Archive forFebruary, 2010

Epstein, Breton, Artaud, Duloc readings.

Surrealist cinema is a topic that I find quite interesting, especially that I took a surrealism class! People like Breton and Marcel Duchamp made surrealism truly what it is. Breton really set the stage for surrealism. According to him, the mind of a concious man is dangerous. They are rules that are followed from society and it shouldn’t be that way. You should be able to do as you wish, just as you would in a dream. There are many restrictions in the rational mind. Rationality was the true danger at the time. After WWI and being able to see all of the soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress is enough to make anyone wish they just stayed asleep and as if nothing had ever happened in those rough times. Breton also stated that “The mind of the dreaming man is fully satisfied with whatever happens to it.” I find this to be one of my favorite lines from Breton beacuse he couldn’t be more correct! In a dream, anything can happen. You can be with whoever you want, have a million dollars, the possibilities are endless!

Artaud is a fellow surrealist that agrees with Breton’s views. He states that “Dreams have more than their logic. They have their life, in which there appears an intelligent and somber truth.” This statement speaks volumes because dreams always manage to have a way to be able to portray harbored feelings in a way that can’t be depicted in real life because of restrictions of rationality. He continues to talk about a screenplay that is able to depict these types of “somber truths” that coming soley from the mind and not from a situation that they had originally developed from. He also called these dreams “the epidermis of reality” which I found to be quite clever, because is a quirky way, he’s right. Dreams are the surface in which real-life situations are acted out and is great materical for cinema!
Jean Epstein’s “Magnification” was also another interesting reading. He referred to the close-up as “the soul of cinema”. Until reading this, I never really understood what close-ups really did. Epstein really has a fascination with them and feels that it brings cinema to life. Being able to see wrinkles, or the way that a person’s eye moves is very interesting to him. I have to say that I don’t necessarily agree. I think that body language can speak volumes, not close-ups. While he is correct in saying that close-ups to limit and direct attention on one main object, I don’t think that a whole movie should consist of close-ups. He does mention a stroller passing by and bending down to sniff the flowers. I can absolutely agree that having a close-up on the flower is a brilliant idea. It shows us, the viewers, how beautiful the flower really is and from this stroller’s perspective.

Dulac’s “The Essence of Cinema” was a little bit more difficult to understand. What I gathered from the reading is that Dulac feels that cinema is like no other expression of art and should not be treated as so. There are things that can be expressed through cinema, like the stages of life of a flower, that cannot be expressed through any other artforms. Dulac states,”The cinema, as we conceive it today, is nothing but the mirror of the other arts. Well, it is too big a thing to remain only a mirror, it must be freed from its chains and be given its true personality. In its technique, nothing links it to the pre-existing arts.” This statement is able to show that Dulac thinks that it is time for cinema to be considered a whole new type of artform. It needs to stop being a mirror and stop hiding behind other types and branch out; make a name for itself. It is a magnificent invention and should be considered as so. However, he didn’t think that it was necessarily a good thing. According to “Aesthetics, Obstacles, Integral Cinegraphie”, Dulac describes cinema as being a lazy way for artists to reflect literature, music, sculptures, paintings, and architecture. Cinema has somehow found it’s way to being considered art. He also states that cinema had to “abandon its creative possibilities in order to be cast”. This sentence shows to be that perhaps he feels that cinema is a very rushed piece of works while artists and writers take a very long time to work on their works of art.

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