Screening Modernism: European Art Cinema, 1950-1980

By András Bálint Kovács | Go to book overview

6
Patterns of Modern Forms
Now that we have explored the main principles of narration and genres of modern cinema we can address a more subtle categorization of the form.Referring to Resnais's Hiroshima, Eric Rohmer provided a particularly concise and general formula about how he understood modernism in the cinema:

There has not been a profoundly modern cinema yet that has attempted
what the cubists did in painting or the Americans in novel writing. That is,
reconstructing reality from fragments, and this reconstruction may appear
arbitrary or profane.1

Rohmer's formula is a particularly accurate summary of all the important basic principles of the form of modern film.
1. Modernist art has a fragmented view of reality.
2. The modern artist uses general and abstract principles of composition to reconstruct the coherence of reality.
3. The foundation of this reconstruction is always in its composition an abstract idea. The immediate result of this reconstruction without fail includes an amount of arbitrariness or subjectivity in it, because the form of the work of art refers first to an abstract concept rather than to the reality immediately given to the senses. Therefore, the modern form is always deprived of a certain depth that comes from a common sense of

1. Eric Rohmer, in Jean Domarchi, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-Luc Godard, Pierre
Kast, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer, “Hiroshima, notre amour,” Cahiers du cinéma 97
(July 1959): 4.

-120-

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