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Ekphrasis

Comment le cinéma hérita de la photographie: le regard, la femme, le réalisme

Ioan POP-CURŞEU


Abstract:

Taking as a start point the apparition of photography and the way the new invention was received by artists and intellectuals, the present article aims at proposing a few answers to the question why a new medium provokes major cultural changes, at a level of perception, at an aesthetic one, or at a level of ideological discourse. First, I will analyze some important texts on photography (Baudelaire, Th. Gautier, Delacroix, Walter Benjamin), trying to put forward the difficulties that the new medium had to face in constituting itself a specific aesthetic discourse, in comparison with painting. The painting supposes a theoretical tradition, based on clear principles: it was/is always considered as an art of imagination. Photography, on the contrary, had/has only the reputation of “transcribing” a “tranche de vie” and of exaggerating the aesthetic rules of realism and of realistic representation. Secondly, I will take into account the apparition of cinema and its historical context: the most clear way of apprehending it was to consider it a legitimate heir of photography. I will analyze the reverberation of this idea in some films such as Luchino Visconti’s, La Terra trema (1948), Michelangelo Antonioni’s, Blowup (1966). Thirdly, I will concentrate on the contestation of a photographic realism in cinema, showing that the moving images make a great profit of their own impurity or of their multimedia nature, which underline more and more obsessively a problematical relation to reality. Some classical works will be cited, such as Michael Powell’s, Peeping Tom (1960), R. Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, C’est arrivé près de chez vous (1992), Steven Soderbergh’s, Sex, lies and videotape (1989). Some strong ideas will support the argumentation: the realism is a deal of historical and social context, photography and cinema emerged as violent ways of seeing/watching, they often suppose a symbolical crime, the woman is a main topic of the visual fact (she is often the ideal victim).

Keywords: photography, cinema, painting, realism, sight, crime, woman’s condition

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