Inherent Affinities by Siegfried Kracauer

In Inherent Affinities by Siegfried Kracauer, Kracauer outlines how film shares four of its five affinities with photography, but the fifth affinity is unique to film as a medium. The first affinity explained by Kracauer is ” The Unstaged.” In this section Kracauer suggests that film, ” notwithstanding its ability to reproduce, indiscriminately, all kinds of visible data, gravitates toward unstaged reality” (Kracauer 300). Kracauer suggests that “staging” makes a film less cinematic when it does not evoke a sense of reality. The second section is ” The Fortuitous” and as I interpreted it Kracauer believes that film relies a lot on pure chance, which he relates to the idea of chance in real life by using the example of the street. ” ..Within the present context of the street, which has already been characterized as a center of fleeting impressions, is of interest as a region where the accidental prevails over the providential, and happenings in the nature of unexpected incidents are all but the rule” (Kracauer 301).  Kracauer associates the unexpectedness of nature with the unexpected and seemingly random events that happen in movies to lead characters down a certain path. the third section is “Endlessness”, this is the idea that “film tends to cover all material phenomena virtually within reach of the camera” ( Kracauer 302). The fourth section is the ” Indeterminate” where Kracauer touches on the pyschophysical correspondences to film and a basic editing principle that requires two considerations and is linked to psychophysical correspondences. The fifth section and the section that Kracauer says belongs purely to cinema is ” The “Flow of Life”.” The idea behind the flow of life is that ” cinematic films point beyond the physical world to the extent that the shots or combinations of shots from which they are built carry multiple meanings. Due to the continuous influx of the psychophysical correspondences thus aroused , they suggest  reality which may fittingly be called “life””( Kracauer 304).   He again uses “the street” to illustrate what he means by this. ” The street” is not necessarily just an actual street, it can be somewhere with a flow of indiscriminate people. The “life” of the street comes from its flow of possibilities and intangible connections made seemingly at random. Kracauer believes that film can picture this uncontrollable flow, ” It remains an unfixable flow which carries fearful uncertainties and alluring excitements” ( Kracauer 306). I guess my question applies to this idea of “flow of life” and how Kracauer seems to be very interested in film showing a heavy bias towards film showing life how it actually is. I might have missed it but does Kracauer “flow of life” theory allow for created flows of life within the a film? Would it be considered “cinematic by Kracauer’s definition to create a realistic flow of life for the screen or does it have to mirror reality? I am thinking in terms of something like Star Wars where a realistic flow of life is created, visiting Mos Eisley Cantina, walking through the city, but it is totally placed in a fantasy world.  The usual trappings of life are there and are believable, it seems like a plausible way of life for the time period the movie has set. Or is this too “staged” and then when not be dictating reality so therefore not show “flow of Life” or even be considered cinematic by Kracauer?


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