But the director, Alain Resnais, refused to take part until it was settled that the script should be written by the poet and editor jean cayrol, himself a survivor of the camps. They chose to act with the utmost restraint, questioning the nature of film itself and finding a direct, transparent, understated style for the images, the commentary and the unassertive music. Resnais considered the film more a meditation than a documentary, and the movie unfolds chronologically. It begins in 1933 with the coming of the Third reich, continues through the covert building of the camps, the transportation of the prisoners, the creation of the hellish death culture of gas chambers and crematoria, and concludes with the liberation in 1945 and the. The past is archive footage in grainy black and white, filmed by ss guards and Allied liberators. The ruined buildings, rusty barbed-wire fences and verdant surroundings of Auschwitz in 1955 are rendered in almost seductive colour. We are compelled to participate in making sense of an experience reduced here to its ineffable, existential essence.
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Shot by marker under the pseudonym Sandor Krasna and nashville narrated (in both its English and French-language versions) by an actress pretending to be this ciphers closest correspondent and thus a vessel for conveying both his footage and his thoughts to the audience the film. At its core, the work is an exercise in ethnographic filmmaking, with Marker-as-Krasna decamping to locations in Japan and Africa to observe the environments and rituals therein. But the highly mediated presentation the adoption of a fictional framework and the relentless manipulation and juxtaposition of the images into a kind of audiovisual labyrinth gets so far away from Flaherty that it actually laps him: depending on ones perspective, sans soleil is either. Its a cliché to say that about a movie that its true shape or texture is in the eye of the beholder but its true of Sans soleil, which not only withstands multiple viewings, but never seems to be the same film twice. It addresses memory even as its different threads seem to forget themselves; it parses geopolitics without betraying any affiliation; it might be markers most elaborately self-effacing film, or his most plangently personal. Its quite telling that the emu that shows up seemingly apropos of nothing near the start returns at the end, and that even though hes barely recognisable through the video-artefacted veil of Japanese artist hayao yamanekos electronic imagery a visual space that the narration refers. An emu in the Ile de France is a rare bird, and so is Sans soleil. Night and Fog Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard, 1955) Alain Resnais, France 1955 56 votes In 1945 moviegoers worldwide became familiar through weekly newsreels in their local cinemas with the unspeakable conditions in the recently liberated nazi extermination camps. Immediately there followed documentary assemblages of this material (most notably for screening as evidence at the nuremberg war crime trials). Not, however, until Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard commissioned to mark the tenth anniversary of the Allied liberation of the most notorious camp, at Auschwitz, did film producers truly confront and define the moral and aesthetic parameters involved in treating such an intractable subject. Everyone involved in making the film was a modernist, associated with the international avant garde (most famously at the time the composer Hanns Eisler, an Austrian former pupil of Schoenberg for who had spent the nazi era in exile).
And thirdly, as de beauvoir noted in her preface to the films published text, by editing the sequences not according to any chronological order, but poetically. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric, Theodor Adorno once wrote, and Lanzmanns singular achievement is to both challenge and corroborate that statement. Sans soleil, chris Marker, father's France 1982 62 votes, by the way, did you know that there are emus in the Ile de France? This is surely not the most pertinent question in Chris Markers monumental Sans soleil a time-and-space-hopping travelogue that may be one of the most ardently searching movies ever made but it perfectly encapsulates the films. O.: the sly, conspiratorial tone that collapses the literal and figurative distance between the images on the screen and the epigrams on the soundtrack, and the viewer doing his or her level best to keep up with the racing pace of both. Allusions to jean-Jacques rousseau, the Khmer rouge and the revolutionary history of guinea-bissau are heady stuff, but who can resist a glancing close-up of a puffed-up bird bobbing its way through a botanical garden? Rigour and discursiveness or perhaps a uniquely discursive rigour are the most potent weapons in Sans soleils arsenal.
Of course cinema already had to exist in order to allow Lanzmann to make shoah the title is the hebrew word for catastrophe but he also had to rethink what cinema could. His 550-minute examination of the jewish Holocaust falls within the documentary tradition of investigative journalism, but what he does with that form is so confrontational and relentless that it demands to be described in philosophical/spiritual terms rather than simply cinematically. Determined to make us imagine the unimaginable, lanzmann literalises a" from the philosopher Emil Fackenheim: The european Jews massacred are not just of the past, they are the presence of an absence. One could even describe Shoah as a kind of cruel but determined shotgun marriage between Judaism and existentialism a match between Lanzmanns sense of his tribal roots (he was born in 1925 to a french Jewish family of Eastern European immigrants, and joined the resistance. How does one negotiate between a religion founded on the dictates of the past and a philosophy founded on the needs and challenges of the present? First of all, in the case of Shoah, by refusing any historical or archival footage or narration. The film depends exclusively on interviews and footage shot in the present, either at certain key places where the holocaust occurred (on the trains carrying Jews to the death camps, or at what remains of the camps themselves at Chelmno, sobibor, Treblinka, auschwitz). Secondly, by recording Lanzmann and others in their own languages (including German, hebrew, polish and Yiddish) and including the translations into French, which are then summary subtitled in English in Anglo-American prints of the film.
Vertov is, in fact, the key to documentarys future. It is no wonder that two years ago man with a movie camera entered the top ten in Sight sounds Greatest films of all time list and that now it tops the poll for the greatest documentary ever made. It is not merely that a great film now receives its just deserts. Vertov has no reason any longer to be sad. —Brian Winston, excerpted from a new essay in our. September 2014 issue. Shoah, claude lanzmann, France 1985 68 votes, there are documentary filmmakers who plant their stakes within existing traditions and those for whom cinema has to be reinvented. Claude lanzmann clearly belongs in the latter category.
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Eisenstein called Man with a movie camera cine-hooliganism. The comrade-theoreticians associated with the intellectual lef journal were equally unimpressed: dziga vertov cuts up newsreel. In this sense his work is not artistically progressive a failing that could get you years in the gulag. Vertov, who always marched to a different drummer, compounded the threat. He never produced recognisable scripts, shot from the hip (most of the time went over inequality budget and was generally uncontrollable. He was a combative polemicist vehemently insisting that the potential of the cinema as a revolutionary tool was being ignored by his fellows.
Their fictions were bourgeois distractions, unlike his efforts with the unplayed film, as he called documentary. Almost from the start of his career in newsreels immediately after the bolshevik revolution of 1917, and in total contrast to the fixed-camera procedures of the time, he was already experimenting with special effects to reveal, through the kino-glaz, the cameras eye, film truth kino-pravda. Film is not merely facts recorded on film but the product, a higher mathematics of facts. Crucially, he disdained everyday observationalism: Our eyes, he wrote, see very poorly and very little the movie camera was invented to penetrate more deeply into the visible world. Today, all such possibilities matter more and more. A kino-eye seeing beneath surface realities offers a crucial lifeline as modern technology undercuts and wounds mainstream realist documentarys essential observationalist assumptions, perhaps fatally. Vertovs agenda in Man with a movie camera signposts nothing less than how documentary can survive the digital destruction of photographic image integrity and yet still, as Vertov wanted, show us life.
These films celebrated the vibrancy of the modern cityscape with pastiches of urban images, for the most part neither set up nor reconstructed. Vertov, though, plays fast and loose with the conventions of such films, to profound effect. He superimposes, splits the screen, deploys fast- and slow-motion and extreme close-ups, and animates using stop-motion. Most surprisingly, he shows us the processes whereby a documentary is made. The eponymous man with the movie camera is his brother mikhail, and his wife, yelizaveta svilova, is his editor. Both appear at work on screen.
His experimental exuberance was not appreciated. When the film was seen in the west, it was dismissed. The British documentarist paul Rotha remembered: Vertov we regarded really as rather a joke, you know. All this cutting, and one camera photographing another camera photographing another camera it was all trickery, and we didnt take it seriously. At the time, his colleague john Grierson, the Scottish producer and theorist regarded as the father of British realist documentary, dismissed Vertovs work peremptorily: Vertov has pushed the argument to a point at which it becomes ridiculous. More profoundly and more dangerously for Vertov, he was also attacked in the soviet Union.
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The top. Man with a movie camera, dziga vertov, ussr 1929 (soundtrack here by michael Nyman) 100 votes, david Abelevich kaufman is margaret documentarys Jumpin Jack writing Flash. Indeed, there is a photograph of him caught in mid-air, jumping. His pseudonym dziga vertov, which translates as spinning top, could not be more apposite. And his masterpiece, man with a movie camera (Chelovek s kinoapparatom, 1929) is a flash spinning-top of a movie. It has taken more than 80 years, though, for this to be fully recognised. Man with a movie camera is a city symphony film of a kind not uncommon in the 1920s.
It soon became obvious that we were not sure exactly what it was that we were trying to discuss. Im usually loath to do anything that takes lustre away from Sight sounds ten-year poll of the. Greatest Films of All Time but a new poll seemed to me the most obvious solution to getting a full view of the documentary canon. Approximately four months later Im delighted with the quality of what more than 200 critics and curators including many documentary specialists and 100 filmmakers (the likes of John akomfrah, michael Apted, Clio barnard, james Benning, sophie fiennes, Amos Gitai, paul Greengrass, jose guerin, Isaac Julien. Whats pdf remarkable about the top 50 documentaries list is that it feels so fresh. One in five of the films chosen were made since the millennium, and to have a silent film from 1929 at the top of the list is an absolute joy. That allusive essay films feature so strongly throughout demonstrates that nonfiction cinema is not a narrow discipline but a wide open country full of explorers. The current special documentary edition of s s contains further features and reflections on our poll; the real explorers among you will also want to browse all the individual votes and comments over on our dedicated interactive web page.
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Change, it wasn't trendy, funny, nor was it coined. Twitter, but we thought change told a real story about how our users defined 2010. Unlike in 2008, change was no longer a campaign slogan. But, the term still held a lot of weight. Here's an excerpt from our. Word of the year announcement in 2010 : The national debate can arguably be summarized by the question: In the past two years, has there been enough change? Has there been too much? Meanwhile, many Americans continue to face change in their homes, bank accounts and jobs. Only time will tell if with the latest wave of change Americans voted for in the midterm elections will result in a negative or positive outcome.