Cinema as an art form essay
Cinema by Alain BadiouFor Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badious account of cinema. He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that constitutes the film is passed on to the viewer, who thereby encounters an aspect of the world and its exaltation and vitality as well as its difficulty and complexity. Cinema is an impure art cannibalizing its times, the other arts, and people - a major art precisely because it is the locus of the indiscernibility between art and non-art. It is this, argues Badiou, that makes cinema the social and political art par excellence, the best indicator of our civilization, in the way that Greek tragedy, the coming-of-age novel and the operetta were in their respective eras.
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A Century of Cinema. Cinema's years seem to have the shape of a life cycle: an inevitable birth, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last decade of an ignominious, irreversible decline. It's not that you can't look forward anymore to new films that you can admire. But such films not only have to be exceptions -- that's true of great achievements in any art. They have to be actual violations of the norms and practices that now govern movie making everywhere in the capitalist and would-be capitalist world -- which is to say, everywhere. And ordinary films, films made purely for entertainment that is, commercial purposes, are astonishingly witless; the vast majority fail resoundingly to appeal to their cynically targeted audiences.
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This essay is taken from the Winter issue of Modern Age. Subscribe now. Beyond its popularity, reasons for resisting film as great art are not hard to find, but, as we shall see, the most common reasons apply to other arts as well, and, where they do apply to film, they do not apply to the best examples of film art. Of course, responding to objections to the cinematic claim to greatness hardly establishes the positive thesis that film is capable of art of the highest order. There is no substitute for the direct encounter, in dark theaters before large screens, of the best films of Bergman and Kieslowski, Fellini and Rossellini, Wilder and Welles, Truffaut and Renoir, to name only a few. One source of the lack of appreciation of film as great art arises from the common experience of seeing a film based on a book and discovering that the film pales by comparison with the written text. In this case it is hard not to feel that the film version is derivative and second best.
Cinema is an art form. Although some people abuse it as a way to cash in on a book, most films are works of cinematic art. They're the work of genius, and creativity. Movies invoke emotions, they have stories. They create an entire universe with this story that the audience follows. If you're only familiar with certain films like action films or chick flicks, look up these brilliant and original masterpieces. The definition from the oxford dictionary simply says this: "The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, Typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, Producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.