PDF Download. The guiding myth, then, inspiring the invention of cinema, is the accomplishment of that which dominated in a more or less vague fashion all the techniques of the mechanical reproduction of reality in the nineteenth century, from photography to the phonograph, namely an integral realism, a recreation of the world in its own image, an image unburdened by the freedom of interpretation of the artist or the irreversibility of time. If cinema in its cradle lacked all the attributes of the cinema to come, it was with reluctance and because its fairy guardians were unable to provide them however much they would have liked to. Bazin saw the reproduction of imagery, sound, and motion as the beginning of this endeavor, and the addition of color, sound, and widescreen as bringing cinema closer to our actual sensory experience of the world; and he supposed that other additions like stereoscopy would be added in the future, as the experience that cinema provided grew asymptotically closer to lived experience. Today, while faster cutting, special effects, and an ever-increasing number of image alteration technologies would seem to work against an increase in cinematic realism although special effects have at the same time allowed for the increase in the realism of what they depict , other technologies, like the recent return of 3-D, and cinematic technology exploring higher resolution imagery and projection with higher frame rates, suggest that the Myth of Total Cinema is alive and well, as does all the hype surrounding the history of virtual reality technology and its cinematic imaginary as found in films such as Total Recall , eXistenZ , and The Matrix series and , wherein Total Cinema, with its reproduction of experiences indistinguishable from lived experience, has been technologically achieved.
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It is understandable from this point of view that it would be absurd to take the silent film as a state of primal perfection which has gradually been forsaken by the realism of sound and colour. The primacy of the image is both historically and technically accidental. The nostalgia that some still feel for the silent screen does not go far enough back into the childhood of the seventh art. The real primitives of the cinema, existing only in the imaginations of a few men of the nineteenth century, are in complete imitation of nature.
Every new development added to the cinema must, paradoxically, take it nearer and nearer to its origins. In short, cinema has not yet been invented! During the developments which allowed the first films to come to life, there needed to be a goal. Otherwise, the first hazy images of a person recorded on film would have sufficed. Instead, the next aim of making those hazy figures seen clearly, or making them heard stood as a benchmark for what needed to be improved with the fledgling mechanisms.
Perhaps one built around abstraction, dream logic, expressionism etc? If the sets were straightened out, the camera would record them as straight, not all wonky. Like your senses, the recording equipment has some problems of mediation that inflect the exact reproduction of the stuff in front of the lens, but it makes a good stab at reproducing what it sees without interfering too much. Is there only one perceptual sense of the world in whose image the cinema is to model its representations?
Bazin seems to have misidentified the reasons for the develoment of the cinematic apparatus. He even has to fall back on a fairy metaphor:. If cinema in its cradle lacked all the attributes of the cinema to come, it was with reluctance and because its fairy guardians were unable to provide them however much they would have liked to.
No fairies were available for comment. He was an idealist, not an idiot. Now you can get on with the task of critiquing the notion of a continuous, unified external reality and of film as the perfect medium for conveying a sense of said reality.
Thanks for taking the time. Much appreciated. Do you think that Bazin is engaged with the real, or is he, as his critics maintain, just presuming it is there as an objective entity and modelling his understanding of cinema accordingly?
The fact that nature intervened cast a shadow of belief over the image. But the new sentence, I think, retains the same sense that Bazin is after. To put it another way, if in baroque painting work must be done to bring objectivity to it we can think of photography requiring work to be done to bring subjectivity to it.
Painting will be freed from the work required to give it a sense of objectivity and photography will be freed from the work required to give it a sense of subjectivity. In science there is a distinction made between real images and virtual images. A real image is defined as that image which would occupy a screen such as a movie screen. A virtual image, on the othr hand, is where an otherwise real image for example on our retina appears to be located outside ourselves in space.
For example we would speak of a reflection in a mirror as being a virtual image since it refers to where the reflection appears to be in space. These are not necessarily two different images. The reflection we see in a mirror can be regarded as the virtual component of what is otherwiseas constituted on our retina, which would be the real component.
Now there is some ambiguity here since an image on a movie screen is also where the same image, on our retina, appears to be otherwise located, outside of ourselves, on the screen. This would tend to suggest the image on the movie screen is also virtual. It is. The virtual component of the retinal image and the real component of the movie screen image, coincide with each other, at the same location in space: the movie screen.
The virtual component of the retinal image appears located in the mirror but there is no corresponding real component a screen image , occupying the same location within the mirror.
Without this understanding Bazin could very well appear to be promoting a cinema of the mirror, against which one could then argue the cinema can only be for better or worse deficient in this regard. In these words we see that Bazin is not at all investing in any virtual reality model of the cinema. It is towards real images rather than virtual images in the optics sense , ie. This is not to say that the virtual is ignored. To the surrealists Bazin turns for clarification on this:.
What Bazin is arguing is that photography is that which certain painters up until the invention of photography had been otherwise only able to represent through their art — the idea of photography, since photography had not yet been invented.
The invention of photography is then the realisation of that idea. Photography was the model for a certain kind of painting. Painting could only represent a photographic image whereas a photographic image was that image. In Bazin this question is not in any way better answered. Or better, that the photographic image itself is reality. The photographic image is a reality in itself.
It is that reality which certain painters otherwise represented in paint. Or that CGI artists otherwise represent in computer animation. Beyond this reality, ie. But what? No, it will forever remain invoked but unexplained. As if it were not in need of such. What is obviously at issue in much of contemporary theory is not really any philosophical problem with the concept of reality as such — ie.
The solution for Manovich and others is that the cinema has at least two parents, a history of animation and a history of photography, neither of which can claim sole custody of their child. The mutually exclusive definitions of cinema that Manovich and others will want to hold apart from each other, lest they come face to face with each other, and implode, can be brought together.
They will not implode. The result is cinema. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
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Influential Theorists: Andre Bazin – The Myth of Total Cinema
The Myth of Total Cinema. Bazin attempts to add to this position by examining the history and emergence of the technology of cinema. Bazin goes on to explain that:. Any account of the cinema that was drawn from technical invention that made it possible would be a poor one indeed. On the contrary, an approximate and complicated visualization of an idea invariably precedes the industrial discovery which alone can open the way to its practical use. Bazin is arguing that a conception, an understanding of cinema, cannot, or should not, be drawn from the economic and technological development of photography.
THE MYTH OF TOTAL CINEMA
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