Read Instead…in Print


 
A photo of a good book about cinema. No discursive, pretentious analyses, no verbose scrutiny. Because the idea is to invite you to read the book, not read about it here. But instead of using social media, I use my journal. Back to basics. Take it as a wish to break free of over-reliance on social media (even if it’s just for posting a photo of a good book) for presenting my work, cultural finds and interests. These are things to be enjoyed as stand-alone pieces in a more substantial and meaningful way than showing them in the black hole of Instagram thronged with an audience with a short attention span. This is also a look through my voluminous collection of books about film that I use as research in my adamant decision to rely less and less on the online and more on more on print materials.

Read instead…in print #10.
 
 

“Remain free in a world where freedom is hounded down,
alone in a world where individuals abandon their individuality to the group,
alert in an inattentive world, fearless in a world driven by fear.”


 

Jean Cocteau’s collection of writings on film, Du cinématographe (The Art of Cinema), is bold, witty and discerning. He questions some of the most fundamental concepts about cinema and I relate to his opinions entirely. Cinema as ‘escapism’ is one of them. “I am rather surprised whenever I hear people chatter on about ‘escapism’ in cinematography, a fashionable term which implies that the audience is trying to get out of itself, while in fact beauty in all of its forms drives us back into ourselves and obliges us to find in our own souls the deep enrichment that frivolous people are determined to seek elsewhere.” Cinema as ‘art’ is another one. Cocteau was one of the most individualistic of the French directors and promoted the idea of cinema as art – distinct from what is usually known as ‘art cinema’. He disliked the elitism of art cinema. His cinema as art is about motion pictures which are full of a myriad of artistic possibilities, something that is rarely explored in contemporary cinema today. To be honest, I have always been of the opinion that art movies are made for critics. Cocteau disregarded critics and placed his faith in the audience, in the collective experience of movie going, something I can not stress enough in this day and age. “Critics have no hold over it [beauty]. […] Critics can not hear it because the roar of current events clogs the ears of their souls. A mass audience is without preconceptions. It never forms a judgment based on the author or the actors. It believes in them. This is the childhood audience – and the best.”

A brilliant mind and visionary artist, Jean Cocteau thought the heart presided over the intellect. And so it should, shouldn’t it? He often referred to his work – an unequalled variety of artistic expressions, from filmmaking, to theater, sculpting, painting and literature (he even designed sets and ballets) – as poetry, “but not that which relates to verse, but rather a lyrical sensibility rooted in intellectual integrity and hard work”. That kind of poetry, I understand. His films had an ethereal beauty and elegance and he wanted them to appeal through images rather than words because that’s the real style of a film. He was not inspired by facile anti-Americanism and his writings show his eclectic taste in movies. Cocteau believed in his art and in his films and in his feelings and in the artist and in the medium of cinema. There’s a lot to be learned from that.
 
 

“People use the word ‘genius’ with too much restraint.
It is not the sole prerogative of the Goethes and Shakespeares of this world.
Genius extends through the whole range of humanity. Stendhal uses the word
in referring to the exquisite ease with which some beings move and act.”


 
 

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