"Close Up" 1927-1933: Cinema and Modernism

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Close Up was the first English-language journal of film theory. Published between 1927 and 1933, it billed itself as "the only magazine devoted to film as an art," promising readers "theory and analysis: no gossip." The journal was edited by the writer and filmmaker Kenneth Macpherson, the novelist Winifred Bryher, and the poet H. D., and it attracted contributions from such major figures as Dorothy Richardson, Sergei Eisenstein, and Man Ray. This anthology presents some of the liveliest and most important articles from the publication's short but influential history.

The writing in Close Up was theoretically astute, politically incisive, open to emerging ideas from psychoanalysis, passionately committed to "pure cinema," and deeply critical of Hollywood and its European imitators. The articles collected here cover such subjects as women and film, "The Negro in Cinema," Russian and working-class cinema, and developments in film technology, including the much debated addition of sound. The contributors are a cosmopolitan cast, reflecting the journal's commitment to internationalism; Close Up was published from Switzerland, printed in England and France, and distributed in Paris, Berlin, London, New York, and Los Angeles. The editors of this volume present a substantial introduction and commentaries on the articles that set Close Up in historical and intellectual context. This is crucial reading for anyone interested in the origins of film theory and the relationship between cinema and modernism.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Republic
During its brief life Close Up attracted exceptional contributors and much admiration. . . . This book is overdue.
From the Publisher
"During its brief life Close Up attracted exceptional contributors and much admiration. . . . This book is overdue."The New Republic
The New Republic
During its brief life Close Up attracted exceptional contributors and much admiration. . . . This book is overdue.
R.D. Sears
Close Up was a literary/film periodical edited by Kenneth MacPherson, the novelist Bryher, and the poet H.D.; this volume comprises a selection of the essays representing the major topics discussed in the journal and the major authors who wrote for it.
Choice Magazine
The journal was published between 1927 and 1933. It represented a major attempt by a group of literary intellectuals to assess, at a crucial moment of transition, the aesthetic possibilities opened up by cinema within, despite, and against its commercial contexts. This anthology shows the range of concerns and issues that dominated the journal, and conveys the lively and dynamic tone of the magazine. Offers examples of writing of all regular contributors, with special emphasis on two important figures who speculated on questions of literary modernism and cinema. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691004631
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/18/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reading Close Up, 1927-1933 1
Pt. 1 Enthusiasms and Execrations
Introduction 28
As Is (July 1927) 36
British Solecisms 41
Emak Bakia 43
An Interview: Anita Loos 48
A New Cinema, Magic and the Avant Garde 50
The French Cinema 57
The Aframerican Cinema 65
The Negro Actor and the American Movies 73
Pt. 2 From Silence to Sound
Introduction 79
The Sound Film: A Statement from U.S.S.R. 83
The Sound Film: Salvation of Cinema 87
Why 'Talkies' Are Unsound 89
As Is (October 1929) 90
Pt. 3 The Contribution of H.D.
Introduction 96
The Cinema and the Classics 105
Conrad Veidt: The Student of Prague 120
Expiation 125
Joan of Arc 130
Russian Films 134
An Appreciation 139
Pt. 4 Continuous Performance: Dorothy Richardson
Introduction 150
Continuous Performance [unnumbered and untitled] (July 1927) 160
Dawn's Left Hand, reviewed by W. B. [Bryher] 209
Pt. 5 Borderline and the POOL Films
Introduction 212
Borderline: A POOL Film with Paul Robeson 221
As Is (November 1930) 236
Pt. 6 Cinema and Psychoanalysis
Introduction 240
Mind-growth or Mind-mechanization? The Cinema in Education 247
Film Psychology 250
Freud on the Films 254
The Film in Its Relation to the Unconscious 256
Dreams and Films 260
Kitsch 262
Pt. 7 Cinema Culture
Introduction 270
The Independent Cinema Congress 274
Russian Cutting 277
'This Montage Business' 278
First Steps Towards a Workers' Film Movement 281
Films for Children 283
What Can I Do? 286
How I Would Start a Film Club 290
A Note on Household Economy 294
Towards a Co-operative Cinema: The Work of the Academy, Oxford Street 296
Modern Witch-trials 299
Acts under the Acts 301
Pt. 8 Fade
What Shall You Do in the War? 306
App. 1 The Contents of Close Up, 1927-1933 310
App. 2 Notes on the Contributors and Correspondents 315
App. 3 Publishing History and POOL Books 318
App. 4 A Chronology of Close Up in Context 319
Notes 322
Index 337
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