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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Roundtable 4 : Transcendental Style or CC?

Many claim that the trend we're talking about here is exactly what Paul Schrader theorized in "Transcendental style in film : Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer" (1972). Please discuss how his (34 years old) model may or may not suit the minimalist films made since, how do these masters from one or two generations back compare to the recent generation? Would this theory be the inspiration for the filmmakers of our trend to develop a new form of cinema? Is it a continuation, an extension, an emulation or a leap forward, a rupture?

Roundtable topic inspired by Tyler at Criterionforum :

Although this strikes me as a similar classification to the transcendental film idea, in this case, the argument is for a proposed model for what would be one of the major movements taking place in world cinema in the last 25-30 years, especially in the last 10 or 15.

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terabin said...

For convenience, I'll refer to those films that employ Schrader's Transcendental Style as Transcendental Cinema (TC).

Without being too familiar with Schrader's seminal work, I want to say that I think one of the key differences between TC and CC is that TC seems to me to have a more recognizable purpose behind it than does CC. For Schrader anyway, "[TC] strives towards the ineffal and invisible" through "...precise temporal means - i.e. camera angles, dialogue, editing - for predetermined transcendental ends" (3-6). Additionally, TC seeks to "maximize the mystery of existence" (10).

Of course, having said that of TC, I must refer back to the fact that this is Schrader's framework, Schrader's suggestion for what TC is doing.

But moving forward, if we accept Schrader's argument, what might we say of CC in similar terms? Can we ascribe an overarching purpose to the style employed by CC? As Marina wonders in her post on Purpose and Style, "Can we say what is the purpose?"

I don't think that describing CC's purpose as "aesthetic" really sets it apart from art film in general, and equating CC and art film in general, as Harry notes, is not a fair move to make as far as he is concerned. But aesthetic consideration seems to be one of the defining characteristics of art film. Is there a more specific aesthetic approach that CC makes, moving past the definition of the art film?

Again, I believe TC to have a more specific framework than CC, although, there is going to be difficulty in laying the two out in two distinct frameworks, since some nights, they share the same bed. Tarkovsky, for example, employs the stylistic traits of CC and yet is TC in my opinion.

Hmmm, here's a question though (feel free to strongly disagree). Do you think we might say that TC is CC with a more pointed spiritual connotation, a further honing of our loose framework here in this blogathon?

terabin said...

But here, let me say this a different way. It seems to me that whereas Schrader starts with a clear purpose to his framework and struggles to ascribe defining characteristics to the films he says fit his framework, we, on the other hand, have started with characteristics and films/filmmakers that fit those characteristics, and now struggle to ascribe a purpose to our framework.

HarryTuttle said...

Hi Terabin, Thanks for the support.
You're right, TC is better defined, but that's because Schrader wrote a book on it, and it's easier with less filmmakers. Although in the comments of the contribution on Tokyo Story (at Vinyl Is Heavy), the "transcendental style" didn't make consensus about Ozu's purpose...

I didn't read the book myself (yet), but cited in another book, and I found most of his concepts to fit CC even better than they did to TC. I mean that CC pushed even further the minimalism announced by Schrader in the transition shots (between narrative dialogs) of these Modern masters.
So CC shares more similarities with Schrader's theory than with the masters it describes, because these concepts deal with aesthetics rather than narration, and according to me, narration (not only spirituality) is what differentiate the Modernists from CC.
Asides from Schrader's theory, we can't say that Ozu's and Bresson's are interchangeable, are they? CC definitely owes a lot to the Modernists and to the trio grouped by Schrader, but I think they also developped their own particularities.

The overarching purpose of CC is what I'm after. I didn't have one handy before starting the blogathon. It was more fun to make up suggestions together as the contributions poured in. But I'm quite confident we could find one, even if it is not as profound and elaborated as Schrader's theory.

The reason why we proceed backward, is precisely because this is a work-in-progress. Schrader probably did the same, but put his book back in order for the clarity of the demonstration. But to put Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer in the same bag, first he had to spot affinities between them.

ptn said...
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ptn said...
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