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New Left Review 18, November-December 2002


Tony Wood on Jacques Rancière, La Fable cinématographique. From Eisenstein to Deleuze, luminous snapshots of the cinema that would substitute a single regime for historical periods.

TONY WOOD

THE ECSTATIC SPIRAL

‘Cinema is true. A story is a lie.’ So wrote Jean Epstein in 1921 in Bonjour cinéma, heralding the arrival of a modern art form that would supersede previous plots. Just as modernist painting had overturned the conventions of pictorial representation, cinema would undo the Aristotelian chain of action and consequence, revealing through the succession of images the fragmentary, open-ended truth of contemporary existence. But although several of Epstein’s contemporaries—Dziga Vertov or Walter Ruttmann, for example—seemed to be working towards the creation of just such a cinema, narrative convention, whether in epic, melodramatic or comic forms, was at the same time driving Hollywood’s inexorable rise, and has from the beginning remained stubbornly immune to avant-garde assault.

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