30.01.2018
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What is Cinema? (Vol. 2) [PDF]

by André Bazin
An influential film critic and theorist, André Bazin was the founder of the reknowned and pioneering film journal, Cahiers du cinéma.

Bazin was a major force in post-World War II film studies and criticism. In addition to editing Cahiers until his death, a four-volume collection of his writings was published posthumously from 1958 to 1962 and titled Qu'est-ce que le cinéma? (What is Cinema?). Two of these volumes were translated into English in the late 1960s and 1970s and became mainstays of film courses in the US and England.

Bazin argued for films that depicted what he saw as "objective reality" (such as documentaries and films of the Italian neorealism school) and directors who made themselves "invisible" (such as Howard Hawks). He advocated the use of deep focus (Orson Welles), wide shots (Jean Renoir) and the "shot-in-depth", and preferred what he referred to as "true continuity" through mise en scène over experiments in editing and visual effects. This placed him in opposition to film theory of the 1920s and 1930s which emphasized how the cinema can manipulate reality. The concentration on objective reality, deep focus, and lack of montage are linked to Bazin's belief that the interpretation of a film or scene should be left to the spectator.

Bazin believed that a film should represent a director's personal vision, rooted in the spiritual beliefs known as personalism. These ideas would have a pivotal importance on the development of the auteur theory, the manifesto for which was François Truffaut's 1954 Cahiers article "A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema". Bazin also is known as a proponent of "appreciative criticism," wherein only critics who like a film can write a review of it, thus encouraging constructive criticism.

In 2009, in response to widespread dissatisfaction with existing English translations of Bazin's writings, the Montreal publisher caboose brought out a new translation of selected essays from What is Cinema?. This was also the first and to date only corrected edition of Bazin's writings in any language.
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1 comment

1. Persia Emily | 30.01.2018 17:33

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Thank you! Great book!

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