Siegfried Kracauer Basic Concepts

In Siegfried Kracauer’s essay entitled Basic Concepts he gives a brief overview of the history of film and its relation to photography. He also explores how film is evolving, he splits the tendency of film into two categories, Realist and Formative. When comparing film and photography he makes a careful distinction that his ” preceding statements about photography also hold true of the cinematic medium; but they do not apply to it mechanically or go far enough to exhaust its potentialities. Elaborations and extensions are needed” ( Kracauer 291). While recognizing the similarities between photography and film Kracauer seems to put this section in here to head off arguments based around the mechanism’s of either medium and even says that film has further possibilities. Kracaeur explores the different sides of film through two early directors, Lumiere and Melies. Lumies he describes as a “strict realist” and he describes Melies as a director who ” gave free reign to his artistic imagination”( Kracauer 292). He describes the realistic tendency of film of being able to go beyond photography in two aspects. First, ” they picture movement itself, not only one or another of its phases”, Second, ” Films seize upon physical reality with all its manifold movements by means of an intermediary procedure which would seem to be less indispensable in photography-staging”( Kracauer 295). He also goes on to say the formative tendencies of film have a wide array of opportunities way above the amount available to photography. Kracauer seems to lean towards the idea that film should show real life and everyday events. He says they must ” they must record and reveal physical reality” ( Kracaeur 297) . This quote falls under the section entitled ” The Cinematic Approach” and is followed on a subsequent page with the quote ” All these creative efforts are in keeping with the cinematic approach as long as they benefit, in some way or other, the medium’s substantive concern with our visible world”( Kracaeur 298). He declares that that a good balanced is achieved when “the latter( formative) does not try to overwhelm the former but eventually follows its lead”( Kracaeur 298). It seems as though Kracauer puts a lot of emphasis on what makes a film “cinematic” being that it displays real life in some way. Does he not see this as limiting to what film is capable of? Or is he just trying to draw attention to the fact that films like documentaries can be/should be considered art along  avant garde cienema, maybe even be considered more artistic?  I may be mis-reading, but it seems like an attempt to portray the real is a basic part of “cinema” which is a lot different than what previous authors have discussed as being “artistic cinema.”

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