Sunday, June 29, 2008

André Bazin's Writings



Dudley Andrew's essay on Bazin and Sartre in the new Film Quarterly opens with a shocking fact:

Stacked nearly a meter high in my attic are photocopies of all--or nearly all--Bazin's published writings. This amounts to over 2600 items, of which, scandalously, less than seven per cent are available in French or English.

To which Andrew appends this uncertain note: "Cahiers du Cinéma has rights to all Bazin's published writings. They hope to bring out a complete works some day." For someone who is often thought to be cinema's best-known theorist and critic, and who further was instrumental in the eventual creation of the film studies discipline, this seems baffling.

I've been doing a Bazin immersion the last few weeks, and I'm amazed especially by two things. First, his writings are not about developing a "theory of cinema" in an abstract and 'systematic' manner. Instead, he puts in motion a process of continual exchange between film criticism and film theory. He begins with the films themselves, and their details--formal, stylistic, thematic, etc. His theoretical reflections then arise from a scrutiny of these details. Second, it's striking to see how he did all his theory and criticism work in full public view. As Bert Cardullo points out, Bazin's writings were produced for a range of publications that were variously aligned: liberal (L'Écran Francais); socialist (France-Observateur); left-wing Catholic (Esprit and Radio-Cinéma-Télévision, now Télérama); non-religious and state-run (L'Education Nationale); and conservative (Le Parisien libéré). In addition, of course, he co-founded and wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma. It's staggering to be reminded of how much he accomplished before he contracted leukemia at 36 and died at 40 in 1958.

Today I've been inventorying all the English-language translations of Bazin's writings on my shelves:

-- The two volumes of What is Cinema? (1967, 1971), translated by Hugh Gray. They contain many of his best-known pieces like "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," "The Evolution of the Language of Cinema," "The Virtues and Limitations of Montage," "In Defense of Mixed Cinema," and his essays on Italian neo-realism, the Western, Rossellini, Chaplin, Bresson, De Sica, and so on. (I wonder: do these two volumes of translations contain all the essays from the original 4-volume set of Qu'est-ce que le cinéma?)

-- Bazin at Work (1997), edited by Bert Cardullo, with essays on Wyler, Pagnol, adaptation, cinema and theology, Citizen Kane, etc.

-- Jean Renoir (1973), edited by Truffaut.

-- Orson Welles (1978), translated by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

-- The Cinema of Cruelty (1982), with separate sections on: von Stroheim, Dreyer, Sturges, Buñuel, Hitchcock and Kurosawa.

I'm curious: Am I missing any of Bazin's writings available in English?

Starting in the late '60s, the rise of a certain brand of theory--ideological, psychoanalytic, semiotic--was inhospitable and downright hostile to Bazin and his theories of realism inflected by Catholicism and existentialism. In retrospect this was understandable but since the 1980's cinema studies has witnessed the rise of a 'historical turn'. I'm wondering: Has the discipline seen a consequent return to and recuperation of Bazin? Are there signs this might come to pass?

Any ideas you may have on Bazin are welcome.


* * *

And now ... fashion? There's a side of me that doesn't get out too much on this blog: a 'foreigner' who's lived in America for two decades but still finds its culture endlessly fascinating (and 'other'). The new issue of Entertainment Weekly has a list of pop culture moments of the last 25 years that influenced fashion. I've gathered here some of the interesting items on it:

Early Madonna (fingerless gloves, lingerie-styled wedding dress, crucifixes); Michael Jackson circa Thriller (Jheri curls, loafers with white socks); Ally McBeal (microminis); Miami Vice (roomy linen suits, sockless loafers); mid-'80s mall pop like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson (biker shorts, skorts, scrunchies); Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (scissored sweatshirts); Gwen Stefani circa No Doubt (white tanks, studded bra straps, bondage pants); Kanye West (those sunglasses); Rihanna (the bob); Janet Jackson circa Rhythm Nation (the military look--epaulets, cadet caps); Pretty in Pink (Molly Ringwald's DIY prom-dress, Duckie's bolo tie); Reality Bites (Lisa Loeb's cat-eye frames); Mr. T in The A-Team (a sort of proto-bling); The Golden Girls (shoulder pads, sequins); early Shania Twain (bare midriffs enter Nashville music culture); Puff Daddy and Mase's "Mo Money Mo Problems" (bright, baggy tracksuits); and Beverly Hills 90210 (sideburns).


* * *

Links:

-- Jonathan Rosenbaum on Pedro Costa: "I found that, even though I simultaneously loved and had to struggle in diverse ways with all of Costa’s films, Casa de Lava, his only landscape film, was the one that blew me away the most."

-- Two fascinating interviews by Michael Guillen: Catherine Breillat and Elvis Mitchell.

-- David Phelps has been on a roll. At his blog Videoarcadia, he has a post with some reflections and links to his writings including his new piece on Ken Jacobs's Razzle Dazzle at Auteurs' Notebook.

-- Glenn Kenny: "Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Brasillach, and Anti-Semitism: Some observations."

-- At his site Jigsaw Lounge, Neil Young on the Edinburgh film festival.

40 Comments:

Blogger Marc Raymond said...

Bazin has certainly been kept alive from Dudley Andrew's interest in his writing, given that Andrew is one of the most well-known and respected scholars in the discipline. And more and more people are returning to his work and finding that the critical short-hand on Bazin (naive believer in the possibility of realism) greatly simplifies the richness of his oeuvre.

In some ways, the popularity of teaching Bazin's ideas in introductory courses (as the flip side to formalists like Eisenstein and the Expressionists) has had the unfortunate consequence of turning him into a bot of a parody. But I think this is changing. There is Christian Keathley's book CINEPHILIA AND HISTORY as one example, of course, and Andrew's continued championing. I think we will see more and more Bazin translated and more and more scholars reconsidering his work.

Early in 2007 I taught a non-credit course to retired students on Cinema and Realism. This caused me to go back to Bazin's work (I was writing a review of Keathley's book at the time as well, which helped inspire me). I was surprised how rich the essays were and how little I really understood and appreciated them when I had first read them. Despite the fact that I had been teaching Bazin in intro classes for a few years, I hadn't really re-explored the work in any depth. It really is worth the time to review old course material with greater depth. Unfortunately, however, this "time" is hard to come by unless there is a pressing need. Hopefully, more writing about and by Bazin will cause these old notions to be reconsidered.

June 30, 2008 9:51 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Yeah it's incomprehensible why Bazin is not more publicized even in France! Ever since I'm interested in cinema seriously, his original 4 volume "Qu'est-ce que le cinéma?" has been unavailable, only readable at the Cinémathèque library on appointment, not in self-service.
Only its abridged form is available, which is however quite popular (there is always a good number of copies available in the libraries).
The English translation isn't the full deal, some essays are distinct from the French abridged version though.

Since January 2008, they are publishing one never-published-before essay every month in the Cahiers revue.

Like Miguel Marias said in the last post, Bazin is definitely the anti-shorthand critic, and that's the criticism I revere, whether I agree with his taste or not.

June 30, 2008 11:18 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Marc, I'm having a similar experience in that I've read many of the essays before--especially the famous ones--and sometimes more than once. But each time I return, they seem richer, and I'm getting more out of each subsequent reading.

Just curious: did you use a text for that Cinema and Realism course? I ask because I've been looking at an interesting but maddening reader on "Realism and the Cinema" edited by Christopher Williams (BFI, 1980) which brings together a variety of writers on the subject. It has a hodge-podgey feel (sometimes it's hard to tell who he's quoting and when) and is almost 30 yrs old, but is not without interest. (It's part of the same BFI series as the great readers by Caughie on authorship or Rick Altman on the musical.)

Harry, that is absolutely bizarre that the full 4-volume set is only readable at the Cinémathèque library by appointment! And with Cahiers' recent woes, who knows if those complete works will ever see the light of day.

June 30, 2008 5:30 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Girish, you should definitely include French Cinema of the Occupation and Resistance: The Birth of a Critical Aesthetic, which is a collection of Bazin's earliest writing (and includes an evocative introduction by Truffaut describing Parisian life during the Occupation). It's definitely not Bazin at the maturity of his thought (it's sad to think we may never have fully gotten this--what kind of writing would we have gotten today with 50 more years of cinema under his belt?), but it is a fascinating record of the times. It is fascinating to see his critical ideas taking shape. He wrote an essay in '44 entitled "The Art of Not Seeing Films" in which extols the virtues of judging movies by their posters alone: "Beware of the multiplicity of stars; it almost always reveals the poverty of the scenario." Wise words still.

June 30, 2008 6:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Doug! I'll definitely have to pick up a copy of that book.

June 30, 2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger Marc Raymond said...

Girish,

The course was only 6 weeks and not reading intensive, so I just gave them a small coursepack consisting of Bazin's key essays, Bill Nichols on documentary, and a few items on individual films (GRAND ILLUSION, MASCULINE FEMININE, PUNISHMENT PARK and THE THINK BLUE LINE). I did have a look at some readers for lecture ideas, including the Williams reader, but did not find they fit the purpose of a shorter course.

June 30, 2008 10:35 PM  
Blogger whitney said...

I think Bazin's essay on de Sica that is widely distributed is one of the most beautiful pieces of film writing their are. You can tell he was just blown away with The Bicycle Thief and was trying to work through why. It was a nice mixture of fandom and criticism.

-Whitney
dearjesus.wordpress.com

June 30, 2008 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

There are some terrific Bazin essays scattered around sundry books and journals - I particularly recommend the pieces on Jacques Becker (translated by Cardullo) in a fairly recent LITERATURE/FILM QUARTERLY. Also "Death in the Afternoon" - plus the '70s commentary on it by Daney - translated for Ivone Marguiles' terrific collection RITES OF REALISM. And DEKALOG 3 from Wallflower will contain (early 09) Emilie Bickerton's expert translation of Bazin's witty commentary on the Cannes Film Fest as a cultural institution, comparing it with a religious order ...

Girish, you asked whether the two English volumes contain everything in the 4 French volumes of WHAT IS CINEMA? Far from it! With all due respect to a quite-fascinating guy - both a classics scholar and the writer of several Hollywood epics! - Hugh Gray's legacy of 'his Bazin' is both a blessing and a curse for the English-language understanding of him. His renderings are sometimes, ahem, 'free', and in at least one case ('Forbidden Montage', I think), he forced two disparate articles together into one seamless text! Gray's Bazin is the rather cosmic/mystic/Catholic/realist Bazin that many (most) Anglos think of, which is why Cardullo's BAZIN AT WORK is such a crucial corrective to it. Speaking of the many Bazins, I also heartily recommend the piece tramslated in WIDE ANGLE (circa '84?) by Jean Narboni, which lays out the different 'hats' he wore in his too-brief lifetime ... Narboni has an amusing anecdote about US researchers (incl. Dudley Andrew?) who front up to the CAHIERS office expecting to see the 'Bazin shrine', where none exists ...

Girish, your comments on the criticism-to-theory relation in Bazin are echoed by an overlooked classic of critical commentary: Brian Henderson, “Bazin Defended Against His Devotees”, Film Quarterly, Vol 32 No 4 (Summer 1979), pp. 26-37 (it's not, alas, in his great A CRITIQUE OF FILM THEORY book). Henderson already had, circa '73 in the pages of FQ, a comradely stoush with Gray over his presentation of Bazin: both are worth reading.

I feel there is a massive Bazin revival brewing: especially because of major conferences (Dudley Andrew's initiative again) in Paris, and (I think) at Yale later this year ... it's a curious backward progression: in many ways, this revival follows that devoted to his 'successor', namely Daney. But there is that problem of the fate of CAHIERS right now, and what happens to those rights over the total Bazin corpus ... Maybe (to loop this into Girish's closet 'fashionisto' confession) Agnes B will have to kick in some rescue money ... !!

I am sure every French cinephile, or cinephile visitor to Paris, has had the experience I have had at a street market: in my case, opening up some yellowed ECRAN FRANCAIS from the 40s and finding ... Bazin on GASLIGHT!

Finally, has anyone here seen the Jean-Claude Tachella film TRAVELLING AVANT from the late 70s? It is (apparently) about the cinephile culture of the 40s, and Bazin is somehow depicted or fictionalised in it (they were friends). There is some info about it in the WIDE ANGLE issue I mentioned above. But Tachella (briefly famous world-wide in mid 70s for COUSIN COUSINE, remade by Ted Danson!) is not much loved by anyone as a director, so the film is little revived or mentioned ...

Adrian

July 01, 2008 3:26 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Adrian, that is a little goldmine of info and pointers--thank you for taking the time!

"Bazin defended against his devotees": a great title! I must track it down today. By the way (as you know), unlike most cinephiles, who breathe the air of large cinema-friendly metropolises, I live in a relatively small city. But I discovered not long ago (in passing from a 'barista' who was also a film studies major) that Brian Henderson lives and teaches here in town! I need to drop in on him and make his acquaintance.

Those are quite-scary facts about the Hugh Gray translations!

I just remembered that Jean-Charles Tacchella wrote an article that is included as an appendix to Dudley Andrew's Bazin biography. It's called "Andre Bazin from 1945 to 1950: The Time of Struggles and Consecration". I'll excerpt a couple of interesting bits from it:

"I was part of the editorial team [at L'Ecran Francais] when Bazin brought in his first two articles--on trick effects, focusing on Garson Kanin's Tom, Dick and Harry (1941) and Sam Wood's Our Town (1940). Since I loved the first of these films, we talked. I didn't know yet that André loved to have people read his articles (in manuscript form) in order to be sure they were understandable, ever ready to correct or rework them [...]

"[He] loved to pursue his idea that film was unaware of its own limits and that much ground was poorly understood. Thus he was interested in many films that the majority of critics looked down on or ignored: documentaries, Walt Disney's films, scientific productions. I remember spending two days with André in the Musée de l'Homme [an ethnographic museum] at a medical congress in order to watch films about surgical procedures that we found particularly surrealist and significant [...]

"Always on the move to explain films (here he was going to Algeria--sometimes with a mobile projection unit--always trying to encourage the development of cine-clubs everywhere, even in Hoggar [Algeria]!, he nonetheless managed to write numerous articles for a variety of publications, often one a day [...]

"Bazin liked to find out about the reactions provoked by his reflections. It was a pleasure to see him come into the magazine's editorial room the day after the publication of one of his articles. He came to discuss it, to glean arguments in favor or against it. And then, two months later, he'd publish a second article on the same subject, this time in La Revue de Cinéma or Esprit. Sometimes he wrote a third or fourth (some of them for foreign journals). For those who are interested in studying Bazin's thought, it would be interesting to follow the progression of his principal themes through the years and especially to study the successive modifications of his remarks."

July 01, 2008 8:21 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Thanks for the shout-outs, Girish, much appreciated. I've not much to add to the current discussion, unfortunately, having only read samplings of Bazin here and there.

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

July 01, 2008 8:55 AM  
Anonymous David T. Johnson said...

Thanks to all for the great post and comments. Just to add to Adrian's reference to Bazin's recent writings published in Literature/Film Quarterly, four reviews (translated by Cardullo) appear in LFQ 34:4 (2006), and then another six appear in 30:1 (2000).

Also, in terms of recent writings on Bazin, did anyone mention the recent special issue of Film International? It's well worth checking out. And I'd also give a plug for a marvelous essay, "Grizzly Ghost: Herzog, Bazin, and the cinematic animal," by Seung-Hoon Jeong and Dudley Andrew, in Screen 49:1 (Spring 2008).

Finally, in terms of film realism more generally, I have found myself continually returning to Dai Vaughan's _For Documentary: Twelve Essays_.

July 01, 2008 11:36 AM  
Blogger Gareth said...

I'm sure I'm dragging the discussion down, but I had to smile at the list of fashion items, as someone also from outside the US but heavily exposed to US culture growing up, and yet still mystified today by some of the pop culture artifacts I didn't encounter growing up.

A good example is the fact that my last name is unusual, and shared with a character on a children's TV show, which proves very amusing to many Americans. They parody the show - which I've never seen - for my benefit and to my confusion; I met a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa once whose eyes literally came out of his head when he was introduced to me, for he had a signed photo of this character on the wall in his little house in Burkina Faso!

It's amazing how each of the things you list instantly results in a vivid image popping into my head; even though we barely had malls in Ireland, I remember girls imitating Debbie Gibson, or guys in secondary school trying to grow 90210-style sideburns (while lusting after the stars of Baywatch). Most of these things are so instantly recognisable that people constantly use them for fancy dress ideas: I have a photo of the party where I met my wife, with me dressed as a Thriller-era Michael Jackson and a friend dressed as a remarkably convincing Mr. T ("proto-bling" is brilliant).

July 01, 2008 2:10 PM  
Blogger Tucker said...

I am stunned that so much of Bazin's work remains unavailable. Although I have read very little of his work. I remember when my own tastes in cinema began to change from an Eisensteinian perspective to a Bazanian one. Origninally I didn't really get Bazin's focus on realism because I was enamored with the manipulation of cinema. Later I matured into a long-take kind of viewer and began to realize a bit more where Bazin was coming from - even though that's just a tiny aspect of what he was about.

July 01, 2008 4:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

In addition to what's already been mentioned, there are five or so Bazin pieces translated in the 1950s volume of Cahiers du Cinema, the compilation edited by Jim Hillier.

There was a very good article a few years back called "Rethinking Bazin" by a fellow named Daniel Morgan. who was then a grad student at U. of Chicago, and seems now to be faculty at U. of Pittsburgh. It was published in Critical Inquiry - don't know if it's available for free online.

July 01, 2008 7:54 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Maya, David, Gareth, Tucker, Dan!

Maya, I'm counting the days till my trip next week.

Thank you, David, for the citations. I also encountered and read with interest your review of Walter Metz's book Engaging Film Criticism in the same issue.

Gareth, you're by no means "dragging the discussion down"! Though the cinema talk can get nice and heavy here (which I'm thankful for and love), I also need to remind myself that this is, on one level, also simply just a 'personal' blog! And I enjoy the personal accounts readers post here.

Tucker and Dan -- While it's of course a tragedy that so little Bazin has been translated, it's nevertheless no minor feat to read, with care, the translated material in its entirety--it's going to take me a long time!

July 02, 2008 9:52 AM  
OpenID Phillip said...

Thanks so much for all the Bazin info! I'll wait with baited breath for that collection of complete works...

July 02, 2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger craig keller. said...

For all of 2008 (and beyond?), Cahiers du cinéma are running a series in the revue called "Bazin mois après mois" [Bazin, Month After Month], which reprints a Bazin piece drawn from any one of his numerous outlets, not just the Cahiers. (e.g., Le Parisien libéré). The May and June issues included his coverage of the 1958 Festival de Cannes.

craig.

July 02, 2008 11:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Craig, thanks for that info!

Some reading:
--David Hudson on the rediscovery of Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
-- David Bordwell blogs about attending a ceremony in Amsterdam in honor of the retiring Thomas Elsaesser.
-- Jonathan Rosenbaum on John Berry.

July 03, 2008 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

On a somewhat less respectful but no less fascinating note, I'd like to mention Gerard Gozlan's "In Praise of Bazin" - a scorching critique written only 4 years after AB's death. There are two hefty and well-translated excerpts in Peter Graham's indispensable THE NEW WAVE (1967), but the complete text, published over two issues of POSITIF, would fill a small book. This piece is POSITIF at its most pointed, political and combative. I remember reading it at the age of 16 or 17 and being rocked by a typical Gozlan attack on the Bazin-Rossellini Christian-humanist nexus: "for them, the only good woman is a dead woman". It's heady stuff - also extremely funny. Most of the New Wavers also get it in the neck in this piece!

July 03, 2008 11:31 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Anybody has read the special issue on Bazin of Film International?

Also international conference on André Bazin at the Shanghai University, this June 2008. With HHH (who never heard of Bazin before), Jia Zhangke, Ann Hui, Dudley Andrew.

July 04, 2008 3:04 AM  
Blogger Andy Rector said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 04, 2008 5:16 AM  
Blogger Andy Rector said...

There used to be a extraordinarily useful website called UNOFFICIAL BAZIN TRIBUTE. It had a very thorough if not complete bibliography. I think it was removed - somebody please tell me otherwise! Does anyone else remember this site?

I second Doug's urging about the english collection of Bazin, FRENCH CINEMA OF THE OCCUPATION AND RESISTANCE:BIRTH OF A CRITICAL ESTHETIC. It's very valuable to understanding a little about cinema during the Nazi occupation of France, the "Tradition of Quality" directors and writers, how they reacted to the occupation, where aesthetics go when under an occupation (for a critic, for a filmmaker, for a distributor, for an occupier), and, because it's Bazin, the cinema, period. It includes the essay THE CINEMA AND POPULAR ART, a great piece, both out of its era in its analytical subtlety and most definately in its era, in the most interesting way possible. I.e., it takes the question cinema-and-popular-art deadly serious with regard to society - and with a fresh outlook, with a future ahead of it, as if relations could be influenced by desire and not the market (speaking of becoming too accustomed, Zach).

"Now, nine out of ten of (French) films present a horrifyingly false image of contemporary French society, an image that is all the more pernicious in that we are unaware of its falseness. Moralists should realize that the chief danger of cinema may reside in this demagogic mythology in which society believes itself represented and to which it ends by unconsciously conforming. We eventually become so accustomed to this falsification that we have trouble imagining what a revolution this will to exactitude would bring about in the style of the decor and in the conception of the mise en scene. Let us remember that in our world, when it comes to participating in various social milieus, people have practically no means but the cinema of knowing one another. A French farmer who had gone to the movies in the county seat every Sunday would know much more about the life of an American worker than about that of his Parisian equivalent. This same French worker - what does he know of the middle class, of the private life of a milieu to which he has no access, except that which he has basically learned in the cinema? Of course for a society to be expressed it must first exist - in other words, it must have a soul, a minimum of coherence, of unity, of a desire to be or become. The fate of a popular art is inseperable from social destiny, but it must contribute to the awareness of this destiny; instead it too often misleads us. ..."

What despair to think of all that has changed and not changed since this was written, during WWII! A French farmer, or any French person, would know nothing of the life of an American worker from contemporary American films (and tv!) and would know everything of the life of the middle-upper class, and the police (or the fantasies thereof).
"...a desire to be or become," - Bazin sounds like Deleuze! Like Deleuze's "becoming" - at least in the insistence that "the desire to become" is a "requirement" to even call something by its name: society (cinema?).


Anyhow, the collection also includes Bazin's essay on Malraux's film L'ESPOIR (...AND STYLE IN CINEMA) and this constitues a major advance, I think, in film criticism's treatment of literature and cinema - I was going to say that it must've prepared the ground for Bazin's work on Bernanos and Bresson (DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST) and "adaptation" in general, but this essay on L'ESPOIR is its own masterpiece; a kind of rarity for criticism at that time; the chance to compare a (great)novel to a (great) film, with the author of both being same man, Malraux - and a man who lived the events he represents on paper and film (the Spanish Civil War). Plus it homes in on what metaphors in the cinema are or could be.

Godard quotes this Bazin piece in HISTOIRE(s) DU CINEMA, the NOUVELLE VAGUE chapter - the last three words here: "and when he (Langlois) projected L'ESPOIR for the first time, it wasn't the Spanish Civil War that struck us, it was the fraternity of metaphors."

The wonderful Bazin series going on at the Cahiers lately is entirely translated in the e-cahiers (mostly by Bill Krohn, so you know you're in good hands).

But, by the way, the CAHIERS are not all...That the cover of the latest FILM QUARTERLY will feature COLOSSAL YOUTH - that Ventura will finally grace a cover (instead of a tee shirt in his place! ~ sorry Mark, I love what you do but I wish you would've put one of the giants of Fontainhas on your cover...and part 2 of your interview with Costa?)- is remarkable, long overdue and, in fact, I believe it will be the first cover, in spite of the film's importance and reception. I agree with Adrian, that covers are important, that Daniel Plainview's hegemony was disgusting, especially when the greatest character, hero even, in 50 years of cinema is on his feet: Ventura.

The stills on CAHIERS covers used to be things to dream over. What was on the cover when COLOSSAL YOUTH was in the CAHIERS? An uninspired still from a Johnnie To film, a guy in shades looking like anyone from a mid-large budget Soderbergh. There are many things to see in the houses of the departed.

To be fair, their cover for the Cannes issue was good, Almaric with his face smashed on the asphalt from the new Depleschin - but that's because it might've represented the last issue of CAHIERS! Thankfully not.

Thanks, Girish for talking about Bazin, and everyone else for all the additional info...so many things here to pursue!

July 04, 2008 5:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hi, Andy, Adrian, Harry -- Thank you!

July 06, 2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Dmitry said...

Girish,
if you would like to explore the topic of Hugh Gray's misrepresentation of Bazin's writings for the English-language readership further, there is a great article by Richard Roud in a 1968 issue of Sight & Sound ("Andre Bazin: his fall and rise," Sight and Sound 37 (1968): pp. 94-96). Unfortunately, I am currently stranded in the woods of Western Massachusetts and don't have access to my library to provide some of the choice quotes. The first half of the article deals with Gray's translation, enumerating many of his mistranslations, misunderstandings, "empurplings", typos etc. The second part is perhaps even more interesting: Roud revisits his 1959 artcile on Bazin (also in Sight & Sound) and re-evaluates Bazin's contributions to criticism and theory in light of what transpired in cinema in the 1960s.

I also second Harry Tuttle's recommendation for the Bazin's special issue of Film International (vol. 5, No. 6, 2007). Last week Intellect Publishing made the whole slew of its magazines' latest issues available free online, including Film Int. :
http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals.php (you have to register to read the free issues).

July 06, 2008 10:41 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Dmitry, thank you for both of those tips!

July 07, 2008 4:29 PM  
Blogger girish said...

That great dynamo Michael Guillen has a two-part response to this post: here and here.

July 08, 2008 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Dave Kehr said...

Maybe this is too obvious to mention, but it doesn't take all that much effort to acquire a reading knowledge of French. Try taking a six month course at your local Alliance Francaise, and a whole new world will open up for you, of which Andre Bazin is only a part.

July 09, 2008 10:26 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

What an un-American suggestion. Heh.

July 09, 2008 11:06 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Dave, I don't think I have an Alliance Francaise here in town but I do teach at a college where I can take any class I want for free, so I have no excuse for my slacking! I'm going to try to do that this fall.

July 09, 2008 2:17 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Bazin is published in French too??? Oh mon Dieu!

July 10, 2008 3:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the hope that someone is still reading this very interesting discussion, does anyone know if What is Cinema exists in Japanese translation? Many thanks.

July 17, 2008 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Dmitry, many thanks for the Roud reference. I hunted up this fascinating piece - and also the testy response from Gray & Ernest Callenbach (long the editor of FILM QUARTERLY) in the 'Letters' page of the following SIGHT AND SOUND issue in '68, where they put all translation problems down to inevitable typos! But Roud's evidence as the quality of Gray's (mis)rendering is damning.

Is WHAT IS CINEMA translated into Japanese? What a fascinating question! I couldn't figure that out via Google, but perhaps someone has a Japanese film contact who could tell us?

July 23, 2008 10:20 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Adrian, I haven't hunted down Dmitry's references yet but now I am doubly curious to.

July 23, 2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Laurent said...

Two additional Bazin translations that I've not see referenced in the comments. They were published in a 2002 issue of Film Philosophy:


Will CinemaScope Save the Film Industry?


The Life and Death of Superimposition

July 25, 2008 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently a Japanese edition of What is Cinema? was published in the 1970s - how complete an edition I have not been able to determine. Nor is it clear whether it is still in print, or is any good - the English translation for example being absolutely rotten. If anyone knows anything I'd appreciate hearing.

July 25, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Laurent, I find I've neglected to link to your valuable "Serge Daney in English" blog on my sidebar. I will add a link to it soon.

July 25, 2008 11:02 AM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Laurent - I believe that the two Film Philosophy essays you refer to (the one on CinemaScope is a key Bazin essay) were published in the Bazin at Work collection.

July 25, 2008 11:08 AM  
Anonymous nameerf said...

om italy. Glad to see a cinemablog likes this. Nameerf Italy

October 11, 2008 3:26 AM  
Blogger andre bazin said...

But what exactly is A.Bazin's understanding of cinema?
Every single translation and interpretation seems to me like completely different reading?

What are his thesis?

October 22, 2008 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Andre Bazin, since you are the man himself (back from the dead it seems - perhaps to combat Public Domain law in Canada), couldn't you tell us, and don't you know, what your 'theses' are, and what you are really on about ???

Girish, you have had some illustrious visitors to your site, but this tops the lot!

March 19, 2009 10:25 AM  

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