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Cinema All the Time

Národní filmový archiv 2008

brožovaná300 str.
ISBN 9780930042998

1-2 ks

This anthology assembles some of the earliest Czech texts on film published in the period between 1908 and 1939, i.e., between the rise of art cinema and the outbreak of World War II; writings that were instrumental in shaping the various ways film was seen and understood in this formative period. The authors include scientist Jan Evangelista Purkinje, whose studies of the perception of movement from 1819 and 1820 laid the ground for the rise of the cinematic apparatus, and writers and critics Václav Tille and Karel Čapek, who, years before their counterparts abroad, analyzed cinematic language as it was emerging, reflecting on its genealogy, genres, and future development. How was it possible that, in a country without a well-developed film industry, these cultural and literary critics, linguists, theater directors, architects, and filmmakers articulated ideas and concepts that predated later theoretical developments? This collection suggests that Czech writers benefited from their location at the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, where Austrian, Slavic, German, French, English, and American cultures intermingled.

The anthology is organized both thematically and chronologically to reflect the rise of film as a new medium, a cultural institution, and an art form—in other words, to document the discursive construction of film in its variety and multiplicity. The writings express a number of concerns that relate to major trends and forces of modernity in the twentieth century: film is seen as a means to educate and enlighten, as an example of the dynamic relation between time and space, as a new formal model for other arts, as a tool for ideological struggle, and as a unique signifying system. While some of the authors are known to scholars in various fields—Purkinje to historians of science, Karel Teige to students of the European avant-garde, Jan Mukařovský and Roman Jakobson to literary scholars and linguists, and Alexander Hackenschmied (aka Hammid) to film historians—only a few of their texts on film have been translated into English, and this anthology marks the first time they have been systematically and critically assembled.

In this sense, the anthology continues the efforts of recent publications and exhibitions to showcase Central Europe as the site of key moments in art and cultural history. At the same time, it also situates art movements and theories within the complex framework of modernity, whose major forces ranged from technology and mass media to national politics. Instead of focusing on the history of film theory in a narrow academic sense, the anthology presents the reader with a great diversity of genres and styles of writing that address the formation and development of this emblematic component of modernity. In the first half of the twentieth century, film was seen as a medium that overturned the existing hierarchy of cultural values and radically transformed individual subjective experience. The texts herein do not document these transformations from an external, impartial point of view; on the contrary, they are an integral part of these changes—their manifestation and their agents.