Screening Modernism: European Art Cinema, 1950-1980

By András Bálint Kovács | Go to book overview

3
Modern Art Cinema:
Style or Movement?

Part 2 gives a description of the basic formal variations of modern cinema in the 1960s and 1970s. Narrative, genres, visual style, and general compositional principles will be my object of analysis. I will try to arrive at useful generalizations regarding the variety of modernist forms and will provide as many examples as necessary to support them. More examples can be found in part 3, which will approach the phenomenon of modern cinema from a historical point of view.

Examples could obviously be multiplied, but for the sake of clarity I restricted myself to the most conspicuous and most typical ones, hoping that they are sufficient to illustrate the given category. The general categories however were developed by an analysis of a corpus of 241 films listed in a chart arranged by nationality and year of production located in the appendix. This chart is the summary of the most characteristic European modern films of this period.

In film history, the notion of style is used in various contexts, but most often it refers to specific periods of a national film production and to the formal characteristics prevailing in the most important films of the given movement. It is also used to designate a systematic application of certain technical solutions, which can be a singular choice in a film of any period and any cultural context, such as the “soft lighting style,” the “long take style,” or the “deep focus style.” Because the coincidence of such technical preferences specifies the expressive quality of the film form, which is in turn an aesthetic function of a specific cultural context, the more such technical features are connected to each other under the notion of style, the more a cultural or historical context is elicited by this notion. Expressionist lighting, for example, is a relatively neutral effect with regard to a historical or

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