Could anyone tell me what the difference is between vanguard cinema and avant-garde cinema? According to Wikipedia, ‘vanguard’ is English for the French term ‘avant-garde’… but I wonder if there is a difference between French perspective of avant-garde and the British/American perspective on vanguard.
I don’t think many in the US would use the phrase “vanguard” cinema, unless it is the case where a film is specifically a vanguard for a movement but is not strictly an avant-garde film perse. For example, one could say that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was a vanguard work in terms of testing out the extensive application of greenscreen CGI sets for a big budget major motion picture, though the film itself probably should not be considered avant-garde in the sense it is not dramatically breaking new ground. Instead, it is sowing the seeds. A finicky definition, I admit, and probably not all that accurate.
Though it’s true that the term “Vanguard” comes from the old French “avaunt garde” now “avant-garde,” I don’t think the terms are really synonymous, at least not in the context of cinema.
In cinema, “Vanguard” just means groundbreaking or at the forefront of a movement. “Avant-garde,” on the other hand, is a little trickier. It’s not a genre, but it might be useful to think about avant-garde cinema as its own genre or even mode (experimental filmmaking), whereas a vanguard work or filmmaker can belong to any genre.
Hmmm, I may have made an even bigger mess with my attempt to delineate a distinction between these terms.
I agree with Daniel in that I take “Vanguard” to mean the beginning of a movement or way of doing things and “Avaunt Garde” as a noteworthy example of a vanguard movement.
For example: I think that the usage of “shaky cam” to be a movement that had its current vanguard moment with “The Blair Witch Project” and an avaunt garde usage of shaky cam would be “The Bourne Surpremecy” as it used it to great critical and $ effect within the confines of an action sequel.
It’s a good question, especially since this very website gives both the options of “Vanguard Cinema” and “Avant-Garde” in the Styles you can select from for your profile.
I found the following quote in this web page: "Vanguard was the name of the foremost knight leading his men to battle of yore. Vanguard is the bird flying at the tip of a “V” formation. It means leading the way and getting there first."
So, it seems to me, logically, that all the noteworthy cinematic movements in the history of cinema should have an initial phase referred to as vanguard cinema.
I guess avant-garde films are any film that’s ahead of its time in terms of camera or other cinematic techniques and approaches, regardless of the movement it belongs to, in which case, an avant-garde film can come early (and considered vanguard) in a cinema movement or later.
I think I understand now. :-)
Thanks for the comments that lead to this insight!
Thanks for that last post, Kim. Some nice distinctions to draw/clarify.