The Autonomous Image

The Autonomous Image: Cinematic Narration and Humanism

A. J. Prats
Copyright Date: 1981
Edition: 1
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j2mv
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  • Book Info
    The Autonomous Image
    Book Description:

    Blowup, says Armando Prats, is one of the necessary movies. It is a "living expression of the transition into the new narrative domains" in terms of man's "new vision of himself as a narrative creature in a world whose very essense is cinematic narration." Prats' work on the new humanism inherent in postwar filmmaking is a rewarding work with implications for the fields of esthetics and axiology as well as film criticism. In his analyses of four films by three directors -- Fellini'sDirector's NotebookandThe Clowns, Wertmiller'sSeven Beauties, Antonioni'sBlowup-- Prats shows the contrasts between the conventional, word-bound narrative methods of the past and the new narrative in which images are free to display their energies fully, to lead the eye beyond rational concepts of reality and illusion, truth and falsity, good an evil, beauty and ugliness. The autonomous visual event, Prats finds, offers one of the most direct ways of entering into adventures of ideas, particularly in the realm of human values. Movies have revolutionized art as well as thought about art, and inasmuch as art and life converge, they have revolutionized life itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4934-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. 1 The New Narration of Values: FELLINI: A DIRECTOR’S NOTEBOOK
    (pp. 1-37)

    More than a fresh personal vision of the potentialities of cinematic narration on the part of Federico Fellini himself,Fellini: A Director’s Notebookis a work that opens up new possibilities for revolutionary narrative directions in the life of the movies.¹Director’s Notebookis not, strictly speaking, a documentary; it is not even a documentary of the making of a movie.² Nor is it only a movie about a movie—a mere example, that is, of what in movie criticism is currently being called “formal reflexivity.”³ It is more accurate to say that Director’s Notebook is the story of discovering...

  5. 2 The Narrative Dilemma: SEVEN BEAUTIES
    (pp. 38-73)

    By one of those rare, timely miracles of the imagination which have occasionally rescued the human spirit from the darkness of historical circumstance, the movies appeared when Western civilization began to suffer its most profound crisis—the decay of language as the principal support of all human values. Almost as miraculous is the fact that the movies continue to grow. The growth of the movies as an ever-fresh narrative possibility remains a moral and esthetic alternative to the intellectual malaise that lingers painfully even after the collapse of the word in its traditional role as the perpetuator of ethical precepts...

  6. 3 To the Threshold of the New Narrative: BLOWUP
    (pp. 74-121)

    Within the consideration of the growth of cinematic values that forms the central concern of this book,Seven Beautiesis as anachronistic and obsolescent a movie as there can possibly be. But its very obsolescence, its narrative abnegation, is its greatest value. Therefore inasmuch asSeven Beauties, like all movies of consequence, offers itself to the further examination of values inherent in its own narrative deed, we find in it a clear summons to the exploration of an alternative narrative. Such an alternative narrative can illustrate the growth of cinematic values beyondSeven Beauties’ own narrative crisis. In the case...

  7. 4 Plasticity and Narrative Methods: THE CLOWNS
    (pp. 122-152)

    At the very end ofBlowupthe entire screen is covered by the green expanse of grass. The possibilities for a new narrative have been fully announced, and the decks are clear to begin the excursion into new cinematic values. The fact is, however, that the announcement of new narrative possibilities is as far asBlowupcan go. Such an achievement is in itself a major narrative breakthrough, forBlowupreaches the threshold of a vision of man’s new image in a twofold sense: first, in relation to his contemporary cinematic existence; and second, in relation to his continually creative...

  8. EPILOG
    (pp. 153-157)

    An important aspect of the genius of the clowns’ resurrection is to be found in the direction of their motion. They descend from the highest place in the circus, join under the spotlight at the lowest possible place, and walk away from the open-ended ring. Resurrection, rebirth, need not be transcendental; the resurrection at the end of the genial mode is much more humanistically appealing than the one at the end of the artificial mode. Fischietto’s resurrection, for all its liberating and anarchic exuberance, takes place on high. Fischietto is accordingly separated from the very world to which he owes...

  9. Appendix: The Episodes in director’s notebook
    (pp. 158-158)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 159-171)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 172-178)