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Sunday, January 21, 2007


That CC is a new artistic movement, and not the continuation/revival of an older one, is merely a GAMEPLAY (not a scholar study) to entertain this blogathon, which original goal is to just talk about the contemplative traits in cinema that can make certain people feel "boredom". Thus we just intend to defend challenging films against the accusation of being boring. So this covers a great range of films. That's why the discussions might sound a little confusing. Now if we can make sense of this trend all the better.

"Contemplative Cinema" is an improper nickname chosen out of convenience since we don't have an appropriate name yet. We could as well call it "Neo-Minimalism", "Neo-Silent", "Mundane drift", "Unspoken Cinema", "Non-narrativism", "Atmospherical films", "Body Language mise-en-scene", "visual dialog"... what have you. Let's just refer to it as CC, without bothering about the actual implication of the adjective "contemplative". This trend is not defined by an adjective, but from the outside-in, by certain like-minded films, by concentric circles narrowing it down finer and purer as we move on.

CC is not what is commonly refered to in the USA as "Boring Art films" which includes all and any serious films d'auteur, or in foreign language, without any aesthetical coherence. So "Boring art film" was the joke that started this blogathon, but shall not be refered to as a model.

The tentative 4 criteria set out in my Minimum Profile are my sole responsability, and are not meant to be definite either. They are a framework to help disambiguate the films that pop in the conversation. It a sketched out reference, but a work-in-progress. Also they do not pretend to be the aesthetical characteristics of our undefinied trend. They are used for profiling candidates to the trend from a formal outline, the quintessence that will eventually cement the selected films together will come later.Now if other people find interest in this investigation and want to explore other leads, you can define the trend any way suits you better.

Why CC is not a continuation of an older trend?

Well that's what I'd like to investigate. I contend that our most recent generation of contemplative auteurs deal with narration in a very different way than in the Modernism era. I see a clash, a rupture and that's why I don't consider them followers but innovators. They may not revolution every aspects of filmmaking, but a few things that their prcursors didn't do before them. These distinctions are mainly (and speculatively so far) the riddance of any narrative drive to build the purpose of a film. That's why it is almost impossible to sum up the "story" they contain. Consequantly/simultaneously the riddance of expository dialogs to walk the audience through the scenes, and dialogs altogether. I don't think Modernists could do that back then...


Michael Kerpan said...

Whether the work of Shimizu and Naruse in the 1930s and 40s influenced what you call "contemplative cinema", it certainly anticipated it. Both made some films that exhibited most of your criteria. Some of Shimizu's work of this sort showed up on vidseo in the late 80s (or early 90s), but Naruse's films of this sort have been pretty inaccessible for many decades.

HarryTuttle said...

I have only seen a couple of films of them. Are they as "contemplative" as Vertov, Epstein, Ruttman or Ozu?
So you're welcome to list the titles that should be added to our survey. I'm trying to compile a rather comprehensive chronology, precisely to figure the evolution of this trend.
Obviously many films are missing yet.

You could update the list yourself if you want to join this team-blog (just leave me your email so I can send you an invitation)

Michael Kerpan said...

Some of the films of Naruse and Shimizu are far more like those of Kiarostami than are those of Ozu. For instance, Shimizu has a film that follows the course of a bus run from a small rural town to a larger one (Arigato-san). He has another film that tracks a cross-country hike by college students preparing for anticipated military service (Star Athlete). Neither of these involve anything like a normal "plot".

Similarly, Naruse's "Spring's Awakening" simply follows a girl (and her friends) through her last year of high school (Spring's Awakening). "Nothing happens" -- other than the sort of mundane things that one might expect.

HarryTuttle said...

Sounds interesting, I wish I could watch them. Thanks for mentionning them.