cinema seems to me like two Siamese twins joined together at the stomach, in other words by the baser necessities of life, but sundered at the heart or by the higher necessities of emotion. The first of these brothers is the art of cinema, the second is the film industry.” (292) as both Eisenstein, and Dulac have both exposed, the controversy of cinema created strictly to appeal to a mass audience does indeed seem to watered down, and lacking in the factors that would classify such as Avant Garde Cinema. On this point,  I agree with all three author’s assumption, and comprehend their viewpoint.

However, on page 293 Epstein states: “For every art builds its forbidden city, its own exclusive domain, autonomous, specific, and hostile to anything that does not belong.” Within the framework of this statement is an immediate animosity for any outside entity that Epstein deems not worthy.  I will admit to becoming suspicious of Epstein’s superior tone on this point, and found myself a bit put off by the sheer arrogant manner in which he seems to put his own thoughts/art/beliefs above any which he deems not worthy. Although I do agree to the importance of cinema’s power, and relevance in my own life, I have a hard time swallowing such an elitist tone, and culture separation when I know first-hand the value of all art’s influence over cinema, including Avant Garde which makes the point a bit trivial/mute in my opinion.

“Similarly, cinema should avoid dealings, which can only be unfortunate, with historical, educational, novelistic, moral or immoral, geographical or documentary subjects. The cinema must seek to become, gradually and in the end uniquely, cinematic; to employ, in other words, only photogenic elements. Photogenie is the purest expression of cinema.” (293) Here again is another moment during the article I became skeptical.  I understand that Photogenie is art cinema, and all its glory, but I was confused on how cinema can reach the elitist heights that Epstein is trying to sell without utilizing all facets/dealings the world has to offer.  To leave out all other art influences, AND the above listed just seems pigeon-holing, and lacking in ability to fully capture the power that cinema could have. On this point I, again, became skeptical.

Finally on page 296, Epstein exposed: “This is the role of the author of a film, commonly called a film director. Of course a landscape filmed by one of the forty or four hundred directors devoid of personality whom God sent to plague the cinema as He once sent the locusts into Egypt looks exactly like this same landscape filmed by any other of these film-making locusts.” What is there to say here?  Angry? Defensive? Attacking?  Personally, I felt the article began with the goal of explaining the true nature of what Photogenie is, and morphed into a statement against against Classic Hollywood Cinema. This aspect of the article reminds me of both Eisenstein, and Dulac thoughts as well. Although I do see Epstein’s points throughout the article on such elements as the eye, and personality, the negative tone seems to ring through time, and again.  I believe the connection here (much like Eisenstein, and Dulac) is a distaste for Western Cinema in the attempt to make their own niche in the industry. Some of the aesthetic techniques, and approaches are meant for audience reaction which include the “Photogenie/Avant garde non-narrative constant avoidance, but after the last weeks readings, I find it difficult to divorce one-self from the feeling that some aspects of Avant Garde are created to simply make a niche in an industry that is controlled by the Capitalistic Western Cinema.  Although I know I should be commenting more on the artistic approaches of Avant Garde, and the definition of Photogenie, this factor is such a strong narrative over our last week’s reading, it is almost impossible to ignore.

This leads one to the questions: Is the poetry of cinema truly the most powerful, most capable medium at realizing the unreal to the point of disregarding all other art forms, and proclaiming superiority?  Can this be done while disregarding elements such as history, immorality, and geographical subject matter? Lastly, how much of Avant Garde cinema is a creation of actual representation, and not an attempt to create a niche of cinema outside the Western dominated industry that controls the world at that time?


IQ #5: Eisenstein: Structure of the Film/Sound Statement

“Composition takes the structural elements of the portrayed phenomena, and from these composes its canon for building the containing work.” (151)

In Eisenstein’s next essay: Structure of the Film, the author begins to delve into the actual composition of film itself, which, he does mention, is not being reviewed much at that time in history.  This is yet, another writing of Eisenstein that I could identify with.  I really enjoyed when the author states: “It is exactly thus, on a base of inter playing human emotions, on a base of human experience, that the cinema must also build its structural approaches and its most difficult compositional constructions.” (152)  I would be remiss if I did not mention how much I agree, and totally support this theory. Art itself is nothing without the audiences interaction, and viewership, so, with that said, Eisenstein’s brilliant exposition on how important human experience, and emotions to film, and how creators must take this into consideration when approaching structure, and difficult compositional constructions is right on.  I won’t lie, this may be one of my favorite passages I have read in this class thus far.

And the event, as it is unfolded on the screen according to a timetable of the running of this, or that passion, thrown back from the screen, involves the emotions of the spectator according to the same timetable, arousing in him the same tangle of passions which originally designed the compositional scheme of the work. This is the secret of the genuinely emotional affect of real composition. Employing for source the structure of emotion, it unmistakably appeals to emotion, unmistakably arouses the complex of those feelings that gave birth to the composition. In all the media of art.” (153) This passage reminds me (in small increments) of Balazs’s theory on the spectator first person perspective theory (although not the same, has elements).  This is the only part of the conversation I begin to sway a bit.  Although I do agree with Eisenstein’s thinking here, I do wonder how much Eisenstein truly worries about the narrative success when compared to the eliciting of emotion response from montage itself.  I am reading of composition, and a regurgitation of the visual/aural points from the Fourth Dimension reading, but it just seems to me (in light of our delay in understanding in class) after viewing his films that possibly the contradiction of shots, jarring feeling, and emotional reaction is more important than actual narrative support, which, in turn makes me believe that possibly montage does work against the diegesis at times.

As we can see, no matter what example we take, the method of composition remains the same. In all cases, its basic determinant remains primarily the relation of the author. In all cases, it is the deed of man, and the structure of human deeds that prefigures the composition. The decisive factors of the compositional structure are taken by the author from the basis of his relation to phenomena. This dictates structure and characteristics, through which the portrayal itself is unfolded.”  (157) I had to make this my last quote to tie the piece up because it is the moment I feel the strongest about. As I read Eisenstein’s passage, I can only reflect on this being the pre-cursor to the auteur theory so widely thought of in during the Cahiers du cinema.  It is my loose translation of Eisenstein’s word that points to the compositional structure being decisively controlled from beginning to end by the author/auteur/director. Eisenstein is basically stating the diegetic world is controlled by the directors relationship with the phenomena.  Not to be the “agreement” to everything Eisenstein again today, but I do feel pretty strongly on this topic. I agree with Mr. Eisenstein, and Bazin, and Godard, and Truffaut.  The diegetic world of a film is author-ed by the director.  Although I lean more toward the Bazin argument that we must be more “open-minded” as directors, and all film be considered, I do see the author, and his relationship with the phenomena being vital to not only composition, but narrative, and mise en scene as well. I do, however, think that possibly Eisenstein, and montage can work against narrative, which, can effect compositional structure if you wish to tell a story the audience can relate too.  At times, for as much Eisenstein “love” I may have, I do think his theory does trade narrative for the jarring, contradicting aesthetic approach which jeopardizes the narrative conveyance, but that is just a personal thought.

This leads me to the question: Is Eisenstein one of the fore-fathers of the auteur movement?  Does the directors relationship with the phenomena jeopardize the narrative if he manipulates it too much?  Considering the success of reality based films, and TV, should the cinema focus more on the inter playing of human emotion (1st person), and experiences, and less on fictional/artistic cinema with less difficult compositional constructions?


IQ #4: Eisenstein: A Dialectic Approach to Film Form

It is art’s task to make manifest the contradictions of Being, to form equitable views by stirring up contradictions within the spectator’s mind, and to forge accurate intellectual concepts from the dynamic clash of opposing passions.” (46)

In the essay: A Dialectic Approach to Film Form by Sergei Eisenstein, the author extensively covers his theory on the montage approach. After reading his exposition, I found the piece both intriguing, and reaching.

On page 46 the author seems to have a focus on the connection between art, and mathematics when he states:”Hypertrophy of the purposive initiative-the principles of rational logic-ussifies art into mathematical technicalism. (A painted landscape becomes a topographical map, a painted Saint Sebastian becomes an anatomical chart.) Hypertrophy of organic naturalness of organic logic-dilutes art into normlessness.” (46) I like his train of thought on this matter because logic would point to the fact that mathematics technicalism can associate mise en scene, and algorithmic edited jump cuts. I can see where mathematics, nature, and film do collide in a smorgasbord of screen-time parallels that do, indeed, associate one with the other, so, this does make sense to me, for however crazy that may sound.

I found Eisenstein’s review of the formal nature of montage enjoyable as well, even when he is reaching. “It is art’s task to make manifest the contradictions of being” (46), or “Art is always conflict, according to its methodology.” (46) Although I like the thinking here,  I do believe that art can be simply anything, and does not need to be conflicting. Now for the record, I understand his theory of conflicting between natural existence, and artistic tendency, but when an apple fall from the tree, it’s natural existence has been compromised, that doesn’t mean it is conflicting. I believe  you can film an apple sitting on a table without movement, it can be called art without being conflicting as well because the apple was taken from the ground after it fell from its original orientation, that doesn’t mean its  conflicting, or filled with artistic intentions. Although Mr. Eisenstein’s argument has validity on some levels, I do believe the definition of art has both evolved, and de-evolved since this writing, and Mr. Eisenstein may be reaching a bit on this claim, yet, at the same time, I was also convinced by it.

However, for what confusion Eisenstein lends to the argument in the prior, he covers nicely in the latter when he states: “montage is an idea that arises from the collision of independent shots-shots even opposite to one another: the “dramatic” principle.’ (49) This simple statement is the obvious evolution in Eisenstein’s thinking. For whatever far fetched theory he may have prior, this eloquent idea shows his handle on the topic. I really like his thought here, the passage is both timely, and necessary to tie the piece together. The collision of shots, and abrupt manner that comes with the montage aesthetic not only produce a psychological, but emotional reaction in the viewer for which the director seemingly controls.

My question then becomes: How essential is montage to film? What effect does it have on the audience, and does it work parallel with the narrative, create narrative, or work independently? It seems to be widely suggested throughout our readings that montage attempts to be a “OZ behind the curtain” type of controlling force that manipulates the spectators perception through aesthetic. The ultimate question would then be: What is the extent of power that montage has in cinema?


IQ #3: Kuleshov’s Principles of Montage

The artists relationship to his surrounding reality, his view of the world, is not merely expressed in the entire process of shooting, but in montage as well, in the capacity to see, and to present the world around him.” (137)

In “Principles of Montage”, Kuleshov puts forth the idea that an artists relationship with the world around him is expressed through montage. Similar to Godard’s auteur theory that came later, Kuleshov extends the notion that filmmaking reflects the director’s personal feelings on political, social, and moral issues with the use of the montage techinique. Kuleshov uses this writing to make clear his connection between montage, and ideology that not only make sense to me, but on some levels, support his claims.

On page 137, Kuleshov discusses Ideology in relation to montage when he states “A variety of social encounters, a class struggle takes place in reality, and the artist’s existence within a particular social class influences his world-view.” Here Kuleshov is meshing the idea of montage, and ideology being symbiotic which is reflected on-screen in the film Borderline. The race-class struggle shown in Borderline helped connect the theory in a more textural way for me, and it became cohesive while viewing the film.

Kuleshov attributes great importance to film being able to achieve ideological success. He speaks at lengths about that importance when discussing the labor of working with bad acting (typage), and other aesthetic approaches necessary in montage. However, throughout the text, he still keeps the motivation the achievement of personal ideological conveyance. “We must remember once, and for all that all artistic sources are fine for the achievement of ideological success in film.” (144)

So, with this in mind, my question then becomes, based on the idea of ideology in montage as Kuleshov states, does the spectator truly adopt the ideological views the director is trying to produce like blank minded sheep ready for brainwashing? Does montage truly find success when used for propaganda, social change, and exposing class struggle?


IQ #2: Balazs/Passion of Jeanne d’Arc

     Personally, I felt that Jeanne d’Arc was an aesthetically beautiful film. As the class commented on, the extreme close-ups, and jump cut editing not only gave the work an interesting look, but also helped the narrative form a stronger connection with the audience, was more emotive, and aids the melodramatic exposition overall.
       While reading Bela Balazs work after watching the film, I was struck by how it directly coincides with many elements in Jeanne d’Arc.  I also found the reading to run parallel with many of Arnheim’s thoughts at times.  Like Arnheim, Balazs seems to be concerned with the particulars in film assemblage such as montage, and the ability to vary distance/angle with respect to staged action.  Balazs states that film is not so much a mental phenomenon, but rather an instrument for creating a new understanding of the world.  I believe this can be directly applied to Dreyer’s film as well.  The way the director uses the close-up framing on Joan, and the judges  not only offers a window onto their thoughts, but perhaps, even their soul. It is almost as if the film gives a spiritual, or psychological element to the entire conflict. These are directly addressed by Balazs, in his writing, and beautifully showcased in Jeanne d’Arc as well.
        I also felt the close up framing was a director’s choice in trying to create the feeling of a claustrophobic, almost captive feeling that coincides with Joan being a prisoner.  It seemed to me, the entire film had a very diminutive spaciality, and seemed a purposeful choice by the director to help the audience achieve that feeling of uncomfortability that Joan is going through while captive,  and tortured. This again, is nicely covered in Balazs writing.   When he states that film is an instrument for creating a new understanding for the world, that is exactly what the director is doing.  Dryer uses the frame to create the  feeling of being a prisoner, this is a great example of using film as an instrument for creating the understanding of the world Joan is forced to live in, and helps the audience sympathize with her plight.
       After watching the film, and reading Bela Balazs work, I can see just how much the mechanical function of film does adjust the audiences perception of the diegetic world.  It reminds me of the mechanical manipulations of montage referred to by these authors, and others such as Eisenstein, who relishes in the format.  This leads me to the question: Just how much does montage, and jump cut editing control the audiences emotions in film making when being used as a narrative tool.