Camera Historica: The Century in Cinema

Overview

Antoine de Baecque proposes a new historiography of cinema, exploring film as a visual archive of the twentieth century, as well as history's imprint on the cinematic image. Whether portraying events that occurred in the past or stories unfolding before their eyes, certain twentieth-century filmmakers used a particular mise-en-scène to give form to history, becoming in the process historians themselves. Historical events, in turn, irrupted into cinema. This double movement, which de Baecque terms the ...

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Overview

Antoine de Baecque proposes a new historiography of cinema, exploring film as a visual archive of the twentieth century, as well as history's imprint on the cinematic image. Whether portraying events that occurred in the past or stories unfolding before their eyes, certain twentieth-century filmmakers used a particular mise-en-scène to give form to history, becoming in the process historians themselves. Historical events, in turn, irrupted into cinema. This double movement, which de Baecque terms the "cinematographic form of history," disrupts the very material of film, much like historical events disturb the narrative of human progress.

De Baecque defines, locates, and interprets cinematographic forms in seven distinct bodies of cinema: 1950s modern cinema and its conjuring of the morbid trauma of war; French New Wave and its style, which became the negative imprint of the malaise felt by young contemporaries of the Algerian War; post-Communist Russian films, or the "de-modern" works of catastroika; contemporary Hollywood films that attach themselves to the master fiction of 9/11; the characteristic mise en forme of filmmaker Sacha Guitry, who, in Si Versailles m'était conté (1954), filmed French history from inside its chateau; the work of Jean-Luc Godard, who evoked history through his own museum memory of the twentieth century; and the achievements of Peter Watkins, the British filmmaker who reported on history like a war correspondent. De Baecque's introduction clearly lays out his theoretical framework, a profoundly brilliant conceptualization of the many ways cinema and history relate.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Film Comment - Jonathan Robbins

Those in search of superb academic writing need look no further. De Baecque renders a beguiling mix of auteurism, rigorous methodology, and historical analysis in an evenhanded, engaging tone.

Choice

Cinema and history are in lively dialogue here, which creates much more exciting reading...highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review

Politics, social insights and film art blend in a scholarly international probe perfect for film analysts studying the art and culture of cinema.

Cineaste - David Sterritt

presents an intelligent, opinionated, emotionally engaging, intermittently flawed meditation on cinema's ongoing negotiations with history...

American Historical Review - Paula Amad

Camera Historica is a refreshing and stimulating read, ultimately offering a vital contribution to the ongoing need for serious discussions of the intersections between film and history.

Choice

Cinema and history are in lively dialogue here, which creates much more exciting reading...highly recommended.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

De Baecque is one of our most meticulous and enterprising film historians, and in Camera Historica, he finds a new way of looking at the two sides of his interest, film and history, making each a clarifying reflection of the other. As a particular bonus, he's especially good on important filmmakers who emerged during the 1960s, such as the Nouvelle Vague and Peter Watkins.

Alain Badiou

Camera Historica marks a new stage in thinking about the relationship between cinema (as art) and history (as both real and narrative). Going beyond the classic 'histories of cinema,' this book reveals what cinema makes of history, its way of making history visible, and of allowing us to judge it.

Tim Burton

Thanks to this book I now understand precisely why and how I am goth.

Film Comment
Those in search of superb academic writing need look no further. De Baecque renders a beguiling mix of auteurism, rigorous methodology, and historical analysis in an evenhanded, engaging tone.

— Jonathan Robbins

Tim Burton

Thanks to this book I now understand precisely why and how I am gothic.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Antoine de Baecque is one of our most meticulous and enterprising film historians, and in Camera Historica he finds a new way of looking at the two sides of his interest, film and history, making each a clarifying reflection of the other. As a particular bonus, he's especially good on important filmmakers who emerged during the 60s, such as the Nouvelle Vague and Peter Watkins.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Antoine de Baecque is a historian and film critic and professor of cinema studies at the University of Paris X Nanterre. His books in English include Truffaut: A Biography; The Body Politic: Corporeal Metaphor in Revolutionary France, 1770-1800; Glory and Terror; and A History of Democracy in Europe. He has served as culture editor for the newspaper Liberation and as editor in chief of Cahiers du cinéma.

Ninon Vinsonneau teaches American culture and cinema at École Centrale Paris.

Jonathan Magidoff teaches history at Sciences Po Paris.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Prelude: The Tree of HistoryIntroduction: The Cinematographic Forms of History Disciplinary Uncertainties Cinema as Historian Cinema and History: An Analogy of the "Half-Cooked State" Cinema Pursues the Path of History to Reveal What Is Hidden Even from Memory The Sensible Fabric of the World1. Foreclosed Forms: How Images of Mass Death Reemerged in Modern Cinema The Look-to-Camera: A Modern Form of History The Gaze of Death in Action How History Reemerges Through Cinema Alain Resnais and the Editing of Time Monsieur Verdoux, or How Chaplin Puts to Death His Inner Wandering Jew "Faces with Black, Rat-Like Eyes" Hitchcock and the Indelible Corpse Man Alone in the Face of the Machine of Death Mass Death: Neither Reconstruction nor Mise-en-scène2. From Versailles to the Silver Screen: Sacha Guitry, Historian of France "Doing Versailles": Controversial Project and Historical Polemic Guitry and the Revenge of History A Certain Vision of History The Spectacle of Court Society3. "Me? Uh, Nothing!" The French New Wave, Politics, and History Hussar Thought A Cinema "That Has Nothing to Say" Heroes of the New Wave and Militants of Disarray Politicization via Malraux An Intrinsically Political Cinema: Filming Life with Style The Algerian War: The Intimate Drama of the New Wave Torture: The Limit Experience of the New Wave A Political Janus-Face4. Peter Watkins, Live from History: The Films, Style, and Method of Cinema's Special Correspondent Making War Through Making Films The Time of Filmed Reportage The Trials and Tribulations of an Exiled Filmmaker The Deathblow as a Stylistic Form Edvard Munch, or How to Resist the Passage of Time The Watkins Way: History in Common The Besieged Citadel and the Martyr Figure The Alter-Filmmaker5. The Theory of Sparks: A History in Images, According to Jean-Luc Godard Taking Art Out of the Museum and Projecting It into History From Langlois to Godard: A Historical Passage Through Images From The Voices of Silence to Histoire(s) du cinéma, or, The Fraternity of Metaphors The Historiographical Virtue of Histoire(s) du cinéma Can Histoire(s) Redeem History?6. Demodern Aesthetics: Filming the End of Communism A Demodern Collapse Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker: Communism Put to the Test of the Zone Alexei Guerman's Khrustalyov, My Car! Communism at the Bottom of History's Closet Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark: Communism Sapped by Nostalgia Emir Kusturica's Underground: Into the Bowels of Communism A Few Images for "Those Who Are Lost"7. America Unraveled: Master Fictions in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema Revealing Resurgences: Under the Whip of Catwoman End-of-the-World Films "Very Bad Films": Inside the Laboratory of Bad-Taste Films Tim Burton, America's Primitive American Cinema Put to the Test of 9/11Conclusion: All Histories Are PossibleNotesIllustration CreditsIndex

Columbia University Press

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