Contemplative Blogathon 2

Sunday 6th - Sunday 13th, January 2008
second week of 2008

Nearly a year since the experiment at Unspoken Cinema, to run a blogathon over a month on a team-blog. It was a great success then. Hopefully we can repeat this enthousiastic event once again. This anniversary will be an opportunity to bring forth another series of ideas and posts to discuss this type of cinema. What are the new films since last year? What are the new developments of this trend? I hope that we haven't said everything that had to be said about "Contemporary Contemplative Cinema" (C.C.C.) yet.
This time it will take place over the course of a week only (I somehow expect fewer participations) . And we'll meet on this team-blog (which is working better than last time around). So if you're interested request to join the members to be able to cross-post your contributions here.

In a spirit of continuity and long-term memory to fight the currency-driven format of the blogosphere, I propose to revisit the same blogathon we did last year, with a sequel, to eventually note the evolution of a trend in the collective consciousness, the dissemination of a concept from a 12 months old blog-event.

Suggested theme of the blogathon :
Narrative strategies in plotless films

To look at how C.C.C. films manage to tell a story without the traditional dramatic structure. To see if there is one alternative strategy or various types of contemplative plotlessness in these films to compensate the lack of dialogue and suspense-drive.
Contrarians could even prefer to note how we can find traces of classic narration (or an altered form) in C.C.C. films.

For example (if anyone feels inspired by it) :

  • Musical approach to C.C.C. analysis : silence, repetition/variation, tone color, frequency, rhythm/tempo, order/harmony (suggested by David Bordwell)
  • Are there common/recurrent themes particularly suited to be best depicted by the C.C.C. form?
  • Figure of the mute protagonist. Reasons and narrative justification why some people lost speech in C.C.C. films. Is it physical, medical, moral disorder, or the result of an insular environment?
  • Beyond a plot-driven description of films (synopsis) : to review films without summarizing actions and events, character acts, situations, narrative structures. (Recommended read by Adrian Martin : Obscure Objects of Desire: A Jam Session on Non-Narrative By Raymond Durgnat, David Ehrenstein and Jonathan Rosenbaum, from 1978)
  • What happens during long takes that cannot be shown with a montage ellipsis?
  • Evocation (by vacuum of the screen) of the unspoken, unrevealed reality taking place off-screen.
  • The formal means of pragmatic existentialism. What substitutes the long-winded intellectual speeches, the verbal conceptualization of the similar alienation expressed in Modernist films?
  • The end of the speaking parts. Often the hero in a C.C.C. film has less dialogue to speak than supporting characters. How lead actors counter this imbalance (body language, stillness, interiority) in opposition with traditional cinema.
  • Passive, unobtrusive camerawork restricts the narrative modes of expression of a C.C.C. auteur. What are the new minimal ways for a filmmaker to mark his/her own intentions in the story?
  • Identification to non-actors, opposed to the star-driven glamorous idealism to look up to.
  • Discontinuous tableaux-vivants, opposed to the classic continuous storytelling.
  • Reviews/analysis of recent C.C.C. films released since last blogathon in January 2007, or ones not covered in the last blogathon as well.
  • etc.

Given the expected small turnout, it's better to leave the entries open to any topic and forms. The emphasis on "non-narration" this year is only an underlying point of conjunction. Anything goes, it's up to your imagination. As long as we continue to talk about this underanalyzed Contemplative trend.

See you all here in January! in less than a month now... Spread the word around.


Tucker said…
Great idea Harry. I think the topic is far from being exhausted. There's lots more that can be said and pondered.
HarryTuttle said…
Thanks Tucker. I hope to see you there again.
HarryTuttle said…
Adrian Martin recommends the reading of this very interesting text : Obscure Objects of Desire: A Jam Session on Non-Narrative By Raymond Durgnat, David Ehrenstein and Jonathan Rosenbaum, from 1978. Available online at Light Sleeper
Carlos Ferrao said…
I'd like to take part in this. Also be sure to check my blog as the last post is in some ways related to CCC.
HarryTuttle said…
You're welcome Carlos. It'll be nice to see new people, as well as everyone from last year.
Thanks for your last blog post, it's like you already started the blogathon discussion there. ;)
You can count me in also! I've noted some nice topics that I think will be interesting to discuss on.
HarryTuttle said…
Thanks Renaud, see you there. I saw Silent Light and loved it. Looking forward to your review.
Anonymous said…
Hello sir

I'm just finishing a piece on Jia Zhangke's Platform/Unknown Pleasures and aesthetics/ideology.

perhaps it will fit in?

I shall be post it up before deadline.
HarryTuttle said…
Of course, you're most welcome.
His later films are getting more and more "contemplative", but these two already feature a great deal of plot side-steppping.
Did you see In Public (this one is as hardcore contemplative as can be), the location scouting documentary he shot before Unknown Pleasures?
Looking forward to your essay.
And thanks for the advertising on your blog.

I'm tweaking the template of this blog here at the moment, so sorry for any inconvenience.
Harry, I'm thinking about doing something on Japan's Contemplative Schoolgirls -- looking at two new films by Jun Ichikawa and Nobuhiro yamashita -- and the forerunner of these (Naruse's remarkable, totally unknown "Spring's Awakening").
HarryTuttle said…
Very well. I'd like to know more about what you think of Shimizu if you feel like developing what you told me earlier on this blog.
Anonymous said…
Harry, I definitely plan to participate this year as I did last how does one "request to join the members"?
HarryTuttle said…
Thanks I was hoping you would join.

I need to send you an invitation to your email (which I did). But I think you need to create a Blogger/Gmail account to be able to join the board of member-editors of this team-blog.

I hope that we'll have more activity on this blog this year (since we won't encounter the trouble of last year's bug), to see if a blogathon can also generate a communal event outside of individual blogs, instead of scattering the conversation in various distant corners.

N.B. If the 1024*800 screen resolution layout is too big for some people, I can revert it to a standard 800*600.