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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Teaching Jeanne Dielman (The Cine-Files)

"I’ve taught Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975), nearly every year for twenty-five years. (...) Its sounds are sparing and punctual; you can also hear your neighbor’s fidgeting. It thus challenges what a movie is to look at and listen to, what cinema is as a way of bestowing attention. Like other time-based arts, Jeanne Dielman depends on rhythm; for a long time after watching it, I feel as if I am moving to a metronome. (...) Student responses have led me to realize that the patient, forgiving gaze that the film solicits is as filial as it is feminist. (...) Jeanne Dielman can make a formalist out of anyone, and it is a great lesson for would-be filmmakers about how setting limits can inspire one’s best work. (...) Jeanne Dielman has 223 shots averaging close to one minute each. (...) There are two pieces I assign whatever the course: Janet Bergstrom’s influential essay on Jeanne Dielman, written “for the Camera Obscura collective” and published in 1977 in the journal’s second issue alongside excerpts from an interview with the director, identifies the film’s unique “logic of viewer/viewed,” director and character, feminist and feminine, in urgent and elegant prose. (...)De Lauretis writes: “What the film constructs—formally and artfully, to be sure—is a picture of female experience, of duration, perception, events, relationships and silences, which feels immediately and unquestionably true.” (...)Over 25 years there are of course always new things to take into account when I teach Jeanne Dielman. Sofia Coppola, Todd Haynes, Kelly Reichardt, and Gus Van Sant pay homage to Akerman in their work. (...)Students have told me over the years that the film was one of the most meaningful that they encountered in their film education—an unforgettable, sense-memory implanting experience. Jeanne Dielman is about routine and rupture, deep love and risk-taking—so is teaching."
Patricia White

full text at The Cine-Files (Dossier of Film Teaching)


3 comments:

Benoit Rouilly said...

I understand that Jeanne Dielman is an important piece of Feminist Cinema, and Chantal Akerman was very proud of it. So it's normal to teach it in this context. But if Contemplative Cinema was an acknowledged theory of cinema, we would also address the elephant in the room which is it's duration and it's contemplative mise en scène. Meaning time in a positiveway, instead of refering to its length as something unbearable or boring.

Benoit Rouilly said...

Listen to the FlixWise podcast on Jeanne Dielman (1h), which is 36 on the Greatest Films list of All Time by Sight & Sound.

Benoit Rouilly said...

Ecoutez en français l'emission Plan Large (France Culture) sur Chantal Akerman (18 nov 2017) 58'

"Plan Large sur Chantal Akerman, artiste cinéaste, avec sa collaboratrice Claire Atherton, la Maître de conférences Corinne Rondeau et le journaliste Mathieu Macheret."