Brechtian Cinemas: Montage and Theatricality in Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, Peter Watkins, and Lars von Trier

SUNY Press
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 Explores the influence of Bertolt Brecht’s ideas on the practice and study of cinema.
In Brechtian Cinemas, Nenad Jovanovic uses examples from select major filmmakers to delineate the variety of ways in which Bertolt Brecht’s concept of epic/dialectic theatre has been adopted and deployed in international cinema. Jovanovic critically engages Brecht’s ideas and their most influential interpretations in film studies, from apparatus theory in the 1970s to the presently dominant cognitivist approach. He then examines a broad body of films, including Brecht’s own Mysteries of a Hairdressing Salon (1923) and Kuhle Wampe (1932), Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s History Lessons (1972), Peter Watkins’s La Commune (2000), and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013). Jovanovic argues that the role of montage—a principal source of artistic estrangement (Verfremdung) in earlier Brechtian films—has diminished as a result of the technique’s conventionalization by today’s Hollywood and related industries. Operating as primary agents of Verfremdung in contemporary films inspired by Brecht’s view of the world and the arts, Jovanovic claims, are conventions borrowed from the main medium of his expression, theatre. Drawing upon a vast number of sources and disciplines that include cultural, film, literature, and theatre studies, Brechtian Cinemas demonstrates a continued and broad relevance of Brecht for the practice and understanding of cinema.

“This book opens up one of the most vaguely and often ill employed terms within film theory for extremely detailed discussion, providing the most thorough analysis of Brechtianism available to film scholars. It will become a standard reference.” — R. Barton Palmer, coeditor of Invented Lives, Imagined Communities: The Biopic and American National Identity
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About the author

 Nenad Jovanovic is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Wright State University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jan 30, 2017
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Pages
276
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ISBN
9781438463650
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Language
English
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Genres
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
Performing Arts / Theater / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In her long-awaited book, the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler gives us her extraordinary insights into the work of Henrik Ibsen ("The creation of the modern theater took a genius like Ibsen. . .Miller and Odets, Inge and O'Neill, Williams and Shaw, swallowed the whole of him"), August Strindberg ("He understood and predicted the forces that would break in our lives"), and Anton Chekhov ("Chekhov doesn't want a play, he wants what happens in life. In life, people don't usually kill each other. They talk").

Through the plays of these masters, Adler discusses the arts of playwriting and script interpretation ("There are two aspects of the theater. One belongs to the author and the other to the actor. The actor thinks it all belongs to the author. . .The curtain goes up and all he knows are the lines. . .It is not enough. . .Script interpretation is your profession").

She looks into aspects of society and class, and into our cultural past, as well as the evolution of the
modern spirit ("The actor learns from Ibsen what is modern in the modern theater. There are no villains, no heroes. Ibsen understands, more than anything, there is more than one truth").

Stella Adler--daughter of Jacob Adler, who was universally acknowledged to be the greatest actor
of the Yiddish theater, and herself a disciple of Stanislavsky--examines the role of the actor and brings to life the plays from which all modern theater derives: Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, An Enemy of the People, and A Doll's House; Strindberg's Miss Julie and The Father; Chekhov's The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and Three Sisters ("Masha is the sister who is the mystery. You cannot reach her. You cannot reach the artist. There is no logical way. Keep her in a special pocket of feelings that are complex and different").

Adler discusses the ideas behind these plays and explores the world of the playwrights and the
history--both familial and cultural--that informed their work. She illumines not only the dramatic essence of each play but its subtext as well, continually asking questions that deepen one's understanding of the work and of the human spirit.

Adler's book, brilliantly edited by Barry Paris, puts her famous lectures into print for the first time.


From the Hardcover edition.
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