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Epstein_The Intelligence of a Machine

Epstein_The Intelligence of a Machine

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Jean Epstein - intelligensen hos en maskin

- the Intelligence of a Machine

Trond Lundemo


••• •

•• Svenska Filminstltutet

(;f6j> () ur;; (J S


Innehalll Contents

Forord 5

Preface 7

The Intelligence of a Machine -Jean Epstein and a Philosophy of Cinema 9

Intelligensen hos en maskin - Jean Epstein oeh en filmens filosofi 23

The Cinematograph Seen from Etna - Recurrent Figures and Stylistic

Devices in Epstein's Films and Writings 35

Kinematografen sedd fran Etna - atcrkornmandc figurer och stilgrepp

i Epsteins filmer och texter 55

Produktionsuppgifter I Credits 71

Filmografi/Filmography 77

Bibliografi/Bibliography 78

Titelregister/Film Index 79

Omslag: Stillbild ur Six et demi, onre Projektledare: Jon Wengstrbm Grafisk design: Marianne Stange

Tryckning: Tryckeri AB Smaland Quebecor.jonkoping

Stillbilderna ar publicerade med benaget till stand av Cinematheque Francaise, Paris oeh Cinematheque Gaumont, Paris (Finis terue)

© 200 I, Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm

ISBN: 91 85248 86 X

Om fbrfattarenl About the Author 80


Nar Cinemateket i Stockholm i oktober 200 I visar en retrospektiv over Jean Epsteins filmer, ar det den forsta breda presentationen av denna franska regissor oeh filosof som gjorts i Sverige. Det internationella intresset for Epsteins 20- oeh 30-talsfilmer har okat patagligt pa senare ar, oeh det ar gladjande att kunna presentera filmer som L'auberge rouge, Finis feme oeh Six et demi, onre for en svensk publik, vid sidan av mer kanda verk som Caur fidele oeh La chute de La maison Usher.

Epstein var en mangsidig regissor (lange ansags han som "ojarnn"), oeh gjorde alit fran komiska aventyrsfIlmer i historisk miljo oeh melodramer med suggestivt bildsprak oeh komplieerade be rattarstrukturer till narrnast dokumentara skildringar av livet pa den franska Atlantkusten. Men att intresset for Epstein okat pa senare tid beror framfor alit pa den modern a syn han ger uttryck for, saval i sina filmer som i sina texter, pa filmteknikens inbyggda formaga att formedla bilder och intryek av varlden som vart manskliga oga inte uppfattar. Detta ar ocksa huvudtesen i Trond Lundemos texter i denna skrift, som passande nog har titeln Intelligensen hos en maskin. Texterna ar skrivna pa engelska, och publiceras dessutom i svensk oversattning.

For genomforandet av Epstein-retrospektiven vill jag forst och frarnst tacka min kollega Satu Laaksonen vid Suomen elokuva-arkisto/Finlands filmarkiv i Helsingfors for ovarderlig hjalp, Ett stort tack ocksa till Gaelle Vidalie och Claudine Kaufman vid Cinematheque Francaise i Paris som stallt filmerna till vart forfogande oeh som ocksa hjalpt oss med illustrationerna till denna skrift. Tack ocksa till Peter von Bagh for hjalp med filrnurvalet, oeh till Franska am bass aden i Stockholm for ekonomiskt bidrag till denna publikation.

Stockholm, augusti 200 I

Jon Wengstrom Programehef, Cinemateket Svenska Filminstitutet




Cinemateket's Jean Epstein-retrospective in October, 200 I is the first major presentation ever in Sweden of the work of the French director and philosopher. World-wide, there has in recent years been a growing interest in Epstein's films from the 20's and 30's, and it is a great pleasure to be able to present films like L'auberge rouge, Finis terre and Six et demi, onre for a Swedish audience, alongside better-known films like Caur fidele and La chute de la maison Usher.

Epstein was a very versatile director (he was long considered "uneven"), and he directed comic adventure films in historical settings and melodramas with striking images and complex narrative structures as well as documentary depictions of the life on the coast of Brittany But the major reason for the growing interest in Epstein's work is the very modern view he expresses, in his films as well as in his writings, on the inherent capacity of the cinematic apparatus to convey images and impressions of the world hidden to our human perception. This is also the main point in Trond Lundemo's texts published in this volume, aptly entitled The Intelligence of a Machine. The texts are written in English, and we also publish them in Swedish translation.

In mounting the Epstein retrospective I would first of all like to thank Satu Laaksonen of the Finnish Film Archive in Helsinki, for all her invaluable help. I would also like to express my gratitude to Gaelle Vidalie and Claudine Kaufman of the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris, for putting prints at our disposal and for helping us with the illustrations in this publication. I would also like to thank Peter von Bagh for his assistance in making the selection of films, and the French Embassy in Stockholm for its financial support.

Stockholm, August 200 I

Jon Wengstriim

Head of Programming, Cinemateket Svenska Filminstitutet


The Intelligence of a Machine -

Jean Epstein and a Philosophy of Cinema

It is important to see Jean Epstein's films again, and to reread his film philosophy. Because the films are poetically beautiful and highly original in their framing, their rendering of movements, and in their use of superimposed linages, the plots of Epstein's films are often intentionally banal and minimal. But we must see his films again first and foremost because his films and writings offer new ways for thinking about cinema. In reading his texts, Epstein comes across as, perhaps, the film theorist who has most profoundly addressed questions of time and

Fig. 1: La glace ii trois faces

movement, with a scope that also gives these discussions an important place outside of the filmtheoretical field, in a general philosophical context.

The singular position of the films and texts is a view of cinema not as a reproduction of reality, but rather an analysis of the world. The great pedagogical task of cinema is to show that what appears as fixed and solid is in constant and unbounded movement, and that linear time is a convention, where cinema is the tool that gives access to other temporal orders. Cinema is destined to go beyond appearances and general impressions. Epstein's approach to the technology of cinema is that it offers a radically different perception and philosophy than the one rendered by our daily optics. The cinematographic movement doesn't reproduce time - it produces time. Epstein engages in a work on the energy of movement and progression of time, one that strives to render time elastic." Cinema alone can do this, because its technology gives a direct image of time, and is another vision (and sound) than what is rendered in the conventions of our perception. Time is slowed down and suspended in La chUte de La maison Usher, sequential events are superimposed as simultaneous in La gLace a trois faces (Fig. I ) or Lauberge rouge, and a technological view of the formation and transformation of memory is presented in Six et demi, onze and L'auberge rouge. Epstein's films are concerned with a description by means of technology of figures, time, and places, and consequently



a distinction is never drawn between fiction and documentary. The stance of the films is not a

representational one. . .

Arguably, Epstein's writings have been given more scrutiny than his films, even If hIS texts have

been out of print and often remained unrranslated.! The studies of Epstein's films are less comprehensive in their scope, since they are either articles on single films or general historical surveys treating "French impressionism" as a "school" or "movement," even if they don't form a coherent unity. The most advanced and important contribution to the understanding of Epstein's films an~ writings is undoubtedly Jacques Aument's anthology, Jean Epstein: Cineaste, paete, phdosophe. In hIS introduction, Aumont correctly notes that Epstein has never been a la mode, and a comprehensive study of Epstein's films together with his philosophy has yet to be written. As I will discuss later, this is because his films refuse to be generalized generically or stylistically into a coherent body of work "worthy" of a great auteur.

There is, however, one all-encompassing philosophical principle that informs the whole of

Epstein's work as a filmmaker and theorist; and that is a disregard for any established distinctions between the spiritual and the rational, between the mind and the body, between the conscious and the unconscious. This is at the core of his fierce criticisms of thinkers as historically and philosophically dissimilar as Descartes and Freud. The critique of Cartesian rationality is the order of the day in the 1920's and 30's, but his plea for an alternative and intuitive thinking differs from the modernist stance on the artist or the subject, since technology entails the capacity to go beyond our established categories of time and space. The titles of Epstein's books forcefully state his position from the beginning to the end of his work: La poesie d'aujourd'hui; Un nouvel etai de l'intelligence (1921), La Iyrosophie (1922), L'intelligence d'une machine (1946), Esprit de cinema (posthumous). Poetry, cinema and art all address intelligence and philosophy, but it is an intelligence that transgresses the rational, and a philosophy that is not ours. The machine is spiritual and intelligent. Epstein reaches this position through a cinematographical and conceptual meditation on time, which positions his work in the lineage beginning with Henri Bergson's philosophy, and leading, after Epstein, to the work of Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze's reading of Bergson in a cinematographical light aims at the same transgression of the materialist and idealist positions of philosophy and film theory. But where Deleuze's books on cinema have radically transformed the discourse of fum theory, Epstein's work

has evoked little response.


But his work as a filmmaker and theorist has been seen and read too much within a general context of French "impressionism" or "the first new wave" of the twenties, and thus many aspects of



Epstein's work have been ignored. Several interconnected aspects surface in this work in today's context: Epstein's films and writings offer an important way out of the impasses of the traditional binary positions of film and art theory, as they are neither conventionally realist nor formalist, psychoanalytical nor cognitivist, idealist nor materialist. Cinema is neither "the window on the world" of Bazin nor the field of illusions nor an auxiliary to mental projections of some formalist tendencies.

His philosophy anticipates many of the concepts of canonized writers like Walter Benjamin and, far later, Gilles Deleuze, and offers important alternatives to the theoretical work of his contemporaries Sergei Eisenstein and Bela Balazs. And perhaps most importantly, Epstein's view of the relation between the fum and its spectator is highly relevant to the discussions of the relation between man and technology in the wake of the emergence of computer multimedia.

It is within this project, outside of the dominant esthetical positions of his time, that Epstein's recurrent rejections of the "avant-garde schools" should be read. The plastic abstraction of Walter Ruttman, Hans Richter, Man Ray or Viking Eggeling is very reductive when applied to cinema, because its principles are transposed from painting-' It fails to access the transfigurative powers of the cinematographical technology. Here it is obvious how Epstein's position on technology distances him from the general "purity" aesthetics of the tw enties. The metaphorical pretensions of some surrealist films are equally poor. Cinema is, in its technology, already profoundly "surreal," but in an altogether different way than the "inner" or alternative spiritual worlds of the contemporary surrealists. According to Epstein, the "derationalization" of surrealist films is profoundly pictorial and literal, because the technology with which they're made per se creates a kind of surrealism.f This, as we will see, leads Epstein to a refusal of the notion that a true "inner identity" of the artist or the spectator is expressed in cinema, as if separated from technology. The rejection of the modernist cult of the creative act of the artist is present very early in Epstein's writings. In 1921, he writes: "The Bell-Howell [camera] is a metal brain, standardized, manufactured and distributed in a series of some thousands, which transforms the world exterior to it into art. The BellHowell is an artist and it is only behind it one finds others artists: director and photographer.':" This "post-humanistic" aspect of his writings leads the French film scholar Nicole Brenez to claim that they appear as if they were written after the famous closing passages on "the end of man" in Foucault's The Order of Things, instead of twenty to thirty years earlier. S

One reason why there is no canonized reading (and why there are hardly any translations) of Epstein's writings, is that they are devoid of film-historical considerations or analyses of films, For Epstein, discussing cinema is a philosophical task. His writings do not immediately lend themselves to comparisons with other theorists since they are not stylistically and methodologically



prescriptive - we know that the main focus of writings on cinema between the wars was deciding what cinema really was, and even more, what it should be - but are rather complex meditations on the natures of time. Epstein's writings don't make up an aesthetics in the traditional sense, even if he quickly denounces some avant-garde techniques, but rather target and refute a doxa, a conventional belief about cinema's relation to the world.v

Jean Epstein was born in Warsaw in 1897, which makes him a bit younger than the other main directors that he is normally grouped with - Louis Delluc, Abel Gance, Marcel L'Herbier, Germaine Dulac. After medical and scientific studies in Lyon, he went to Paris and was immediately affiliated with the avant-garde movement. His acquaintance with Blaise Cendrars, Ricciotto Canudo and others enabled him to publish a thesis on poetry in 1921, with important parallels to his early book on cinema, Bonjour cinema, from the same year. Epstein's entrance on the cultural scene was as a theorist, and a theorist of literature. This marks an important difference from other, and older, avant-garde film directors, who, in spite of frequent and important writings on cinema (Dulac, Rene Clair, Gance, L'Herbier), entered cinema as directors, some of them during the late teens. Epstein's preoccupation with literature is one reason why his work is more complex in its "purity" stance so common in the modernisms of the time.

From Epstein's famous texts of the twenties to the work published after the second world War (four prolific volumes entitled L'inteLligence d'une mac/line (1946), Le cinema du diable (1947), Esprit de cinema and AlcooL et cinema [both published posthumously]), he remains true to the same questions and issues, even if the functions of some concepts change considerably. As observed by Jacques Au mont in the most comprehensive survey of Epstein's philosophical work (he discusses the philosophical aspects of his films elsewhere}? the later writings are philosophical elaborations and developments of the discussions from the twenties, which makes them very abstract, and devoid of empiricism. The Bergsonism and anti-Cartesianism prevails throughout his writings. His very first text published on cinema is on the face and the close-up, but the close-up itself is subjected in later texts to its constitution of a field for movement.


The relationship between the written and the cinematographic work of this thinker, one of the few director-philosophers in film history, will be the subject of the second part of the book. Epstein's first film was a commissioned film for the centenary of Louis Pasteur, which is less impersonal than what is often claimed. After three publications in less than a year which celebrate poetry's capacity to open up other mental dimensions, and cinema's complete overturning of our conventions for thinking time and movement, Pasteur may seem dryly didactic and academic. But its implicit focus on


cinema as a scientific instrument is in accordance with Epstein's philosophy. Pasteur is reputed to exist in two versions, one for general exhibition and one for medical education. The many shots through microscopes announce the work on the close-up in the coming films and the concern to transgress the limitations of our daily optics. Already the following year, in 1923, Epstein made four important films that may well be seen as integrated in the production conventions of the time. L'auberg« rouge is an often forgotten film. It integrates two narrated timelines through a complicated flashback structure, One may already observe a mirroring structure that appears through various forms of doubles and reversals in many of Epstein's films. Caur fideLe is Epstein's first famous film, with the same kind of rapid editing and double exposures that are found in for instance Gance's La roue (1922). (Fig. 2 +3) La belle Nuernaise is set in the noble French tradition of portrayals of the life on a boat, prolonging the focus on the water of Leonce Perret's Le Hdleur (1911) and Andre Antoine's L'Hirondelle et La Mesange (1920), and announcing the lyricism of Jean Vigo's L'Atalante (1934).


Fig. 3: Ceur fidiie

All in all, single frame editing, kaleidoscopic images and poetic double e

uncommon in the French cinema of the twenties H . , xposures are not from the more traditional use where the . I owever, Epstem s use of these devices differs racters. Consequentlv he ba d yare most y used to convey various mental states of cha-

n a an ons some of thes tylisti hni .

editing in Le lion des Moeols and In l . troi e s IStlC tec mques quite early. \Ve find rapid

" ~ g ace a rots faces but n t t h .

Instead of "the cult of rapidity," of th .' 0 0 t e same extent as m Ceur fidele.

'" e maximum speed craved b th hi'

nobleman meeting Parisian city life in Le lion des M . Y e overw e med onental found in the slower movements in th I t '1 ogols, photogemc movement may just as well be

e a er Sl ent works Th'" . . .

Epstein seeks new dimensions of mo . he ci . IS IS an Important indication that

, vement m t e cmematog h' hi'

tations of our set ideas and conventions. rap IC tec no ogy, not Just augmen-

Epstein directed several commissioned films Apart f T> h

c. . rom Pasteur e made h

Lor the construction workers' trade union in 1938 Le b ~ . '. ' among ot crs, a fum

. . ' s attsseurs and his last fil Le fi d. L

was commissioned by the United N t" Thi fact i ' m, s eux e a mer,

industry between the wars. Film his at I~ns. D l~daBct ISd partly due to the structure of the French film

onan avi or wellmter t h f h

sisted of an abundance of financiall k . pre s t e act t at the industry con-

.1 ywca compames ( f hi h

duction of a single film) as well a th k d .. many 0 w IC only existed for the pro-

, s e wea ene pOSItIOn of the F h Id d .

companies Pathe and G . . rene wor ommant pre-war

, aumont, as a precondition for the avant d .

strong companies allowed more .. -gar e movement. The lack of

cxpcnmcntanon and breaks ith h bli .

continuity editing leading to oth f f visuali WI t e esta ished conventions of

. . .' ers orms 0 visualizations of dr bi .

ThIS pOSItIOn is justly challenged b th fiil hi .' ~ams or su ~ectlve perceptions.f

. y e m istorian Francois Alb h h

Epstein's contracts with Pathe Co ti C" era, w en e notes how

nsor IUm- merna before he t f .

company (Les FilmsJean Epstein) ,wen on to orm hIS own production

J , were unreasonably stri t i th . .

tract could be ended without ion if each f lC in err commercial aspects." The con-

compensanon I each him didn't ain fi I \ . •

company acquired Pathe C . C" g a pro It. Vhen the Cmeromans

onsortiurn- mema they fired E tci d

re-shoot parts of La goutte de sana Thi . h dlx h . ps em an engaged a new director to

. o IS IS ar y t e environment f Ii II fl d d .

and mnovation even if Bordwell' tenti or u - e ge expenmentation

, s con ention may hold true . h

as they, due to the instabilities of . f . concernmg t e role of the producers,

production process. compames, 0 ten lacked experience and even knowledge of the

Epstein made more commissioned films than his com atriot . . . .

holds true since he viewed m t f hi fil . P s durmg this penod. ThIS especially

. os 0 IS I ms as commissions I th f .

wntes about his own films _ . b I '". n e ew mstances where Epstein

. m a so ute contrast to EIsenstein fi h hi .

the nchest and most profound f heorcti ' or w om IS own production was

source or t eoretical developm t h di

that he had to make Th I idi en s - e iscusses the concessions

. e a most n iculous demands for fi bl fi

and setting details demanded b th R' '. pro Ita e ilms from Pathc, the casting

y e ussian emigres m the Albatros company, lead him to


ironize over the banality and popular exoticisms of his films' plots. There is always something of a commissioned film in any production, because of the conventions for production, narration and, if nothing else, programming. This idea of almost any production as a "commission" is something that Epstein shares with filmmakers as different as Roger Corman andJean-Luc Godard, but it is somehoW alien to the discourses of artistic innovation and vision of the avantgardes of the time.

However, within ioday's reception of the modernist and essentialist esthetics of the twenties, these considerations are not seen as a questioning of an uncomplicated auteurist view of cinema or an analysis of the industry's demands, but rather as indications of the shortcomings of the artist. Incontestably, Epstein'S films vary in preoccupations, styles and atmosphere. For this reason his work is considered uneven, and has caused obstacles to the appreciation of Epstein as an important auteur. This "unevenness" is rather interesting in itself, as it shows the stylistic and thematic versatility of his films, which unsettles the common auteurist definition of a "body of work." Epstein is of course far from a cineaste maudit - some of his films are canonized works in any comprehensive film history __ but most comments on Epstein's work significantly stress this disparate vein in his work. Jacques Aumont, Stuart Leibman, Richard Abel and David Bordwell all make these distinctions, with Bordwell noting that overall the plots are quite banal, and Leibman stating that Epstein never could make the film that his writings envisioned, suggesting Luis Bufiuel's L'iige d'or (1930) as a better realization of his ambitions. 10 The study of Epstein in a traditional auteurist vein tends to prove unsatisfactory in its conclusions. The next chapter will analyze the recurrence of some of the stylistic figures that connects a "minor" work like J}auberge rouge with La chiiie

de la maison Usher.

The thirties presented further challenges to the production of films, because of the aesthetic

and financial changes brought about by the introduction of sound. L'Herbier, Gance, Clair, Jacques Feyder and Julien Duvivier were well integrated into the production industry of the thirties, with a stable and consistent output. Epstein directed relatively few movies during the thirties, and wrote even less. As aJew, he had to go into hiding during the war, and was nearly deported together with his sister and collaborator Marie Epstein. This may be one of the reasons why it is his production and writings of the twenties that are most often discussed, at the expense of the more philosophically consistent and elaborated writings of the post-war publications. The analysis of Epstein'S work within a French twenties' context disturbs the notion of a "school" of filmmaking or a common theoretical orientation. The view of "the first wave," "French impressionism" or "the French avant-garde" as a movement of orderly ranks - if not in film style, at least in theoretical concerns _ is often insensitive to the disparate concepts and agendas of the day.



Any discussion of the French film theory of the twenties picks up on the concept of photogenic. Today's accounts of this concept are manifest awareness of how the term varies in use. It is a rather common term for different notions of what defines cinema, and is thus connected to a presumed medium essence. The concept circulates quite freely within a modernist theoretical framework. The term remains undefined with Louis Delluc's coining the word, whereas Epstein'S early definition is the most frequently quoted: "I will call photogenic every aspect of things, beings and souls that has its moral quality heightened by t!1e cinematographical reproduction." I I Jacques Aumont has discussed the general historical changes in the concept, as well as in Epstein's use of the term, from a defining trait to its submission to other concepts. 12 Within the common belief that the purely cinematographic is at odds with verbal descriptions, the photogenic cannot be defined, and is t11US by its very function what Bordwell holds to be confused. 13 Epstein identifies the photogenic to be "to cinema what color is to painting, and volume to sculpture", 14 and thus eminently undefinable.

Two aspects of the term complicates its position within the modernist conceptual framework, though. Firstly, the term is not solely linked to the project of defining the specificity and unicity of a new art form, since it is also employed by the writers who see in cinema a synthesis of all the arts. Whereas the theorist who first adapts the term to cinema (the has earlier referred to the sharpness and definition of the photographic still image), Louis Delluc, sees the photogenic as what distinguishes cinema from all the other arts, the art historian Elie Faure and the French-Italian poet Ricciotto Canudo instead employ the concept to define the synthesis of all the arts in cincrna.lCanudo coins cinema as the seventh art because it brings together the six others, and claims in 1921 that cinema is "an art of the perfect synthesis, destined to increasingly sum up all the arts." 16 Epstein's influence from his three main mentors - besides Delluc and Canudo, also the poet Blaise Cendrars - makes him invest the concept with a reference to poetry as well as other arts, and thus lends it an interartial aspect which at first seems to be at odds with the notion of "pure cinema." But if cinema is the synthesis of all the arts, this is precisely what it is "destined" to be (Canudo), and is therefore its defining trait. Just as in Sergei Eisenstein's view of cinema as the synthesis of the arts, this position in the French debate on cinema during the twenties implies an essentialist view of cinema. Epstein's discussions of the concept is inseparably linked to a specificity of the medium, and sometimes an idea of a "pure cinema." In spite of this, he still discards some of the esthetical doctrines emanating from this view: the film without intertitles, which only recurs to a purist idea of the film exclusively composed and narrated in images (one of the exemplary films


being F. W. Mur nau's Der letrte Mann (1924)).17 Epstein's position lends too much from poetry and music to hail a purified image in cinema.

This ambivalence between "pure cinema" and synthesis is related to another, more radical, break from the modernist esthetics of the period. No matter how it is used, photogenie is always a technological term. In a brilliant anticipation of some aspects of what is later to be termed the apparatus film theory, the heightened moral dimension of things is the

result of the relation between "the machine" Fig. 4: Ceur fidile

and the spectator. Cinema's technology is independent from authorial intentions: Epstein sees this ideal as being realized in a Benjaminian "flash of a moment" in "some American films." Later, he claims that "in Bretagne, my lens found sheets of photogeny." The photogenic moment occurs almost by accident, and is disclosed by the camera. This positions the cinematographic essence outside of any artistic control, which makes it fundamentally different from the idea of an act of creative genius in romanticism, which was wholly adopted by modernist aesthetics. The photogenic aspect of cinema is rather to be identified in technology than with the artist (which marks another decisive break with Eisenstein's position).


French "impressionism" is generally defined by an extended use of images as representing "subjective" visions caused by mental states. This view is no doubt informed by a representational and signifYing paradigm in film studies, perhaps with a point of reference in the continuity codes of "classical Hollywood cinema." Still, it definitely holds true for many influential films of the twenties, as for instance the kaleidoscopic or blurred images, or the double exposures of Gance's La roue or Napoleon (1927). Fast motion, internally fragmented or anamorphic lens images, as well as "associative" superimpositions, may well be said to be techniques frequent enough to border on cliches in French twenties cinema. However, the frequency of the techniques doesn't mean that they always have the same function. Many of the most famous uses of these techniques in Epstein's films, from the fairground scene in Caur fidele (Fig. 4) or the double exposures of La belle Nivernaise, to the slow motion of La chute de la maison Usher, cannot be attributed to one character's affective


viewpoint or imagination. The representational aspect of such techniques is actually what was behind Antonin Artaud's break with cinema, and especially his disappointment in Dulac's La coquille et le clergyman (1927), since he felt that images tended to be too motivated psychologically, or to be too dreamlike. The reading of every camera technique as a vessel for a character's mental state is very reductive of the diversity of functions that can be found in the French twenties' cinema, and which was forcefully denounced by Epstein himself:

Blown up 20 times, bathed in light, shown naked and confused, man finds himself before the cinematographicallens cut off from all his lies, confessing, intimate, shameful and maybe true. The psychoanalysts of today teach us that lies is our grace of life, first imagined, then learned, then appropriated. I recommend this beautiful experience of cinematographical psychoanalysis which is far more precise than the symbolism where etymological cards are drawn in the Freud school. / .. .1 Everyone of the angular interpretations of a gesture [in the fum apparatus] has a deeper meaning, which is intrinsic since the eye that reveals it is an inhuman eye, without memory, without thought. Most of all, I cannot say, as it was modern to do some time ago, that every image of a film should be conceived as seen by one or the other of the characters in the preceding image. This subjectivism is outre. Why restrain from profiting from one of the most rare qualities of the cinematographical eye, to be an eye outside of the eye, to escape the tyrannical egocentncism of our personal vision. Why force the sensible emulsion to only repeat the functions of our retina? Why not seize with force a unique occasion to form a spectacle in relation to another centre than the one of our own visual ray. The lens is itself I 8

Epstein's work is in this aspect anti-phenomenological, as the cinematograph allows for other perceptions and worlds than the ones offered by human perception.

One of Epstein's first published texts on cinema seems to identify the photogenic with the close-up.!" (Fig. 5) This reveals the po in ts of reference between the Hungarian film theorist Bela Balazs' concept of physiognomy and photogeny. As Jacques Aumont observes, positing an identity between the close-up and photogeny would leave the latter too expressionistic and static. For Balazs, the close-up allows us to see better, closer and more truly. The minimal changes from a "played" expression, for instance his favorite actress

Fig. 5: GfEUr fidile


Asta Nielsen pretending to be in love with a man, to the true expression, as she actually falls in love, is quite indicative of the role of the close-up.s'' According to Balazs, it is revealing and truer because it shows what the eye cannot perceive. At first sight, this seems quite close to the overwhelming affective potential of the close-up identified in Epstein's early text. But Epstein's analysis of the close-up doesn't analyze or compare the shifting expressions, but rather focuses on the movement and hesitation between these attitudes. The close-up and the face is subjected to the far more fundamental definition of movement.

Again and again, Epstein identifies the spatial close-up and the temporal magnification, die Zeitlupe: "Even more beautiful than a laugh is the face preparing for it. Interruption. I love the mouth which is about to speak and holds back, the gesture which hesitates between right and left, the recoil before the leap [ .. .]. The photogenic is conjugated in the future and in the imperative. It does not allow for stasis."21 This description from 1921, which together with other passages fully and completely identifies Walter Benjamin'S concept of "the optical unconscious," indicates why slow motion may be perhaps more photogenic than various fast motion techniques. As the close-up, for Balazs, is a prosthesis to allow one to get close enough to see truly, Epstein instead understands it as a different image of the world, with an alterrnative temporal dimension. By bearing principally on the delay, compression, reversal and decomposition of movement, the face and the close-up are subordinated to cinema's temporality. Where Balazs' revelatory aspects of physiognomy, thanks to the close-up, gives an impressionistic theory of cinema, Epstein's theory sets out to identify a logic of time and space outside of our perceptual categories. This is also where Epstein's theory brilliantly anticipates Gilles Deleuze's "movement-image." Both find that the cinematographic technology offers a way to get around our everyday perception of movement, because it is being doubled and submitted to a "replay" in the cinematographical technology. This theoretical kinship is also indicated by Bergson's call for "another philosophy" in modern science at the core of Deleuze's discussion, and Epstein's other philosophy in the cinemarograph.V

Compared to Sergei Eisenstein's fum theory, Epstein's work exhibits fundamental differences.

Where Eisenstein's entire theory is based on the passage from the fixed images (the photograms on the film strip or the predominantly static shots in his own films), to movement through montage, Epstein finds movement in every shot. Movement is there to begin with in cinema, and not a result of the editing process. This also implies that Epstein's films as well as his writings discard Eisenstein's Hegelian notion that a movement of ideas occurs at a different level than the perceptual movement. Such a duality between the retinal and the mental is at odds with Epstein's highlighting of an ephemeral movement in photogeny. If Epstein's lens sometimes "captures" photogeny, it means that the scrutiny of shots is one of the central moments of his work. The manipu-



lation of movement, its reversal, compression and decomposition, is of course a question of montage. But it is never laid out according to a preplanned scheme in order to reach an ideological result in its movement of ideas, as in Eisenstein's insistence on the mental processes at work in his own films. Since the cinematograph offers another philosophy, another intelligence, its structure is not one aiming at signification.

This difference in the functions of cinema is the result of irreconcilable views of filmic and philosophical representation, of the relation between the visual and the mental, but first and foremost the result of technology. The cinematograph - note Epstein's frequent reference to the name of Lumierc's machine in order to detach his views from the majority of narrative films of the day Gust like Robert Bresson fifty years later) - operates according to different principles of time and space than those of our perception. It is not subjected to an authorial intention or an established idea. In an exact anticipation of Deleuze's concept of "the spiritual automaton", Epstein speaks of a "subjective automatism" in the cinematograph that owns another spiritual and philosophical intelligence. For this reason, cinema confronts us with a world and ideas outside of our conventions for thinking about time and space, and thus acts on our brain to set it in action. This movement is very different from the reconstruction of a coded movement of ideas in Eisenstein's esthetics.

Epstein's position on cinema resists assimilation to other film-theoretical positions between the wars. His films have sometimes been seen as uneven, and have at other times been viewed from a set of techniques canonized as "impressionist." A careful reviewing of Epstein's films and a rereading of his texts reveal a surprisingly original position given their context. But it also offers concepts and considerations of poignant relevance in today's discussions of "new media." "New worlds" revealed in movement, in sound as well as in the eye, call for another philosophy of time and space, Epstein claims. The final question that his texts and films address concerns the possibility of intelligent machines and the consequences of new technologies. Epstein here traces a position outside of technological determinism and as well outside a reduction of technology to an auxiliary of the mind. The task that Epstein sets for cinema is an immense one. Consequently, it is not surprising to fmd that many commentators see the melodramatic story lines and occasionally cliched acting of his films as unfulfilling. But it is also a question of knowing where and how to look.



1 His writings on cinema have been collected in two volumes in 1974/75, which are now out of print: Jean Epstein, Eerits sur le cinema 1921 - 1953, tome 1 and 2, Paris: Scghers 1974 and 1975. Many important texts in Epstein's philosophy are omitted in this edition because of the narrow selection of texts directly (and exclusively) addressing cinema. A few of his other contributions have been reprinted in Jean Epstein; Cineaste. poete, philosophe, (cd. Jacques Aumont) Paris: Cinematheque Irancaise 1997. In English, selected articles from the twenties and sometimes the thirties have been published by Richard Abel, French Film Theory and Criticism J 907 - 1939 (2 vol.], Princeton: Princeton University Press 1988, and in the film theory journal Afterimage in 1981.

2 Epstein, "Bilan du fin de muet", [1931] Eails sur le cinema /,236.

3 Epstein, "Le dclire d'un machine" [1948], i.·aits sur le cinema 2,119. '.

4 Epstein, "Le sens 1 his", Bonjour cinema, Paris: La Sirene 1921, 38 - 39, reprinted in Ecrits sur le cinema 1, 92.

5 Nicole Brenez, "Ultra-moderne;.Jean Epstein contre l'avant-gardc",Jean Epstein; Cineaste. poete, philosophe, 220. 6 Epstein comments on the limitations of the doxa in science in: La iyrosophie. Paris: La Sirene 1922,223 - 224. 7 Aumont, "Cinegcnie; ou la machine a re-monter le temps", Jean Epstein; Cineaste, poite, philosophe, 87 - 108.

8 Bordwell, French Impressionist Cinema, New York: At-no Press 1980,240. Bordwell, Thompson, Film History; an Introduction, New York: McGraw-Hill 1994,98.

9 Francois Albera, "Sociologic d'Epsrein: De Pathe-Consortium it Albarros", Jean Epstein; Cineaste. poite, philosophe, 225 - 245. 10 Bordwell, Thompson, Film History; an Introduction, 98. Stuart Leibman, "Sublime et de sublimation dans la theorie cinematographique de Jean Epstein: Le cinematographc vu dc l'Etna", Jean Epstein; Cineaste. poeu. philosophe, 137.

11 Epstein, "De quelques conditions de la photogenic" r1926], Rerits sur le cinema 1, 137.

12 Aumont, The Image [1990], London: BFI 1997.235 - 240. Aument, "Cinegcnie; au 1a machine it re-rnontcr le temps",

91 - 95.

13 David Bordwell, French Impressionist Cinema, 113.

14 Epstein, Le cinematographe vu de l'Etna [1926], reprinted in Ecrits sur le cinema 1, 145.

15 Canudo, "De 1a verite cinematographique" [1922], L'usine aux images, [19271 Paris: Seguierv' Arte 1995, 128. E1ie Faure often talks of "cineplasties" in the same terms as "photogenic", see for instance: Faure, "De la cineplastiquc" l1922], Fonction du cinema; de la ciniplastique a son destin social [1953], Paris: Gonthier 1964, p. 16 - 36. See also the striking parallel to Epstein's setting on Etna when Faure refers to the eruption of Vesuve of 1908 to discuss cinematic movement. Ibid., 34.

16 Ricciotto Canudo, "Esthctique du spectacle"1l921], Lusine aux images, 49.

17 Even if Epstein promotes this ideal in his very first writings, as in Bonjour cinema. 18 Epstein, "L'objectif est lui-memo" [1926], Ecrits JUr le cinema 1,128 - 129.

19 Epstein, "Grossissement" [19211, translated as "Magnification" in Abel, French Film Theory and Criticism 1907 - 1939, vol 1,

235 - 240.

20 Bela Balazs, Der Film; T+hden und J.t'esen einer Neum Kunst, Wien: Globus 1949, 6.1. 21 Epstein, "Magnification", 236. [translation modified]

22 Gilles Deleuzc. Cinema 1; Limage-mouoement, Paris: Minuit 1983, 17. Epstein, "The Philosophy of the Cinematograph",

L'intellzS!,ence d'une machine [194-61, reprinted in Eerits sur le cinema 1, 310.


Intelligensen hos en maskin -

Jean Epstein och en filmens filosofi

Det ar viktigt att se om Jean Epsteins filmer, oeh att pa nytt lasa hans filmfilosofi. Dels darfor att ftlmerna ager en poetisk skonhet oeh ar hogst originella i sitt kameraarbete, i sin rorelseatergivning oeh i sitt bruk av dubbelexponerade bilder (intrigerna i Epsteins filmer ar ofta medvetet banala oeh minimala). Men forst oeh framst darfor att hans filmer oeh skrifter erbjuder oss nya mojligheter att tanka kring film, I lasningen av hans texter framtrader Epstein som den filmteoretiker som kanske mest djupgaende har tagit sig an fragor om tid oeh rorelse, oeh han gor det med en bredd som gor att dessa diskussioner ar relevanta ocksa utanfor det filmteoretiska faltet, i ett mer allmant filosofiskt sammanhang.

Gcnomgaende i Epsteins filmer oeh texter ar synen pa att film inte ar en reproduktion av verkligheten, utan en analys av varlden. Filmens stora pedagogiska uppgift ar att visa att vad som forefaller fixerat oeh solitt i sjalva verket ar i standig oeh obruten roreise, att den linjara tiden ar en konvention, oeh att filmen i stallet ar ett verktyg som ger tilltrade till andra tidsuppfattningar. Filmen ar forutbestarnd att na bortorn sken oeh allmanna intryck. Epsteins syn pa filmens teknologi ar att den erbjuder en radikalt annorlunda perception an den som var vardagliga optik aterger. Den filmiska rorelsen reprodueerar inte tiden - den produeerar tid. Epstein bygger sitt arbete pa tidens rorelseenergi oeh progression, som stravar efter att aterge tiden "elastiskt". Endast ftlmen kan gora detta, eftersom dess teknologi ger en direkt bild av tiden, och erbjuder ett annat satt att se (oeh hora) an vad var vana medger. Tiden saktas ned oeh fordrojs i La chute de la maison Usher, pa varandra foljande handelser dubbelexponeras som om de agde rum samtidigt i La glace il troisJaces (Fig. 1) oeh L'auberge rouge, oeh en teknologisk syn pa minnets lagring oeh transformation kommer till uttryek i Six et demi, onre oeh L'auberge rouge. Epsteins filmer ar sysselsatta med en beskrivning av figurer, tid oeh platser genom teknologi, oeh skiljer foljaktligen aldrig mellan fiktion oeh dokumentar, Filmerna ar inte agnade att aterge var bild av verkligheten.

Man kan med fog havda att Epsteins skrifter agnats mer uppmarksamhet an hans filmer, detta trots att hans texter har gatt ur tryek oeh ofta forblivit ooversatta.! Studierna kring Epsteins filmer ar inte lika allmant overskadliga, da de antingen ar artiklar om enskilda verk eller generella historiska oversikter som behandlar "fransk impressionism" som en "skola" eller en "rorelsc", om an inte enhetlig. Det otvivelaktigt viktigaste bidraget till forstaelsen av Epsteins filrner oeh skrifter ar Jacques Aumonts antologi Jean Epstein: Cineaste, poite, philosophe. I sin introduktion noterar Aumont myeket riktigt att Epstein aldrig har varit il la mode, oeh den definitiva studien av Epsteins filmer



oeh filosofi vantar fortfarande pa att bli skriven. Som jag skall komma tillbaka till, beror detta pa att hans filmer vagrar att lita sig generaliseras genremassigt eller stilistiskt till ett samrnanhaller oeuvre, "vardigt" en stor auteur,

Men det finns en alltomfattande filosofisk prineip som genomsyrar hela Epsteins arbete som filmare oeh teoretiker, oeh det ar uppgorelsen med varje etablerad distinktion mellan det andliga oeh det rationella, mellan medvetandet oeh kroppen, eller mellan det medvetna oeh det omedvetna. Detta ar karnan i hans stranga kritik av historiskt oeh filosofiskt sa vitt skilda tankare som Descartes oeh Freud. Kritiken av en eartesiansk rationalitet ar legio pi 1920- oeh 30-talen, men Epsteins uppmaning till ett alternativt oeh intuitivt tankande avviker fran den modernistiska synen pa konstnaren eller subjektet, eftersom filmens teknologi rymmer formagan att ga bortom vara etableradc kategorier for tiden oeh rummet. Titlarna pi Epsteins bocker visar tydligt hans installning fran borjan till slutet av hans karriar: La poesie d'aujourd'hui: Un nouvel etal de l'intelligence (1921), La lyrosophie (1922), L'intelligence d'une machine (1946), Esprit de cinema (postumt). Poesin, filmen oeh konsten vander sig alla till intelligensen oeh filosofin, men det ar en intelligens som overskrider det rationella, oeh en filosofi som inte ar var .. Maskinen ar andlig oeh intelligent. Epstein kommer till denna slutsats genom en filmisk oeh begreppslig meditation over tiden, som infogar hans verk i rakt nedstigande led fran Henri Bergsons filosofi, oeh gor honom till en viktig foregangare till Gilles Deleuzes verk. Deleuzes lasning av Bergson i ett kinematografiskt Ijus syftar till samma overskridande av filosofins oeh filmteorins materialistiska oeh idealistiska positioner. Men medan Deleuzes bocker om filmen radikalt har omvandlat den filmteoretiska diskussionen, sa har Epsteins arbete haft foga in flytande.


Eftersom hans arbete som filmare oeh teoretiker alltfor myeket har setts oeh lasts som en del av tjugotalets franska "impressionism" eller den "forsta nya vagcn", har manga delar av Epsteins verk lorblivit forbisedda. Atskilliga sammanlankade aspekter i detta verk kommer fram i dagens kontext:

Epsteins filmer oeh skrifter erbjuder viktiga utvagar fran atervandsgranderna i de traditionella binara opposition ern a mellan film oeh konstteori, da de varken ar konventionellt realistiska eller formalistiska, psykoanalytiska eller kognitivistiska, idealistiska eller materialistiska. Filmen ar varken Bazins "fonster mot varlden" eller, som vissa formalister menar, ett komplement till illusioner oeh mentala bilder.

Epsteins filosofi foregripcr flera av begreppen hos kanoniserade kritiker som Walter Benjamin oeh langt senare Gilles Deleuze, oeh erbjuder viktiga alternativ till de teoretiska arbeten som skrevs av hans samtida Sergej Eisenstein oeh Bela Balazs. Oeh det kanske allra viktigaste: Epsteins syn pii


forhiillandet mellan filmcn oeh dess askadarc ar hogst relevant for den idag aktuella diskussionen om forhillandet mellan manniska oeh teknologi in om nya digitala multimedia.

Det ar inom detta projekt, vid sidan av de forharskande estetiska positionerna i hans sam tid som Epsteins upprepade avvisanden av "avantgarde-skolorna" bor forstas, Den plastiska abstraktionen hos Walter Ruttmann, Hans Richter, Man Ray oeh Viking Eggeling redueerar filmen, eftersom dess prineiper ar overforda fran malerict.? De misslyekas med att komma at den filmiska teknologins transfigurativa forrnaga, Det ar uppenbart hur Epsteins installning till teknologin fjarmar honom fran tjugotalets allmanna "renhetsestetik". De metaforiska anspraken i en del surrealistiska mmer ar lika bedrbvliga. Filmen ar redan i sin teknologi vasentligen "overvcrklig", men pi ett helt annat satt an de "inre" Eller alternativa andliga varldarna hos de samtida surrealisterna. Enligt Epstein ar de surrealistiska filmernas "derationalisering" i huvudsak bildrnassiga oeh bokstavliga, eftersom de ar omedvetna om denna inneboende egenskap hos filmens teknologi.I Som vi skall se leder detta Epstein till att forkasta iden om att filmen uttryeker en sann "inre identitet" hos konstnaren eller askadaren som yore den mojlig att skilja fran teknologin. Avvisandet av den modern istiska kulten infer konstnarens kreativa process aterfinns myeket tidigt i Epsteins skrifter. 1921 skriver han: "Bell-Howellkameran ar en metallhjarna, standardiserad, produeerad oeh distribuerad i serier av tusental, som omvandlar dess yttre varld till konst. Bell-Howell ar en konstnar oeh det ar bara bakom den man finner andra konstnarer: regissor oeh fotograf:" Denna "posthumanistiska" aspekt i hans tankande leder den franska filmforskaren Nicole Brenez till att havda att de tyeks skrivna efter det att Foucault skrev de beromda avslutande passagerna om "slutet pa manniskan" i Les mots et les choses, snarare an tjugo Eller trettio ar tidigare.>

En anledning till att det inte finns nagon kanoniserad lasning (oeh till att det knappt finns nigra oversattningar) av Epsteins texter ar att de saknar filmhistoriska beaktanden eller enskilda filmanalyser. For Epstein hor diskussionen kring film till filosofin. Hans skrifter lanar sig inte omedelbart till jamforelser med andra filmteoretiker eftersom de inte ar stilistiskt oeh metodologiskt foreskrivande - det framsta syftet for filmteoretiska texter fran mellankrigsaren var att bestamma vad filmen egentligen var, oeh i annu hogre grad vad den borde vara - utan snarare komplexa funderingar kring tidens egenskaper. Epsteins skrifter utgor ingen estetik i tradition ell mening, aven om han snabbt avvisar vissa avantgarde-tekniker, utan de kritiserar oeh forkastar snarare en forharskande, konventionell uppfattning om filmens forhallande till varlden.v

Jean Epstein foddes i Warsawa 1897, vilket gor honom nagot yngre an de ovriga viktiga regissorer han normalt forknippas med - Louis DelIue, Abel Ganee, Marcel L'Herbier, Germaine Dulac, Efter studier i mediein oeh naturvetenskap i Lyon, reste han till Paris oeh anslot sig omedelbart till avantgarde-rorelsen. Hans bekantskap med Blaise Cendrars, Rieeiotto Canudo oeh andra


gjorde att han kunde publieera en avhandling om poesi 1921, som uppvisar viktiga likheter med hans bok om film fran samma ar, Bonjour cinema. Epsteins entre pa den kuItureIla seenen ar som teoretiker, oeh i forsta hand som Iitteraturteoretiker. Detta skiljer honom fran andra, oeh aldre, filmare i avantgardet vilka, trots att de skrev viktiga texter om film (Dulac, Rene Clair, Ganee, L'Herbier), borjade som regissorer, nagra av dem redan i slutet av tiotalet. Epsteins intresse far litteratur ar en av orsak ern a till att hans verk ar mer komplexa i sitt forhallande till "renhet", denna aterkommande modernistiska uppfattning.

Fran Epsteins berornda texter pa tjugotalet till de verk som publieerades efter andra varldskriget (fyra omfattande volymer med titlar som L'intelligence d'une machine (1946), Le cinema du diable (1947), Esprit de cinema oeh Alcool et cinema (bagge publieerade posturnt), forblir han trogen samma fragor oeh amnen, aven om funktionerna hos begreppen forandras avsevart med tiden. Som Jacques Aumont har observerat i den mest omfattande oversikten av Epsteins filosofiska arbete (han diskuterar de filosofiska aspekterna i filmerna pa ett annat stallei.? ar de senare skrifterna filosofiska utveeklingar oeh bearbetningar av ~ugotalets diskussioner, vilket gar dem oerhort abstrakta oeh utan empirisk forankring, Bergsonismen oeh anti-eartesianismen dominerar i hans texter. Epsteins allra forsta publieerade text om film handlar om ansiktet oeh narbilden, men sjalva narbilden ar i senare texter underordnad till att den skapar ett fait far rorelse,

.Nivernaise ingar i den franska traditionen av skildringar av livet ombord en flodpram, oeh liksom Leonee Perrets Le Hdleur (1911) oeh Andre Antoines L'Hirondelle et La Mesange (1920) fokuserar den pa vattnets rorelser oeh speglingar, samt forebadar poe sin iJean Vigos L'AtaLante (1934).

Pa det hela taget ar montage inom en oeh samma bild, kalejdoskopiska bilder oeh poetiska dubbelexponeringar vanliga i den franska tjugotalsflimen. Dock skiljer sig Epsteins bruk av dessa stilistiska grepp fran det mer tradition ella sattet att anvanda dem, dar de oftast anvands far att aterge rollfigurers mentala tillstand. Foljaktligen overger han nagra av dessa stilistiska tekniker ganska tidigt. Vi firmer snabb klippning i Le lion des Mogols oeh La. glace il trois faces, men inte i samma utstraekning som i CIEUT fidele. Snarare an snabbhetskulten, den maximala hastighet som den avervaldigade orientaliske adeismannen begar i motet med det parisiska stadslivet i Le lion des Mogols, kan fotogenisk rorelse lika garna aterfinnas i de langsamruare atborderna i hans senare stumfilmer, Detta ar en viktig indikation pa att Epstein soker nya dimensioner hos rorelsen i den filmiska teknologin, oeh inte bara forsoker utvidga vara existerande ideer oeh konventioner.

Epstein regisserade atskilliga bestallningsfilmer, Bortsett fran Pasteur gjorde han bl a en film far byggnadsarbetarnas fackforbund 1938, Les bdtisseurs, oeh hans sista film, Les feux de La mer, gjordes pa uppdrag av Forenta Nationerna. Att han gjorde sa manga bestallningsfilmer beror delvis pa hur den franska filmindustrin sag ut under mellankrigstideu. Filrnhistorikern David Bordwell menar att just det faktum att industrin bestod av ett stort antal finansiellt svaga bolag (manga existerade bara for produktionen av en enda film), och att Pathe och Gaumont inte Iangre val' de varldsledande bolag de en gang varit, var en forutsattning far avantgarde-rorelsen. Bristcn pa starka bolag tillat mer experimcnterande oeh fler brott mot den etablerade kontinuitetsklippningens konventioner, vilket ledde till andra former av visualiseringar av dromrnar eller subjektiva perceptioner.f Denna uppfattning ar med ratta kritiserad av filmhistorikern Francois Albera, som konstaterar att Epsteins kontrakt med Pathe Consortium-Cinema, innan han bildade sitt eget produktionsbolag Les Films Jean Epstein, var oresonligt strikt i sina kornmersiella villkor.f Kontraktet kunde annulleras utan kompensation om inte varje film giek med vinst! Nar bolaget Cineromans forvarvade Pathe Consortium-Cinema avskedade de Epstein oeh anstallde en ny regissor far att spela in delar av La goutte de sang pa nytt. Detta ar knappast en ideal miljo far fullfjadrat experimenterande oeh innovationer, aven om Bordwells pastaende kan aga giltighet avseende produeenternas roll da de, pa grund av bolagens instabilitet, ofta saknade erfarenhet oeh aven grundlaggande kunskaper om filmproduktion,

Epstein gjorde fler bestallningsfilmer an de flesta andra franska tjugotalsfilmare. Detta ar sant inte minst med tanke pa att han sjalv sag de flesta av sina filmer som bestallningar, I de Ia fall dar Epstein skriver om sina egna filmer - i bjart kontrast till Eisenstein, far vilken de egna filmerna ar


Forhallandct mellan texterna oeh filmerna hos Epstein, en av filmhistoriens Ia regissorer-filosofer, kommer att vara amnet far bokens andra del. Epsteins forsta film, en bestallningsfilm infor hundraarsjubileet av Louis Pasteurs fodelse, ar mindre opersonlig an vad som ofta havdas. Efter tre publikationer inom mindre an ett ar, som alIa hyllar poesins forrnaga att framkalla andra mentala dimensioner, oeh filmens fullstandiga omvalvning av vara konventioner infor att tanka tid oeh rorelse, sa kan Pasteur tyekas torrt didaktisk oeh akadernisk, Men dess implieita fokus pa filmen som vetenskapligt instrument ar i linje med Epsteins filosofi. Pasteur lar existera i tva versioner, en far allman visning oeh en far medieinundervisning. De manga bilderna tagna genom mikroskop farebadar arbetet med narbilder i de foljande filmerna oeh viljan att overskrida begransningarna i var vardagliga perception. Redan aret darpa, 1923, gar Epstein fyra viktiga filmer som myeket val kan ses som integrerade i tidens produktionskonventioner. L'auberge rouge ar en ofta bortglomd film, som integrerar de tva berattade tidsplanen genom en komplieerad arerblicksstrukrur. Man kan redan har iaktta en speglingsstruktur som upptrader i olika former av dubbleringar oeh omkastningar i flera av Epsteins filmer. Ceur fidile ar Epsteins forsta beromda film, som har samma sorts snabba klipp oeh dubbelexponeringar som aterfinns i exempelvis Ganees La. roue (1922). (Fig. 2+3) La belle



den rikaste oeh mest djupsinniga kallan for teoretiska resonemang - diskuterar han de eftergifter han nodgats till. De nastan lojliga kraven pa vinstinbringande filmer hos Pathe, eller den rollbesattning oeh de dekordetaljer som de ryska emigranterna i Albatrosbolaget kravde, fiek honom att ironisera over banaliteten oeh den populara exotismen i hans filmers intriger. Det finns alltid nagot av bestallning i varje film pa grund av konventionerna i produktion, berattande och, om inte annat, i distribution. Denna uppfattning att nastan varje produktion ar en "bestallningsfilm", ar nagot Epstein delar med sa skilda filmare som Roger Corman oehJean-Lue Godard, men den ar frammande for samtidens diskussioner in om avantgardet om film som konsrnarligt nyskapande.

I dagens forstaelse av tjugotalets modernistiska oeh essentialistiska estetik betraktas emellertid dessa hansyn inte som ett ifragasattandc av en okomplieerad auteuristisk syn pa filmen eller en analys av industrins krav, utan snarare som indikationer pa konstnarens tillkortakommanden. Epsteins filmer skiljer sig otvivelaktigt at sins em ell an vad galler tematik, stil oeh atmosfar. Darfor betraktas han som ojamn, vilket ar anledningen till att han inte alltid ses som en viktig auteur. Denna "ojamnhet" ar ganska intressant i sig, eftersom det visar pa den stilistiska oeh tematiska mangsidigheten i hans filmer, vilket rubbar den vanliga auteuristiska definitionen av ett sammanhallet ceuvre, Epstein ar forstas langt fran en ctneaste maudit - en del av hans filmer ar kanoniserade verk i alia betydande filmhistoriska verk men de flesta kommentarerna kring Epsteins arbete betonar beteeknande nog detta disparata drag i hans verk. Jacques Aumont, Stuart Leibman, Richard Abel oeh David Bordwell gor alia dessa distinktioner, dar Bordwell noterar att hans intriger overlag ar ganska banala, oeh Leibman menar att Epstein aldrig kunde gora den film som hans skrifter pekade mot, oeh han tyeker att Luis Bufiuels L'age d'or (1930) ar en film som battre forverkligar Epsteins ambitioncr.!" Studiet av Epstein i en auteuristisk tradition tenderar att bli otillfredsstallande i sina slutsatser. Nasta kapitel skall analysera forekomsten av nagra stilistiska figurer som forenar ett "mindre" verk som L'auberge rouge med erkanda klassiker som La chute de la maison Usher.

Trettiotalets produktionsklimat innebar ytterligare utmaningar pa grund av de estetiska oeh finansiella forandringar som Ijudfilmens genombrott mcdforde. L'Herbier, Ganee, Jacques Feyder oehJulien Duvivier ar val anpassade till trettiotalets filmindustri, med en stabil oeh sammanhallen produktion. Epstein regisserar relativt la filmer under trettiotalet, oeh han skriver annu mindre. Som jude maste han halla sig gomd under kriget. Detta kan vara en av anledningarna till att det ar hans filmer oeh skrifter fran tjugotalet som ofta diskuteras, inte de mer filosofiskt sammanhallna oeh genomarbetade texterna fran slutet av fyrtiotalet. Analysen av Epsteins arbete inom en fransk tjugotalskontext ar bade komplex oeh belysandc for skillnaderna inom denna "rorelse". Synen pa "forsta nya vagen", "fransk impressionism" eller "franskt avantgarde" som en enhetlig rorelse, om


inte i filmstil, sa atminstone i teoretiska hansyn, ar ofta okanslig infor samtidens disparata begrepp oeh program.


Varje diskussion om den franska filmteorin under 1 920-talet tar upp begreppet photogenie. Nar man idag redogor for begreppet ar alia medvetna om hur termen varieras i bruk. Det ar ett vanligt begrepp for olika uppfattningar om vad som definierar filmen, oeh ar saledes forbundet med en formodad essens i mediet. Begreppet eirkulerar ganska fritt inom ett modernistiskt teoretiskt ramverk. Termen forblir odefinierad med Louis Dellues myntande av ordet, medan Epsteins tidiga defmition ar den oftast eiterade: 'Jag kallar fotogeniskt varje aspekt av ting, existenser oeh sjalar som har en moralisk egenskap som blir forhojd av den kinematografiska reproduktionen.t'U Jacques Aumont har diskuterat hur innebordcn av begreppet forandrats med tiden, en forandring som ocksa finns i Epsteins eget bruk av termen, fran ett definitoriskt kannetcckcn till dess underordning till andra begrepp.U' Enligt den vanliga uppfattningen att det rent filmiska trotsar verbala beskrivningar, kan det fotogeniska inte beskrivas, oeh ar salcdes genom sjalva sin funktion vad Bordwell uppfattar som forvirrad.t ' Epstein identifierar det fotogeniska till att vara "for film vad farg ar for maleri oeh volym for skulptur", 14 oeh salcdes till slut omojligt att definiera.

Tva aspekter av termen komplieerar dock dess position inom den modernistiska begreppsapparaten. For det forsta ar inte termen enbart knuten till projektet att definiera det specifika oeh unika hos en ny konstform, eftersom den aven anvandes av skribenter som uppfattade filmen som en syntes av alia konsterna. Medan Louis Dellue, den teoretiker som forst overforde termen till filmen (tidigare hade den hanvisat till skarpan oeh upplosningen i en fotografisk stillbild), ser det fotogeniska som det som skiljer filmen fran alia de andra konsterna, anvander sig konsthistorikern Elie Faure oeh den fransk-italienske poeten Rieeiotto Canudo i stallet av begreppet for att definiera filmen som syntesen av alia konstcr.l ' Canudo utropar filmen till den sjunde konsten eftersom den forenar de sex tidigare oeh havdar 1921 att filmen ar "en konst av fullandad syntes, forutbcsramd att alltmer samla ihop alla konsterna't.J'' Epsteins influens fran sina tre mentorer - forutom Dellue oeh Canudo aven poeten Blaise Cendrars - gor att han tillskriver begreppet en referens till saval poesin som andra konstformer, oeh skanker saledes termen photogenie en interartiell aspekt som i forstone tyeks oforenlig med iden om "ren film". Men om filmen ar syntesen av alia konster, ar detta just vad den ar "forutbcstamd" att vara (Canudo), oeh det ar dess kannetecken. Liksom Sergej Eisensteins syn pa filmen som en syntes av konsterna, implicerar denna denna position inom den franska tjugotalsdebatten en essentialistisk syn pa filmen. Epsteins diskussioner kring begreppet gar inte att skilja fran en syn pa me diets speeifika drag, oeh ibland en ide om en "ren film".


Trots detta forkastar han anda flera av de estetiska doktriner som harstammar fran derma syn: filmen utan mellantexter, som bara upprepar en puristisk ide om filmen sasorn uteslutande komponerad oeh berattad i bilder (en av de typiska filmerna ar F. VV. Murnaus Der letete Mann/Sista skrattet (1924)).17 Epsteins forhallningssatt lanar alltfor myeket fran poesin oeh musiken for att han ska kunna hylla en renad bild i filmcn,

Ambivalensen mellan "ren film" oeh syntes ar knuten till ett annat, oeh mer radikalt, brott mot periodens modernistiska estetik. Oavsett hur det anvands, ar det fotogcniska alltid en teknologisk term. lett briljant foregripande av nagra aspekter av vad som senare skulle kallas for filmens apparaturteori, ar den forhojda moraliska dimensionen av ting resultatet av relationen mellan "rnaskinen" och askadaren. Filmens teknologi undandrar sig upphovspersonens intentioner: Epstein ser detta ideal forverkligas i en benjaminsk "ogonblicksblixt" i "nagra amerikanska filmer", Senare havdar han att "i Bretagne fann mitt objektiv fait av fotogeni". Det fotogeniska ogonblieket uppstar nastan av en slump, oeh avslojas av kameran. Detta gor att den filmiska essensen ligger utanfor all konstnarlig kontroll, vilket fundamentalt skiljer Epsteins syn fran den romantiska iden om en viljeakt hos ett kreativt geni, vilket den modernistiska estetiken helt omfamnade. Filmens fotogeniska aspekt bor snarare identifieras med teknologin an med konstnaren (vilket ar en annan tydlig avvikelse fran Eisensteins position).


Den franska "impressionismen" forknippas allmannt med ett frekvent bruk av bilder som representerar "subjektiva" visioner orsakade av mentala tillstand, Denna syn ar utan tvivel fargad avett representationellt oeh signifierande paradigm i filmvetenskapen, kanske med en matrstock ham tad fran den "klassiska hollywoodfilmens" kontinuitetskoder. Anda stammer det definitivt for manga av tjugotalets inflytelserika filmer, som till exempel de kalejdoskopiska eller suddiga bilderna, eller dubbelexponeringarna i Ganees La roue eUer Napoleon (1927). Fast motion, uppbrutna bildfalt eller anvandningen av anamorfiska objektiv, liksom "assoeiativa" dubbelexponeringar, ar sa vanligt forekommande att de narrnast blir till klicheer i den franska tjugotalsfilmen. Emellertid betyder inte den frekventa anvandningen av dessa tekniker att de alltid har samma funktion. Manga av de mest beromda exemplen pa dessa tekniker i Epsteins filmer, fran tivoliscenen i Caur fidele (Fig. 4) eller dubbelexponeringarna i La belle Nioernaise, till slow motion-sekvenserna i La cluite de la maison Usher, kan inte tillskrivas en rollfigurs kanslomassiga synvinkel eller fantasi. Den representationella aspekten av sadana tekniker ar i sjalva verket det som lag bakom Antonin Artauds uppbrott fran filmen, och hans besvikelse over Dulaes La coquille et le clergyman (1927), da han tyekte att bilderna tyektes motiverade psykologiskt, eller att de var alltfor dromlika, Att forsta varje kamerateknik som barare


av en rollfigurs mentala tillstand ar oerhort reducerande i forhallande till den mangfald av funktioner som kan arerfinnas i den franska tjugotalsfilmen, nagot som ocksa Epstein sjalv kraftfullt forkastade:

Forstorad 20 ganger, badande i ljus, forcvisad naken och forvirrad, finner manniskan sig sjalv infor kinemalografens objektiv avskuren fran alia sina logner, bekannande, intim, skamfylld, och kanske sann. Dagens psykoanalytiker lar oss att logner ar vart !ivs nad, forst forestallda, sedan inlarda, sedan tillampade. Jag rekommenderar dcnna underbara erfarenhet av kinematografisk psykoanalys som ar mycket mer precis an den symbolism dar etymologiska kort dras i Freuds skola. / ... / Var och en av de kameravinklarnas tolkningar av en gcst har en djupare innebord, vilket ar inneboende [i filrnapparaturen] da ogar som avslojar del ar ell omanskligt oga, utan minne, utan tanke. Ytterst kanjag inte saga, som del var modernt aU gora for en tid sedan, at! varje bild i en flim bor forstas som nagot seu av en eller annan av rollfigurerna i den foregripande bilden. Derma subjektivism ar overdriven. Varfor avhalla sig fran att nyttja en av de mest sallsynta egenskaperna hos det kinematografiska ogat, att vara eu oga utatifo'r iJgat, all undfly den tyrannirka egocentrisnzen i vim manskliga seen de. Varfor tvinga den kansliga emulsionen till att blott upprepa funktionerna hos var nathinna? Varfor inle med kraft ta sig an en unik mojlighet att skapa ett skadespe] i relation till ett annat centrum an det som var egen svnstrale skapar. Objektivet dr sig .sjiilvt.18

Epsteins arbete ar ur denna aspekt antifenomenologisk, eftersom kinematografen erbjuder andra pereeptioner oeh varldar an de som erbjuds genom mansklig sinnesfornimmclsc.

En av Epsteins forsta publicerade texter om film tyeks identifiera det fotogeniska med narbilden.!" (Fig. 5) Detta pavisar referenspunkten mellan den ungerske filmteorctikcrn Bela Balazs begrepp fysionomi oeh fotogeni. Som jacques Aumont papekar skulle ett likstallande mellan narbilden oeh det fotogeniska gora det senare alltfor expressionistiskt och statiskt. Balazs menar att narbilden later oss se battre, narrnare oeh sannare. De minimala forandringarna i "spelade" ansiktsuttryck, till exempel hos Asta Nielsen som latsas vara foralskad i en man, till det verkliga uttrycket da han faktiskt blir foralskad, ar talande for narbildens rol1.20 Enligt Balazs ar den avslojande oeh sannare eftersom den visar det sam ogat inte kan uppfatta. Vid forsta anblicken verkar detta ligga ganska nara narbildens oversvallande affektiva potential som Epsteins tidiga text urskiljer. Men Epsteins analys av narbilden studerar eller jamfor inte de skiftande uttryeken, utan fokuserar snarare pa den rorelse och den tvekan som finns mellan dessa poser. Narbilden oeh ansiktet ar underkastade den langt mer fundamentala definition en av rorelse,

Epstein identiferar vid upprepade tillfallen den rumsliga narbilden oeh den tidsliga, die <fitlupe:

"Annu mycket vaekrare an ett skratt ar det ansikte som samlar sig till det.Jag maste avbryta.Jag alskar den mun somjust ska till att tala oeh avbryter sig, gesten som tvekar mellan hoger oeh vanster, rekylen fore spranget I ... I. Fotogeniet bojs i futurum oeh imperativ. Det lamnar inget rum for


stillestand. "21 Denna beskrivning fran 1921, som tillsammans med andra passager helt oeh fullt identifierar oeh namner Walter Benjamins begrepp "det optiskt omedvetna", antyder varfor slow motion kanske ar mer fotogenisk an olikafost motion-tekniker. Dar narbilden far Balazs ar en prates far att komma tillrackligt nara far att verkligen se, forstar Epstein den istallet som en annan bild av varlden, da den oppnar far en alternativ tid i bilden. Genom att i huvudsak bygga pa fordrojningcn, kompressionen, omkastningen oeh dekompositionen av rorelse, ar ansiktet oeh narbilden underordnade filmens temporalitet. Medan Balazs uppfattning om fysionomin som avslojande, tack yare narbilden, blir en impressionistisk teori om filmcn, foresatter sig Epsteins teori att identifiera en tidens oeh rummets logik bortom vara pereeptuella kategorier. Det ar ocksa detta som gar att Epsteins teori pa ett Iysande satt foregriper Gilles Deleuzes "rorelsebild''. Bagge menar att den filmiska teknologin erbjuder oss ett satt att kringga var vardagliga perception av rorelsc, eftersom den dubbleras oeh underordnas en ny "iscensattning" i den filmiska teknologin. Detta teoretiska slaktskap anges aven av Bergsons krav pa "en annan filosofi" i den moderna vetenskapen, en hjartpunkt i Deleuzes diskussion, oeh Epsteins andra filosofi i kinematografen.22

I jamforelse med Sergej Eisensteins filmteori uppvisar Epsteins arbete fundamentala skillnader.

Medan Eisensteins hela teori bygger pa overgangen mellan de fixa bilderna, filmremsans fotogram Eller de overvagande statiska tagningarna i hans egna filmer; till rorelse genom montage, finner Epstein rorelse i varje tagning. Rorclse finns dar fran borjan i filmen, oeh inte som ett resultat av klippningspraeessen. Detta betyder aven att Epsteins filmer liksom hans skrifter forkastar Eisensteins hegelianska forestallning om att ideernas rorelse sker pa en annan niva an den pereeptuella rorelsen. En sadan dualitet mellan det retinal a oeh det mentala strider mot Epsteins framhavande av fotogeniets efemara rorelse. Om Epsteins objektiv ibland "fangar" det fotogeniska, innebar det att noggrannheten i de fotograferade bilderna ar av central betydelse i hans verk. Manipulerandet av rorelse, dess omkastning, kompression och dekomposition, ar givetvis en fraga om montage. Men det fors aldrig fram enligt ett i farvag planerat schema far att orsaka ett ideologiskt resultat i dess rorelse av ideer, som i Eisensteins insisterande pa hur mentala praeesser ar verksamma i hans egna filmer, Da kinematografen erbjuder en annan filosofi, en annan intelligens, syftar inte dess struktur till att beteekna.

Skillnaden i film ens funktioner beror pa ooverbryggbara satt att se pa filmisk och filosofisk atergivning, pa relationen mellan det visuella oeh det mentala, men forst oeh framst pa teknologi. Da kinematografen - notera att Epstein ofta gar tillbaka till Lumieres maskin far att distansera sitt synsatt fran den samtida filmens ofta berattandc egenskaper (precis som Bresson femtio ar senare) - arbetar enligt andra principer far tid oeh rum an var egen perception, ar den inte underordnad en upphovspersons intention Eller en etablerad ide. I ett forcgripande av Deleuzes begrepp "andlig


automat", talar Epstein om en "subjektiv automatism" hos kinernatografen som ager en annan andlig och Iilosofisk intelligens. Av denna anledning konfranterar filmen oss med en varld och idecr som ligger bortom vara konventioner far att tanka kring tid oeh rum, oeh inverkar darrned pa var hjarna och sattcr den i arbete. Derma rorelse ar helt annorlunda fran rekonstruktionen av en kodad rarelse av ideer i Eisensteins estetik. Epsteins uppfattning om filmen kan inte inforlivas med andra filmteoretiska uppfattningar fran mellankrigstiden. Hans filmer har ofta betraktats som ojamna, Eller har annars betraktats utifran en uppsattning tekniker vilka kanoniserats som "irnpressionistiska". En noggrann nygranskning av Epsteins filrner oeh en omlasning av hans texter visar att han var hapnadsvaekande originell far sin sam tid. Men de erbjuder aven begrepp oeh overvaganden av genomgripande betydelse far dagens diskussioner kring "nya medier". "Nya varldar" som avslojas i rorelsen, i Ijud saval som i bild, kraver en annan filosofi kring tid och rum, havdar Epstein. Den slutgiltiga fragan som hans skrifter oeh filmer staller handlar om majligheterna av intelligenta maskiner oeh konsekvenserna av nya teknologier. Har pavisar Epstein en position utanfor teknologisk determinism likaval som en reduktion av teknologin till att vara ett komplement till medvetandet. Uppgiften som Epstein staller upp far filmen ar oerhord. Faljaktligen ar det foga forvanande att se hur en del kommentatorer uppfattar de melodramatiska intrigerna oeh det ibland klichefyllda agerandet i hans filmer som otillfredsstallandc. Men det galler ocksa att veta var och hur man skall titta.


Ooersiiumng: Jan Holmberg

1 Hans skrifler om film har samlars i tva volumer 1974/75, vilka inte langre finns i tryck:Jean Epstein, Acrits sur le cinema 1921 -1953, t6me 1 od: 2, Paris: Seghers 1974 och 1975. Mlmga viktiga texter i Epsteins filosofi ar uteslutna i derma utgava pit grund av det begransadc urvalet till texter som direkt (och enbart) handlar om film. Ett fatal av hans andra bidrag har tryckts om i Jean Epstein; Cineaste, poete, philosophe, Paris: Cinematheque francaise 1997. pa_ engeJska har ett urval artiklar fran tjugotalet och ibland fran trettiotalct publicerats i Abel, French Film Theory and Criticism 1907 - 1.939 (2 vol.), Princeton:

Princeton University Press 1988, samt i filmteoritidskriften Afterimage i 1981. 2 Epstein, "Bilan du fin de muet", [1931J }."crits sur le cinema 1, 236.

3 Epstein, "Le delirc d'un machine" p 948], Eerily sur Ie cinema 2, 119.

4 Epstein, "Le sens I bis", Bonjour cinema, Paris: La Sirene 1921, 38 - 39, Eerits sur le cinema 1, 92.

5 Nicole Brenez, "Ultra-mod-me: Jean Epstein centre l'avant-garde", Jean Epstein; Cineaste, poete, philosophe, 220. 6 Epstein kommenterar begransningerna i vetenskapens doxa i: La lyrosophie. Paris: La Sirene 1922, 223 - 224. 7 Aumonr, "Cinegenie; au la machine it re-montcr Ie temps",]ean Epstein; Cineaste, poete, philosophe, 87 - lOB.

8 Bordwell, French Impressionist Cinema, New York: Arno Press 1980,240. Bordwell, Thompson, Film History; an Introduction, New York: McGraw-Hill 1994,98.

g Francois Albera, "Sociologic d'Epstein: De Pathc-Consortiuma Albatros", Jean Epstein: Ciniasthe, poite, philosoph" 225 - 245.

10 Bordwell, Thompson, Film History; an Introduction, 98. Stuart Leibman, "Sublime et desublimation dans la theorie cinematographique de Jean Epstein: Le cinematographe vu de l'Etna",Jean Epstein; Cineaste, poete, phiiosophe, 137.


I I Epstein, "De quelques conditions de la photogenic" [1926-1, .t."crils sur Ie cinema I, 137.

12 Aument, The Image [1990J, London: EFI 1997,235 - 24-0. Aumont,)) Cincgcuie, ou la machine it re-morucr lc temps", 91 - 95.

13 David Bordwell, French Impressionist Cinema, I 13.

14- Epstein, Le cinematographe uu de lEtna [19251, omu-yckt i t'crits sur le cinema 1,1-1-5.

15 Canudo, "De la verite cincmatographique'' [19221, I./usinf aux images, r1927] Paris: Seguicr/ Arie 1995, 128. Elie Faure ialar ofia om "cineplasrik" i samma termer S0111 "photogenic", se cxempelvis: Faure, "Dc Ia cineplastique'' [1922J, Fanction du cinema: de La cineplastique Ii. son destin social r 1953l, Paris: Gonthier 1964, 16 - 36. Jam for avcn den slacnde parallellen till Epsteins val av Ema sam utgangspunkl nat Faure hanvisar till Vesuvius utbrou 1908 for au diskuiera filmisk rorelse. [bid,34.

16 Ricciouo Canucio, "Esthetique ell! spccracle'tjl S? 11, J/Ilsine aux images, 49.

17 Avcn am Epstein foresprakar denna asikt i sina ticligastc skriftcr, som i Bonjour cinema. 18 Epstein, "L'objectif est lui-mente" [1926J, Eoits surIe cinema I, 128r.

19 Epstein, "Grosissement" [1921]. Oversau till svenska som "Fcrstoring", i Astrid Sodcrbcrgh Wielding (overs. Ired.), Sail att se: Texter om estetik ochfilm, Stockholm: T Fischer & co., 199-+.

20 Balazs, Der Film: H1erden nnd J#sen einer Ileum bunst, Wicn: Globus Verlag, 19-+9. Ovcrsatt till svenska sam "Manniskans ansikte" i Astrid Sodcrbcrgh Wielding (overs.z' rcd.), Sat! all se: Texter am estetik othjilm, Stockholm: T Fischer & co., 1991, 172 173.

21 Epstein, "Forstoring", 161-162.

22 Gilles Dclcuzc, Cinema 1: L'image-mouoement, Paris: Minuir 1983, 17. Epstein, "The Philosophy or the Cinematograph", L'inleUigence d'une machine [1946], omtryckt i Ee-tils Slit le cinema 1, 310.


The Cinematograph Seen from Etna - Recurrent Figures and Stylistic Devices In Epstein's Films and Writings

How can the volcano of Etna be a point of departure for a survey of Epstein's films and philosophy? Jean Epstein went to shoot a film on the eruption of Etna in 1923, La montagne infidele, the only lost film among Epstein's production (even if a compilation rum called Plwtogenies was "unedited" after its screening, and others are incomplete). (Fig. 6) Sicily is also the setting for his most important theoretical work of the 1920's, Le cinematographe vu de l'Etna (The Cinematograph Seen from Etna).1 There is something idiosyncratically topological in Epstein's concept of photogenie which makes the eruption and the coagulation of the lava very appropriate for the idea of movement expressed in his films and writings. This topological stance is one of the elements that has made Epstein's production hard to deal with as a coherent o-uvre. The documentary aspect of the preoccupation with the specific place doesn't go together with the concepts associated with the "French impressionism." However, the many films from Bretagne or other parts of the coast, Finis terre, Mar Vran, Lor des mers, Chanson d'Armor; La femme du bout de monde, Le tempestaire, are stylistically related to La belle Nuernaise, or the rendering of time and movement in Epstein's other films. (Fig. 7)

Etna holds a unique position as a geographical

Fig. 7: L 'or des me-rs

reference within Western art in general, and in cine-

ma specifically. The tragedy of Empedokles, where he jumped into the crater of Etna to merge with the Gods, is a main figure of reference for several works. Friedrich Holdcrlin's plays about


Fig. 8: Caurfidile

Empedokles on Etna exist in three un lin ished versions, and the French-GermanItalian directors Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet have made two films on the first and third versions of Holderlin's text, De; Tad der Empedokles (1986), and Schwarze Sunde (1988), respectively.

Another case where a theory, not only of cinema, but of cosmos and the atoms, has its outset on Etna, is Edgar Allan Poe's essay Eureka' (1848). This work speculates on a scientific fundament for a motif that

permeates Poe's work as a whole: the pervasive movement in all things. From the fall of the house of Usher to the undead rising from the

grave and the constant shifts in the appearance of the world in Poe's many balloon stories; what appears as fixed and solid is in reality moving. This is exactly the revelatory role that Epstein ascribes to cinema, it gives access to the inner state of movement in things. Poe argues in Eureka! that things appear as solid because they consist of a balance between an electrical attraction and repulsion, a principle which unites the law governing the atoms and the order of the universe. It is not surprising that Epstein's adaptation of a number of short stories by Poe in La chiue de La maison Usher elaborates on precisely the energy of movements in matter. Edgar Allan Poe starts his essay by claiming that only by climbing Etna and making a panoramic whirl on the heel, the world would reveal itself in its true image.

He who from the top of .Ema casts his eyes leisurely around, is affected chiefly by the extent and diversity of the scene. Only by a rapid whirling on his heel could he hope to comprehend the panorama in its sublimity of its oneness. But as, on the summit of lEtna, no man has thought of whirling on his heel, so no man has ever taken into his brain the full uniqueness of the prospect; and so, again, whatever considerations lie involved in this uniqueness, have as yet no practical existence for mankind 2

This passage is written in anticipation of cinema. And in particular of Epstein's cinema, his techniques of decomposition, acceleration and reversal of movement. Poe's panorama on Etna is a temporal one: a synthesis as the one produced from the analysis of the camera half a century later. According to Epstein, cinema is what gives these considerations "a practical existence for man-


kind." Epstein's extensive use of blurred, smeared and superimposed images, are all means to do this whirl, and to see the world. (Fig. 8)

Epstein also inaugurates his fum theory seen from Etna with a revelatory image that sums up cinema's powers to render the world new. On his trip to Etna in 1923, Epstein has to take the stairs down from his room at the hotel where he is staying, because the elevator is jammed between two floors:

This immense spiral of steps meant vertigo. All the pits were paved with mirrors. I descended surrounded by my selves, reflections, images of my gestures, of cinematographical projections. Every turn surprised me under another angle. There arc as many different and autonomous positions between a profile and a three-quarter back as there are tears in the eye. Each of these images only lived an instant, lost out of sight, already another one the moment it was perceived. Only my memory could hold on to one among this infinity, and then lost two out of three of these again. And there were images of images. Third images were born out of second images. A descriptive algebra and geometry of gestures appeared. Certain movements were split by these repetitions: others multiplied. I moved my head and I only saw the root of this gesture to my right, but on my left this gesture was elevated. Looking at one and then the other, I got another consciousness of my depth'/--/ I descended there as through the optical facets of an immense insect. Other images reedited and amputated themselves in their contrary angles: diminuated, fragmented, they humiliated me. Because the moral effect of such a spectacle is extraordinary. Each of these mirrors presented me with a perversion of myself, an inexactitude or the hope that I had of myself These onlooking glasses forced me to see myself with their indifference, their thruthfulness. I appeared before myself in a huge retina without conscience, without moral, and seven floors high. I saw myself bestolen of held illusions, surprised, stripped bare, torn out, dry, true, net. I would have run far to escape this spiral movement where I seemed to fall deep into a terrible centre of myself / .. ./ The cinematograph, far better than any inclined play of mirrors, holds such unexpected meetings with oneself3

This vertiginous description pinpoints the three stylistic transformational powers at the core of Epstein's cinema: the superimposition of images, the decomposition and suspension of movement, and, finally, the reflection of images. This three-sided mirror of cinema consists of interconnected elements which serve as an image of time and space outside of our perception and philosophy. In most of Epstein'S rums, the three figures come together to render a complicated image of time and space.



Just as fum history could be said to begin with a reversal of movement - the first paying fum audience were offered an arrival of the train and a departure of the workers from the factory - Epstein sees the cinematograph from Etna through a double movement. He ascends Etna, reputedly burning his clothes from the warm ashes and sparks, and descends the staircase. It is fitting that the only new invention in Lumiere's Cinematograph was the reversibility between shooting and projection in the same machine, thanks to the claw mechanism, and that a double movement is at the core of Epstein's films and theory. Cinema doubles, and corrects, our perception of movement. In Epstein's films, the structure of superimposed movements may take the form of a reversal, as in the charge and discharge of energy so brilliantly true to Poe in La chiite de la maison Usher, or as parallel movements, as in L'auberge rouge, Six et demi, onre and La glace a trois faces. However, the halted, suspended and decomposed movement at the core of these films serves a concentration and an exaltation of these qualities in the technology. As mentioned earlier, the photogenic movement is not limited to high speed films, but it is perhaps more pervasive in slow motion and the optical unconscious of the Zeitlupe.

The painted portrait in La. chiue de la matson Usher is a reflection of its model which transgresses its temporal boundaries. It is a portrait painted with time, asJacques Aumont observes." Six et demi, onre is focused on the stored reflections of photographic images. The operations of photography are beautifully portrayed in the sequence in the darkroom towards the end of the film. The older brother, Jerome, visits the mansion where he has learned that his younger brother Jean has committed suicide, after leading a life unknown to Jerome. Jerome is unaware that the woman he is having an affair with, Mary, is the same woman as the one who drove his younger brother to his death through her infidelity. The fum is thus constructed according to the enlarged notion of the double exposure central to many of Epstein's films, as its two parts are reflected in each other through the acts and the motives of the two brothers.

The younger brother's suicide in the middle of the fum is immediately preceded by a shot of him firing the revolver at his own mirror image. (Fig. 9) The decomposed moment of jean's suicide forms a centripetal moment of the structure. When he first aims his gun at the mirror, and later at



himself, this is followed by a series of vertical wipes in tile image, producing a suspension of movement in tile image similar to the halted run of the fum strip in the projector. This decomposed movement in the

moment of death coupled with a mirroring of the image is also central to La cluil« de la maison Usher and L'auberge rouge. The second part of Six et demi, onre is centered on the reflection by the means of still photographs. Before accommodating Mary's requests that they leave the mansion, Jerome decides to develop the film in a camera he has found, in order to find out what has caused his brother's misery. The Kodak 6 1/2 X II, giving the film its name, has appeared in many previous scenes where Mary has been photographed, and the viewer knows that the film in the camera will give Mary away.

The Kodak camera could be said to be the fum's main character. Epstein wanted to name his film "Kodak," after the brand's onomatopoetic relation to the exposure mechanism. When this was refused him by the company, he instead chose the film format. One of the introductory title cards presents the actors of the film: "the lens, the sun and Suzy Pierson". This shows how the technology is at the core of his films,

just as the images of sky and water take on a main _. S· d. .

, . .' , FIg. 11: tx et enll,Ollze

role in La belle Nuernaise, Finis terre, Mot Vran and Lor

des mets. (Fig. 10) Epstein has said that the canals and the coast were the best characters t~at he ever worked with. In Mal" Vlml it is stated that "the sea talks" and "the sea has eyes of Its own , followed by a series of close-ups on the reflectors of the lighthouse. This is not "nature" opposed to technology. On the contrary, "images of sky" and water only reach their potential of movement

through the cinematographical technology. 5 .

Dressed in his medical profession's white coat, Jerome dissects the photographs' memory m the

darkroom. (Fig. I I ) But the still images remain silent, and the shape of the woman on the fum ~s unrecognizable to him. The images are "negative" in a double sense, and the opacrty of the 111f01-

mation is focused in repeated close-ups of the film passing before Jerome's scrutinizing gaze. Photography is one prerequisite for understanding the processes of recollection, which is in this case unfulfilled. The

woman in the negative cliche can not be recognized. The sequence is immediately preceded by a printed commercial slogan by Kodak, saying that "you forget your vacation, if you leave without Kodak" ("Oubliera ses vacances, qui part sans 'Kodak"'). (Fig. 12) The dark-room sequence brilliantly negates this slogan, as the images remain "negative" and undeveloped. The suspension of the moment of recognition highlights the technical properties in Epstein's theory of film. Since the viewer has seen the moments when the photographs were taken, these are recalled without being actualized in the image. We never get to see the copies of the photos. The still photographs are not reproduced in the film image, since Six et demi, onre seeks to avoid the perceptual mechanisms of recognition. This role of photography in the fum prolongs the visual into a virtual domain.

ig. 12: Six et demi, onze

This sequence exemplifies the figure of a double movement in Epstein's work, since it is linked to photography and the decomposed film strip. The double exposure functions like a suspension of the movement of the fum, and often coincides with material decompositions of movement. The slow motion of La dulte de la maison Usher turns into decomposed movements in the moment of Madeline's death and in the time passing until her resurrection. Even in Laglaee a trois faces, the four different accounts of the man are centered around the physical decomposition of the movement in the car crash. The elevator shot in the parking house invokes a decomposed movement as the floors pass by the camera, and the following spiral descent in the car has the windows of the building flicker past as projected lights. The temporal superimposition of the original murder and its story being told in L'auberge rouge is decomposed by the arrested image in the moment of death.

L'auberge rouge proceeds through alternating sequences from a dinner; set in 1825, where one of the guests tells the story of how a travelling doctor was innocently executed [or murder twenty-six years earlier, and flashbacks of the story At an inn, a diamond merchant discloses his valuable stones for the other residents. The doctor, Prosper Magnan, is tempted to steal the diamonds during the night, but his conscience keeps him from it. In torment, he runs out into the stormy night, and returns only to find that the merchant is killed, and his diamonds gone. Prosper's suspicious con-


reflecting the two timelines in a very elaborated flashback structure.

This period drama already testifies to a sensibility towards the landscape which is further developed in the maritime films, But it is also a key poetic element in La belle Nivernaise and the costume comedy Les aoentures de Robert Maeaire. The latter consists of five episodes, and it was the last film Epstein made for A1batros Films. The company consisted of Russians who emigrated to France after the revolution, and became an important force in French cinema until the coming of sound caused problems for its stars." The producer, Alexander Kamenka, hired Epstein after his engagement for Parhe-Consortium Cinema was terminated, and the conditions of production were largely influenced by the company's major star, Ivan Mosjoukine. The interconnection between the past and the present, highlighted in L'auberge rouge and Six et demi, onre, also informs the structure of the first film that Epstein made for A1batros, Le lion des Mogols. Here, Epstein plays with the features of the cinema of the teens present in Mosjoukine's script. The stylistic double identity of this film - some would say its aesthetic schizophrenia - could be attributed to cultural differences between the Russian emigres and Epstein, but, interestingly, it is pushed to the front in the film. Costumes, architecture and "new" technologies like electricity and cinema highlight this split U11age.

Again, superimposed images and dissolves convey a simultaneity of epochs. For instance, when the exiled Prince (played by the equally exiled Mosjoukine) despairs with of Western, modern life, this gives rise to a double exposure of him in his previous position as an oriental nobleman. (Fig. 13) In fact, Epstein here (ironically?) makes use of the conventions of the double exposure, that is, to

duct causes him to be executed by shooting. The execution sequence is, like the suicide in Six et demi, onre, concentrated in a decomposed movement. The shots are followed by images of the sky seen through the arms of a tree. Suddenly, a series of vertical wipes are introduced. Like the passage of the film strip in the projector, the image is gradually getting dark [rom the bottom to top, upon which an identical image appears, and new wipes, now from top to bottom, decomposes the movement of the shot. The second part of the fum is gradually reanimated by reflecting the events told in the story. Through repeated reaction shots, one of the guests at the dinner, Taillefer, is disclosed to be profoundly disturbed by the tale. The hand of cards dealt to the doctor at the card game twenty-six years ago, is now dealt to Taillefer, and he confesses that he was Prosper's companion and the guilty one of the murder. Just as Six et demi, onre, L'auberge rouge highlights the conditions of time and recollection at hand in the cinematograph, by


Fig. 13: Le lion des Mogols

visualize the Prince's mental images. But the films begins with a typical figure of the teens, as successive dissolves present Mosjoukine in the different appearances that he will take on during the film, The same technique opens each episode of Louis Feuillade's Fanuimas (1913 - 1914), and Epstein thus refers to the widespread form of the serial of the teens, and the fum's quite fragmented and attraction-like plot. This highlighting of the instability of identities in the films of the teens is thus developed in the twenties by Epstein and many others.

When Epstein goes on to direct the serial Les aoenuaes de Robert Macaiie for the same company the year after, he again refers to the stylistic conventions of the previous decade. Robert Macaire and his sidekick Bertrand continually change clothes and identities. The genre of the detective serial is of course chiefly associated with Feuillade. The story of Robert Macaire was also adopted by another director of shifting identities and appearances, Georges Melies, in 1906: Robert Macaire et Bertrand= This anachronistic approach naturally causes difficulties for the appreciation of Epstein as an "avant-garde" director, and is partly responsible for the divided reception of many of his rums at the time, something that still exists in the discussions of his films today. This period comedy adheres to a "folded" structure as well, as Macaire's love for a woman restrains him from escaping a prison sentence of eighteen years. When released, he experiences that same infatuation with a woman as he did eighteen years earlier. We learn that she in fact is his own daughter. Flashbacks from eighteen years ago, when they went to prison, are intercut with a parallel event taking place ten years earlier. They are released, only to be betrayed by a companion and be sent back to jail again. Even if this work is far from the complicated temporal structures of La chzlte de La matson Usher and La gLace a trois faces, Les aueniures de Robert Macaire also displays a preoccupation with superimposed time axes and the functions of memory. The references to the never-ending, invent-as-you-go-along structure of the serial are here coupled with a self-conscious play with the conventions of the script.


In his CD-ROM from 1997, Immemory, Chris. Marker asks in the memory zone "What is a Madeleine?" The answer is a bifurcation in two pathways of the CD; Proust's involuntary memory set off by the taste of the Madeleine, and Madeleine in Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). These two memory figures could very well have been completed with a third Madeleine (or, in fact, Madeline), the model for the portrait in La chute de La maison Usher. In spite of the title, the story is predominantly inspired by another story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Oual Portrait. If Marker's obsession with Vert£go lies in Scottie's reconstruction of the impossible memory of Madeleine - impossible because she has never existed and only put on an act directed by another man, Gavin Elster


between the image and its model touches on esthetic questions of representation going back to the iconoclasm of monotheism. (Fig. 14)

Vertigo also concerns complex questions of representation, as Madeleine pretends to be schizophrenically haunted by the life and ullage - note the portrait in the museum and the gravestone in the rum - of Carlotta. Epstein's film also couples the representation of the portrait to the gravestone, as Madeleine is buried before she later resurrects. And, on a more compositional level, when Scottie unknowingly re-enacts the direction or the making of the image of Madeleine, as he forms Judy into I\IIadeleine's image, the second part of VertZ/io mirrors the first. This two-folded structure is also present in Epstein's Madeline, as the resurrection mirrors and inverts the energetic movement of the first part. La chute de La matson Usher is an original meditation on representation and memory.

The gravestone is, according to the philosopher Michel Serres, at the origin of aesthetics, as the monument and the sculpture is concerned with making distinctions between separate places." Aesthetics serves to distinguish art from non-art, and the place from the space. The grave attributes meaning to space, and is thus semiological. Epstein's cinema aims to transgress boundaries, and this is done in several respects in La chute de La maison Usher. When Madeline resurrects from the dead, she transgresses the boundaries between life and death, but she simultaneously breaks the spatial boundaries that is always instigated by the grave, and which later starts the decomposition of the house of Usher (which is like a grave, we are told). The painted portrait may also be seen as her gravestone, since her vital energy passes into the representation. But precisely this element also subverts the logic of representation: since the portrait is like life itself, it is given the life of its

or Alfred Hitchcock - Madeline Usher is also formed in an elusive and ephemeral image. As Roderick (who in this fum is married to her, and not her brother as in Poe's story) obsessively paints her portrait, Madeline gradually loses her vital energy. In the moment when the portrait is finished, and the painter in triumphant horror exclaims that it is like life itself, she falls dead to the ground. The painting has vampirically emptied her of her energy, and the representation has gained the life of its model. This motif of the relation

Fig. l-l: La chute de la maison Usher


model, and consequently the duality of any representation collapses. The portrait is painted with cinema: the ephemeral pictures we see in the frame of the portrait are a fum image, revealed by very fine movements in Madeline's face. The image thus transgresses the boundaries between the art forms, making the painting cinematic. In many respects, La chute de la maison Usher is a film that acts transversally to established categories and esthetic orders.

An anticipation of the painting coming to life, though perhaps without the far-ranging representational implications of La chute de la matson Usher, is also to be found in La belle Nioernaise. A painting of The Virgin Mary comes to life in a shot/reverse shot sequence when the child is lying seriously ill in his bed. Two tilts of the camera link the look of the child to the image of The Virgin Mary looking down at the child. A dissolve then animates the image. Again, a superimposition of images results in another temporal mode of the image.

La chUte de La maison Usher and Vertigo are strong figures of the concept of desouorement. This untranslatable concept by the French writer Maurice Blanchot refers to an absolutely essential aspect of any true esthetic experience: the work of art is connected with death. As the work of art always carries an element that cannot be grasped and understood, interiorized, it reminds one of one's limits, and that one shall not live forever. This figure is condensed in the moment when the work is simultaneously completed and decomposed. Instead of completion, the work of art negates us, and is decomposed. This is what happens in Tlertigo, when Scottie transforms Judy into Madeleine, and she puts on the necklace that makes the image of Madeleine complete. Scottie figures out that Madeleine has just been an apparition to trigger his actions, and his love for her is gone. The work is decomposed in its moment of fulfillment, even more so as "Madeleine" falls to her death from the church tower the second time.

Blanchot reads the myth of Orpheus, who is allowed to fetch Eurydice from the dead under the condition that he does not look at her, as a particularly interesting figure of desouoremeni. When he finally turns around in disbelief and sees that she is still there, she falls down into the domain of death again. Blanchot reads Eurydice as representing Orpheus' work, and it is in the very moment of its completion that the work ceases to be his, under his authorial control, that the moment of aesthetic experience is condensed. The identity between Orpheus' wife and his work of art is interestingly repeated when Roderick paints the portrait of his wife. The wife and the work merge completely as the painting takes on the vital energy of Madeline's frail body.

Madeline in La chute de La maison Usher dies at the moment of completion of the portrait, and the brilliant thing about the fum is that it lingers on this moment of decomposition. The series of decomposed images of landscapes, interiors and clocks between Madeline's death and her resurrection "makes time stand still." (Fig. 15) The moment of deseuurement, of decomposition and sus-


pension, when the painter admires his work is at the center of the fum. This interval is most important for Epstein's view of cinema as another time, another philosophy than ours. This decomposed movement of the sequence is linked to Roderick's trancelike memory of his wife, and several other instances of a suspended, decomposed movement appear in Epstein's films.

Jerome's scrutiny of the negative film in the darkroom suspends the recognition of Mary in Six et demi, onre. The moment when he realizes her part in his brother's death is rendered in a very spatially fragmented sequence as Mary runs in the sand in front of the mansion, intercut, once again, with images of the sun and the sky. When Madeline's vital energy is fading in La chute de La maison Usher, this is, as in Six et demi, onre, rendered in a negative image. (Fig. 16) A superimposition of three shots of Madeline contains one still image in negative. The sequence then contains another still image, this time of a statue of Madeline, invoking the monument and the gravestone discussed by Michel Serres. The opening shot of Six et demi, onre is of the two brothers by their parents' grave, pointing forward to the still in the negative in the darkroom, which take on the role as silent monuments over Jean's life.

Fig. 15: La chtite de La maiscn. Usher

Fig. 16: La duue de fa maison Usher

The suspension and condensation of movement is also at the core of the use of superimpositions in Epstein's work. He is here far from the conventional use of double exposures in fum history. These have tended to convey a hierarchy between different worlds, where the introduced double exposure represents a dream, illusion or a mental state. But Epstein is suspicious of the implicit dualities of such images, between the mental images and physical reality. The representation of


dreams or thoughts is to curtail cinema's powers to reveal new realities and philosophies. There is no representational motivation for the many double exposures of Caurfidele or La belle Nioernaise, and consequently the two images' relation to each other remains unresolved. Far from the subjective uses of the techniques by Gance and other directors of the twenties, the superimposition is a literal image of time in Epstein's cinema.


In a comprehensive survey of the role of the tempest in Epstein's cinema, Philippe Dubois notes how many different expressions of this figure can be found in his films. The Bretagne films are all structured around the tempest, whereas an emotional and metaphorical "tempest" is at the core of the movements in La cluite de La maison Usher, when Roderick is sensing that Madeline is not dead, or when the Prince is tormented by modern life in Paris in Le lion des MogoLs. It is thus no coincidence that the film that the Prince is making in exile is called Tempete.8 Even the climactic speeding car scene in La glace a trois faces is like a tempest, where the movement of the camera creates a state where things are agitated and out of place. Also, the night of the

5. 17: Finis terre murder in L'auberge rouge is ravaged by a storm when Prosper has his crisis of conscience, and the resurrection of Madeline is preceded by an energetically charged storm taking place in the inside of the house of Usher. In Epstein's cinema, there is little difference between the physical, meteorological tempest and the photogenic one revealed by the film technology. The tempest is the figure of the eruptive movement of the ground on Mount Etna, and in Edgar Allan Poe's virtual panorama on the heel on the top of the volcano.

The figure of the tempest in Epstein's writings and films is a transfiguration of the daily appearance of things and movements. The tempest defies the order of

g. 18: Finis terre space and time, and consequently questions represen-


Dubois analyses the many engravings of tempests and waves by Leonardo da Vinci, and finds that the cloud's field of uncertainty is elevated to the totality of the picture, and consequently leading the image into a certain mode of abstraction. Dubois traces the image of the tempest in Leonardo to an identity with Epstein's films depicting the tempest at sea, and finds important parallels between Leonardo's and Epstein's writings. Epstein's aim, especially, to transgress the boundaries between the intellectual and the spiritual is anticipated in the scientist-artist Leonardo.

It is a gross miscomprehension to see the Bretagne films, inaugurated with Finis terre, as the sign of Epstein coming to terms with the fact that the "avant-garde" was over, as the film historian Georges Sadoul does." Finis terre contains several shots which, seen separately, could very well be attributed to a preoccupation with abstraction in the avant-garde. (Fig. 17) The linages from the lighthouse superficially resemble the abstract compositions of a Fernand Leger or a Man Ray. Epstein's project lies elsewhere, however, as any abstraction is linked to cinema technology, and consequently devoid of pretensions of immediacy or spontaneity of communication.

The quadruply repeated image of the light projected from the lighthouse is an exaltation of cinematographic perception's superiority to ours, since it renders the projected light with a "chromatic" ring around it, due to the diffraction of light in the lens of the camera. (Fig. 18) "The lens is itself", Epstein arg·ues, against the submission of cinema technology to human imprcssions.l ' The reflection of the light in the lighthouse, both in Finis tend! and Mor Vran, is invested with a rhythmic temporality that echoes the cinernatographical movement of the extreme close-ups of the clocks at the core of La chute de la matson. Usher. (Fig. 19) The projective reflection of light once again highlights the cinematographical technology. The lighthouse'S rhythmic movement may

tation. The critique of representation, which can he found in the portrait of La chUte de La maison Usher, is developed by Dubois in an art-historical survey of the linage of the tempest. Following the art historian Hubert Damisch's focus on the clouds and the vanishing point in painting, the tempest prolongs the indetermination and outside position of the clouds within the conventional rules of perspective. The cloud is "unformed" because it has no set size or form, and tl1US escapes a fixed position in the represented space of a painting,

Fig. 19: La duite de La maison Usher


even be seen as a decomposition of the flicker of the film projection. In a compilation film that Epstein presented at a conference in 1924, Photogenies, the first part depicted the rhythmic movements of a paper machine, no doubt with reference to the film strip and the intermittent movement of the cinematograph. It also compiled, among shots from the dance in Albatros' Kean (Alexandre Volkoff 1924), landscapes and physiognomies, shots from the saccadic movement of the locomotive from Abel Gance's La roue. I I

Finis terre, Mar Tli-an and Lor des mas have also been viewed as important precursors to neorealism, an argument that belongs to the time when one looked for precursors in a linear and goaldriven writing of film history. 12 If one, for a moment, goes along with such a historical discourse, however, one sees that the films attest to many of the ideals later ascribed to neorealism. (Fig. 20) But they hardly resemble the films usually termed neo-realist, as Epstein's "trilogy" goes much fur-

ther in the use of local inhabitants as characters. The non-existence of studio shots or lighting techniques also by far surpasses neorealist films, which as a rule partly used studio locations, professional actors together with amateurs, back projections and dubbed dialogue. However, a possible exception to this may be found in Luchino Visconti's encounter with the fishermen of Aci Trezza in La terra trema (1948). The introductory shots of Finis terre again testify to a preoccupation with a different image of time in cinema. A bottle of wine is shattered in slow motion, and changing close-ups of the wine slowly being dried up by the sand is a condensed image of time. The span of time of the event is suspended, thus making the

20 Finis terre moment elastic. The images of the waves hitting the

cliffs of the shore in slow motion announce the unbound temporal possibilities of Le tempestaire.

The etymological identity in French for time and weather - temps - with the derivation tempete; tempest, is a very fortunate coincidence for Epstein's philosophy. The strongest figural element in Epstein's work is the elasticity of time. If the tempest defies the representational co-ordinates of the perspective, it opens for a perspective of movement, of time.l ' The temporal processes at work are perhaps taken to their limit in Epstein's film on the tempest par excellence, Le tempestaire. Movements are here accelerated, slowed down and decomposed, and even reversed. It should be noted that even if the reversal of movement, in the image or sound, is a frequent feature in Epstein's writings, it only appears in its direct form in Le tempestaire. However, tile suspensions of


movement in La chide de La matson Usher, L'auberge rouge or Six et demi, onre all "balance" and arrest movement to the degree where its progression becomes indiscernible from regression. The most elaborated instance of an indetermination of movement is me sequence in La chtite de La maison Usher between Madeline's death and resurrection. The astonishing close-ups of the pendulum in the various clocks in Usher's house suspends any distinctions between progression and regression of time. The passage in close-up of the negative film strip that jerome is studying in Six et demi, onre makes the direction of movement unclear as the point of view shifts between jerome's and the other side of the film strip. In L'auberee rouge, movement is exasperated to the point where the progression of the film strip is disturbed.

In tile midst of the tempest in Le tempestaire, the sound is slowed down as the image shows the waves crashing to the rocks in reversed motion. This complex temporal perspective joins the "clouded" and blurred perspective of the tempest. For Epstein, this approach is strongly informed by the ongoing discussions about other geometries and non-Euclidean space. In a beautiful passage written at the time he made Le iempestaire, he states: "It is said that Euclid inscribed his figures in tile sand of the beaches of Alexandria, and the fact that a blow of wind would be enough to make his theorems false didn't worry him. However, in a world that is profoundly animated, like the image on the screen, one needs a kind of geometry that is also valid on moving sand. And this geometry of the unstable commands a logic, a philosophy, a good sense, a religion, an aesthetics founded on instability." 14

The transfigured space of the tempest is, as Dubois observes, central to tile concept of the sublime. Without going into detail about this highly complex notion, it could be suggested that Epstein's encounter with the sublime refers neither to the empirical subject in Edmond Burke's concept, nor Kant's transcendental category. Perhaps the "new empiricism" that Epstein identifies in cinema, 15 is a notion where the sublime is neither in our spontaneous experience of the world nor something to be searched for in each individual's spirit, but instead in a technology that presents new material forms of space and time. The "liquid" perception in cinema presents the world in a state of perpetual flow and transfiguration, which defies representation in classical perspective. Gilles Deleuze's invocation of Kant's "mathematical sublime" in the images of water in French cinema between the wars (Jean Epstein,jean Grernillon.Tean Vigo,jean Renoir, etc.) is sensitive to the technological aspect of these perceptions, and thus central to Epstein's work. The images of the sky in La belle Nuernaise and in the Bretagne films are also pertinent here, and make jean Vigo an heir to Epstein. L'Atalante of course shares the setting with La belle Nioernaise, and both ftlms make use of the "double movement" of the boat passing horizontally through the image while a character walks in the opposite direction, appearing to stand still while walking. 16 Dubois' further refe-


rences to the figure of the tempest in the paintings of Turner, Poussin and the photography of Camille Flammarion provide enlightening settings for exploring Epstein's work within an arthistorical framework. 1 7

Le tempestaire exhibits a very elaborate and experimental editing and mixing of sound. Epstein at the same time wrote extensively on the different movements of sound. '-\Ie have noted that Epstein's position resists easy categorization, because it Fig. 21: Lag/ace a trois faces rejects principles of formalist theory as well as "realist" ones. It is obvious how even Epstein's documentary films deviate from Roberto Rossellini's famous dogma saying that "things are there, why manipulate them?" The technology offers a different perception and intelligence than ours. But the films, for this very reason, also reject the notion of an abstraction that refers to an "inner truth," to an immediate and spontaneous communication. Epstein's persistent criticism of avant-garde schools, and abstraction in general, is based on a refusal to see a fundamental purity in abstract forms. Again, technology animates all forms, and offers a "logic" of change and movement instead of formal premises. His cinematographical and theoretical work on sound explains also the attitude to movement alternations in the image. Different sound speeds, four of them in Le tempestaue. allow different realities of the same phenomenon. The tempest's monotonous and persistent block of sound is decomposed and analyzed through the sonorous slow motions. The separate elements in the unaided indivisible totality of sound emanate as separated at the different sound speeds. Here, Epstein undertakes and theorizes about an approach that has been central in art music since John Cage (and certainly earlier), and elaborated in the movement of "musique concrete." This influence is highlighted in Epstein's early identification of the phonograph with the cinematograph from 1921. In anticipation of the sound principles of Dziga Vertov's Enturiarm (1930), Epstein observes that the relation of the phonograph to music may one day prove to be like that of cinema to theatre: that there is absolutely none.lf One should instead record noises in the streets, motors and railway stations to discover new dimensions of the everyday life.

The modulations of movement in sound and image make for an analysis, but not one that renders each element fixed and controllable. From the indivisible mass of sound of the storm at sea,

we move to an opening up of all the variations and movements inherent in this block of sound. From the fluent, homogeneous movement of our daily optics, the cinematograph may open up this movement to an infinity of variations and changes. Technologies generally function as filters. But the decomposition inherent in these technologies, in Le tempestaire the tape recorder and the camera, sets the f:tlters out of function. This is what is at core of Epstein's idiosyncratic use of the double exposure. Far from depicting mental

Fig. 22: Ca:urfidi/e

projections, memories or "the fantastic," Epstein's use of superimpositions decomposes movement in order to open up an interval, a suspended movement within continuous movement. The elasticity of time is activated in alterations of movement and in superimposed linages, to gain a suspension of the continuity of movement. (Fig. 21)

Decomposition stands for one actual turn a movement may take among the many virtual ones.

This is one of many points of convergence in the aesthetics of Epstein andJean-Luc Godard, who thinks of his decompositions in the following terms:

From the stopping of an image that contains twenty-five of them 1 .. ,/, you realise how an image that you have shot, depending on how you stop it, suddenly there are milliards of possibilities, all the possible permutations between the twenty-five images representing milliards of possibilities. 1 .. ,/ you realise that there are swarms or different worlds inside or each movement 1 .. ,/ 19

This technique is part in a set of devices to invest the image with a temporal perspective. The tempest leads to a certain abstraction as it defies the conventions of perspectival representation. The position outside towards the tempest, from high up in a shiplight (DOT des mers and Finis teme) or even in a crystal ball (Le tempestaiTe) offers abstractions and anamorphous images. The diffraction of light in the crystal ball stretches out contours and smears bodies and things in the image. A similar anamorphous image appears in the reflection of the face mirrored in the reflectors of the lighthouse in MOT Vran. Reflections often serve such distortions. (Fig. 22) The reflections in the chrome details of the title car in L'homme Ii l'Hispano smears bodies and contours. The smeared images striving out of the lines of contour depict a tactile quality of Epstein's figure of the tempest.



Fig. 23: La glace a troisfaces

The physical materiality of the smeared images defmitely invests his films with a visual dimension that invites the touch. The close-up is the main technique associated with a tactile, or haptic, visuality. This is taken to its extreme in the portrayal of the tactile dimension of the close-up in Epstein's first writings on cinema: "If I stretch out my arm I touch you, intimacy. I coun t the eyelashes of this suffering. I would be able to taste the tears. Never before has a face turned to mine in that way. Ever closer it presses against me, and

I follow it face to face. It's not even true that there is air between us; I eat it. It is in me like a sacrament. Maximum visual acuity."20 His common interest with Benjamin in "the optical unconscious" demonstrates how this haptically technological dimension is not at odds with an "imponderable" visuality. This idea of a tactility is parallel to the one identified by Walter Benjamin in the editing of films, placing the spectator in new positions in space and time that act like physical shocks on perception.

The car ride in the drunken scene of Le lion des Mogols and the fairground scene of Ceurfidele are famous examples of instances where a speeded-up movement renders the contours smeared. The approach is taken to its limit in the speeding car scene towards the end of La glace a troisfaces, and Epstein returns to the technique in Lihomme a l'Hispano. (Fig. 23) The images are smeared out due to a greater speed in the camera in relation to its motive than the exposure time. The sometimes anamorphous image resulting from this technique is coupled to the recurrent figure of superimposed images, of a face and the sea in Caur fidile and La belle Nioemaise, or anamorphous reflections in the films from the coast. Since cinema has access to an image of time, these are not spatial abstractions, but alternative temporal perspectives.

The variations of speed and metamorphoses of movement at hand in cinema invests the technology with a power to transgress our established categories. In slow motion, water appears like oil and finally becomes solid, in fast motion the mineral becomes vegetal or animal.X! Hence the slow motion at the core of La chute de la maison Usher, or the decompositions of Six et demi, onre or L'auberge rouge. Etna is such an important topological point of reference for Epstein's theory precisely because the ground is not solid, but eruptive and in constant movement. The separate layers


in the ground are like the superimpositions in the image, condensations and. suspensions of move-

t The decomposed movement of sound gives a silence, the decompositIon of the Image glVes

~. . . ill

a suspension of movement. This is not a negation of movement, but rather Its absolute mtens ica-

tion. The concept of photogenic, the figure of the tempest, the use of decomposed and superunposed images: this is a matter, in Philippe Dubois' words, "of time rather than space, of movement rather than the trace, of flux rather than the traced, of modulation rather than structure, of for-

ces rather than forms. "22

I Mikhail Iampolski gives a good survey of the topological properties in Epstein's rum theory in: "Epstein: T.heorie du cinema comme iopologie", Jean Epstein; Ciniaste, poete, philosophe, (ed. Jacques Aumont) Paris: Cinematheque francaise 1997,

109 - I 18. . _. . . 6 21 I _ 'JI 9

2 Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka' [18~81, repr-inted in The SCience hellOlt of Edgar .~llalt Poe, London. Penguin 197,' -. ~. .

3 E . Le ci t . pi de l'Etna l1996] reprinted in: Jean Epstein, Ecrits sur I, cllt,ma 1921 - 1953, 10m, 1, Pans. Seghcrs

pstem, cmema ogm ze uu a -', - .'

1974, 135-136.

4 Aument, A quai pensmt lesfilms, Paris: Seguier 1996, 106.

5 Epstein, "Les images clu ciel'' [1928], JJ;"iIS SIIr le cinema 1,189 - 190. ,. . .

6 For a good background and discussion of ihe Albatros company, se~: fra,~c;ois ~lbera, Albatros; des russes a Pans 1919 -

1929 Paris: Mazzetta/Cinematheqve Irancaisc 1995. Epstein's work IS outlined 1Il pp. 137 - 141. .

7 fr;m;:ois Albcra, "Sociologic d'Epsicin: Dc Pathe-Consortium <:1 Albatr~s", ~eall l!.~stein; =: /JOete, philosophe, 231.

8 Michel Serres, Statues, Paris: [Bourin 1987 j Flammarion 1989. For a brief diSCUSSIOn of the epistemology of statues, see

the last chapter, 343 - 346. . .' .' .

9 This is revealed when the Prince's old friends from his home country come to look for hun 111 Pans, to ll~form him lh~t the

tyrannical Khan is dead and that he is wanted for the throne. They recognise his image iI~ a poster adv~rnseme.nt f~r h~s new film. Tempete is also the title of an Albatros fum (rom 1922, directed by Raben Boudnoz, eq~l~Y WIth l\!(osJ~ukine 111 the lead role. A self-reflexivity exist on all levels of' Le lion des l\logals: apan from the many scenes deplcl~ng th~ ShOOWlg of films, the studio building of the Albatros company in Montreuil outside Paris appears several time.s. The inclusion of film posters

. I d tl t cnues For instance, in La belle

is often associated with the French new wave, but is also frequent 111 tnc teens an ie 'W '.

Nioemaise. film posters of Charlie Chaplin and for L'auberge touge appear in the fi1t~. _

10 Georges Sadoul, Histoire du cinema. mondiaL; des origines a nos jouis, Paris: Flamrnano 1949, 1/3. \ I Epstein, "L'nhjcctif est lui-meme"I_1926], Eaits sur Ie cinema 1, 129.

12 Albera, "Sociologic d'Epstein: De Parhc-Consortiuru it Albatros", 229.

13 See for instance Pierre Leprohon, Jean Epstein, Paris: Seghers \ 96.\-. , " ' _" 14 T:'" •• E .t '" "Le cincmatographe continue .. " [1930J, Ecrits sur le cinema 1,225, and Temps Ilouarus ,

cor instance, in: ps er , c

Le cinema du diable, EC1?ls sur le cinema I, 370. ~ ." " ,',

15 Dubois, "La tempcte et la matiere-temps, ou Ie sublime et Ie figural dans l'ceuvre c1eJcan Epstein ,Jean Epstein; (measle,

poelf; /J/Zilosophe, 282. Epstein, Alcool el cinema, Ecrits sur le cifl~ma 2, 215 .. ,

16 "Epstein, "Forme ct mouvcrneru", Le cinema du diabLe, Ecnts sur le Clnema 1, 3-1·7 - 348.


17 For further analogies with Vigo, see the scene from the college in La helle Ninernaise together with Zero de conduue (1933). 18 Dubois, 267 - 324.

19 Epstein, "Le sens 1 big", Bomour cinema, 39. Reprinted in Ecn'/s sur le cinema 1, 92.

20J I G d -d "P " C hi d '. ,.

ean- .uc 0 aro, ropos rompus", a ters Ii [merna nr. 316, october 1980, reprinted in .lean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc

Godard, (ed. Alain Bergala), Paris: Editions de ['Etoile/Cahiers du cinema 1985, 462.

21 Epstein, "Magnification", 239. [translation modified]

22 Dubois, 317.

23 Ibid, 316.


I ..

Kinematografen sedd fran Etnaaterkommande figurer och stilgrepp 1 Epsteins filmer och texter

Hur kan vulkanen Etna vara utgimgspunkt for en studie av Epsteins filmer oeh filosofi? 1923 spelade Epstein in en film om Etnas vulkanutbrott, La montagne irfidele, den enda av Epsteins filmcr som inte finns bevarad (dessutom visades hans kornplilationsfilm kallad Photogenies bara en gang, varefter den ater klipptes i sar till sina enskilda delar). (Fig. 6) Sieilien ar ocksa spelplatsen fbr hans viktigaste teoretiska verk under 1920-talet, Le anematographe vu de l'Etna (Kinematografen sedd fran Etnai.! Det finns ett utmarkande topologiskt drag i Epsteins begrepp photogenie som gbr eruptionen oeh stelnandet av lava till en myeket passande bild for den ide om rorelse som uttryeks i hans filmer oeh skrifter. Denna topologiska hallning ar ett av de element som har gjort Epsteins produktion svar att uppfatta som ett sammanhallet oeuvre. Den dokumentara aspekten av upptagenheten vid en speeifik plats ar inte forenlig med de begrepp som forknippas med "fransk impressionism". Emellertid ar de manga filmer som Epstein spelade in pa plats i Bretagne eller pa andra delar av kusten, Finis terre, Mor Vran, L'or des men, Chanson d'Armor, La .femme du bout de monde, Le tempestaire, stilistiskt beslaktade med La belle Nivernaise, eller med atergivningen av tid oeh rorelse i andra filmer av Epstein. (Fig. 7)

Etna intar en unik position som geografisk referens i den vasterlandska konsten i allmanhet, oeh i filmen i synnerhet. Empedokles tragedi, nar han kastade sig i Etnas krater for att smalta samman med gudarna, ar en viktig referens som har givit upphov till atskilliga verk. Friedrich Holderlins pjaser om Empedokles pa Etna aterfinns i tre ofullbordade versioner, oeh de fransk-tysk-italienska regissbrernaJean-Marie Straub oeh Daniele Huillet har gjort tva filmer byggda pa de forsta oeh tredje versionerna av Holderlins text, Der Tod der Empedokles (1986) oeh Schwarze Sunde (1988).

Ett annat tillfalle nar en teori, inte bara om film utan om kosmos oeh atomerna, har sitt ursprung pa Etna ar Edgar Allan Poes essa Eureka! (1848). Detta verk spekulerar kring ett vetenskapligt fundament for ett motiv som genomsyrar Poes arbete i stort; den genomgaende rorelsen i alia ting. Fran huset Ushers fall till de ododa som reser sig fran graven oeh de standiga skiftningarna i varldens sken i Poes rnanga ballonghistorier; det som tyeks fixerat oeh sol itt ar i sjalva verket i rorelse. Det ar just detta som filmen kan forrnedla enligt Epstein; den ger oss tilltrade till det inre i tin gens rbrelse. Poe argumenterar i Eureka' for att tingen tyeks solida eftersom de bestar av en balans mellan elektrisk attraktion och repulsion, en princip som forenar atomernas lagar med uni-


versums ordning. Det ar faga forvanande au Epsteins filmatisering av ett antal Poenoveller i La chiite de la maison Usher just ar koncentrerade kring energin i materiens rorelser, Edgar Allan Poe inleder sin essa med att havda att bara genom att bestiga Etna oeh utfora en panoramisk snurr pa klacken, kan varlden uppenbaras i dess sanna bild.

Den sam fran tappen av Etna lugnt sveper runt sin blick paverkas framst av scenens omfattning och mangfald. Blatt genom att hastigt snurra runt pa klacken kan man hoppas pa att latta panoramat i dess sublima enhct. Men da ingen, fran Etnas topp, har tankt pa all snurra runt, sa har heller ingen nagonsin i sitt medvetande insett det unika i det hela; och saledes, aterigen, vilka Ioljderna an blir av detta panorama, har ingen annu nagon aning am hur det kommer aU paverka ass sam manniskor, 2

Denna passage ar fare griper filmmediet, i synnerhet Epsteins filmer och hans tekniker vad galler dekomposition, acceleration och omkastning av rorelse, Poes panorama pa Etna ar tidsligt: en syntes likt den som produeeras av kamerans analys ett halvsekel senare. Enligt Epstein ar filmen det svar som Poes panoramiska snurr pa klaeken vantade pa. Epsteins frekventa anvanding av suddiga, utsmetade och dubbelexponerade bilder ar olika satt att utfora derma snurr, oeh att darrned se varlden.(Fig. 3)

Epstein inleder ocksa sin filmteoretiska text fran Etna med en traffande beskrivning som sammanfattar filmens forrnaga att ge en ny bild av varlden, Under sin resa till Etna 1923 var Epstein tvungen att ta trapporna ner fran sitt rum pi hotellet, eftersom hissen fastnat mellan tva vaningar:

Denna enorma spiral betydde svindel. Alla trappgangar var tackta med spcglar.Jag giek ned omgiven av mig sjalv, spegelbilder, bilder av mina gester, av kinematografiska projektioner. Varje svang overraskade mig med en annan vinkel. Det finns lika manga olika och sjalvstandiga positioner melIan en profil och en bild i 45° vinke! som det finns tarar i ogat. Var och en av dessa bilder levde blatt ell ogonblick, forlorad ur sikte, redan en annan i samma stund som det uppfattades. Det var bara mitt minne sam kunde halla fast vid en under derma oandlighet, och forlorade sedan tva trcdjedelar av dessa igen. Tertiara bilder foddes ur sekundara bildcr, En dcskriptiv algebra och geometri av gester framtraddc, Vissa rorclser splittrades av dcssa repetitioner; andra mangfaldigades. Jag rorde huvudet och sag blatt roten ur en gest till hoger, men till vanstcr upphojdes gesten i atta. Genom all titta pa en och sedan en annan, fickjag ett annat mcdvetande am mitt djup. / ... / Jag gick ner sasom genom de optiska faccuerna hos en enorm insekt. Andra bilder klipptes am oeh amputcrade sig sjalva i sin a motstridiga vinklar: forminskade, fragmenterade Iorodmjukade de mig. Ty den moraliska verkan av ett sadant skadespcl ar oerhord. Var oeh en av dessa speglar uppvisade en perversion av mig sjalv, en inexakthet av det hopp jag hade om mig sjalv Dessa stirrande glas tvingade mig all se mig sjalv med deras likgiltighet, deras sanning.Jag Iramstod for mig sjalv som en kollossal nathinna utan samvetc, utan moral, och sju vaningar hog. Jag sag mig sjalv bestulen pa alia illusioner jag hade, ovcrraskad, avkladd, sondersliten, torr, sann, avskalad. Jag skullc ha sprungit


langt for att undfly derma spiralrorclse dar jag tycktes lalla ned i ctt Iruktansvart centrum av mig sjalv / .. ./ Kincmatografen, langt baure an varje arrangerad spegelspel, traffar sadana ovantade moten med en sjalv 3

Denna svindlande beskrivning ger en traflaude bild av de tre aterkomrnande stilgrepp Epstein anvander sig av far att gestalta filmapparaturens overlagsna perception: dubbelexponeringen av bilder, upplosningen oeh uttanjningen av rorelse, samt aterspeglingen av bilder. Denna filmens tresidiga spegel bestar av sammanvavda element, vilka fungerar som en bild av tid och rum bortom var perception och filosofi. I de fIesta av Epsteins filmer gar dessa tre figurer samman far att aterge en komplex bild av tiden oeh rummet.


Precis som filmhisrorien kan sagas borja med en omkastning av rorelse - den forsta betalande filmpubliken erbjods tagets ankomst till stationen och arbetarna som lamnade fabriken - ser Epstein fran Etna kinematografen som en dubbel rorelse. Han bestiger Etna (oeh lar da ha brant sina klader pi varm aska oeh gnistor) och stiger ned far trappan. Det ar passande au det enda nya med Lumieres Kinematograf var mojligheten far inspelning och projektion i samma maskin, tack yare klomekanismen, och att den dubbla rorelsen ar karnan i Epsteins filmer oeh teori. Filmen dubblerar, oeh korrigerar, var perception av rorelse, I Epsteins filmer kan strukturen i den dubbelexponerade rorelsen ta formen av en omkastning, i laddningen och urladdningen av energi som svarar sa briljant mot Poe i La chute de la matson Usher, eller som parallella rorelser, som i L'al1berge rouge, Six et demi, onr« oeh La glace il trois faces. Emellertid fInns i karnan av dessa filmer en koneentration oeh forhojning av dessa rorelser genom att de stannas av, forlangs och dekomponeras. Som tidigare namnts ar den fotogeniska rorelsen inte begransad till hag hastighet, utan ar kanske annu mer uttryeksfull i sloic motion oeh det optiskt omedvetna i der Zeitll1pe.

Del malade portrattet i La chute de La maison Usher ar en aterspegling av dess modell som averskrider tidens granser. Det ar, somJacques Aumont papekar, ett portratt malar med tid." Six et demi, onre ar fokuserad pa de bevarade aterspeglingarna i fotografiska bilder. Fotografins mekanismer skildras pa ett vackert satt i morkrumssekvensen i slutet av filmen. Den aldre brodern, Jerome, besoker det gods dar han fatt reda pa att hans yngre bror Jean har begatt sjalvmord, efter att ha levt ett far honom okant livjerome ar omedveten om att den kvinna han har ett forhallande med, Mary, ar samma kvinna som drev hans bror till sjalvmord genom att vara otrogen. Filmen ar saledes uppbyggd kring en dubbelexponering i vidare mening, sa central i manga av Epsteins filmer, da dcss tva delar aterspeglas i varandra genom de tva brodernas handlingar oeh motiv.


Den yngre broderns sjalvmord i mitten av filmen foregas omedelbart av en tagning av honom sjalv som skjuter ett revolverskott mot sin egen spegeibild.(Fig. 9) Den dekornponerade rorelscn av Jeans sjalvmord utgbr ett centripetalt ogonblick i filmens struktur. Nar han forst riktar rcvolvern mot spegeln, och senare mot sig sjalv, atfbljs detta av en serie lodrata wipes i bilden, vilka skapar en avstannad rorclse som liknar filmremsans ryckiga lopp genom projektorn. Den "upplosta" rorelsen i dodsogonblicket sammankopplad med en aterspcgling av bilden ar ocksa central i saval La chiue de La maison Usher som L'auberge rouge. Den andra delen av Six et demi, onre kretsar kring aterspeglingen i form av fotografiska stillbilder. lnnan han ger efter for Marys onskan att de ska lamna godset bestammer sig Jerome for att framkalla filmen i en kamera han hittat, for att pa sa satt kunna fa reda pa vad som orsakat hans brors olycka. Kodakkameran 6 112 x II, som gett filmen dess namn, har forckommit i flera tidigare scener dar Mary fotograferats, och askadaren vet att filmen i kameran kommer att avsloja henne.

Kodakkameran kan sagas vara filmens huvudperson. Epstein ville kalla sin film "Kodak", efter varumarkets onomatopoetiska likhet med Ijudet av exponeringsmekanismcn i kamcran. Nar detta nekades honom av bolagct, valde han istallet filmformatet som filmens tite!' En av de forsta mellantexterna presenterar filrnens skadespelare: "objektivet, solen och Suzy Pierson". Detta visar hur teknologin star i centrum i hans filmer, precis som bilder av himlen och vattnet intar en huvudroll i La belle Nioernaise, Finis terra, Mor Vran and L'or des men. (Fig. 10) Epstein har sagt att kanalerna och kusten ar de basta rollfigurer han nagonsin arbetat med. I Mor Vran sags det att "havet talar", och att "havet har egna bgon", vilket foljs av en serie narbilder pa fyrens reflektorer. Detta ar inte "naturen" i motsats till teknologin. Tvartom, "bilder av himmel" och vatten uppnar bara sin rorelscpotential genom den filmiska teknologin. 5

Kladd i sin vita lakarrock dissekerar Jerome fotografiernas minne i morkrummet. (Fig. II) Men stillbilderna forblir stumma, och kvinnogestalten pa filmen ar oigenkannelig for honom. Bilderna ar "negativa" i dubbel bemarkelse, och information ens ogenomtranglighet understryks genom upprepade narbilder av filmen som passerar framfor Jeromes granskande blick. Fotografi ar en forutsattning for att forsta erinringens processer, som i detta fall inte uppfyUs. Kvinnan pa negativet gar inte att karma igen. Sekvensen foljs orne del bart av en tryckt reklamslogan for Kodak, som sager att "den som reser utan Kodak kommer att glomma sin semester". (Fig. 12) Morkrumssckvenscn staller briljant denna slogan pa anda, da bilderna forblir "negativa" och of ram kalla de. Fordrojningen av igcnkanningsogonblicket belyser de tekniska kvaliteerna i Epsteins filmteori. Eftersom askadaren har sett de tillfallen da fotografierna tagits, aterkallas dessa utan att visas i bild. Vi ser aldrig kopiorna av fotografierna. Stillbilderna reproduceras inte i filmbilden da Six et demi, onze forsoker undvika igenkannandets perceptuella mekanismer. Denna fotografins roll i filmen


utvecklar det visuella in i en virtuell dornan.

Denna sekvens ar ett typexempel pa den dubbla rorelsens figur i Epsteins verk, da den ar kopplad till fotografin och den dekomponerade filmremsan. Dubbelexponeringen fungerar som en fordrbjning av filmens rorelse, och sammanfaller ofta med rorelsens materiella upplosning SLow motion-sekvenserna i La chute de La maison Usher forbyts till dekomponerad rorelse i Madelines dodsogonblick och i tiden som forflyter fram till hermes ateruppstandelse. Aven i La glace a troisjaces kretsar de fyra olika vittnesborden om mannen kring den fysiska dekompositionen av rorelse i bilkraschen. Tagningen i hissen i parkeringshuset framkallar en dekomponerad rorelse da vaningarna passerar framfor kameran, och den atfoljande spiralformade nedstigningen i bilen later byggnadens fonster flimra forbi likt projicerade Ijus. Den tidsliga dubbelexponeringen mellan mordet och historien om det som berattas i L'auberge rouge dekomponeras i den avstannade bilden i dodsogonblicket.

L'auberge rouge fortskrider med alternerande bilder fran en middag ar 1825, dar en av gasterna berattar historien om hur en resande lakare blev avrattad oskyldigt anklagad for mord tjugosex ar tidigare, och aterblickar till historien. Pa ett vardshus visar en diamantforsaljare sina vardefulla stenar for de andra gasterna. Lakaren, Prosper Magnan, frestas att stjala diamanterna under natten, men hans samvete hindrar honom. Plagad rusar han ut i den stormiga natten och hittar forsaljaren dod och diamanterna borta nar han atervander. Prospers misstankta beteende gar att han avrattas genom arkebusering. Avrattningssekvensen ar, liksom sjalvmordet i Six et demi, onre, koncentrerad till en dekomponerad rorelse. Skotten atfoljs av bilder av himlen sedd genom grenverket pa ett trad, Plotsligt kommer en serie lodrata wipes. Likt filmremsans rorelse i projektorn blir bilden gradvis mork ncdifran och upp, varpa en identisk bild frarntrader och nya wipes, nu uppifran och ned, dekomponerar tagningens rorelse. L'auberge rouge aterfar gradvis sin rorelse genom att handel serna som berattas i den andra delen aterspeglar den forsta delen. En av gasterna vid middagen, Taillifer, avslojas genom de aterkommande bilderna pa hans storda reaktioner pa den historia som bcrattas vid bordet. De kort som delades ut till lakaren vid spelet for tjugosex ar sedan delas nu ut till Taillifer, och han erkanner att han var Prospers kompanjon och skyldig till mordet. Precis som Six et demi, onr« belyser L'auberge rouge de tidens och erinringens villkor som ar finns inbyggda i kinematografen, genom att aterspegla tva tidsforlopp i en oerhort utarbetad atcrblicksstruktur.

Denna film som utspelas i historisk miljo vittnar om en kanslighet infor landskapet som sedan utvecklas ytterligare i de filmer han spelade in pa plats vid den franska Atlantkusten. Men landskapsskildringen ar aven ett viktigt poetiskt element i La belle Nivernaise och i den komiska kostymfilmen Les aventures de Robert Macaire. Den senare be star av fern episoder, och var den sista filmen


som Epstein gjorde for Albatros Films. Bolaget bestod av ryssar som emigrerade till Frankrike efter revolutionen, och blev en viktig kraft i fransk film innan Ijudets ankomst stallde till problem for skadespelama.f Produeenten Alexander Kamenka anstallde Epstein efter det att hans kontrakt med Pathe-Consortium Cinema sades upp, oeh produktionsvillkoren dikterades i myeket av bolagets storsta stjarna, Ivan Mosjoukine. Forhallandet mellan det forflutna oeh nutiden spelar en central roll i L'auberge rouge oeh i Six et demi, onre, oeh utmarker ocksa strukturen i den forsta film Epstein gjorde for Albatros, Le lion des Mogols. Har leker Epstein med de typiska drag i tiotalsfilmen som finns i Mosjoukines intrig. Den stilistiska dubbla identiteten i denna film - vissa skulle saga dess estetiska sehizofreni - kan tillskrivas de kulturella skillnaderna mellan de ryska emigranterna oeh Epstein, men den ar intressant nog satt i fokus. Kostymer, arkitektur oeh "nya" teknologier som elektrieitet oeh film understryker denna splittrade bild.

Aterigen Iormedlar dubbelexponerade bilder och overtoningar samexistens av olika epoker.

Nar exempelvis den landsflyktige prinsen (spelad av den likaledes landsflyktige Mosjoukine) langtar bort fran den vasterlandska modern a tillvaron, ser vi honom ocksa i en dubbelexponering som den orientaliske adelsman han en gang var. (Fig. 13) I sjalva verket anvander sig Epstein har (ironiskt?) av konventionerna for dubbelexponeringen, det viII saga for att visualisera prinsens mentala tillstand, Men filmen borjar med en typisk figur for tiotalet, da pa varandra foljande overtoningar presenterar Mosjoukine i de olika skepnader som han skaU anta under filmen. Samma teknik inleder varje episod av Louis Feuillades Fanuimas (1913 - 1914), oeh Epstein hanvisar saledes till det vittspridda foljetongsformatet under tiotalet, oeh pa Le lion des Mogols ganska fragmenterade oeh attraktionslika intrig. Denne betoning av instabiliteten i identiteter i tiotalets [timer utveeklas saledes under tjugotalet av Epstein oeh manga andra.

Nar Epstein Iortsatter med att regissera foljetongen Les aoentures de Robert Macaue for samma bolag aret darpa, refererar han aterigen till stilistiska konventioner fran det forcgaende decenniet. Robert Macaire oeh hans foljeslagare Bertrand byter hela tiden kladcr och identitet. Detektivfoljetongen som genre ar givetvis framst forknippad med Feuillade. Historien om Robert Macaire filmatiserades redan 1906 av en annan rcgissor med intressc for skiftande identiteter oeh skepnader, Georges Melies: Robert Macaire et Bertrand.' Detta anakronistiska tillvagagangssatt orsakar sjalvfallet problem for uppskattningen av Epstein som en "avantgarde-regissor", oeh ar delvis orsak till det blandade mottagandet hans filmer lick vid derma tid, nagot som foljt med in i vara dagar. Men episodkomedin Les aventures de Robert Macaue har aven den en "veckad" struktur, da Maeaires karlek till en kvinna avhaller honom Iran att fly fran ett artonarigt fangelsestraff Nar han friges upplever han samma besatthet av en kvinna som arton {ir tidigare. Vi far reda pa att denna kvinna i sjalva verket ar hans egen dotter. Aterblickar fran arton ar tidigare, nar de akte i fangelse,


vaxelklipps med en parallellhandelsc som utspelas tio ar tidigare. De friges, bara for att forradas av en kompanjon oeh skiekas anyo tillbaka i fangelse, Aven om detta verk star langt ifran de komplicerade tidsstrukturerna i La chute de La maison Usher och La glace it trois faces, uppvisar ocksa Les aoentures de Robert Macaire en forkarlek for dubbelexponerade tidsaxlar oeh minnets funktioner. Referenserna till den for foljetongens typiska struktur (eller brist pa struktur) med standigt nya uppslag oeh en berattelse som aldrig tyeks ta slut, forenas i Les aventures de Robert Macaire med en sjalvmedveten lek med manuskriptets konventioner.


I sin CD-rom fran 1997, lmmemory, staller Chris. Marker fragan i minneszonen: "Vad ar en Madeleine?" Svaret ar en tudelning i tva sokvagar pa CD:n; Prousts ofrivilliga minne som satts igang vid smaken av madeleinekakan, oeh Madeleine i Hitehcocks Vertigo / Studie i brat! (1958). Dessa tva minnesfigurer kunde mycket val ha kompletterats med en tredje Madeleine (eller rattare sagt: Madeline), modellen for portrattet i La chute de La maison Usher. Trots titeln ar berattelsen i huvudsak inspirerad av en annan av Edgar Allan Poes noveller, The Oval Portrait. Om forernalet for Markers besatthet av Vertigo ligger i Seotties rekonstruktion av det omojliga minnet av Madeleine - omojligt for att hon aldrig har existerat utan bara spelade en roll, regisserad av en annan man (Gavin Elster Eller Alfred Hitchcock) - ges ocksa Madeline Usher en flyktig och efemar bild. Medan Roderick, som i filmen ar gift med henne och inte ar hennes bror som i Poes berattelse, besatt malar hermes portratt, forlorar Madeline gradvis sin livsenergi. I det ogonblick som portrattet ar fardigt, och konstnaren i triumferande skrack utropar att det ar som livet sjalvt, faller hon dod till marken. Malningen har vampyriskt tomt henne pa energi, oeh representationen har antagit livet hos sin model!. Detta motiv av relationen mellan bilden oeh dess mode II beror estetiska fragor kring representation tillbaka till monoteismens ikonoklasm. (Fig. 14)

Ocksa Vertigo beror komplexa fragor kring representation, da Madeleine latsas vara sehizofrent hernsokt av Carlottas liv oeh bild -- tank pa portrattet i museet oeh gravstenen i filmen. Aven Epstein kopplar representationen av portrattet till gravstenen, i och med att Madeline begravs innan hon senare ateruppstar, Och pa en mer kompositionell niva, nar Scottie ovetandes aterupprepar regin Eller skapandet av Madeleines bild (da han formar Judy till Madeleines avbild), speglar den andra delen av Vertigo den Iorsta. Derma tvadelade struktur ar aven narvarande i Epsteins Madeline, da ateruppstandelsen speglar oeh inverterar rorelsen i den forsta delen. La chute de la maison Usher ar en originell meditation over representationen och minnet.

Gravstenen befinner sig enligt filosofen Michel Serres vid estetikens ursprung, da monumentet oeh skulpturen handlar om att gora atskillnad mellan olika platser.I' Estetiken syftar till att skilja


konst fran ieke-konst, oeh platsen fran rummet. Graven lanar rummet en tillskriven mening, oeh ar saledes semiologlsk. Epsteins filmer forsoker overskrida gransdragningar, oeh detta sker pa flera satt i La chute de fa maison Usher. Nar Madeline uppstar fran de doda, overskridcr hon gransen melIan liv oeh dod, men bryter samtidigt ner de rumsliga hinder som graven alltid innebar, oeh vilket senare inleder huset Ushers forfall (vilket, som det sags i filmen, ar som en gray). Det malade portrattet kan ocksa ses som hennes gravsten, da hennes livsenergi fors over i representationen. Men just detta element underminerar ocksa atergivningens logik: da portrattet ar livet sjalvt, ges det liv av sin modell, oeh foljaktligen kollapsar dualiteten i varje representation. Portrattet ar mal at med film: de flyktiga bilder vi ser i portrattets ram ar en filmbild, vilket avslojas av sma rorelser i Madeleines ansikte. Bilden overskrider saledes gransen mellan konstarterna, oeh gor rnalningen filmisk. I manga hanseenden ar La chute de fa maison Usher en film som agerar ovcrskridande i for hallande till givna kate gorier oeh estetiska ordningar.

En foraning av malningen som far liv, rnahanda utan de langtgaende representationella implikationerna i La chute de fa maison Usher, aterfinns aven i La belle Nioernaise. En malning av jungfru Maria far liv i en bild/motbildssekvens nar barnet ligger i sin sang svart sjuk. Tva kameratiltar forbinder barnets bliek med malningen av jungfru Maria som tittar ned pa barnet. En overtoning animerar sedan bilden. Aterigen tjanar en dubbelexponering av bilder ett annat tidsmodus i bilden.

La chiae de fa maison Usher oeh Vt;rtigo ar starka figurer for begreppet desreuvrement. Detta i det narrnaste ooversattbara begrepp som myntats av den franske forfattaren Maurice Blanehot syftar pa en grundlaggande aspekt av varje verklig estetisk erfarenhet: konstverket ar forbundet med doden, Da konstverket alltid bar med sig ett element som inte kan fattas oeh forstas, paminncr det oss om vara egna begransningar, oeh om att vi inte lever for evigt. Derma figur kondenseras i det ogonblick da verket samtidigt fullbordas oeh upploses. Detta ar vad som hander i Vt;rtigo nar Scottie omvandlar Judy till Madeleine, oeh hon tar pa sig halsbandet som gor bilden av Madeleine komplett. Scotty inser att Madeleine bara varit ett sken for att fa honom att agera utefter ett givet monster, oeh hans karlek for henne ar forsvunnen. Verket ar upplost i det ogonbliek det ar fullbordat, oeh i annu hogre grad sa da "Madeleine" faller ned fran kyrktornet oeh dor en andra gang.

Blanehot laser my ten om Orfeus, som tillats hamta Euridike fran de doda pa villkor att han inte tittar pa henne, som en sarskilt intressant figur for desouinement. Nar han slutligen i misstro vander sig om oeh ser att hon annu ar kvar, faller hon tillbaka till dodsriket igen. Blanehot forstar Euridike som att hon representerar Orfeus arbete, oeh att det ar i sjalva det ogonblick da verket ar fullbordat som det upphor att vara hans, i hans kontroll som upphovsman, sa ar den estetiska erfaren hetens ogonblick kondenserat. Utbytbarheten mellan Orfeus hustru oeh hans konstverk upprepas intressant nog nar Roderick malar portrattet av sin hustru i La chute de la maison Usher. Hustrun oeh


verket smalter helt samman nar malningen tar livsenergin fran Madelines skora kropp.

Madeline i La chiue de la maison Usher dor i det ogonblick da portrattet ar fullbordat, oeh det briljanta med filmen ar att den drojer kvar vid detta ogonblick av dekomposition. Den serie dekomponerade bilder av landskap, interiorcr oeh k1oekor som forekomrner i filmen mellan Madelines dod oeh hennes uppstandelse gor att "tiden star stilla". (Fig. 15) bgonblieket av des(£uvrement, av dekomposition oeh fordrojning nar malaren beundrar sitt verk aterfinns i film ens mitt. Detta intervall ar viktigt for Epsteins syn pa filmen som en annan tid, en annan filosofi an var, Denna drojande rorclse i sekvensen ar forbunden med Roderieks tranee-artade minne av sin hustru, oeh flera andra tilliallen med en fordrojd, dekomponerad rorelse atcrfinns i flera av Epsteins filmer.

jeromes granskning av den negativa filmen i morkrummet fordrojer igenkannandet av Mary i Six et demi, onre. bgonblieket da han inser hermes delaktighet i broderns dod aterges i en rumsligt oerhort fragmenterad sekvens da Mary springer i sanden framfor godset, vaxelklippt med, aterigen, bilder av solen oeh himlen. Nar Madelines liv tynar bort i La chute de la maison Usher, arerges detta, liksom i Six et demi, onre, i en negativ bild. En multiexponering av tre bilder av Madeline innehaller en stillbild i negativ. (Fig. 16) Sekvensen rymmer ytterligare en stillbild, denna gang av en staty av Madeline, vilket overcnstammer med Michel Serres diskussioner kring monumentet oeh gravstenen. Den forsta bilden i Six et demi, onre visar de tva broderna vid sina foraldrars gray, vilket pekar framat mot den negativa stillbilden i morkrummet, en bild som antar rollen av ett stumt monument over Jeans !iv.

Den fordrojda oeh kondenserade rorelsen ligger ocksa till grund for Epsteins flitiga bruk av flerskiktade bilder, som Epstein anvander pa ett satt som ar vasensskilt fran hur dubbelexponeringar brukar anvandas, Dubbelexponeringar, eller flerskiktade bilder, inbegriper oftast en hierarki melIan olika varldar, dar den dubbelexponering som introdueeras representerar en drom, en illusion eller ett mentalt tillstand. Men Epstein ar misstanksarn mot den implieita dualiteten i sad ana bilder, mellan mentala bilder oeh fysisk verklighet. Att aterge drornmar eller tankar ar att begransa filmens forrnaga att avsloja nya verkligheter oeh filosofier. Det finns ingen representationell motivering for de manga dubbelexponeringarna i Caur fidele eller La belle Nioemaise, oeh foljaktligen forblir de tva bildernas forhallande till varandra olost, Fjarran fran de subjektiva bruken av tekniken som Ganee oeh andra tjugotalsregissorer hanger sig at, utgor dubbelexponeringen i Epsteins filmer en bokstavlig bild av tiden.



I sin overgripande studie av stormens roll i Epsteins filmkonst, noterar Philippe Dubois hur rnanga olika uttryek for derma figur som aterfinns i hans filmer. Filmerna fran Bretagne ar alla strukturerade kring stormen, me dan en emotionell och metaforisk "storm" ar central for rorelserna i La chute de la matson Usher, nar Roderick inser att Madeline inte ar dod, eller nar prinsen plagas av det moderna Parislivet i Le lion des Mogols. Det ar saledes ingen tillfallighet att filmen som prinsen gor i exil heter Tempete.9 Aven den klimaktiska seenen med den skenande bilen i La glace il trois faces liknar en storm, dar kamerans rorelser skapar ett tillstand dar foremal skakas om oeh faller omkring. Natten da mordet i L'auberge rouge begas rasar en storm nar Prosper lider samvetskval, och Madelines uppstandelse foregas av en elektriskt laddad storm inne i huset Usher. I Epsteins filmer ar det liten skillnad mellan den fysiska, meteorologiska storm en oeh den fotogeniska storm som formedias av ftlmteknologin. Stormen ar figuren for den erupt iva rorelsen i Etnas berggrund, och i Edgar Allan Poes virtuella panorama pa vulkanens topp.

Stormens figur i Epsteins skrifter oeh filmer ar en omvandling av tingens oeh rorelsernas dagliga sken. Stormen trotsar rummets oeh tidens ordning, och ifragasatter saledes representationen. Kritiken av representation, som behandlas i La chute de la maison Usher, utveeklas av Dubois till en konsthistorisk oversikt over bilden av stormen. Han tar utgangspunkt i konsthistorikern Hubert Damischs fokus pa molnen oeh flyktpunkten i maleriet, hur stormen forstarker det obestambara i molnets plats i perspektivets konventionella regler. Molnet ar "oforrnligt" eftersom det inte har en given storlek eller form, och undflyr saledes en lasning dar det far en fast position i en malnings representerade rum. Damiseh analyserar Leonardo da Vinci manga gravyrer av stormar och vagor; oeh finner att molnets osakra status hos Leonardo galler hela bilden, oeh foljaktligen har en viss grad av abstraktion. Dubois sparar i bilden av stormen hos Leonardo en forbindelse med de av Epsteins filmer som avbildar havsstormar, oeh finner viktiga paralleller mellan Leonardos oeh Epsteins skrifter. I synnerhet Epsteins mal att overskrida gran serna mellan intellektuellt oeh andligt foregrips av vetenskapsmannen-konstnaren Leonardo.

Det ar en grov missuppfattning att se Bretagnefilmerna, av vilka den forsta var Finis terre, som ett teeken pa att Epstein antligen insag att "avantgardet" var over, vilket filmhistorikern Georges Sadoul gor.!" Finis terre innehaller flera tagningar vilka, betraktade enskilt, myeket val kan harroras till en upptagenhet vid avantgardets abstraktion. (Fig. 17) Bilderna fran fyren liknar ytligt sett abstrakta kompositoner hos en Fernand Leger eller Man Ray. Epsteins projekt finns emellertid annorstadcs, da varje abstraktion ar forbunden med filmteknologin, oeh de saknar saledes pretentioner pa kommunikationens omedelbarhet eller spontanitet.


Den fyrdubbelt upprepade bilden av Ijus som projieeras fran fyren ar en exalterad hyllning till den Iilmiska pereeptionens overlagsenhet i forhallande till vir egen, da den aterger det projieerade ljuset med en "kromatisk" ring runt det, pa grund av Ijusets brytning i kamerans objektiv. (Fig. 18) "Objektivet ar sig sjalvt!" havdar Epstein i protest mot att man redueerar fUmteknologin till att aterge manskliga intryck.l ' Reflektionen av ljuset i fyren har saval i Finis terre som i Mor Vran en rytmisk temporalitet som liknar den filmiska rorclsen i de extrema narbilderna av kloekor halvvags in i La chute de la maison Usher. (Fig. 19) Den projieerade Ijusreflektionen understryker aterigen filmens teknologi. Fyrens rytmiska rorelse kan aven ses som en dekomposition av filmprojektionens flimmer. I en kompilationsfilm som Epstein presenterade pa en konferens 1924, Photogenies, avbildade den forsta delen de rytmiska rorelserna hos en pappersmaskin, tveklost en referens till filmrernsans oeh kinematografens rorelse, Den inneholl aven, bland tagningar fran dansen i Albatros Kean (Alexandre Volkoff 1924), landskap oeh fysionomier; samt tagningar fran lokomotivets ryekiga rorelse i Ganees La roue.12

Finis terre, Mor Vran oeh L'or des men har aven kallats viktiga foregangare till neorealismen, ett argument som hor till den tid da man letade efter foregangare i ett lineart oeh malstyrt skrivande av filmens historia.13 Om man emellertid for ett ogonblick aeeepterar ett sadant satt att se pa historien, ar det sant att filmerna ansluter sig till manga av de ideal som sen are tillskrivs neorealismen. (Fig. 20) Men de liknar nappeligen de filmer som vanligen benamns som neorealistiska, da Epsteins "trilogi" gar myeket langre i bruket av lokalinvanare som rollfigurer. Den totala franvaron av ateljetagningar eller Ijustekniker skiljer sig fran de neorealistiska filmerna, som i regel delvis anvande sig av ateljeer, profesionella skadespelare (tillsammans med amatorer), bakprojektioner, oeh dubbad dialog. Detta sagt med Luehino Viscontis mote med fiskare i Aei Trezza i La terra trema (1948) som det kanske enda undantaget.

De inledande bilderna i Finis terre vittnar aterigen om en upptagenhet vid en annan bild av tid i film. En vinflaska krossas i slow motion, oeh vaxlande narbilder av vinet som sakta torkas upp av sanden ar en kondenserad bild av tid. Handelsens tidsspann forlangs, oeh gor saledes ogonblieket elastiskt. Bilderna av vagor som slar mot strandens klippor i slow motion forebadar de obegransade temporala mojligheterna i Le tempestaire.

Den etymologiska forhindelsen pa franska mellan tid oeh vader - temps - med formen tempete~ storm, ar en myeket Iyekad tillfallighet for Epsteins filosofi. Den starkaste stilistiska fi~ren I Epsteins verk ar tidens elastieitet. Om stormen trotsar perspektivets representationella koord1l1at~r, oppnar den for ett perspektiv av rorelse, av tid.!" De temporala proeesserna fors mahanda till sitt yttersta i Epsteins film om storm par excellence: Le tempestaue. Rorelserna ar har aeeelererade, nedsaktade oeh dekomponerade, oeh till oeh med omkastade. Emellertid "balanserar" oeh avstannar


de drojande rorelserna i La chiite de La maison Usher, L'auberge rouge och Six et demi, onre all rorelse till den grad att dess vaxlande riktning bakat oeh framat tyeks ornojliga att skilja at. Det mest utstuderade exemplet pa detta ar sekvensen i La chute de la maison Usher mellan Madelines dod oeh ateruppstandelse. De saregna narbilderna av pendeln i olika klockor i Ushers hus gor att varje distinktion mellan tidens framatrorclse och bakatrorelse suddas ut. Nar bilden av den negativa filmremsan passerar framfor Jeromes bliek i Six et demi, onre ar rorelsens riktning oklar da synvinkeln skiftar mellan Jeromes och filmremsans andra sida. I L'auberge rouge ar rorelsen upplost sa till den grad att filmrernsans framatrorclse avbryts.

Mitt i stormen i Le tempestaire saktas Ijudet ned medan bilden visar vagor som bryts mot klipporna i bakatrorelse. Detta komplexa tidsperspektiv forenar sig med stormens dunkla oeh suddiga perspektiv. For Epstein ar detta synsatt starkt forknippar med samtida diskussioner kring alternativa geometrier oeh icke-euklidiska rum. I en vaeker passage skriven vid samma tid som han gor Le tempestaire havdar han: "Det sags att Euklides ritade sina figurer i sanden pa Alexandrias strander, oeh det faktum att en vindpust skulle racka for att gora hans teorem falska bekymrade honom inte. Men i en varld som sa fundamentalt befinner sig i rorelse, likt bilden pa duken, behover man ett slags geometri som ocksa ar giltig pa sand i rorelse. Och denna det instabilas geometri kraver en logik, en filosofi, ett sunt fornuft, en religion, en estetik grundad pa instabilitet." 15

Stormens omvandlade rum ar, som Dubois papekar, central for begreppen kring det sublima.

Utan att i detalj ga in pa denna hogst komplexa ide, kan det sagas att Epsteins mote med det sublima varken hanvisar till det empiriska subjektet i Edmond Burkes begrepp, eller till Kants transcendentala kategori. Kanske den "nya empirism" som Epstein identifierar i filmmediet.l" ar en forestallning dar det sublima varken aterfinns i var spontana erfarenhet av varlden eller nagonting som kan sokas i varje individs sjal, utan istallet i en teknologi som uppvisar nya materiella former av rummet och tiden. Filmens "flytande" perception visar upp varlden i ett tillstand av evigt flode oeh omvandling, vilket trotsar det klassiska perspektivets representation. Gilles Deleuzes frammanande av Kants "matematiska sublima" i bilder av vatten i den franska mellankrigsfIlmen (Jean Epstein,Jean Gremillon, Jean Vigo,Jean Renoir, etc.) ar mottaglig for den teknologiska aspekten av dessa perceptioner, oeh saledes central for Epsteins verk. Bilderna av himlen i La belle Nioernaise oeh i Bretagnefilmerna ar ocksa relevanta for detta begrepp, oeh gor Jean Vigo till Epsteins arvtagare. L'Atalante delar givetvis sin inspelningsmiljo med La belle Nivernaise, oeh bagge filmerna gor bruk av den "dubbla rorelsen" med en bat som passerar vagratt genom bilden medan en rollfigur gar i motsatt riktning, vilket gor att han tyeks sta stilla medan han gar. 1 7 Dubois' vidare referenser till stormens figur i malningar av Turner oeh Poussin, samt i Camille Flammarions fotografi, erbjuder belysande inramningar for att studera Epsteins verk i ett konsthistoriskt sammanhang.U'


Le tempestaire har en myeket utarbetad oeh experimentell klippning och Ijudmixning. Samtidigt som han gjorde filmen, skrev Epstein uttornmande om Ijudets olika rorelser, Vi har konstaterat att Epsteins syn pa filmen motstar enkla kategoriseringar, da den forkastar principerna for saval formalistiska som "realistiska" teorier. Det ar uppenbart att ocksa Epsteins dokumcntarfilmer avviker fran Roberto Rossellinis beromda dogm som sager att "tingen finns dar, varfor manipulera dem?" Teknologin erbjuder en annan perception oeh intelligens an var, Men av just denna anledning forkastar ocksa Epsteins filmer iden om en abstraktion som syftar till en "inre sanning", till en omedelbar och spontan kommunikation. Epsteins ihardiga kritik av avantgarde-skolor, oeh abstraktioner i allmanhet, beror pa att han vagrar att se en fundamental renhet i abstrakta former. Aterigen: teknologin ger rorelse at alia former, och erbjuder en "Iogik" av forandring och rorelse snarare an formella premisser. Hans filmiska och teoretiska arbete kring ljud forklarar aven hans syn pa rorelseforandringar i bilden. Olika ljudhastigheter, fyra stycken i Le tempestaire, ger olika verkligheter at samma fenomen. Stormens monotona och ihallande ljudvaggar upploses och analyseras genom ljudmassiga slow motion-sekvenser. De enskilda elementen i den odelbara totaliteten av Ijud framtrader som atskilda i de olika ljudhastigheterna. Har in tar Epstein en hallning oeh teoretiserar kring fragestallningar som varit centrala i konstmusik sedan John Cage (och sakert langt tidigare), och som utarbetades av "musique concrete" -rorelsen, Denna influens syns tydligt i Epsteins tidiga text om likheterna mellan fonografen oeh kinematografen fran 1921. Han forcgriper ljudprineiperna i Dziga Vertovs Entueiazm (1930), oeh papekar att forhallandet mellan fonografen oeh musik kan smaningom mycket val visa sig vara densamma som den mellan filmen oeh teatern: att det absolut inte finns nagon.!" I stallet borde man spela in oljud fran gator, motorer och jarnvagsstationer for att upptacka nya dimensioner i det vardagliga livet.

Moduleringarna av rorelse i Ijud oeh bild skapar en analys, men inte en som aterger varje element fixerat och kontrollerbart. Fran den odelbara Ijudmassan fran havsstormen ror vi oss mot en oppning for alia de variationer och rorelser som ar inbyggda i detta ljudblock. Fran den flytande, homo gena rorelsen i var vardagliga optik, kan kinematografen oppna denna rorelse for ett oandligt antal variationer och forandringar, Teknologi fungerar generellt som filter. Men rorelsedekompositionen av dessa teknologier, i Le tempestaire bandspelaren oeh kameran, gor att filtren slutar fungera. Detta ar hjartat i Epsteins originella satt att anvanda sig av dubbelexponeringen. Langt ifran att vara en avbild av mentala projektioner, minnen eller "det fantastiska", dekomponerar Epstein rorelser for att oppna ett nytt intervall, en fordrojd rorelse i den kontinuerliga rorelsen, Tidens elasticitet aktiveras i rorelseforandringar och i dubbelexponerade bilder, for att uppna en fordrojning i rorelsens kontinuitet. (Fig. 21)


Dekompositionen stir for en faktisk vandning som en rorelse kan ta bland de manga virtu ella.

Detta ar en av £lera overenstammelser mel!an Epstein ochJean-Luc Godard, som tanker sig sina dekompositioner i foljande termer:

Nar man stannar av en bild som innehaller tjugofem stycken 1 ... 1, inser man hur en bild som man har tagit, bcroende pi hur man stannar av den, plotsligt har miljarder mojligheter; alia de mojliga kombinationer av de tjugofem bilderna representerar miljarder mojligheter. 1 ... 1 Man inser at! det finns mangder av olika varldar i varje rorelse I ... /20

Denna teknik ar del i en uppsattning grepp som skanker bilden ett tidsperspektiv. Storm en ger upphoy till en viss abstraktion da den trotsar konventionerna i perspektivets representation. En position utanfor stormen, fran hogt uppe i en fartygslanterna (L'or des mers och Finis teme), eller till och med i en kristallkula (Le tempestaire), skapar abstraktioner och anarnorfa bilder. Ljusets brytning i kristallkulan strackcr ut konturer och suddar ut kroppar och foremal i bilden. Enliknande anamorf bild upptrader i reflektionen av det ansikte som speglas i fyrens reflektorer i Mor Vran. Reflektioner syftar ofta till sadana forvrangningar, (Fig. 22) Re£lektionerna i kromdetaljerna pi bilen i Lhomme a l'Hispano suddar ut kroppar och konturer. De suddiga bilderna som stravar ut fran konturernas linjer visar pi en taktil egenskap i Epsteins stormfigur.

De suddiga bildernas fysiska materialitet ger Epsteins filmer en visuell dimension som omisskannligen inbjuder till berbring. Narbilden ar den teknik som framst forknippas med en taktil, eller haptisk, visualitet, Detta Bar sin extrem i analysen av narbilden i Epsteins forsta skrifter om film:

"Om jag stracker ut min arm ror jag vid dig, och det ar intimitet. Jag kan rakna ogonfransema i detta lidande.Jag skulle kunna smaka tararna, Aldrig nagonsin tidigare har ett ansikte vant sig mot mig pi det sattet. Det pressar sig alit narmare mig, och jag fbljer det ansikte mot ansikte. Det stammer inte ens att det ar luft emellan oss;jag sluker upp det. Det ar i mig som ett sakrament. Maximal visuell skarpa."21 Hans intressc for "det optiskt omedvetna", som han delar med Benjamin, visar hur denna haptiska, teknologiska dimension inte star i konflikt med en immateriell visualitet. Denna ide om en taktilitet ar parallell med den som Walter Benjamin papekar apropa filmklippning, som placerar askadaren i nya positioner i rummet och tiden och fungerar som fysiska chocker for perceptionen.

Bilfarden i berusningsscenen i Le lion des Mogois och nojesfaltscenen i Caur fidele ar beromda exempel pi tillfallen da en okad hastighet i bildens rorelse aterger konturer suddiga. Greppet fors till sitt yttersta i scenen med den skenande bilen i slutet av La glace a trois faces, (Fig. 23) och Epstein atervander till tekniken i L'homme a l'hispano. Bilderna suddas ut pa grund av en hogr« hastighet i kameran i forhallande till sitt motiv an exponeringstiden. De ibland anamorfa bilderna som ar


resultatet av denna teknik ar fbrbundna med de aterkommande dubbelexponerade bilderna, av ett ansikte och havet i Caur jidel£ och La belle Nivemaise, eller anamorfa reflektioner i filmerna frin kusten. Da filmen har till trade till en bild av tiden, ar dessa inte rumsliga abstraktioner, utan alternativa tidsperspektiv.

Variationerna i hastighet, och den rorelsens metamorfos som firms implicit i filmen ger teknologin en forrnaga att overskrida vara etablerade kate gorier. I slow motion framstar vatten som olja och blir slutligen fast materia; i fast motion blir mineral till vaxter eller djur i rbrelse.22 Harav slow motion-sekvenserna i mitten av La chute de la matson Usher, eller dekompositionerna i Six et demi, onre och L'auberge rouge. Etna ar en viktig utgangspunkt for Epsteins teori av just den anledningen att dess grund inte ar solid, utan eruptiv och i standig rorelse, Berggrundens separata lager liknar dubbelexponeringar i bilden, en kondensering och fordrojning av rorelse. Ljudets dekomponerade rorelse ger en tystnad, dekomposition av bilden ger en upplost rorelse, Detta ar inte en negation av rorelsen, utan snarare dess absoluta intensifiering. Begreppet photogenic, stormens figur, bruket av dekomponerade och dubbelexponerade bilder: dessa ar, med Philippe Dubois' ord, en fraga "om tid snarare an rum, om rorelse snarare an spar, om flode snarare an det fixerade, om modulering snarare an struktur, om krafter snarare an former."23

Oversattning: Jan Holmberg

1 Mikhail Iampolski ger en bra oversikt over topologiska egenskaper i Epsteins filmteori i "Epstein: Theorie du cinema comme ropologic", .Jean Epstein: Cineaste poite, philosophe, (red. Jacques Aumont) Paris: Cinematheque francaise 1997, 109 - 113.

2 Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka! [I 84-Bl, omtryckt i The Science Fiction if Edgar Allan Poe, London: Penguin 1975,211 - 212.

3 Epstein. Le cinrmatographe vu de l'Etno [1925], omtryckt iJean Epstein, Emts sur le cinema 1921 -1953, t8me 1, Paris: Scghers 1974,135-135.

4- Aument, A quoi pmsent Iesfilms, Paris: Seguicr 1996, 106.

5 Epstein, "Les images du ciel" [1928], Eents sur le cinema 1, 189-190.

6 For en bra bakgrund oeh diskussion kring Albatrosbolaget, se Francois Albera, Albatros: des russes a Paris 1919 - 1929, Paris: Mazzettar'Ciuernathcquc francaise 1995. Epsteins arbete behandlas pi! sidorna 137 - 141.

7 Francois Albera, "Sociologic d'Epstein: De Pathe-Consortium it Albatros", .Jean Epstein: Cinmste, pode, philosophe, 231.

8 Michel Serres, Statues, Paris: [Bourin 1987] Flammarion 1989. For en kortfattad diskussion kring statyers epistemologi, sc sista kapitlct, 343 - 346.

9 Dena avslojas nar prinscns gamla vanner fran hemlandet besokcr honorn i Paris for att beratta att dent)'Tanniske. Khan ~r dod och an man vill ha prinsen till tronen. De kenner igcn hans bild pa en reklamaffisch for hans nya film, Tempete ar ocksa titelen pi en Albatrosfilm fran 1922 i regi av Robert Boudrioz, ock~a den med Mosjoukinc i huvudrollcn. Det firms en sjalvrellcxivitct pa alla nivacr av Le lion des A1ogols: forutom de manga scener som avbilder filminspelningar; aterkommer . Albatrosbolagcts studiobyggnad i Montreuil utanfor Paris flera gangcl: Referenserna genom filmaffischer ar ofta forknippat




med den franska nya vagen, men ar aven vanligt under tio- och tjugotalen. Excmpelvis forckommer i La belle Nwernaise. filmaffischcr med Charlie Chaplin och en reklamaffisch for L'auberge rouge.

10 Georges Sadoul, Histoire du cinema; des origines ri nos jours, Paris: Flammarion 1949, 173. II Epstein, "L'objcctif est lui-me me", J!.'critf sur Ie cinema l, 129.

12 Albera, "Sociologie d'Epstein: De Pathe-Consortium a Albatros", 229. 13 See for instance Pierre Leprohon, Jean Epstein, Paris: Seghers 1964.

14 Tex. i Epstein, "Le cincmatographe continue ... >l [1930], Eerils sur le cinema 1, 225, och "Temps flottants", Le cinema du diable, omtryckt i Eerits sur Ie cinema J, 370.

15 Dubois, "La rcmpete et la rnctiere-tcmps, ou le sublime et Ie figural dans l'oeuvrc deJean Epstein",Jean Epstein: Cineaste, poite. philosophe, 282. Epstein, Aicooi et cinema, Eails sur Ie cinema 2, 215.

16 Epstein, "Forme et mouvement", Le cinema du diable, omtryckt j tcrits sur le cinema 1, 347-348.

17 For vidare analogier med Vigo, jamfor scenen fran skolan i La belie Nivernaise med Zero de conduite (1933). 18 Dubois, 267 - 324.

19 Epstein, "Le sens Ibis" [1921], Bonjour cinema, 39, reprinted in terits sur le cinema 1, 92.

20 Jean-Luc Godard, "Propos rompus", Cahiers du cinema nr. 316, october 1980, reprinted in Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Lue Godard, (ed. Alain Bergala), Paris: Editions de l'Etoile/Cahiers du cinema 1985,462.

21 Epstein, "Magnification", 239.

22 Dubois, 317.

23 Ibid., 316.


Produktionsuppgifter / Credits

Dauberge rouge

Director: Jean Epstein

Artistic Supervision: Louis Nalpas Production: Pathe Consortium Cinema,

France 1923

Script: Jean Epstein, after the story by Honore de Balzac

Photography: Raoul Aubourdier Assistant Photographers: Roger Hubert, Robert Lefebvre

Set Design: Quenu


Gina Manes

Marcelle Schmidt Delauney

Clairette De Savoye Leon Mathot

Pierre Hot Jean-David Evremont Jacque Christiany Thorny Bourdelle Robert Tourneur Rene Ferte

Andre Volbert

Henri Barat

Luc Dartagnan

35 mm print

1642 meters, 76 mins (19 fps) French intertitles

Innkeeper's daughter Victorine

The diviner Innkeeper's wife Prosper Magnon Innkeeper Frederic Taillefer Andre

The Dutchman Herman




Accordeon player

Caur fidele


Crippled woman Jean

Little Paul

Mr Hochon

Mrs Hochon Woman of the port Nurse

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Pathe Consortium Cinema, France 1923

Script: Jean Epstein, Marie Epstein Photography: Paul Guichard, Henri Stuckert, Leon Donnot


Gina Manes

Marie Epstein Leon Mathot Edmond Van Dade Claude Benedict Mme Maufroy Madeline Erickson Mile Marice

35 mrn print

1729 meters, 80 mins (19 fps)

French intertitles


La belle Nivernaise

Director: Jean Epstein

Assistant Director: Rene Alinat Production: Pathe Consortium Cinema,

France 1923

Script: Jean Epstein, after the short story by Alphonse Daudet

Photography: Paul Guichard, Leon Donnot Editor: Jean Epstein, Rene Alinat


Maurice Touze Blanche Montel Mme Lacroix

Pierre Hot Jean-David Evremont Roger Chantal

Max Bonnet

Georges Charlia Pierre Ramelot

35 mm print

1569 meters, 77 mins (18 fps) French and Spanish intertitles


Clara Louveau Mrs Louveau Mr Louveau Maugendre

Le lion des Mogols

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Films Albatros, France 1924 Script: Jean Epstein, based on an idea by

Ivan Mosjoukine

Photography: Joseph-Louis Mundwiller,

Fedor Bourgassoff Editor: Jean Epstein

Set Decorator: Alexander Loschakoff Costumes: Boris Bilinsky


Ivan Mosjoukine

Camille Bardou Nathalie Lissenko Alexianne Francois Zellas Viguier

Maurice Vauthier Henri Prestat

Prince Roundghito-Sing Morel




The Great Khan

35 mm print

2272 meters, III mins (18 fps) French intertitles


us aventures de Robert Macaire

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Films Albatros, France 1925 Script: Charles Vayre, based on Uauberge

des Adrets by Benjamin Antier, SaintAmand, and Polyanthe Photography: Paul Guichard,Jehan Fouquet, Nicolas Roudakoff

Set Design: Jean Mercier

Set Decorator: Lazare Meerson, Geffroy Meerson


Jean Angelo Alex Allin

Suzanne Bianchetti Marquisette Bosky Lou Dovoyna

Nino Constantini Camille Bardou Viguier

Mlle. Niblia

Mlle. Dukart

Gilbert Dulong

Jules de Spoly Jean-Pierre Stock

Robert Macaire Bertrand

Louise de Sermeze Robert's daughter Victoire

Rene de Serrneze Verduron

Baron de Cassignol Eugenie Mouffetard

Fiancee of Rene de Serrneze

Marquis de Serrneze

35 mm print

4079 meters, 163 mins (22 fps) French intertitles

Six et demi, otu»

Director: Jean Epstein Producer:Jean Epstein

Production: Les FilmsJean Epstein,

France 1927

Script: Marie Epstein Photography: Georges Perinal Set Design: Pierre Kefer


Suzy Pierson

Marie Mortelle/ Mary Winter Jerome de Ners Jean de Ners Harry Gold

Edmond Van Dade Nino Constantini Rene Ferte

35 mm print

1751 meters, 85 mins (18 fps) French intertitles


La glace a trois faces

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Les FilmsJean Epstein, France 1927

Script: Jean Epstein, based on the novel

L'Europe galante by Paul Morand Photography: Marcel Eywinger Set Design: Pierre Kefer

Assistant Set Designer: Fernand Osche Costume Designer: Oclise


Olga Day

Suzy Pierson Jeanne Helbling Rene Ferte

Raymond Guerin-Catelain Jean Garat

35 mm print

868 meters, 38 mins (20 fps) French intertitles

Pearl Athalia Lucie

The man The misfit

La chute de la maison Usher

Director: Jean Epstein Assistant Director: Luis Bufiuel Producer: Jean Epstein

Production: Les FilmsJean Epstein, France 1928

Script: Jean Epstein, after various short

stories by Edgar Allan Poe Photography: Georges Lucas,Jean Lucas Set Design: Pierre Kefer

Assistant Set Designer: Fernand Osche Costume Designer: Oclise


Marguerite Gance

Lady Madeleine Usher

Roderick Usher Visitor


Jean Debucourt Charles Lamy Fournez-Goffard Halma

Luc Dartagnan Pierre Kefer Pierre Hot

35 mm print

1271 meters, 62 mins (18 fps) French intertitles


Finis terre

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Societe Generale De Films,

France 1929 Script: Jean Epstein

Photography: Joseph Barth, Joseph Kottula Assistant Photographers: Louis Nee,

Raymond Tulle


The kelp-gatherers and fishermen of Bannec island, west of Ouessant.

35 mm print

1829 meters, 80 mins (20 fps) French intertitles

Mor Vran

Director: Jean Epstein

Production: Compagnie Universelle Cinematographique, France 1931 Photography: Alfred Guichard, Albert Bres, Marcel Rebicre

Assistant Photographer: Henri Chauffier Music: Alexis Archangelsky, Alexandre Tansman, based on original Breton music.


The fishermen on the Ile-de-Sein on the Breton archipelago.

16 mm print

275 meters, 25 mins (24 fps) French intertitles


L' or des mers

Director: Jean Epstein Producer: Jean Epstein

Production: Synchro-Cine, France 1932 Script: Jean Epstein

Photography: Christian Matras, Albert Bres, Joseph Braun

Music: Krauss, Hartmann


Breton fishermen from the island of Hoedick

35 mmprint

2017 meters, 74 mins (24 fps) French dialogue

Le tempestaire

Director: Jean Epstein

Producers: Nino Constantini, Mme B.

Christin- Falaize

Production: France Illustration, France 1947 Script: Jean Epstein

Photography: Albert Militon, Schneider Sound: Maurice Vareille, Frankie! Music: Yves Baudrier


The fishermen and lighthouse keepers of Belle-Ile-en-Mer

35 mm print

616 meters, 23 mins (24 fps) French dialogue


Filmography Epstein

Pasteur 1922 [co-directed with Jean


Les vendanges I 922 (sh ort) L'auberge rouge 1923

Ceur fidele 1923

La montagne infidele 1923 (short) 1..a belle Nioemaise 1923 Lagoutte de sang 1923

[Epstein uncredited,

replaced by Marius Mariaud] Le lion des Mogols 1924

L'affiche 1924

Le double amour 1925

Les aventures de Robert Macaire 1925

[five episodes] Photogentes 1925 (short) Mauprat 1926

Au pays de George Sand 1926 (short) Six et demi, otu:e 1927

La glacet1 trois Jaces 1927

La chute de la matson Usher 1928 Finis terre 1929

Sa tete 1929 (short)

Le pas de la mule 1930 (short)

Mor Vran 1930 (short)

Notre-Dame de Paris 1931 (short) Le chanson des peupliers 1931 (short) Le cor 1931 (short)

Les bercaux 1932 (short)

La villanelle des rubans 1932 (short) Le vieux chaland 1932 (short)

Lor des mers 1932

L'homme a l'Hispano 1933 La chatelaine du Liban 1933 Chanson d'Armor 1934

La vie d'un grand journal 1934 (short) Caur des Gueux 1936

La Bretagne 1936

La Bourgogne 1936

Vive la vie 1937

La femme du bout du monde 1937 Les blitisseurs 1938

Eau vive 1938

Arteres de France 1939 (short) Le tempestaire, 1947 (short) Les flux de la mer 1948 (short)

Epstein also participated in the production of the following films:

Le tonnerre (Louis Delluc 1921) [assistant director]

La roue (Abel Gance 1922) [superimpositions]

Lafin du monde (Abe! Gance 1930) Le bataille de l'eau lourde

(Jean Drevillev'Titus Vibe-Muller 1948) [The prologue of the French version, uncredited]


Bibliography Epstein

La poesie d'aujourd'hui, un nouvel etat de l'intelligence,

La Sirene, April 1921

Bonjour cinema, La Sirene, October 1921 La lyrosophie, La Sirene, January 1922 Le cinematographe vu de l'Etna,

Les ecrivains reunis, May 1926 L'or des mers, Valois, 1932 [novel] Les recteurs et la Sirene,

Montaigne, 1934 [novel] Photogenie de l'imponderable, Corymbe, January 1935 L'intetligence d'une machine, Melot, January 1946

Film Index

Le cinema du diable, Melot, January 1947 Esprit de cinema, Jeheber 1955

Alcool et cinema, published together with the collection of Epstein's writings on cinema, in:

Ecrits sur le cinema 1921 - 1953, tome 1; 1921 - 1946 and tome 2; 1946 - 1953, Paris: Seghers 1974 and 1975.

L'aged'or(Luis Bufiuell930) 15/28

L'Atalante (Jean Vigo 1934) 13,49/27,66

L'auberge rouge 7,9,13, 15,38 - 41, 46,

49, 52, 53n9, 71/5, 23, 26, 28, 57 - 60, 64, 66, 69 70n9, 71 Les aventures de Robert Macaire .... 41,42,73/60,


Les bdtisseurs 14/27

La belle Nivernaise 13, 17,35,39,41,44,

46,49,52,53119, 54n17, 72/26, 27, 30, 55, 58, 59,62,63,66,69, 70n9, 70n17, 72

Chanson d'Armor 35/55

La chute de la maison Usher 7,9, 15, 17, 36, 38 - 40, 42 - 47, 49, 52, 74/5,23,28,30,56 - 59,61 - 66, 69,74

Ceur fidile 7, 13, 14, 17,46,52,

71/5,26,27,30,63,68,69,71 La coquille et le clergyman

(Germaine Dulac 1927) ., 18/30

Entueiaem (Dziga Vertov 1930) 50/67

Fant/imas (Louis Feuillade 1913 - 1914) .42/60

Lafemme du bout de monde 35155

Lesfeux de la mer 14/27

Finis terre 7,35,39,46 - 51,

75/5,55,58, 64 - 66, 68, 69, 75

La glace a troisfoces 9, 14,38,40,42,46,

52,74/23,27,57,59,61,64,68,74 La goutte de sang

(Marius Mariaud [Epstein] 1923) 14/27

LeHaleur(Leonce Perret 1911) 13/27

L 'Hirondelle et la Mesange

(Andre Antoine 1920) 13/27

L'homme a l'Hispano 51,52/68

English/ Svenska

Epstein's about 100 - 120 articles on cinema, sometimes included in his books, are collected in Ecrits sur le cinema, with a complete bibliography in tome 2, 337 - 342.


(Chris. Marker 1997) (CD-rom) ..... 42/61 Kean ou desordre et genie

(Alexandre VolkofT 1924) 48/65

Der letete Mann (F. W Murnau 1924) 17/30

Le lion des Mogols 14,41,42,46,52,

53119,72/27,60,64,68, 69n9, 72

La montagne infidele 35/55

Mar Vran 35,39,46 - 51, 75/55,

58, 64 - 66, 68, 69, 75

Napoleon ou par Abel Gance

(Abel Gance 1927) 17/30

L'or des mers 35, 39, 46 - 51, 76155,

58, 64 - 66, 68, 69, 76

Pasteur 12 - 14/26,27

Photogenies 35, 48/55, 65

Robert Macaire et Bertrand

(Georges Melies 1906) .42/60

La roue (Abel Gance 1922) .. 13, 17,48/26, 30, 65 Schwarze Sunde

(Jean-Marie Straub,

Daniele Huillet 1988) 36/55

Six et derni, onrs 7,9,38 - 41, 45, 49,

52, 73/5, 23, 57 - 60, 63, 66, 69, 73

Le tempestaire ..... 35,48 - 51, 76/55, 65 - 69,76 Tempele (Robert Boudrioz 1922) ... 46, 53119/64, 6%9 La terra trema (Luchino Visconti 1948) . .48/65 Der Tad der Empedokles

(Jean-Marie Straub,

Daniele Huillet 1986) 36/55

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock 1958) .. 42 - 44/61, 62 Zero de canduite (Jean Vigo 1933) .. 5411 17 170n17



Trond Lunderno is a senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Cinema studies at Stockholm university. He has published on interartial questions, the technology of movement and issues of new media both in Sweden and abroad. He is the author of Bildets opplosning [Decomposition of The Image] (Oslo: Spartacus 1996), and is currently engaged in research on the films and writings of Jean Epstein. In 2002, he will be visiting professor at the Seijo university of Tokyo.

Trond Lundetno ar universitetslektor och for skare vid Filmvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet. Han har bade i Sverige och utomlands publicerat artiklar om tvarestetiska arnnen, film ens rorelsctcknologi och fragor kring nya medier. Han ar forfattare till Bildets opplesning (Oslo: Spartacus 1996), och forskar far narvarande om Jean Epsteins filmer och skrifter. Under ar 2002 kommer han att vara gastprofessor vid Seijo universitet i Tokyo.


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