The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker

The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker

by Timothy Corrigan
     
 

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Even though essay films have been a key practice since the 1950s, there is scant analysis about this form in English. Part of this is likely due to the inherent difficulty of definition. The films, which foreground subjectivity and adopt an explicit, personal approach to their subject matter, can look and feel very different from one another. Their coherence as a

Overview


Even though essay films have been a key practice since the 1950s, there is scant analysis about this form in English. Part of this is likely due to the inherent difficulty of definition. The films, which foreground subjectivity and adopt an explicit, personal approach to their subject matter, can look and feel very different from one another. Their coherence as a group, however, comes into focus when contextualized as part of the larger tradition from which they draw. By looking to the literary and philosophical lineage of the essay form, Corrigan brings new clarity to a practice that, arguably, is one of the most common and successful in contemporary film culture. The Essay Film situates its investigation in the literary tradition of essayists such as Montaigne, Barthes, and Huxley before moving to an expansive discussion of filmmakers such as Derek Jarman, Allan Clark, Werner Herzog, Harun Farocki, Chantal Akerman, Chris Marker, Errol Morris, Nanni Moretti, Agnès Varda, Ross McElwee, Abbas Kiarostami, Raoul Ruiz, Lynne Sachs, and Trinh T. Minh-ha.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Essay Film is the most compelling and spirited monograph to surface yet on the topic."—Rick Warner, Critical Quarterly

"For media artists, scholars and students of cinema, Corrigan's reflections offer a passionate and convincing testimony to the transformative power of the essay film. Not since I read Roland Barthes' Mythologies have I come across a book that provides such a strong articulation of the visual thinking process."—Lynne Sachs, filmmaker

"Timothy Corrigan writes persuasively and vividly in offering up this coherent overview of the sprawling international phenomenon of the essay film. By providing a concise historical context, which ranges from Michel Montaigne to Michael Moore, he allows us to see the continuum and value of this idiosyncratic and vital form of expression."—Ross McElwee, Director, Sherman's March

"Inventively and insightfully, Timothy Corrigan establishes the essay film as a cinematic form of 'thinking out loud.' His eloquent book provides something similar: it is a richly productive meditation on meanings that interweaves voices, subjectivities, and resonant reflection. This essential volume now determines future consideration of this key genre."—Dana Polan, author of Scenes of Instruction: The Beginnings of the U.S. Study of Film

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199781706
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/01/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Corrigan is a Professor of English, Cinema Studies, and History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include The Films of Werner Herzog, Writing About Film, New German Film: The Displaced Image, and A Cinema Without Walls.

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