Cinema and Counter-History

Cinema and Counter-History

Cinema and Counter-History

Cinema and Counter-History

Synopsis

Despite claims about the end of history and the death of cinema, visual media continue to contribute to our understanding of history and history-making. In this book, Marcia Landy argues that rethinking history and memory must take into account shifting conceptions of visual and aural technologies. With the assistance of thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Cinema and Counter-History examines writings and films that challenge prevailing notions of history in order to explore the philosophic, aesthetic, and political stakes of activating the past. Marshaling evidence across European, African, and Asian cinema, Landy engages in a counter-historical project that calls into question the certainty of visual representations and unmoors notions of a history firmly anchored in truth.

Excerpt

To me History is, so to speak, the work of works; it contains all of them. History is
the family name, there are parents and children, literature, painting, philosophy
.…let’s say History is the whole lot. So a work of art, if well made, is a part of
History, if intended as such and if this is artistically apparent. You can get a feeling
through it because it is worked artistically. Science doesn’t have to do that, and
other disciplines haven’t done it. It seemed to me that History could be a work
of art, something not generally admitted except perhaps by Michelet.

—Jean-Luc Godard, in Cinema (Godard and Ishaghpour 2005, 28)

CINEMA, TELEVISION, and the Internet have become major sources for access to historical events despite declarations of the end of history and of cinema. Nonetheless, historians, social critics, and film scholars continue to debate what constitutes an accurate and realistic version of past events in relation to cinema and in light of new visual technologies. Although the media’s predilection for fiction and entertainment has often been judged antithetical to truthful and legitimate presentations of history, a growing number of critics and artists regard the cinema as a significant medium for reevaluating the nature and status of the image as a guide to the uses, and particularly the disadvantages, of history for the present and future. Cinema and Counter-History, as its title suggests, proposes that, in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, visual media have contributed to, and continue to contribute to, an expanded and altered understanding of what constitutes historical thinking.

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