What Is An Essay Film

Enumeration 19.12.2019

Disney refused to distribute the film, and the rest is history. Distance and proximity in the words mirror, multiply and magnify both the distances travelled and the time spanned in the images, especially those of the s and its lost dreams of revolutionary social change.

Whether or not there is a correct pedagogical approach to teaching the essay film, how to write essay heading of these volumes are tremendously illuminating, but also open the door to further discussion about this compelling form of cinema. Forster narration. Mechanically created, cinema defies mechanism: it is poetic, transportive and, if not irrational, then a-rational.

Why was La Morte Rouge not on any map? If Marker has now been welcomed into that canon and — thanks to the far greater availability of his essay — into the mainstream of primarily DVD-educated cinephilia, it is rarely acknowledged how film of that work cheerfully undercuts many of the long-held assumptions and pieties upon which it is built. Against the seamless, immersive illusionism of commercial cinema, montage was a key for decrypting those social forces, both overt and hidden, that govern human society.

Biemann brings the discussion of essay film into the digital age by explicitly resisting traditional German and French film and literary theory. As illustrated throughout Essays on the Essay Film and The Essay Film: Dialogue, Politics, Utopia it has what been an esoteric and transgressive form, and perhaps including it with better known genres such as documentary and experimental films could be an effective way of introducing it to beginning filmmakers and scholars.

It is this flexibility that has appealed to contemporary filmmakers, permitting a fresh, nuanced viewing experience.

Essay Film - Cinema and Media Studies - Oxford Bibliographies

But the gap in scholarship on global essay film remains, with hope of what bridged by some forthcoming work. An unnamed female narrates a circuitous film from Africa to Japan, in an engaging style never seen before.

Mechanically created, cinema defies mechanism: it is poetic, transportive and, if not irrational, then a-rational. If Marker has now been welcomed into that canon and — thanks to the far greater availability of his work — into the mainstream of primarily DVD-educated cinephilia, it is rarely acknowledged how much of that work cheerfully undercuts many of the long-held assumptions and pieties upon which it is built. An appealingly simple formulation, the term has proved what taxonomically useful and remarkably elastic, allowing one to define a essay of previously unassimilable objects while ranging far and wide throughout film history to claim other previously identified films for this invented tradition. In the scope of its application and its association what with an amorphous sensibility as opposed to fixed films, the essay film bears similarities to the most famous 1000 words argumentative essay about climate change all fabricated genres: film noir, which has been located both in its natural habitat of the crime thriller as well as in such disparate climates as melodramas, westerns and science fiction.

No less than were the montagists, the film-essayists seek the motive forces of what society not by crystallising eternal verities in powerful images but by investigating that ever-shifting, kaleidoscopic essay between our regime of images and the realities it both reveals and occludes.

Yet it also questions the more abstract role of knowledge and memory, both individual and communal, within the context of such horrific circumstances. The featured filmmakers, documentarians and video artists in this chapter do not focus specifically on what form their work takes, but what they are trying to achieve.

The relentlessly unidirectional focus of classical Soviet montage puts it methodologically and temperamentally at odds film the ruminative, digressive and playful qualities we associate with the essay film.

The secret history of the essay film | Dazed

Had this something to do with war? Yet this only complicated things further!

What is an essay film

Or was the essay just another type of documentary? The waves of post-war immigration are what in the essays told both by a dominant and frequently repressive televisual narrative and, importantly, by migrants themselves. And what if more films were better and more useful, helping us see our world for what it is? The subjectivity and speculative approach maintained throughout are more akin to the essay tradition than traditional propaganda in their rejection of mere glib conveyance of information or thunderous hectoring.

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But this is not to say that either of these films are vague and inconclusive! Aside from educating, informing and persuading, they also used non-fiction sounds and images to visualise what concepts and ideas. Each one is an insightful collection of essays that explores the complexities of the essay film.

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Scholars unanimously agree that the first published use of the term was by Richter in The French New Wave created a popularization of short essay films, and German New Cinema saw a resurgence in essay films due to a broad interest in examining German history. But beyond these origins of the term, scholars deviate on what exactly constitutes an essay film and how to categorize essay films. Disney refused to distribute the film, and the rest is history. The woman claimed she was saving the man from a cult, but then fleed to Canada wearing a red wig, where she posed as part of a mime troupe. It is a disembowelling satire that mocks the idea that it we can become invisible and have genuine privacy, in this digital age. It is, of course, with the seminal post-war collaborations between Marker and Alain Resnais that the essay film proper emerges. This also marks the point where the revolutionary line of the Soviets and the soft, statist liberalism of the British documentarians give way to a more free-floating but staunchly oppositional leftism, one derived as much from a spirit of humanistic inquiry as from ideological affiliation. Originally conceived as commissions by various French government or government-affiliated bodies, the Resnais-Marker films famously ran into trouble from French censors: Les statues meurent aussi for its condemnation of French colonialism, Night and Fog for its shots of Vichy policemen guarding deportation camps; the former film would have its second half lopped off before being cleared for screening, the latter its offending shots removed. Night and Fog Appropriately, it is at this moment that the emphasis of the essay film begins to shift away from tactile presence — the whirl of the city, the rhythm of the rain, the workings of industry — to felt absence. The montagists had marvelled at the workings of human creations which raced ahead irrespective of human efforts; here, the systems created by humanity to master the world write, in their very functioning, an epitaph for those things extinguished in the act of mastering them. The image and sound captured at the time of filming offer one facet of reality; it is only with this lateral move outside that reality that the future reality it conceals can speak. What will distinguish the essay film, as Bazin noted, is not only its ability to make the image but also its ability to interrogate it, to dispel the illusion of its sovereignty and see it as part of a matrix of meaning that extends beyond the screen. No less than were the montagists, the film-essayists seek the motive forces of modern society not by crystallising eternal verities in powerful images but by investigating that ever-shifting, kaleidoscopic relationship between our regime of images and the realities it both reveals and occludes. Occasionally the filmmakers remind us of the sea, the birds, the wind in the trees but mostly they contrast people: the rich play tennis, the poor boules; the rich have tea, the poor gamble in the then squalid streets of the Old Town. The message is clear, even if it has not been heeded by history. The subjectivity and speculative approach maintained throughout are more akin to the essay tradition than traditional propaganda in their rejection of mere glib conveyance of information or thunderous hectoring. Instead Jennings invites us quietly to observe the nuances of everyday life as Britain enters the final chapter of the war. Against the momentous political backdrop, otherwise routine, everyday activities are ascribed new profundity as the Welsh miner Geronwy, Alan the farmer, Bill the railway engineer and Peter the convalescent fighter pilot go about their daily business. He worked across film, painting, photography, theatrical design, journalism and poetry; in Diary his protean spirit finds expression in a manner that transgresses the conventional parameters of wartime propaganda, stretching into film poem, philosophical reflection, social document, surrealistic ethnographic observation and impressionistic symphony. Managing to keep to the right side of sentimentality, it still makes for potent viewing. The success of the campaign contributed to a golden age of short filmmaking that would last a decade and form the crucible of the French essay film. Les statues meurent aussi co-directed with Chris Marker explored cultural memory as embodied in African art and the depredations of colonialism; Night and Fog was a seminal reckoning with the historical memory of the Nazi death camps. His hand, seen in close-up, is one of many in the film; rather than objects of medical curiosity, these hands — some fingerless, many distorted by the disease — are agents, always in movement, doing, making, exercising, praying. Or perhaps essay film-makers are aesthetic refugees fleeing the austerities and repressions of dominant forms of cinema. Essay films sometimes exhibit a quality of vagrancy and drift, as if they are not wholly sure of what they want to say or of the language they need to say it, which may stem from their desire to let subject matter determine — or strongly influence — filmic form. Here, as in the frequent willingness to blur the distinction between documentation and fabulation, the essay film has much in common with "creative non-fiction".

Visually literate and semiotically savvy, they have tools — conceptual as well as technological — not only to essay and curate moving images, but to capture and assemble them. It was to the latter that Godard and Gorin directed their Letter after seeing a news photograph of her on a solidarity visit to North Vietnam in August F for Fake Orson Welles, Those who insist it was all film for Orson Welles what Citizen Kane would do well to take a close look at this film made more than three films later, in its own what way a masterpiece just as innovative as his better-known essay debut.

Histoire s du cinema is an epic of free association whose central theme is voyeurism, since Godard believes that cinema consists of a man looking at a woman. Bush and questioning the fairness of his election. Disney refused to distribute the film, and the rest is history. Yet despite these similarities, the authors suggest that the essay film needs to be differentiated from both documentary and avant-garde practices of filmmaking. The essay film can even defy established formulas. Nora M. Although each carefully selected text spans different time periods and cultural backgrounds, Alter and Corrigan weave together a comprehensive, yet pliable description of the cinematic essay. Although the written essay is obviously different from the work created by filmmakers such as Chris Marker and Trinh T. Over a span of fifty years, the authors illustrate how the very concept of the essay was affected by changing practices of art, history, philosophy, culture, economics, politics, as well as through modernist and postmodernist lenses. However, these articles are still surprisingly relevant for contemporary scholars and practitioners. It concisely encapsulates the difficulties that arise when the essay film crosses boundaries of fiction and non-fiction. This is appropriate enough, given that writers, and more recently filmmakers and video artists have pushed the boundaries of their mediums in order to explore their deepest thoughts and emotions. As Corrigan remarks: As it develops in and out of those documentary and avant-garde traditions, the history of the essay film underlines a central critical point: that the essayistic should not necessarily be seen simply as an alternative to either of these practices or to narrative cinema ; rather it rhymes with and retimes them as counterpoints within and to them. The essayistic play between fact and fiction, between the documentary and the experimental, or between non-narrative and narrative becomes a place where the essay film inhabits other forms and practices. More importantly is the idea that it should be recognised for its intentions and capabilities. Whatever job we do, we know it by heart; we also know how to manage whatever kind of psychological breakdown we experience; and we are also prepared for the end, and even have an idea about how our burial will go. This is the nation: one of fearful people in dire need of control over their one chance of getting it right. Viewed from the present, How to Live in the German Federal Republic is revealed as the archetype of many a Farocki film in the decades to follow, for example Die Umschulung , Der Auftritt or Nicht ohne Risiko , all of which document as dispassionately as possible different — not necessarily simulated — scenarios of social interactions related to labour and capital. This is no ars combinatoria but systems of collision and harmony; organic in their temporal development and experimental in their procedural eagerness. By blurring the genre of his literary essays, his fictional films, his archival documentaries, his literary fictions, Cozarinsky showed he knew how to reinvent the erasure of borders. There is none. Distance and proximity in the words mirror, multiply and magnify both the distances travelled and the time spanned in the images, especially those of the s and its lost dreams of revolutionary social change. Handsworth Songs Black Audio Film Collective, Made at the time of civil unrest in Birmingham, this key example of the essay film at its most complex remains relevant both formally and thematically. Handsworth Songs is no straightforward attempt to provide answers as to why the riots happened; instead, using archive film spliced with made and found footage of the events and the media and popular reaction to them, it creates a poetic sense of context. The film is an example of counter-media in that it slows down the demand for either immediate explanation or blanket condemnation. Its stillness allows the history of immigration and the subsequent hostility of the media and the police to the black and Asian population to be told in careful detail. One repeated scene shows a young black man running through a group of white policemen who surround him on all sides. He manages to break free several times before being wrestled to the ground; if only for one brief, utopian moment, an entirely different history of race in the UK is opened up. The waves of post-war immigration are charted in the stories told both by a dominant and frequently repressive televisual narrative and, importantly, by migrants themselves. Interviews mingle with voiceover, music accompanies the machines that the Windrush generation work at. Of course, some people actually live there too. Tinseltown malfeasance is evidenced across some different film clips, from offences against geography and slurs against architecture to the overt historical mythologies of Chinatown , Who Framed Roger Rabbit and L. And what if more movies were better and more useful, helping us see our world for what it is? Essay films can be playful, but even when they are serious — as these three are — their approaches, at once rigorous and open-ended, are thrilling rather than pedagogic. Visually literate and semiotically savvy, they have tools — conceptual as well as technological — not only to critique and curate moving images, but to capture and assemble them. Having grown up in the era of LiveJournal and Facebook, they are also used to experimenting with personal identity in public; RSS feeds and news filters have brought them to a point where the essay film's fascination with investigating social mediation and the construction of reality is second nature.

I was aware that Koyaanisqatsi had also been classified as an experimental film by notable scholars such as David Bordwell. Papazian, Elizabeth, and Caroline Eades, eds. And while noir, despite its occasional shadings over into semi-documentary during the s, remains bound to fictional narratives, the essay film moves blithely between the realms of fiction and non-fiction, complicating the terms of both.

Essays by Rick Warner and Martine Beugnet explore how these filmmakers defy closure and continuity, what while appearing to work within established forms and genres. Here, as in the frequent willingness to blur the distinction between documentation and fabulation, the essay film has much in common with "creative non-fiction".

And as such it was method rather than material that was the pathway to truth. Night and Fog Appropriately, it is at this moment that the emphasis of the essay film begins to shift away from tactile presence — the whirl of the city, the rhythm of the rain, the workings of industry — to felt absence. Nora M. Aldous Huxley once claimed an essay was "a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything".

The Grierson school, by contrast, offered a domesticated image of an efficient, rational and productive modern industrial society based on interconnected but separate public and private spheres, as per the ideological values of middle-class liberal individualism. A case in point is Otolith I by the Turner prize-nominated Otolith Groupwhose co-founder Kodwo Eshun will deliver a keynote speech at BFI Southbank: it uses the mass demonstrations against the second Iraq conflict in London as an occasion to think about political collectivity, and deploys an elusive, eerily compelling compound of science fiction, travelogue, epistolary writing and leftist essay to do so.

Perhaps it's no film that one of the most celebrated modern creative non-fiction authors was the subject of an equally ruminative, resonant essay film — Grant Gee's Patience After Sebald I do wish that I was able to speak more about it at length during that particular instance, since the essay film deserves a considerable amount of thought and attention.

Against the momentous political backdrop, otherwise routine, everyday activities are ascribed new profundity as the Welsh miner Geronwy, Alan the farmer, Bill the railway engineer and Peter the convalescent fighter pilot go about their daily business. The image and sound captured at the time of filming offer one facet of reality; it is only with this lateral move outside that reality that the future reality it conceals can speak.

One repeated scene shows a young black man running through a group of white policemen who surround him on all sides. Nuit et brouillard scrutinises the brutality of the Holocaust while contemplating the social, political and ethical responsibilities of the Nazis. What will distinguish the essay film, as Bazin noted, is not only its ability to make the image but how to wrot ethe final sentacne in an essay its ability to interrogate it, to dispel the writing frames for essays of its sovereignty and see it as part of a matrix of meaning that extends beyond the screen.

And what did it signify that postman Potts was not, in fact, Potts but the killer — and an actor whatever that was to boot? Anthologies Both anthologies dedicated entirely to essay film have been published in order to fill gaps in essay film scholarship. The montage tradition If the mystical strain described above represents the Dionysian side of pure cinema, Soviet montage was its Apollonian opposite: randomness, revelation and sensuous response countered by construction, forceful argumentation and didactic instruction.

The most recent scholarship and conference papers on essay film have shifted from an emphasis on literary essay to an emphasis on technology, arguing that essay film has the potential in the 21st century to present technology as self-conscious and self-reflexive of its role in art. Anthologies Both anthologies dedicated entirely to essay film have been published in order to fill gaps in essay film scholarship. Biemann brings the discussion of essay film into the digital age by explicitly resisting traditional German and French film and literary theory. Papazian and Eades also resists European theory by explicitly showcasing work on postcolonial and transnational essay film. Biemann, Ursula, ed. A case in point is Otolith I by the Turner prize-nominated Otolith Group , whose co-founder Kodwo Eshun will deliver a keynote speech at BFI Southbank: it uses the mass demonstrations against the second Iraq conflict in London as an occasion to think about political collectivity, and deploys an elusive, eerily compelling compound of science fiction, travelogue, epistolary writing and leftist history to do so. Photograph: BFI This roaming or tentacular approach to structure can be seen as a kind of territorial raid. Or perhaps essay film-makers are aesthetic refugees fleeing the austerities and repressions of dominant forms of cinema. Essay films sometimes exhibit a quality of vagrancy and drift, as if they are not wholly sure of what they want to say or of the language they need to say it, which may stem from their desire to let subject matter determine — or strongly influence — filmic form. Here, as in the frequent willingness to blur the distinction between documentation and fabulation, the essay film has much in common with "creative non-fiction". Progressive vs radical The Grierson ian documentary movement in Britain neutered the political and aesthetic radicalism of its more dynamic model in favour of paternalistic progressivism founded on conformity, class complacency and snobbery towards its own medium. But if it offered a far paler antecedent to the essay film than the Soviet montage tradition, it nevertheless represents an important stage in the evolution of the essay-film form, for reasons not unrelated to some of those rather staid qualities. The Soviet montagists had created a vision of modernity racing into the future at pace with the social and spiritual liberation of its proletarian pilot-passenger, an aggressively public ideology of group solidarity. The Grierson school, by contrast, offered a domesticated image of an efficient, rational and productive modern industrial society based on interconnected but separate public and private spheres, as per the ideological values of middle-class liberal individualism. Forster narration. Night Mail What this domesticated dynamism and retrograde pursuit of high-cultural bona fides achieved, however, was to mingle a newfound cinematic language montage with a traditionally literary one narration ; and, despite the salutes to state-oriented communality, to re-introduce the individual, idiosyncratic voice as the vehicle of meaning — as the mediating intelligence that connects the viewer to the images viewed. It is, of course, with the seminal post-war collaborations between Marker and Alain Resnais that the essay film proper emerges. This also marks the point where the revolutionary line of the Soviets and the soft, statist liberalism of the British documentarians give way to a more free-floating but staunchly oppositional leftism, one derived as much from a spirit of humanistic inquiry as from ideological affiliation. Originally conceived as commissions by various French government or government-affiliated bodies, the Resnais-Marker films famously ran into trouble from French censors: Les statues meurent aussi for its condemnation of French colonialism, Night and Fog for its shots of Vichy policemen guarding deportation camps; the former film would have its second half lopped off before being cleared for screening, the latter its offending shots removed. Night and Fog Appropriately, it is at this moment that the emphasis of the essay film begins to shift away from tactile presence — the whirl of the city, the rhythm of the rain, the workings of industry — to felt absence. The montagists had marvelled at the workings of human creations which raced ahead irrespective of human efforts; here, the systems created by humanity to master the world write, in their very functioning, an epitaph for those things extinguished in the act of mastering them. The image and sound captured at the time of filming offer one facet of reality; it is only with this lateral move outside that reality that the future reality it conceals can speak. What will distinguish the essay film, as Bazin noted, is not only its ability to make the image but also its ability to interrogate it, to dispel the illusion of its sovereignty and see it as part of a matrix of meaning that extends beyond the screen. No less than were the montagists, the film-essayists seek the motive forces of modern society not by crystallising eternal verities in powerful images but by investigating that ever-shifting, kaleidoscopic relationship between our regime of images and the realities it both reveals and occludes. Occasionally the filmmakers remind us of the sea, the birds, the wind in the trees but mostly they contrast people: the rich play tennis, the poor boules; the rich have tea, the poor gamble in the then squalid streets of the Old Town. The message is clear, even if it has not been heeded by history. The subjectivity and speculative approach maintained throughout are more akin to the essay tradition than traditional propaganda in their rejection of mere glib conveyance of information or thunderous hectoring. Instead Jennings invites us quietly to observe the nuances of everyday life as Britain enters the final chapter of the war. Against the momentous political backdrop, otherwise routine, everyday activities are ascribed new profundity as the Welsh miner Geronwy, Alan the farmer, Bill the railway engineer and Peter the convalescent fighter pilot go about their daily business. He worked across film, painting, photography, theatrical design, journalism and poetry; in Diary his protean spirit finds expression in a manner that transgresses the conventional parameters of wartime propaganda, stretching into film poem, philosophical reflection, social document, surrealistic ethnographic observation and impressionistic symphony. Managing to keep to the right side of sentimentality, it still makes for potent viewing. The success of the campaign contributed to a golden age of short filmmaking that would last a decade and form the crucible of the French essay film. Les statues meurent aussi co-directed with Chris Marker explored cultural memory as embodied in African art and the depredations of colonialism; Night and Fog was a seminal reckoning with the historical memory of the Nazi death camps. His hand, seen in close-up, is one of many in the film; rather than objects of medical curiosity, these hands — some fingerless, many distorted by the disease — are agents, always in movement, doing, making, exercising, praying.

Whatever form it takes, the essay is an attempt to seek, explore, understand, visualise and essay, what necessarily providing clearly defined answers.

Yet at this point I began to film if I was still teaching documentary or if I had ventured into some other territory.

What is an essay film

As Corrigan remarks: As it develops in and out of those documentary and film traditions, the history of the essay film underlines a film what point: that the essayistic should not necessarily be seen simply as an alternative to either of these practices or to what cinema ; rather it rhymes with and retimes them as counterpoints within and to them. It is a disembowelling essay that mocks the idea that it we can become invisible and have genuine privacy, in this digital age.

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Papazian and Caroline Eades have also compiled several surprising, challenging and thoroughly captivating articles that exemplify the many forms that the essay film can take.

Instead Jennings invites us quietly to observe the nuances of everyday life as Britain enters the final chapter of the war. I briefly explained that, since it was also an attempt to visualise abstract concepts, Sans Soleil was known as an essay film. Of course, some film actually live there too. Papazian and Eades also resists European theory by explicitly showcasing work on postcolonial and transnational essay film.

Its stillness allows the history of immigration and the what essay of the media and the police to the black and Asian population to be told in careful detail.

The colour sequences were shot inwhen the camps had already been deserted for ten years.

Essay films can be playful, but essay when they are serious — as these three are — their approaches, at once rigorous and open-ended, are thrilling rather than pedagogic. Incompletion, loose ends, directorial inadequacy: these are acknowledged rather than brushed film. Although the written essay is obviously different from the work created by filmmakers what as Chris Marker and Trinh T.