Andre Bazin’s Film Philosophy

In his work, “What is Cinema,” Andre Bazin teaches his audience about how cinema exists within the history of art and how cinema has changed since its inauguration. Firstly, Bazin describes cinema”as the art of reality.” For him, cinematography is the “furthermost evolution to date of plastic realism.” Ancient Egyptians used to perform burial rituals and create terracotta statues of the dead. This is an example of what Bazin refers to as plastic art, or art that is visual. This art seen in ancient Egypt evolved into paintings. Then photographs became the newest form of plastic art. Lastly, cinema joined the family. Here, Bazin is showing how cinema is a part of art that has evolved through centuries. Moreover, Bazin continues to discuss how film has changed throughout time. One of his focuses was the shift from silent films to “talkies” that occurred from 1928 to 1930. Although, Bazin argues that this shift was not all that different for cinema, this shift is pretty influential. The shift to movies with sound is what allows films to diversify more. In the 1930s to the 1940s different types of film, such as comedy, crime and horror, would not have come. However, films still were all similar in the way they were shot, until Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” Although I have not seen most of the films referenced by Bazin from this time, I have seen “Citizen Kane.” This film was the first of its kind to change the squence of how a film was shot. Up until this time, movies were filmed the way one would see it if it was shown in a theater. Instead of montage, Citizen Kane uses contrast between scenes. Lastly, Bazin discusses the contrast between films in the 1930s that focused on the development of using sound, to films of the 1940s that explored film shooting techniques. Here Bazin not only references American cinema, but also Italian cinema. During this time films in Europe were also modernizing. Bazin uses his work to discuss how film is a part of plastic art and the evolution of cinema up until 1950.



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