filmmakers pay attention to this scholarly precision. as Peter Saccio has shown. like the snowball scene in Gance's Napoleon. www. in order t o guarantee it. I s Napoleon an Antichrist. a work of art becomes permanent. How does this mode transform our understanding of history or contribute to it? The case of Battleship Potemkin illustrates the problem. most of the scenes in these films stem "only" from the director's imagination. it is precisely Shakespeare's Joan of Arc that the English remember. despite the work of historians. -316Questia Media America. a martyr. the less are historians capable of changing that. which necessarily changes with distance and analytical developments. I f these works of art are numerous. The most common of these. When we think of Richelieu or Mazarin. Cinema and television constitute a new mode of expression for history.
. of checking t o see i f the decor and the locations are faithful to reality and if the dialogue is authentic. The case of Napoleon in Russia is a good example. Unlike a work of history. it is certainly not derived from the works of historians. unchanging. a barbarian. are not the first memories that come t o mind drawn from Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers? The same holds true of England where. the Marxists' proof? Whichever image predominates. Inc. I n this country. Page Number: 316. Dostoevsky's or Tolstoy's philosophical given. a genius. they happily turn t o counterfeit historians who get lost deep down in the list of credits. the stakes represented by these films are such that we have long been afraid to analyze them: that would have been sacrilegious toward those who consider the cinema a new Revelation. Publication Year: 1992. Publisher: Routledge. The more time passes.title
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memories. The ideological impact of these masterpieces.com Publication Informatfon: BookTitle: The Red Screen: Politics. I n fact there are several ways to look at a historical film. Contributors: Anna Lawton editor. where the figure of Napoleon has exerted a greater fascination than elsewhere. inherited from a tradition of scholarship. a Promethean. i t is hard to say which image of the French emperor has attained dominance among the many portrayals. consists of checking whether the historical reconstruction is precise (are the soldiers of 1914 mistakenly wearing helmets that were introduced only after 1916?). the problem remains. or a mysterious phantom? I s he Pushkin's epic hero. Place of Publication: New Yo*. a tyrant. For the most part. Are not the images of the Revolution of 1905 that dominate our memory derived from Eisenstein's work? But. Art In Soviet Cinema.questia. everything Shakespeare says about Joan of Arc is invented and yet. Society.
But it may not necessarily benefit historical analysis. From this point of view. Publisher: Routledge. www. I n a society dominated by ideology. And in both cases. we quickly separate the film's ideology from the filmmaker's talent. I n Rublev. Page Number: 317. or Teutons. Contributors: Anna L a w n -editor. Unravelling the motives for an offensive at any price (with all the rottenness that this involves from the top t o the bottom of the military hierarchy). while in Rublev it's the Chinese.com
Publication Information: Book Title: m e Red Screen: Politics. I f the cause he defends has broad support. The scholarly positivist approach does not exclude the use of other criteria. still others. there are more demanding filmmakers who go to the archives themselves and play at being historians. Place of Publication: New York. it is easy to perceive why this way of seeing gained the upper hand. the ideological view supplants the positivist one: the film is appreciated for its meaning as well as for its essence. Inc.questia. the Tartars. I t is obvious that Abel and lean Renoir offer two contrary visions of the French Revolution: the former's vision is Bonapartist and prefascist. the hero is deliberately secularized. The fame of some directors (like Tavernier) is based on this demanding approach. Kubrick's Paths of Glory represents a very problematical "case".
-317Questla Media America. omitting those that do not. know how t o use a simple red scarf or an indefinable change in luminosity t o represent the passage to a faroff or t o an imaginary world. This makes him happy and pleases those who share his faith and who constitute "his public". and so on. they re-create the same (or almost the same) moments of history by making two films with opposite meanings. They try to restore an ancient feel to the dialogue. in Nevsky. using the patois of Silesia (Fleishmann). Society. such as Bertolucci in The Spiders' Strategem. I n Nevksy. gloriving the man of destiny. Russia is saved by her sanctity. without having t o justify or legitimize his choice. The realization of both Alexander Nevsky and Andrei Rublev meets these "scholarly" demands: none the less. Art in Soviet Cinema. the language of the Camisards (Allio). Publication Year: 1992. Taking this for granted. her Christianity.
. the mortal enemy is the Germans.title
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Obviously. his choice of situations-all authentic-is such that it pleases antimilitarists. the filmmaker chooses those historical facts and elements that provide fodder for his demonstration. Often. it will benefit the filmmaker's prestige as well as his finances. while the latter's is Marxian and ignores the very existence of great men. in the sense of contributing to the intelligibility of the phenomena.
i n a new form. Art in Soviet Cinema. Visconti opens a royal way for those who want t o understand how Nazism penetrated into the German upper bourgeoisie. since any theme can be manipulated. however.
. As Ishaghpour has shown. www. Contributors: Anna Lawton editor. for example). Inc. who sees the meaning of history in a kind of decadence. and that they can do so in a creative fashion. the filmmakers must have separated themselves from ideological forces and ruling directives-and this is not the case of directors of propaganda films. on the contrary.com
Publication Inlormation: Book Title: The Red Screen: Politics. each of his works constitutes an elegy for everything that disappears for ever under the force of the new.
The case is different for all films that use incidental events (faits divers) t o portray social and political forces. or more often the film about history. dominant (or oppositional) ideological currents. Page Number: 318. for many years after 1918. Hence. The second condition is that the writing be cinematic-and not. their work only furthers. The distinction is rather between films that movewith the flow of dominant-or oppositional-currents of thought and those that propose. Thus the function of analysis. Publication Year: 1992. I n this approach. in this case the form and theme chosen render opaque the film's latent ideology-the ideology of Visconti. Publisher: Routledge. soldiers and officers continued to fraternize. Place of Publication: New York. is no more than the transcription of a vision of history that has been conceived by others. Renoir. or counteranalysis. Shukshin and Chabrol have followed in the path of novelists such as Zola or Sartre. for example. Society.
Questia Media America. First. None the less. for example. an independent or innovative view of society.questia. Moreover. in cinema can really take place only under two conditions. All this reveals that the historical film.title
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democrats and those on the left. I f this is not the case. Rossellini. I n The Damned. and they have outpaced historians. it heaps up so many abuses that it undermines the credibility of the overall picture and renders incomprehensible the birth and durability of veterans groups where. these filmmakers have applied this procedure to the past (and not only t o the present).
It is true that by an innovative choice of a particular story some filmmakers can help render intelligible certain historical phenomena. the principal distinction is not really between film where history provides the setting (such as La Grande Illusion or Gone with the Wind) and those whose subject is history (Danton. filmed theater-and that It use specific cinematic means.
the film shows how the Weimar Republic functioned. upon history-even if that is not what was desired. Renoir or the New Wave of filmmakers that use incidental events. Inc. Contributors: Anna Lawton editor. of the majority of Polish historical films. is superb: these films not only bear witness but are also involved in the struggle.
It seems appropriate to place to one side those films that proceed from an analysis independent of any "ideological" affiliation and which. but of a present rooted in the heritage of the past. I n addition to documentary films. Page Number: 319. I t s idea.
M constitutes one example.com Publlcatlon Information: BookTitle: The Red Screen: Politics. since they go against the current or reigning power. the use of parallel montage. at the same time. Films in this category go a bit further when the artist does not merely reconstitute a phenomenon but "reconstructs" it: this is the case of Strike. The contribution of films such as Salt o f the Earth. which preserve the image of the present together with what remains of the past or which fall back on the memory of societies (such as Jean Rouch's Babatou e t les trois conseils). Place of Publication: New York. By tracing the story of a pscychotic individual. Renoir wanted t o act upon history. i n making La Grande Illusion. Napoleon and General Custer) o r privileging the action of groups (Pudovkin's Mother and Renoir's La Marseillaise). The pleasure they evoke through their beauty is the only way they can act upon society. is both innovative and independent. social analyses of the present. the alternation of sound and image give the narration a form that is possible only in cinema. A typical example of this category seems t o be Fritz Lang's M. one can also place to one side those filmmakers who offer a global interpretation of history-an interpretation that
-319Questia Media America. For example. like its analytical procedures. Publication Year: 1992. not t o act for peace. or of Rublev o r Ceddo. use specifically filmic means of expression. these films reproduce dominant (or oppositional) currents of thought.questia. where Eisenstein achieves a cinematic transcription of a Marxist analysis of a pre-1905 Russian factory.title
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The contribution of cinema t o the intelligibility of historical phenomena varies according to the degree of its autonomy and its aesthetic contribution. rnm.
. Films that involve collective struggle but are designed to fight the dominant system are set under the contrary sign. Society. But there are many other films which contribute t o an understanding of societies: one could mention the works of Kazan. Art in Soviet Cinema. Publisher: Routledge. Whether dealing with the history of great men (Nevsky.
Society. formally reconstructs a social or political object without trying to reconstitute it. Page Number: 320. (4) From without. Place of Publication: New York. i. a party. However one feels about the validity of their analyses.questia.e. A second mode of classifying films and other cultural works concerns their mode of approach t o social and historical problems. or chats with his camera (Dziga Vertov in Man with a Camera). (2) Those opposed t o this vision. this occurs when the filmmaker clarifies his procedure by means of a voice-off. in so far as they have the means and the ability t o do so. (3) Social or historical memory. which may express the point of view of the State. etc. Inc. who elaborate a counterhistory or a counteranalyais. (4) Independent interpretations-scientific or not-which proceed with their own analysis. from the viewpoint of the masses-peasants. The filmmaker constructs models. (2) From below. That is. or any organization having its own vision of the world. a church.title
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springs solely from their own analysis and which is not merely a reconstruction or a reconstitution.com Pubilcatlon Information: Book Title: The Red Screen: Politics. fishermen. workers.
. Publication Year: 1992. or through legitimized works of art. That is. The narrator places himself into his analysis. For example. (3) From within. Publisher: Routledge. Art in Soviet Cinema. Contributors: Anna Lawton editor. the works of Syberberg. which survives through oral tradition. www. (1) From above.
SUPPLEMENTAL NOTE: PROPOSAL FOR A GLOBAL CLASSIFICATION OF FILMS I N THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO HISTORY
I t appears that statements about society have four possible sources: (1) Dominant institutions and ideologies. from the viewpoint of power and its demands. Tarkovsky and Visconti belong to this category. keeping pace with the object of his study. but an original contribution t o the understanding of past phenomena in their relation t o the present.
-320Questia Media America.
But it is also a work which reconstructs the exemplary model of a strike where the workers struggle against big companies-the Indians and their Yankee patronsand where the fight is instigated by their wives. Art In Soviet Cinema.questia. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1992. analysing the behavior of Mexican miners and their wives. Inc. Contlbutors: Anna Lawton .
-321Questia Media America.editor. Publisher: Routledge. I t is a work that calls upon witnesses and their memories. whether cinematic or not. can involve several of these modes/approaches.com
Publlcation Information: Book Title: m e Red Screen: Politics. it must first be remarked that a work. None the less. For example. Page Number: 321. this proposal for classification plays only an instrumental rale. www. It is up t o the analysis t o identify its characteristics.title
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These four modes and approaches allow us t o propose a general tableau of classification. Biberman's Salt of the Earth is at once a film which questions the official vision of history and which approaches society from below. Society.