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Unformatted text preview: Speaking of Cinema Cinema is thirty years old; it is young. modern, tree. and has no
traditions. This is its strength. It sprouts in every corner ol' the district.
like the brats of the poor, like the bistros: it is on an equal footing with
the street. with life: it is in shirtsleeves. h-lass-produeed. ready-made. it
is collective. 'l be American studios now bttild auditoriums tnade to order I'or it. It
doesn't yet seem to be at case there; that will come. it is going to
adjust. It is becoming wealthy. but its extravagance ts "tutttveattrticlte"
and lorward. It's all very tnoderu. Next to it. in the same street. the theater appears to he a slow.
solemn old contraption. a little musty. tired out and going on toot. 'lhe cincnta and aviation go arm in arm through life. They were
born on the same day. . .. — Speed is the law ol‘ the World. Cinema is winning because it is rapid and quick. It is winnint:
because it belatedly scrapped the junk of programs aml cmtaiti.
Tragedy or comedy is swallowed up in one gulp withottt the blink 01’
an eye; it fits very naturally into the contemporary rhythm. Let's recognize that it possesses astonishing means. riches that it
squander-4 at random. ll has just been given a voice. the human voice;
the image talks. is colored. seems to be three-dimensional. ._q.,—_______ _. Speaking of Cinema / tot livery month a new invention is added to the others: there is a pile-
up of tltetn It swallows things the wrong way: it stull's ilselt' like a
pauper u ho has suddenly become rich. . . . 'lltc theater. modest and without hope. stays with its traditional
heritage. lhe gap hctween the theater and the cinema is accentuated
every day; the theater remains stationary: the cinema runs on at top
speed. at the risk ol' falling on its face; it is young. . . . It is naturally
romantic. it must astonish. distress. make us laugh and cry: it is lull ol'
ses with its heautit'ul girls and handsome boys who emhrace each other
in a close-up with mouths a loot wide and who stop in the nick of time
to enahle imagination to put the ﬁnishing touches on the stOry in the
darkened theater. . . . Only romantic deeds in wholesale quantities can stir the crowds.
(‘im-ma has to be popular in order to win the game. popular like a war.
an ear thquake. a beautiful ship. a victorious general. (‘inema must he in this class of events in order to be able to live and
pay oll' the enormous sums of money it owes :tnd consumes every
day. In the theater. the character is everything: the actor or actress has
total responsibility for the performance. with all the chances or weak-
nesses that the situations involve. Hi the performer has a head cold. the
play is postponed. liragility! (‘an you imagine the .Screen at the mercy
of such petty calamities! The cinema: here are complicated machines with the lighting lised and planned. 'I her put the little I'ellow in a cettain position . . . and the
beautiful glittering machine comes into action. . . _ It is going to play with him. catch him I'ull face. in proﬁle. from above. below. and iltﬁidc
'(X rays). in detail. in fragments lying down. standing up. out of locus
or sharp. any Way you want. 'l his will be swallowed. digested. and put
on the screen in a tragic. comic. or plastic form: you can choose. . . . The cinema is the machine age. The theater is the horse-aml-buggy age. They will never understand each other. and let us hope that they
don't. tor the mixture is deplorable. In spite of all its strength. its methods. its banks. its calculating
machines. its light. the cinema has not killed the theater. 'lhe theater is still standing. llcvethold has Proved it at the ‘l‘heatre Montparnasse and l0: / FUNCTIONSOI:PAINTING (‘rommelynck in his own controversial works, These two men have not
mixed things together: on the contrary. they reacted against them: they
weren‘t al'raid. They understood that their We can remain heaiitit'iil
and secure it' they avoid contact. . . . The theater continues. it is going to become invaluahle and iestt'nl;
people will speak more softly there than on the screen. ('incma wants
to swallow it up: it will swallow nothing. They are not of the same
world. Film swipes actors from the theater. but the actors turn to tilm
only to “make a buck," once. that‘s all. 'l'hey don't “give a damn"
about it. tor they realize that they are not made for this new gadget
designed for spectacles. They act badly and sloppily. With all their
vanity and pride. they are in their element oiin below the lootlights in
llesh and l'llt'lﬂkl. ('iiiema could he the worse for going and looking nest door t'or what
it should niakeiitsell'. ll ought to put tip its own Iai'toiy l'oi \llL'lll .iiid
talking .ieIUIs and not “y to ttse tlicalci‘ people. Why don't these iicli
corporations liaVe esperimeiilal studios where they can look Ioi talent.
so they could carel'ully avoid individuals who have hceu ti'.ulilionall}'
trained. theater people; where they would use an iron rod to train
wholly new human material. The strength of the silent comedians like (‘haplin and lluster Keaton
is their wonderful ignorance and their powers of instinct. 'l'hey sensed
that opening their months was stupid from the moment that cinema
failed to record their words. and because of this they have become the
most popular. Now that the cinema talks. it's tilllllllL‘l’ stoiy. \‘t’ail a little \tliilc.
'l'he "aces." I hope. are going to emerge and show us something new.
A little patience. They will come to us from Russia or America. from
countries where the human animal is "raw material." as remote as
possible [mm the old and noble Latin traditions. But don't hope for
anything from those ladies and gentlemen at the Comedic Fran—
caise. . . . It is the race for the “average” and the ﬁnancial pressure that trom
time to time make the ﬁlm industry not give a damn. Because it must
make money by whatever means. it is too ansious alioiii its audience. about success. It doesn‘t dare take "risks." Since they know that it' they Speaking of Cinema / in} have an attractive boy and a charming girl as the stars. they will have a
success. they gamble on them to win. The rest isn't important; scenario is patched together. and the trick has worked. All the same. it
is a little taeile; even the "average" stoops below the vulgar. . . . The
theater never "falls" to the same extent. The "average" theatrical
production is superior and often closer to true emotion. 'l‘rue emotion. the thing that strikes home, is ditlicult to convey an
the stage. for it is the opposite of the decorative life thath cultivate in
order to hide and cover tip the truth. I Diplomats invented the inoiioclc to prevent their laces from reacting
and thus admitting something. "A pair ol' pants is right when it has no
creases." Manners were invented in order to “cheat on the nier~
chaudisc." l-'e;ir ot the truth is the basis ol‘ the social organization. "The decora—
tive lite" suits it lll'lk: a glove. conceals it. and people love to go to relax
in this ileeeitliil .‘sllllillltlllfvcly tcw people like the tititli. With all the
l't\h\ it llt\'0l\'t:\. and yet the citieiiia is a Icirihlc invention for produc-
ing truth when you want. It is a diabolical invention that can unlurl
aiid light up everything tlial has been hidden. It can show a detail
magnified a hundred times. Did you know what a foot was before
seeini; it live in a shoe under a table. on the screen? it is as moving as a
laccfllelui'c this invention. you never had the shadow of an idea ahout
the personality ot‘ I'ragmeiits. ('ineina gives “the traginent" personality: it sits in a frame. and
thereby creates a "new realism" whose implications may he incalcul-
able. I A collar button. put under the projector. magnilied a hundred times.
heeoines u radiating planet. A brand-new lyricism of the transformed
object comes itilo the world. a plasticity is going to he built on these
new I'acts‘. on this new truth. 'l‘o l'eel the truth and to dare to express it. I have dreamed of doing a ﬁlm of “lwenty-lour hOttt'S.u :ll‘tOLtl :Ilt
oidinaiy couple in an ordinary trade. . . . Some mysterious new ap-
paratus makes it possible to film them "without their knowing about
it." 'lhey are subjected to an acute visual inquisition during those ' ' ‘ -‘ - '- -’ work. their
twenty-tour hours. With nothing escaping the camera. thtl' I’AIN'I'INU FUNCTIONS OF :04 / .w.
w silcncc. their privnlc life no cdiling. .90.? .3 33 :35:an :uEEﬂxn—z :1”)! terrible lhing lhnl cvuryunc ..EnE< on 3E3... .ucEEE “6 31. C(rfrit'n' tl'zh'r. Paris, I93] :Illing For help us if confronted wilh :1 worldwide culnslrophc. A
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- Spring '08