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Persona and Cinematic Form

The Aesthetic Richness of Cinema I

• Pictorial: Cinema is the projection of a three dimensional world
onto a two dimensional screen. Exploration of the senses of
spatiality and the forms of images. The size of the cinematic image
is also particularly important—alters the perception of faces, etc.
Also various modes of color vs. modes of black and white.
• Kinesthetic: Unlike paintings and photographs, cinematic images
move. This movement occurs both by how that which is pictured
by the camera moves and by how the camera itself can move as it
• Sonic: Cinema presents sounds in a sonic environment. Aleatory,
Music, Human Voice
• Temporal: Not only are cinematic images spatially dynamic but also
temporally so. In cinema, time can move up or slow down. Not
only the movement within a scene but the movement from scene
to scene (cutting/montage) is used to explore the senses of time.
The Aesthetic Richness of Cinema II
• Narrative: Through editing and speaking the scenes of a
film arrange themselves into a narrative. (Beginning,
Middle, End)
• Dramatic: Characters are acted out in a film—they move
and come into relationships with one another.
• Character: Through their actions, characters show forth
their inner motivations and natures.
• Mis-en-scene: Cinematic images portray a particular
world—the way in which objects and their backgrounds are
put together for the camera are a crucial part of the
aesthetics of cinema. Cinema can evoke historical epochs
or everyday locales, not to mention dreamlike states,
spiritual depths or fragmented consciousness.
Form vs. Content
• The formal features of an artwork are the
various ways of organizing, interrelating its
being perceived such that the perceptions it
evokes have a harmonious or significant
emotive quality to it. The work is beautiful,
probing, stunning, wondrous.
• The content involves what it objectively
portrayed or intimated in the formal
arrangement of an artwork.
• In great art, form and content become
Two Tendencies in Cinematic Art
• The Ordinary Real—Cinema records the
complexity of details and the surprise and
happenstance of the everyday. Example: the
varied movements and expressions of the players
of the court orchestra as they play a composition.
The flickering of a candle.
• The Surreal—Cinema offers an alterative reality.
We see beyond what could be seen in the
everyday. Often this seeing beyond puts the
sense of the everyday radically into question.
Example: the appearance of Colombe’s dead wife
in the hut.
Cinema as a Artistic Medium
• The flickering of light upon a screen. How the
cinematic media is NOT oil on canvas or
charcol on paper but evavescent.
• Films that thematize themselves as a
meditation on the medium of film versus films
that do not! In what sense is AMW a
meditation upon art? On film? Or on music?
Form in Cinema—Persona
• Form as Form
Shadow vs. Light, Shadow vs. Substance, White vs. Black,
Foreground vs. Background, Juxtaposition vs. Separation,
Right vs. Left, Front vs. Back, Face vs. Faceless, Open vs.
Closed Gestures, Tiredness vs. Wakefulness, Filmy vs. Edged,
Silence vs. Speaking, Youth vs. Experience, Healing vs. Illness,
Listening vs. Addressing, Faithfulness vs. Unfaithfulness, Word
vs. Image, Innocence vs. Prurience, Hope vs. Despair, Looking
and Being Looked At, Voyeurism vs. Participation
• Form as Content
Doubled Existence, Ambivalence about What is Real, the
Emptiness of Speech and the Fullness of Silence = Growing
Feeling of Anxiety and then Horror at the Other Occupying
One’s Self
Questions Persona Provokes
• How do we know who we are? And which
who we are??
• What is the relationship of the external world
of everyday events to the internal world of
dreams, of memories, of inner voices.
• How worldly is art? How unworldly?
Cinema as a Form of Art
Cinematic Form in All the Mornings
• Light vs. Dark
• Stillness vs. Motion
• Everyday Chores vs. Contemplative Art
• Frumpery vs. Plainness
• Country vs. Court
• Catholic vs. Protestant
• Public vs. Private
• Interior vs. Exterior
• Age vs. Youth
Formal Thematic Oppositions in
• Mastery vs. Apprenticeship
• Male vs. Female
• Father vs. Son
• Teacher vs. Student
• Son vs. Daughter
• Daughters vs. Wife
• Music vs. Entertainment
• Sacred vs. Profane
• Grandeur vs. Intimacy
Aesthetic of Grandeur
Music vs. Film in AMW
• Cinema is both words and a moving image. In
this sense is it both like and unlike music.
• Like music, cinema can live purely in the
image, in the gestures and gazes of its
participants. Film is temporal in the way that
dance and music are, purely formal.
• Like literature, cinema engages us in a story
and in commentary about the world. Film is
temporal in the manner of memory,
The Temporality of Music and
• Music invokes a virtual time within an actual time.
• The virtual time of music and cinema is profoundly
formal. At any given moment we have a sense of
where the time has been and where it is going to
take us.
• In its formal movement, music suggests an emotive
form as well. Emotion as “a being moved” [Origin:
1570–80; appar. < MF esmotion, derived on the model of
movoir: motion, from esmovoir to set in motion, move the
feelings < VL *exmovére, for L émovére; see E-, MOVE, MOTION]
Filming Music

• Scene One: Practicing the Viol in Marais’

• Scene Two: An early concert of St. Colombe
with his two daughters.
• Scene Three: The “Variations” by Marais.
• Scene Four: The music of the court
• Scene Five: Playing the “Suite pour Madeline”
• Scene Six: Marais playing at the film’s ending.
But Paintings Too, Lubin Baugin
• St. Colombe keeps a painting of the table
upon which he places wine and wafers. Like
his music, it is without words.
• He visits an actual artist, Louis Baugin, the
actual painter of the image used in the film.
Lubin Baugin 1610-1663
• Master of the still-life
• Two distinct periods of work—earlier, still life
(France); later, religious portraits (Italy)
• Lived outside of Paris
• He was openly involved in republishing the books of
the empirical doctor, David Laigneau, against
bloodletting. A Protestant, Laigneau had also written
a treatise on alchemy. Could an interest in
empiricism and alchemy exist in harmony with
orthodox piety in 1660? In any case, it was the sign
of a free spirit, an open mind, a critical awareness.
Still Life Painting—Painting the
Realm of the Dead?
• “la nature morte” in French
• While painting “The Five Senses” in AMW,
Baugin states: “Death is the sum of what it
steals from us.”
• Rather than speaking with Baugin, St.
Colombe listens to him in the act of his
painting “une nature morte”—to the rustling
of his brush strokes.
“The Five Senses”
“The Five Senses” au cinema
St. Jerome--Bible Translator

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