Bringing something incomprehensible to the world: Gilles Deleuze’s nod to the films of Movement and Time

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Deleuzian theory of Cinema divides between what he thinks occurs pre-WW2, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image,  and post-WW2, Cinema 2: The Time-Image.

Fernand Leger Le Grande Julie 1945

The Movement Image Cinema is represented by the commonly associated Hollywood Genre film and is contingent on movement and action. The Protagonists are situated in narrative structures where the are given perceptual state of affairs, react to this position, and act to alter events in the of the story-line. The Movement image is therefore a contingent spatialized cinema and the temporal is established and considered by movement. In the time-image, which is represented by Deleuze as European product of the post ww2 period, is founded on situations where the protagonists or actors in the narrative find themselves constrained in their ability to have self-determined actions and may only react to the unfolding events of the story in immediate unreflective acts.  This Reactive Immediacy indicates a totalizing suspension of sensor-motor body and its representation cutting through the Filmic vision and reducing it to the “a pure optical and aural image “. The Image Cinema of time, ruptures from its moorings of reflecting the world and body and “comes into relation with a virtual image, a mental or mirror image”

Fernand Leger, Le Ballet Mecanique  1924

The Time image is a rejection of actions making the world and is founded on in the irrationality of the body and its the erratic and unseeable intersections between the existent and the grounds of intention.

Viking Eggling, Images From Diagonal Symphony

In the time-image coherent and quantifiable temporal rationality (between shots and the actors of the narrative flow) becomes incommensurable (Deleuze loved Thomas Kuhn and his Paradigm-Theory!), unfixed, non-rational, and impossible to negotiate. As the non-rational motivates the narrative body of the actors and the film, filmic ruptures become manifest and show themselves as the only connective link possible to “conceive of” between shots. T he “Filmic space” becomes vacant and disconnected, an “any-space-whatevers” of temporal flow. The Movement which was seen as action determining the state of the world (in the narrative summing up of the “conclusion of the film) becomes, instead in the time image, a continual nomadic wandering of a privileged narrative form. The Time image is a narrative formulation with protagonists as bodies embedded and determined by the phenomena of the world which seek to construct a mental image of the play of reality through the imagery of the mind, alternative description, and emotional performance and rupture. This Cinema which leverages on the optical and sound image to detail the embodiness of motion, according to Deleuze, becomes an immediate phenomenological image of the temporal, which is termed by him as the time-image,  or, because of the summation of flows and recognitions of these, as the crystal-image.

Diagonal Symphony, Viking Eggeling  1921

 Between these two Volumes, and the theory laid out here, Gilles Deleuze references a number of films to make his case. The specifically “Avant-garde”, or “experimental” films referenced by him are:

Cinema 1: The Movement-Image

Film (Samuel Beckett)
The Central Region (Micheal Snow)
Bardo Follies (George Landow)
Le Ballet Mecanique (Fernand Leger)

 Cinema 2: The Time-Image

La coquille et le clergyman (Dulac/Artaud)
Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel)
Diagonal Symphony (Viking Eggeling)
Rhytmus 23 (Hans Richter)
Begone Dull Care (Norman McLaren)
Blinkity Blank (Norman McLaren)
The Central Region (Micheal Snow)
Mechanics of Love (Maas and Moore)
Reflections on Black (Stan Brakhage)
The Flicker (Tony Conrad)
Eat (Andy Warhol)
Sleep (Andy Warhol)
Chronopolis (Piotr Kamler)
Workshop Experiment in Animated Sound (Norman McClaren)
The Film that Rises to the Surface of Clarified Butter (Norman Landow)

Keaton in Beckett's "Film" 1965

 This is the first in a series of posts which will present two of the films referenced in these volumes. 

(** Blog title reference is per quote: “Bring something incomprehensible into the world!”  Gilles Deleuze A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.  Second Volume laying out, and elaborating on the Famous ”Body Without Organs” theory.)

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