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Andrew Tudor

Related: film criticism - film theory


Andrew Tudor is a film theorist and author of several books on visual culture.

Theories of Film (1974) - Andrew Tudor

In search of cinematic realism

Theories of Film (1974) - Andrew Tudor
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While Kracauer and Bazin located cinematic realism in distraction and plotlessness, which they saw as structurally analogous to the unscripted, indeterminate, ‘underplotted’ nature of reality, many recent films dilute even further the modality or intensity of narrative, spatializing time into disconnected and, through editing, treated as parallel narrative strands. This kind of indeterminacy proceeds from overplotting, from an excess of disconnected, reversible (i.e. meaningless) phenomena, events, and characters which acquire a minimal, purely formal kind of significance by virtue of being placed alongside one another: their only ‘meaning’ consists in their allegedly simultaneous existence with other phenomena, events and characters. --Realism in European Film Theory and Cinema (3/1/06; collection) by Trifonova, Temenuga via http://cfp.english.upenn.edu/archive/2006-02/0017.html [Oct 2006]

The next chapter [of Theories of Film, Andrew Tudor.(NY: Viking, Cinema One Series, 1974)] is called “The Aesthetics of Realism: Bazin and Kracauer.” Tudor is sympathetic to Kracauer’s desire to formulate a consistent aesthetic system, but argues that Kracauer is hopelessly confused and in any case perpetually hedging his bets (seesawing on the question of whether “realism” involves being real in a certain sense or only appearing real). Among Kracauer’s assumptions which Tudor cannot accept is one that Kracauer shares with Bazin. An essentialist approach posits that a medium has a “nature”—in film’s case, a photographic nature which determines its “natural affinity” with recording and revealing reality. Tudor cannot accept this non-social aesthetic of the “real.” He sees in both Kracauer and Bazin a combination of positivism and romantic faith in nature, which is in any case ultimately anti-cinematic. --William Rothman via http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC09folder/TheoriesofFilm.html [Oct 2006]

I must mention a final slender point of disagreement. By including Murnau and Dreyer as realists Bazin is falling into the same trap that Siegfried Kracauer does when he accepts certain fantastical/formalistic scenes when they are in the proper "realist" context, such as a dream or a specific point of view (Tudor 94). Bazin is on shaky ground when he removes Nosferatu and The Passion of Joan of Arc from the expressionistic mode on the frail basis of Nosferatu's on-location photography and Dreyer's refrain from the use of make-up for his actors (Bazin, What is Cinema Vol.1 109-110). What then becomes of Nosferatu's sinister shadows, fast motion and negative photography, and expressionistic acting, and The Passion of Joan of Arc's abstraction of space and extreme reliance on close-ups? In neither case do the slim realist tendencies compensate for the overwhelming artistic intervention, as does Welles' spatial realism for example. Both films fail to completely qualify for either of Bazin's realistic camps –the documentary- like "pure" realism or the spatial realism. Although one can argue that Nosferatu is 'more realist' than other expressionist films of the time, and that The Passion of Joan of Arc is so unique and iconoclastic in style, that the affect on the spectator is one of realism. --Donato Totaro via http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/bazin_intro.html [Oct 2006]

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