Firstly, I’m new here, so not sure if this is the correct place to post (it seems this section is a bit inactive anyway!)
I wanted to open up a discussion about Deleuze’s theory of cinema. His later works included two whole books dedicated wholly to a philosophical analysis of cinema. These works are called ‘Cinema I: The Time Image’ and ‘Cinema II: The Movement Image’. I read that often these works are considered too leftfield and un-philosophical by philosophers, and by filmmakers, too meaty and philosophical.
My understanding of Deleuze, so far, comes from wikipedia and this blog here: http://networkologies.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/the-deleuzian-notion-of-the-image-a-slice-of-the-world-or-cinema-beyond-the-human/. Deleuze emphasises the interconnectedness of the universe as a totality. In relation to his theory of what exactly constitutes an ‘image’, he says that to frame something is to single out a specific part of this totality. In the blog above, Christopher Ritale posits that in reading Deleuze, we should understand ‘image’ really as a verb, ‘to image’. In this process of ‘world-slicing’ as Ritale puts it, when we see a cat, this is ‘catting’, when we see a chair, we are ‘chairing’ and so on. When we take a slice of the entirety of the cosmos, we are imaging a refraction ‘of the rest of what is’, in Vitale’s words. I am ok with the theory up till that point. I could do with reading the article once more, but I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the theory; if they’ve studied either of Deleuze’s works; if they know in which area of cinema studies are his ideas particularly prescient etc.?
There is a Youtube video I watched in the process of trying to learn about this stuff some more. It gives a scene from Ozu’s ‘Late Spring’ (1949) as an apparent illustration of Deleuze’s theory of the ‘time image’. I think it was in fact one that he himself cited in his works. I’ve read a little about Ozu’s style. His work has often been interpreted with reference to Zen Buddhism. There are shots in his films which do not seem to correspond coherently to the natural progression of the narrative, nor do they reflect the gaze of a character. Further, neither do they show a character when moments ago someone was standing there. The video in question is here, anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz85Cepg34k
I can understand how the manner in which Ozu almost freezes time, or the manner in which he kind of takes a pause from the narrative’s thrust forward may be given a Deleuzian twist on it, perhaps. However, my understanding of Deleuze’s theories are, as mentioned, pretty crude, bordering on non-existent. I was wondering if anyone can offer their opinion on the issue. Also, whether anyone knows of any films which may help explain this? And further, whether I have misunderstood anything. Finally, does anyone know any articles or essays of interest which may help? Thanks a lot!
Antonioni’s L’avventura and Deleuze’s Time-image
Gilles Deleuze’s Bergsonian Film Project
Feeling Time: Deleuze’s Time-Image and Aesthetic Effect
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror viewed through Gilles Deleuze’s ‘time-image’
Ooo, I wanna get in on this topic when I have some time to do it justice.
Yes, this looks good to me too.
When is this term-paper due?
His theories really interest me. To such an extent I have written a treatment inspired by his concepts of Movement and Time. Just working my way through a screenplay as I type this. To gain a better understanding I suggest reading up on Henri Bergson and his essay Matter and Memory. Deleuze relied heavily on Bergson and expands upon his ideas.
I have an entire folder of Deleuzian material, so I’m happy to help out. I’ll post more online links in a bit.
I read/skimmed through the links posted. I’m interested but don’t really understand what the hell he’s talking about. Is he implying that time-image makes for better art than movement-image?
Movement-image = films that rely on montage editing to tell their story, the juxtaposition of shots in order to create new meanings that aren’t present in any of the shots individually?? = classical Hollywood editing post-Griffith/crazy Soviets? = Hitchcock, Welles, Ford, Huston, Hawks, Wellman?
Time-image = films in which truth is found in the individual shots, each shot is allowed to unfold, we can feel the time passing, and there is a placement of the past and the present on an equal plain with the acknowledgement that these will inform the future?? = a lot of art house directors like Tarkovsky, Ozu, Antonioni, Weerasethakul, Zhangke, Tarr, Bresson?
And there are people in between the two (Kubrick? Wong Kar Wai? Von Trier?).
I just read the Networkologies article from the original post. It’s surprisingly succinct and easy to grasp – more so than most essays I’ve come across on the topic. The coffee cup and tree analogies are great.
Michael, I think Deleuzian thinkers would regard that reading as a bit reductionist, though I do agree with you. Deleuze wrote how WWII disrupted traditional montage cinema and as a result the time image was created. Aesthetically you could sort post-war “slow” film into the time-image, while the classical cause and effect film into movement. There’s so much else to take into account though – opsigns, sonsigns, any-space-whatevers etc.
This diagram is pretty useful.
….for Deleuze, there are infinite potential recombinations of our world, because entities, or images, are not like legos. They can be infinitely divided and redivided. And hence, there are infinite potential combinations and recombinations.
The movement image is, essentially, classical cinema where the movement is what dominates the film in form and content . The movement image is not over. Most Hollywood films today only deal in movement. Editing on the action and whatnot. Watch a superhero move. Pretty obvious in that regards.
The time image, or modern cinema, is where directors essentially determined that the shot can be longer and, because of this, “concrete” duration," or the truth value of the image, is greater. Welles and Dreyer are directors that engage in this style of cinema but, as MICHAEL points out, Antonioni and Tarkovsky are easier examples of the idea.
Both images (or types of cinema) still exist. The latter engages with an aspect of the medium (indexicality + time as duration) that is truly unique to it.
Some familiarity with Bergson is essential to the Cinema books. That’s why Deleuze devotes multiple chapters to Bergson in the books. It is impossible to put Delueze, his philosophy, or his thoughts on film into a nutshell so I would suggest one of the following lines of flight.
Read the first chapter of Bergson’s Matter and Memory where he rejects idealism and describes the world as images.
Look into Bergson’s notion of concrete versus abstract time. Concrete time as duration. From this notion, the idea of long-takes (or modern cinema or time-image) start to make much more sense.
Find the interview with Delueze entitled “The Brain is the Screen.” His interviews are always good entry points to his ideas.
After doing one of these things, read the chapter entitled “Imprinted Time” from Tarkovsky’s Sculpting in Time. His ideas on the past and present and time are strikingly similar to Bergson and Deleuze.
“The so-called classical cinema works above all through linkage of images, and subordinates cuts to this linkage. On the mathematical analogy, the cuts which divide up two series of images are rational, in the sense that they constitute either the final image of the first series, or the first image of the second….rational cuts always determine commensurable relations between series of images and thereby constitute the whole rhythmic system and harmony of classical cinema….Time here is, therefore, essentially the object of an indirect representation, according to the commensurable relations and rational cuts which organize the sequence or linkage of movement-images….modern cinema can communicate with the old, and the distinction between the two can be very relative. However, it will be defined ideally by a reversal where the image is unlinked and the cut begins to have an importance in itself. The cut, or interstice, between two series of images no longer forms part of either of the two series: it is the equivalent of an irrational cut, which determines the non-commensurable relations between images”
Why do you waste time with a charlatan like Deleuze? How big of a facepalm would Ozu give if he heard Deleuze talking about his films with this retarded language?
Do you not know how to watch a film? Why do you muddy it up with this theory? Deleuze isn’t relevant to anyone except academics who write for other academics so they can all argue or bicker amongst themselves and gather dust together.
Ha. I guess you’re right that none of this is necessary to appreciate Ozu’s work. But I’m still tempted to learn about this theory and do the readings Olfaudio has assigned. In the case of Tarkovsky, at least, it seems like these ideas were actually on his mind, influencing the way he made his films.
“retarded” . . . really? That’s the best Deleuze slam you can come up with, Sandwiches?
Everything I read about Deleuze tells me that I will have found my ideological hero when I get to one of his actual books. Didn’t he also contribute to the oneiric theory of film? That would be an excellent thread – oneiric theory as interpreted by Deleuze – that might actually bring me to read his books.
Please do not ever suggest that Tarkovsky was influenced by Deleuze. Never.
I’m pretty sure Bazin said it first and said it better. If you need a chart like the one posted above to decipher films it’s time you quit watching films, and possibly quit life itself.
Go read some Wittgenstein and forget this nonsense.
To be clear, I did not say Tarkovsky was influenced by Deleuze. There are are just striking similarities in the aforementioned chapter and what Deleuze is working towards.
Bazin said many things and most of them of great. He is essential reading in my mind. Deleuze, in my mind, is not repeating Bazin nor is he attempting to replace him.
I would be interested in your thoughts on Wittgenstein so please point me to a thread that covers his thought on or in relation to film. Or, please start a Wittgenstein specific thread.
That said, To call Deleuze a charlatan or his writing nonsense is unfair. Unlike most theories on film, which proceeds first from theory (structuralism or psychoanalysis) and then applies said theory to film, Deleuze does the opposite. He did not write the cinema books to be an example of his theory, his theory brought him to film. That is to say, it is not philosophy used to explain film, it is film used to work out a specific theory within philosophy. His work brought him to film to solve specific questions he was working on.
I think if you read his writings on cinema you will find that what he is discussing does not reduce (he doesn’t explain what the film is) but rather expands on the possibilities of cinema as a form of thought.
And yes, I agree, no chart makes sense if you have read Deleuze and, more importantly, no chart can explain Ozu, Tarkovsky or any other work of art for that matter. The reason why it is art, and why I assume we jabber on about it on a forum, is because art (cinema in this case) cannot be reduced to some other form. Good art, good cinema is irreducible. It is also essential.
@Sandwhiches: You’ve not really proven the extent to which Deleuze is ‘hogwash’, you’ve merely asserted it. This thread didn’t ask for what you think about Wittgenstein. It is surely a barrier to any meaningful discussion on continental philosophers like Deleuze and co. when someone pulls out the Wittgenstein card — we can’t engage with these thinkers because they employ muddy language (I’m no Wittgenstein expert by any means, but his critique of many philosophers centres around linguistics and the nonsensical manner in which they employ language). We can put aside whatever critique you or Wittgenstein may of thinkers like Deleuze, and first engage with the ideas of Deleuze himself. Anyway, you haven’t engaged directly with his ideas: it is not constructive when someone asks about Deleuze for you to dismiss him as a ‘charlatan’ and that’s that. It’s almost insulting to patronise someone with the question, ‘do they know how to watch films?’ For me (and probably anyone who has ever seen a movie), there is no exclusive, singular or universal way to watch a film. It seems like a pretty reductionist, overarching rebuke to ask why it is necessary to ‘muddy’ the reading of a film with a ‘theory’. Anyway, I just wanted to discuss Deleuze a bit more; I don’t have a definite position on his philosophy of cinema by any means, so to seemingly attack me directly is a tad unfair.
As a general response to this thread, I have been meaning to make a thorough reply for a number of days but am in the middle of final exams for university at the minute. I finish my last on Tuesday so I’m looking forward to giving all these articles a proper read and then we can go from there. Thanks for the keen response too!
You may find this text by David Rodowick helpful. I did when I was working through the Cinema books. The language is a bit… easier to follow.
I the heat of alcohol intoxication, I may have said some things which I now may or may not regret.
Olfaudio, you’ve motivated me to check out Deleuze " He did not write the cinema books to be an example of his theory, his theory brought him to film. That is to say, it is not philosophy used to explain film, it is film used to work out a specific theory within philosophy. His work brought him to film to solve specific questions he was working on."
Sounds pretty interesting. I do remember glancing through one of his Cinema books and noting that he had some pretty awesome taste.