The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker
Why have certain kinds of documentary and non-narrative films emerged as the most interesting, exciting, and provocative movies made in the last twenty years? Ranging from the films of Ross McElwee (Bright Leaves) and Agnes Varda (The Gleaners and I) to those of Abbas Kiarostami (Close Up) and Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir), such films have intrigued viewers who at the same time have struggled to categorize them. Sometimes described as personal documentaries or diary films, these eclectic works are, rather, best understood as cinematic variations on the essay. So argues Tim Corrigan in this stimulating and necessary new book. Since Michel de Montaigne, essays have been seen as a lively literary category, and yet--despite the work of pioneers like Chris Marker--seldom discussed as a cinematic tradition. The Essay Film, offering a thoughtful account of the long rapport between literature and film as well as novel interpretations and theoretical models, provides the ideas that will change this.
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activity adaptation aesthetic agency avant-garde Bazin becomes biopics Blue Bright Leaves camera central Chris Marker close-up coherent commentary conceptual contemporary create crisis critical cultural death Deleuze describes dialogue diary direct cinema documentary documentary films dramatic editorial encounter engage epistolary essay film essayistic subject everyday excursion experiential explores expression fiction figure filmmakers Five Obstructions footage found footage frame Gleaners Godard’s Herzog’s home movies human ideas identity imagistic intellectual intertitle Jarman’s journey films kind Koreans language Letter from Siberia Leuchter Listen to Britain literary Marker McElwee McElwee’s memory modern Montaigne movement narrative ofhis ofthe film ofthis painting perspective photo-essay photographic political portrait positions postwar public experience reenactments reflection reflexive refractive essay representational Robinson Robinson in Space self-portrait sequence shifting short film shot social space spatial specifically streets television temporal thinking thought tion tradition travelogue Varda verbal viewer visual voice voice-over Westerbork