A New Appreciation for Art Cinema

I just finished reading Bordwell’s chapter six, Narration and Space and have recently gained a lot more respect for some of the Art Cinema films that we watched in previous film classes.  After reading the chapter I sat down and thought about what I learned, especially with respect to equivalence, reduction, and expansion of narrational time.

Basically I realized that most of this chapter simply lists and explains all the ways in which time can be manipulated in a film.  I thought of how art cinema directors probably did a similar thing as they aimed at exploring the power of film– the probably sat down and listed all the ways in which time can be tampered with.  Then, they probably went through and broke down this list further, into ellipsis, compression, insertion, and dilation, and figured out all the ways to illustrate these things.  So, as the example that Bordwell gives us, Eisenstein played with insertion by using overlapping editing.

My point is this: before really knowing the goals of experimentation that these artists were aiming to do, these films seemed really boring to me.  Maybe I was just used to getting a very intelligible story out of typical hollywood films, which is for certain very true, but these “strange” films just seemed to be annoying and completely against the idea of “entertainment.”  Now I can understand these films more as an experimental stage in motion pictures.  These artists weren’t necessarily trying to make money and entertain people, rather they were experimenting with the basic concepts of film to see how the medium can change meaning, emotion, etc.  People like Eisenstein were experimenting with time, rythem, pace, editing, etc, and they’re overall goal was not to please viewers like me, but instead to explore the new narrative possibilities that film presents.  Somehow I overlooked this goal while taking film history classes and as a result probably didn’t get as much out of these films as I should have.

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