Loading
Nota de Estudos
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

Cinema and Modernism

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

Good morning, cinema and modernism is our topic for today’s lecture and we are going t deal with what is modernism, very briefly and the factors that led to its growth. W are going to look at some of the major inventions and inventors of this period, particularly wit reference to cinema. And theoretically we should know what Walter Benjamin’s ideas as contained in the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. We will be talking about that; this is the essay in which he talks extensively about visual arts particularly cinema.So, what is modernism? Modernism as a movement. So, it is a movement remember came into prominence after the First World War;before that we had the Victorian period. And modernism marks a break with Victorian; bourgeoisie mentalityand morality, and rejects at least aspires to reject the nineteen century optimismand often presumes a deeply pessimistic picture of a culture in transition.So, at some level modernism was a response to the ordered, stable and inherently meaningfulworld-view of the nineteenth century that is the Victorian period. So, it often interrogates the meaning of;anything you know stable meaning of the world, of the world view or the world around us.So, the idea was that the world view which was in prevalence till then was not enough tocomprehend the inner key; the chaos of the twentieth century.And in literature of course, you have T.S. Eliot and hisThe Westland, famous poem which almost is considered asone of the most important prominent text of this period also; Ezra Pounds’ Cantos,so these are the literary background, this is the literary background of modernism.Now cinema, originated in, it is very interesting that it coincided with the period that isusually refer to as the modernist period.World around us was changing, too many newthings happening; ideas, inventions and then we came across, I mean we witness the birth of cinema.So, Thomas Alva Edison, I do not think anyone here needs any introduction toThomas Alva Edison and he patented his invention of the Kinetoscope in 1891.But before that we also had cinema in its various forms. So cinema as we know it today, traces its originto the 1890s when penny arcades Kinetoscope were enraged.Can anyone tell me what are these things?Penny arcades Kinetoscope,as cinema is started you know we are talking about Lumiere,we are talking about Georges Melies people who begin making cinema;what he is what is Penny arcade KinetoscopeNo, tell me what is a penny arcade? Penny penny penny coin,you drop a coin and watch something you know there would be that kind of an instrument you get it.Right so, the projection is the so called projector. Projectionist he wouldrotate a handle and he would be able to see through some kind of lens some many pictures just scrolling on.Is it so, perhaps you know? May be beginnings of Nickelodeon, the way we understand it today.So Walter Benjamin theorizes, the growth of cinema,the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Are you familiar with the work?Perhaps you should be doing that for your theoretical readings. So, we are going talkabout that soon that remains me that you are going to start your discussion of key concepts.Ranjeeth, please make a list and mail it to all of us. Already some people have responded around 27,yes, remaining are requested to send your references to Ranjeeth. So, Walter Benjamin observes thatthe camera was a sergeant’s scalpel which led bear the optical unconscious.So, camera never lies, camera never cheats. We are on camera right now, and if youare sucking your thumb it will show that you are sucking your thumb, if you are smiling,if you are unhappy and if you are happy, I can see many happy faces right now; it willbe captured, you cannot fake emotions that is what we mean. So, camera is a scalpel whichleads bear the optical unconscious. Camera never lies, it is almost akin to our sergeants' scalpel.The pioneers of cinema, the way we understand cinema of course, many of us would notbe familiar with these names, but we have been talking about and as a students of cinemayou should know these names.The Lumiere brothers; Thomas Edison, Georges Melies;who are they, they are the pioneers.Student: What did he do?I we will talk about him, what did he do?He was also one of those early film makers along with the Lumiere brothers, but moreeccentric, more experimentalists. D. W Griffith, are you aware of him? Good.Birth of a nation, we will be talking about it. Lincoln; after all Lincoln is the hottest movie of our season.So, he dealt with American civil war, it is a silent movie, an assassination of Lincoln in that film.I think the parts of it are available on the YouTube.Edwin. S. Potter.And then film makers who were also actors, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.So, and then of course from Denmark we had someone, called Carl Theodor Dreyer who is our veryimportant modernist and we should know something about him as well.So, just to recap we have been talking about the Lumieres for quite a while.So Auguste and Louis, they were the brothers, brothers Lumieres. And Edison’s, Kinetoscope was a thread.So, Louis worked on a machine and invented something called the cinematographs;so you get your term cinematography from this, which was a camera and a projector involved.We have already discussed while we were talking about realism, Workers leaving the Lumiere factory,which was made in 1895 and The arrival of a train at a station; and we are told hereif you read bits of cinema history which is a very interesting area that, when a liveaudience really watched a train arriving at a station that movie, they were startled, they were scared.They started running around, if that train would come charging towards them, on them.So, that was the effect of cinema, something like a people had never seen before.So, Lumieres also noted for introducing thefirst ever special effect. So before Matrix, you had the Lumieres who knows, introducethe first ever special effect in cinema, it was called the demolition of a wall.And if you go to the YouTube, you will find it over there, in which reverse motion was use to rebuild a wall.You understand reverse motion? In cinema often it done to create a comic effect;everything going backward so that is what they did for the first time in 1895which was quite a fit for those days. We are talking were Georges Melies.He was a conjuror, a magician, a cartoonist and inventor, so truly multi facet talent.And he started using trick photography and developed devices, such as super imposition and stop motion.Can anyone give me example of a super imposition?I can always show you a clipping,but what you understand by super imposition?No one into photography here?You take a different background and you impose,perhaps overlap it, but overlap has multi layers to it.Super imposition is; just you take an image and you impose it to on something, I will giveyou some very common, yes.Student: Then, Citizen Kane had issue of Xanadu, and they focus on Charles Foster Kane and he saysRosebud because in background, if I remember correctly; they showed something in backgrounds.Perhaps so that is a more sophisticated use. But I will give you a very crude use of super imposition.Many a times without going to the Taj Mahal; studios use the image of Taj Mahal.And then, you get me what I am trying to say? Somebody comes in and you do not haveto really go to Eiffel Tower or to Paris, it is there in the studio; and just stand in front of it.So, it is like the images are already there and you are superimposed on.So, more clever way of doing it. So there were certain films makers, who were extremely,adapt with super imposition. But Georges Melies was the first to introduce it. And he adaptedJules Verne ‘Le Voyage dans la lune’ or a trip to the moon.So, Jules Verne the famous science fiction writer;‘around the world in 80 days’,and we have also seen the wonderful adaptation with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan, watch the movie,but Jules Verne would turn in his grave that is another fixed moment but someone saidthat they like Jackie Chan a lot, so it is a treat for his fans.So, Trip to The Moon was an important movie by Georges Meliesand you watch it; it is available I think on the netand the moon does all sorts of things there, it smiles, it weeps and it changes colors.So, use of trick photography those days.It is almost like, later on it was developed as freeze, but it stop motion was the firstterm use for it, later on people like the new; the new way film makers like Truffaut, Godard etcetera,they perfected the art.D W Griffith father of cinema; so cinema haveseveral fathers and D W Griffith was perhaps the father of a film narrative, because seeA Trip to The Moon and Workers Leaving the Lumiere building, Factory, they were like shots,not even shots, a clip 30 seconds or one minute businesses. But here, we are talkingabout the man who developed a narrative. We are soon going to do classic narrative,classic Hollywood cinema, and classic Indian cinema. So, the way stories would be told.So, he was the pioneer here. He was a student of Edwin. S. Porter; and Edwin. S. Porterhad made a movie called The Great Train Robbery in 1903 which had a definite story line.So, remember earlier there was no story, you are just shooting something which is a happening,a train arriving, moon it is there, the workers leaving a factory. Yes, fine but it is not;they are not telling a story, they are just capturing certain scenes from day to day life,you know man on a, ‘man with the movie camera’ that is another experiment.But before all that, ‘The great train Robbery’ was one of the first known films to use the storyline.Anyone is familiar with this,The Great Train Robbery?Student: Is it based on novel?Not exactly, I am talking about 1903 and thefirst movie which is, the running length of which is 10 to 15 minutes,a doubted but perhaps.So, there is a train robbery, there is actually a train, there are actually robbers.And is that you know, Bang bang, Shoot shoot kind of a film; where robbers come and shoot aroundand rob a train and after that, they are chased by the Sharif and the people and they arecaptured and some on them are gun down. That is the story. But it is a story and it wasa huge hit, a massive hit; I mean seeing all these things on screen.And later on Griffith made his most famous work ‘Birth of a Nation’ that was 1915.So, look at the rapid developments; 1891 you are making, 1895 you have making a movie likeworkers leaving the factory and within 10 years of it, you are making something whichhad a definite story line and after that, a full length feature film‘Birth of a Nation’.Birth of a Nation set during the Civil War. And it is outrageously racist.It is a completely biased in favor of the white people;people who own slaves and the blacks are not played by, to my understanding they are notplayed by black actors, but white people with faces painted black. So, it gives a very unnatural,very annoying look to the film, but it was a huge hit because it was giving the peoplewhat they wanted to see. And blacks are represented you know the evil blacks, the binaries arevery clear there; the evil black verses the good white. The white are moral, hard working and honest.The blacks are rappers, killers, robbers.So, that is the way it was representedand that one point the movie also, blatantly support the notorious group Ku Klux Klan.You can look up these groups.And the film was one of the first known block busters, a smash hit.And of course, assassination of Abraham Lincolnand the movie was also remembered for this,very realistic depiction of the assassination of the Lincoln. So, the movie although a huge,hugely successful film, it was panned by critics for the racist over tones; and as if a tonefor this in, later on Griffith made a movie called, ‘Intolerance’.Intolerance is all about, I mean advocates; racial integration.Any comments, any observations here?All these, we are still talking about silent cinema. Which was the first talkie?Good.The jazz singer which came much later and if you have watched, the sound of music; I am so sorry,singing in the rain.How many of watch, ‘Singing in the rain’?Not too, too many. You have to watch singing in the rain. Note it down. Will it be available here?If it is, please do watch singing in the rain, directed by Stanley Donen with Gen Kelly.And it tells you all about, what happen to cinema with the advent of talking pictures, talkies.So after the World War, The Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919;and these were the major events that were taking place, and how these they affected, influencethe development of technology and cinema in particular. So, the collapse of Wall Street in 1929,Hitler coming to power as chancellor of Germany in 1933 and a president Rooseveltlaunched a very populist new deal as a response to the economic depression in America.So, because of such major social-political upheavals there was a new social politicalorder, which resulted in new artistic modes; offering radical perspectives on the prevailing conditions.So, it just does not appear in a vacuum, there has to be certain kind ofsocio-political condition which leads to certain kind of a cinema or art. Art is always groundedin the way social, political conditions exist. I mean, we talk about post liberalizationtoday, do not we? Do you think, post liberalization and let’s stick to cinema, let us not goingto political or economic order now; but there is something called post liberalization, 90s onwards.Do you sense a change in cinema? Do you sense,in some where cinema is a responding to it, how? Our own cinema; how is it, how is it responding?I mean, post liberalization is not felt in Europe, it is not felt somewherein the United States perhaps; Globalization yes, impact of globalization, multi-multiculturalism, yes.Thematically, technically do you feel post liberalization impacting on us?Student: Languages, yes.Themes, let us talk about themes.Student: About themes, more explanations of such things in cinemas in post globalization.Ideas of taboos; could not be talked about, such as divorce, looking into dichotomy.Give me one key feature of liberalization. What did liberalization do to us?Student: Commercialization.Exactly, commercialization. Do you feel, seebefore liberalization cinema was the values it projected; at least on a screen was likeit is good to be middle class, it is very satisfying to be to remain where you are, you need nothave those upwardly mobile, social economic aspirations. If you watch post liberalization cinema,you feel that thematically it has been liberated from those confinements.Do not you feel so? I mean Oyee lucky, lucky Oyee; is a very good example, lower middleclass boy trying to break away with shackles. Shanghai for example is a response to forcesof liberalization, you have one part of India, one India which does not recognized that anotherIndia exist; that is what Shanghai is all about.Student: Do Dooni ChaarDo Dooni Chaar Yes. Why cannot a teacher own a car?So, this is what we are; so social aspirations have changed,that has become an integral theme of our cinema.Of course, thematically also we have changed, I mean look at Dev-D.And it is also very interesting that we are now looking at that kind of cinema, which is moreand more grounded in Indian society. Indian, they talk about Indian cities and Indian towns; Life in a metro.Even some of the films which is set small towns ‘Ishqiya’ Ahishek Chaubey’sset in a; but very, very modern its theme.So, cinema always related to society.Now, Carl Theodor Dreyer; he started his career with ‘leaves from Satan’s book’,which is a work inspired by D W Griffith’s Intolerance.He is from Denmark and his monumental workis the passion of Joan of Arc 1928, a phenomenal work. Of course, none of you need any introductionto who Joan of Arc was. You know, who she was, but it was the way the story was dealt with.And Dreyed was one of the first without all these fancy labels; he was the first onewho made his actors go through some kind of training for acting. So, he would make themrehearse and rehearse and rehearse to such an extent that they would be exhausted andthen he would capture them on camera. Because Joan of Arc, however pretty she musthave been in a real life but, while we are in jail and you are starving and persecuted;you cannot remain beautiful and glamour’s, in a commercial movie? Yes, you would,but not in the kind of movie, movie Dreyer made. So, Joan of Arc and you can, while she isbeing subjected to inquisitions by the clerics. So, Dreyer is an important master,we will be talking about his cinema during this, during our course.And then let’s move on to another major pioneer of modernism and cinema.The comic masters. So, first we will talk about Charlie Chaplin, does not need much of an introductionand he is credited with slapstick style. You know that he was he was born in England.He migrated to the United States at some point but he was a British national.And of course, so why was he why did his movies touch so many people? His combination, unique combinationof slapstick comedy, style and sentimentalism. So, if you watch The Kid for example,one of the most sentimental films.The champ;and Chaplin would excel in playing the underdog.Gold Rush is another important movie in 1925, where he becomes a gold prospectorand in the movie some of the memorable scenes are there; a Staving Chaplin boils and theneats his own boot with relish. And he is considered one of the greatest that was the high point of his career.City Lights is another a trim with its blend of melodrama and physical comedy;and he is the little tram here, who is moved and that was his image right, the tram, alittle tram you know the bowler hat, the walking stick, the coat so we were talking about semiotics.So, even today if someone an actor who wears a bowler hat and a little mustache you know, Charlie Chaplin;so semiotics that worked there. So, he made himself easily identifiablewith the public, because it was the age of the depression and he would always play theunderdog in search of love and in search of you know an underdog with a golden heart.In Hindi cinema Rajkapoor perfected the image, underdog, orphanalways in need of receiving and giving love.The first movie with speech, that is talking picture was in 1927, the jazz singerbut Chaplin was convinced that speech would ruin the beauty of cinema; he did notbelieve in sound and soon we will be doing sound and sound tracks also in this courseand then you will understand how important sound is.But at that point Chaplin believe the cinema is and out and out visual medium, give thepeople as many images and visuals as possible without sound interfering in it.So, of course, sound was also then in a very crude way and perhaps he was not too convinced about it.Some of his films were presented as a comedy romance in pantomime with little sound effectand usually he would give the music himself.Student: Ma’am it would be speech instead of sound actuallyThey did not have any problem using snatchesof music in order to create that kind of an emotional impact. He had a problem with dialogueas such, music they would use because you cannot get away without using music, right.You have to, and how were they, how did they use music in those pictures.Student: Orchestra?Orchestra, no but what was the purpose?That is very important you know to understand us. It was like a background music, the way somethingthat today we call the background music. So, how did they use it?To set the mood,to set the tone on there, to tell people that see this is the situation where you should get emotional;we want you to drop tear, shed tears at this point. So, we are we are goingto give you that sad violin music. And then we will have that nice tap-tap music whichis suppose to make you feel good about yourself. So, the music would tell you what to feelbut, then sound has come; so music has background music has come a long way, and now we deliberatelyuse silences to create an impact.But then that is all because of the sophisticationof sound and sound track that is another area to explore. So, ‘Modern Times’ which isan indictment of cross capitalism and industrialization; is another important Chaplin movie.And where he satirizes assembly line production; you know the fondest tendencies.And there is a scene, where you feel that simple worker has become; yes a part of the machines around him,you remember that scene where he has. Yes, this is what I was talking about; thepoint where after hours of hardly labored little tram gets a lunch break where he sitswith a bowl of soup switching to the rhythm of the machine.Chaplin pantomimes his through this film and definitely it is a movie which is full ofwarmth for the workers, of the working millions and if you remember Chaplin was black listed from Hollywood.Do you know the background? There was something called McCarthy period.What happened during McCarthy period? People were labeled as traitors, anti-American becauseof so called communist tendencies. So, several film makers suffered, Elia Kazan for example.Student: He actually gave, in trial he actually spoke against other actors; Elia Kazan.That is Elia Kazan, and Elia Kazan therefore was black listed by everyone, he try to savehimself but great director; let us not take away anything for that, political ideologiesaside, Elia Kazan was the greatest film director in my opinion ever, I mean the bodyof work is amazing, Splendour in the Grass, East of Eden, A Streetcar Named Desire.Student: ‘On the Waterfront’.On the Waterfront which was a response to achieve HAAC, house and American activities committee.So, Chaplin was also blacklistedduring the Hollywood McCarthy's reign, the blacklisting of its so called communist.And he was in exile; he lived in exile for several years and then he never return to America for avery long time till the early 70s. And who invited him back, who work to get him back?Any guesses in the 70s who could have been instrumental in getting him back to America;and he was given a lifetime achievement award for at the Oscars. We usually give to peoplelike you know the calm down, we never recognized you when you are at your peek; now we aregiving you a candy, be satisfy with it so Chaplin and also Hitchcock.They were never awarded or rewarded or appreciated and it hurt them immensely of course.But Chaplin was brought back for a short time from England and other parts of Europe, andhe was honor with life time academy award. My question is who, can you hazard a guess?Who could have been an instrumental? Who were the group?What was the group that could have been behind?Student: Marx Brothers?Marx Brothers, we are talking about the early 70s.People like Scorsese, people like Coppola,people like Warren Beatty; people who pioneered or assured in counterculture movement andtherefore they felt that old world has to change, and therefore you cannot go on humiliatingor neglecting the pioneers of cinema. So, Chaplin was brought back because of theirefforts and their also made a documentary and honored them in his lifetime achievement.Very significantly his lifetime achievement award came in the same year as, when The Godfatherreceived its Oscars as best film etcetera.Godfather, how many Oscars did it win?Student: Three.Good, best cinematography, best picture andbest actor for Brando and where he acted up and refused to take it,refuse to accept it; that is another drama.Buster Keaton; any one knows who he was?Buster Keaton?Student: GeneralGood, So, Buster Keaton again a contemporary of Chaplin;started in film with a very renounce comedian Fatty Arbuckle in 1917I would like you to look up Fatty Arbucklenot because he was fat, but there was a huge huge scandal surrounding him, and I do not want to talkabout that right now. So, I want you to understand what Hollywood machinery he was all about,because there was a huge controversy about Fatty Arbuckle who was the major star of thesilent era, comedian; and what he did and what that stood the length to which the studioswent to do a cover up job, it always happens, media management.So, Keaton was a genius as well as masterful film maker and his movies are known for theirimmaculate attention to details. And this he always had a dead pan expression on his face.You must watch The General. Today many people rate him superior to Charlie Chaplin.He was less Slapstick and more nuanced, more philosophical.His films also illustrated a kind of stoic and surreal quality.But watch The General, I think this is; and of course Singing in The Rain, you must watch it.So, Keaton here is remembered for jettisoning slapstick and introducing a more settle comic style.Who said that Roscoe Arbuckle is his favorite?Roscoe Arbuckle is more Keaton and less Chaplin;more settle definitely, more surreal, I mean he does not go around falling all over the place,slipping on a banana peel, so that is slapstick. And his signature style was the stoically brave,who would brave all the odds and carry on with the struggles of life.And some of his many admirers include and they have paid homage to him in several ways on screen;Luis Bunuel, Chuck Jones, Woody Allen, very very significantly Jackie Chan and Steven Spielberg.It may not reflect Spielberg’s cinema, buthe has profess to be a huge admirer of Buster Keaton. And he were often called the great stone face,that was his acting style.So, The General was made in 1927, considered Keaton’sgreatest comedy; set during the civil war. And what is The General?It is a train; it is an engine, name of it locomotive.And Keaton's character is in love with a locomotive and the girl Annabelle Lee.It is very interesting, because set during the civil war and named like Le general, reference to generally.An ideologically, the film supports the southand we find the Yankees stealing the locomotive, and much of the comedies centered on Keatonsearch for The General.Any questions here, any comments at this point?Anything, that you would like to talk about Keaton or Chaplin?So, what I would like you to do now is towatch ‘The General’, because we obviously we cannot be screening all these movies here,also its better these are black and white silent film so you watch them at your own convenience.So, watch The General, watch any major movie Starring Charlie Chaplin.I would recommend the Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times.If possible try to watch someof Buster Keaton’s films also and if available try to watch Dreyer, because Carl Theodor Dreyer,his films are in French language but, I am sure something is available with subtitles.So, John of Arc which is a difficult movie to watch; it is a very difficult in the sensethat, it lacks the so called entertainment value, let me tell you right away.And then also they are very demanding films, emotionally as well as intellectually.So, they do not give easy answers to easy questions; they do demand a lot your attention, when you arein a good mode watch this film. So, The Passion of Joan of Arc that is one.Another movie would be by Pabst that is German film maker.I think William Pabst and his movie called Pandora’s Box.Now while we are talking about all these people with a slapstick comedy,so the growth of cinema right; so especially in Hollywood.So, what our what is our take away now?What are the major developments that you just observed?Inception of cinema and then at what level did, I mean we stopped at General.Can you just give me the list, how did it progress? Just take a minute.And then we will talk about something else very quickly.According to you, what are the highlights here, whatever we have been talking about?Think of cinema and its growth in terms oftechnology and also in terms of themes and ideas, as well as ideology then give me your responses.Student: So in terms of highlights, the firstwe have the first film; The Workers Leaving Factory and we have the first special effects,Breaking out the wall then 1903, we have the first movie with storyline, The Great Train Robbery,and from there you have films with political ideology like a ‘Birth of Nation’.Good, so we have an ideology, we have a narrative; in-between we also had The Great Train Robberywhich told a story, may be five minutes or six minutes but there was something a linear story;we are talking about linearity in storytelling, the classic narrative which remained a majorfeature of storytelling for a very long time, linearity till people like Dennis Hopper perhapsEasy Rider, they came and started interrogating the rules.And then we also look at how cinema can be a vehicle of propaganda, ideology.So, Birth of Nation and because he was a gentleman,he could all he also made another movie called Intolerance which is almost like an apology,making a public apology for his sense of Birth of Nation, so ideology.So cinema therefore, what we are seeing that cinema it can be a very strong medium for propagation of ideas.Chaplin after all, what was he doing? There was an idea, there wasan ideology, of course he wanted entertainment, definitely films are very high as for as theentertainment portion was concern. But there was a certain ideology; the underdog versesthe capitalists that is an underlying theme, critiquing the rapid industrialization, insensitiveindustrialization and growth that was also critic.And then Buster Keaton, more refined style of acting. Dreyer, more refined style of acting.So, breaking away from theatrical, stagy, melodramatic posturing; so that is the contributionof people like Dreyer and Keaton. So, there was a growth in the first 20 years of its inceptions,cinema witness rapid growth in terms of technique, in terms of themes, ideologyas well as acting, so that is the take away. So, we will continue tomorrow, any comments?Student: I can think, next happened would be studio culture, how major studio started