Temporality and Film Analysis

Temporality and Film Analysis

Matilda Mroz
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt3fgs7c
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  • Book Info
    Temporality and Film Analysis
    Book Description:

    Matilda Mroz argues that cinema provides an ideal opportunity to engage with ideas of temporal flow and change. Temporality, however, remains an underexplored area of film analysis, which frequently discusses images as though they were still rather than moving. This book traces the operation of duration in cinema, and argues that temporality should be a central concern of film scholarship. In close readings of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror, and the ten short films that make up Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Decalogue series, Mroz highlights how film analysis must consider both particular moments in cinema which are critically significant, and the way in which such moments interrelate in temporal flux. She explores the concepts of duration and rhythm, resonance and uncertainty, affect, sense and texture, to bring a fresh perspective to film analysis and criticism.Essential reading for students and scholars in Film Studies, this engaging study will also be a valuable resource for critical theorists.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4347-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Film theory, revolving as it does around a time-based medium, might be seen to be eminently suited to the development of discussion around temporal flow and change in relation to its particular objects. Temporality has consistently posed problems for critical theory, however. As Elizabeth Grosz has written,

    time is perhaps the most enigmatic, the most paradoxical, elusive and ‘unreal’ of any form of material existence . . . time is neither fully ‘present’, a thing in itself, nor is it a pure abstraction, a metaphysical assumption that can be ignored in everyday practice.¹

    Overwhelming us with its ‘pervasive force’, she...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Time, in Theory
    (pp. 13-48)

    The question of how best to conceptualise the cinematic medium has been an ever-present concern throughout the history of film criticism. Early film theory often struggled to express the powerful emotion that cinema provokes, revealing a fascination with its nature as at once corporeal and ephemeral, emanating materiality as well as ghostly traces. As Lesley Stern has written, the filmic capacity to render the phenomenal world, or to enact what Kracauer called ‘a process of materialisation’, was thought to be equalled only by the film’s capacity to ‘unhinge the solidity and materiality of things’.¹ This seemed to perpetuate an endless...

  6. CHAPTER 2 L’Avventura: Temporal Adventures
    (pp. 49-89)

    When L’Avventura came out in 1960, cinema was undergoing a period of renewal. As Nowell-Smith explains, this was characterised by a rebellion against ‘the false perfection of the studio film’. Film directors acquired a new visibility, as films increasingly displayed ‘open-ended narratives, internal quotation, autobiographical references, first-person statements’, while eschewing gloss and glamour.¹ Although most films released at this time kept to classical styles of composition and narrative form, cultural innovators such as Antonioni began to disrupt the coherence and continuity of space, time and narrative that cinema had previously worked to maintain.² The premiere of L’Avventura at the Cannes...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Mirror: Traces and Transfiguration
    (pp. 90-136)

    Andrei Tarkovsky’s fourth feature film, Mirror, had a complex and difficult production history. The shooting script and film itself went through torturous changes, many of which were demanded by Goskino, the State Committee for Cinematography in the USSR.¹ The project developed over ten years, but was always fundamentally concerned with memory and the traces of passing time. Mirror was partly inspired by Tarkovsky’s own childhood memories, of a time spent in the countryside during wartime evacuation, and by the poetry of his father, Arseniy Tarkovsky, which is recited in the film.² Many of the film’s scenes take place in a...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Signs and Meaning in the Decalogue
    (pp. 137-187)

    By the time Krzysztof Kieślowski made the Decalogue, he was a well-known film director in Poland, having begun his career making documentaries that focused upon the injustices and absurdities of life under Socialism. He made his first feature film, The Scar, in 1976, and had made five feature films before he began the Decalogue project.¹ The series marked a shift away from the political concerns that had been visible in his earlier films. Kieślowski has stated that during the imposition of martial law in Poland (1981–3) he realised that politics cannot answer ‘any of our essential, fundamental, human and...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 188-191)

    This book has emerged partly as a response to developments in film theory that offer new ways of thinking about cinema’s affective and sensory potential. Theories of embodiment and affect particularly invite us to return to films that were consistently seen as cold and distancing, such as L’Avventura, and to a lesser extent, the Decalogue series, giving us a new vocabulary which we can use to write about them. As Stern has written, affect in cinema derives its force not merely from the immediacy of touch but from the capacity of the object to elude our grasp. The movement of...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 192-200)
  11. Index
    (pp. 201-202)