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Deleuze and the Concepts of CinemaReview - Deleuze and the Concepts of Cinema
by Daniela Angelucci
Edinburgh University Press, 2017
Review by Max Delahaye
Jan 30th 2018 (Volume 22, Issue 5)

Daniela Angelucci is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Roma Tre where she teaches philosophy of film.  Deleuze and the Concepts of Cinema is geared for a university audience studying Deleuze (1).  Angelucci discusses ten core concepts in ten short chapters which tend to begin with an explanation of historical texts and then blend into a briefer discussion of a film or two. 

Angelucci does a fine job reviewing the Movement-image and the Time-image; a task which always bears repeating.  For those not already familiar, the movement-image is not a "sum of still sections" (2) rather, it is made of sequence shots which are "intrinsically mobile sections" (3) of Bergsonian duration.  By contrast, the Time-image is an image in which different ontological dimensions like the real and the imaginary, the past and the present, the physical and the mental, and the virtual and the actual are all condensed to the point where they become indiscernible. Angelucci emphasizes the "perpetual oscillation" (4) between these different ontological dimensions that get crystalized in the Time-image. If in the Movement-image the link between perception and reaction is linear and immediate, as in Western shoot-outs; in the Time-image this link becomes circular from hesitant recognition "similar to the way the camera gets a certain figure into focus." (5) 

Much of this material is well trodden but Angelucci analyzes some films not previously reviewed by Deleuze or his many exegetes. One example is Angelucci's discussion of Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1956 film The Picasso Mystery.   While it appears in her chapter on chance it was originally described by Bazin as Bergsonian and both essays end up being about duration.  In this remarkable film the spectator is privileged to watch a strongly lit canvas that fills the frame for one hour as Picasso himself paints it from the other side. Angelucci summarizes: "The casualness of Picasso's … manual gestures … capture … the genesis of the drawing … traced by the painter utterly by chance … He … draws some lines which initially form a flower bowl, which transforms itself … into a fish, then suddenly turns into a rooster, and, at the last second, into a face." (6) According to Angelucci, "The film clearly displays … the duration of the painting as its essential part … we are able to see … the intermediate states … not as inferior realities … but rather as the very focus of the work." (7)  By the way, she adds that Clouzot's ability to make duration visible is also at the "center" of Bill Viola's poetics (8).

Another example is Angelucci's case study of Raúl Ruiz's 1978 Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting. The screenplay is by Pierre Klossowski whose interpretation of Nietzsche's eternal return as a simulacrum had a strong influence on Deleuze.  It is full of mirrors and doubles.  In the film a collector and an off-screen voice guide the spectator through six or seven works by an imaginary painter where each painting in the series is connected to the next by a detail.  The film ends with a shot of the collector "strolling in a forest with the whole series of paintings hanging from the trees." (9)  This, according to Angelucci, is Ruiz showing "simulacra as well as the spirits in their corporeity." (10)

Angelucci describes documentary film as "the cinematographic genre which more than any other aspired to the truth." (11).  From there she launches into a discussion of the power of the false in the cinéma vérité of Jean Rouch and documentaries by Pierre Perrault. In these films "the reality-fiction alternative becomes obsolete" (12) because not only does the handheld camera itself become a character, but also because the subjects being filmed are influenced by being filmed.  Here, says Angelucci following Deleuze, "cinema should not fix the identity of the character" (13) but instead, "catch the becoming of the real character."  (14).   

Her chapter on sadism brings Schoedsack and Pichel's 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game  into alignment with Deleuze's writing on sadism in Coldness and Cruelty. (15)

Angelucci's brief discussion of "the genre of the remake" comes after she summarizes Difference and Repetition as follows: "Difference …  in its being unrelated to any model is … not subordinated to the identical … Deleuze's project is … making [difference] thinkable in itself without predicating it on something else and mistaking the copy for the original." (16)  Accordingly, she gently disparages Gus Van Sant's 1998 "shot by shot" remake of Psycho where "the faithful reference to its model seems at once too similar and yet not similar enough" (17) and praises Douglas Gordon's 1993 video 24 Hour Psycho, shown at "about two frames per second," as "a repetition" rather than "a reproductive imitation." (18)  

Deleuze and the Concepts of Cinema is worth grappling with for anyone trying to understand Deleuze.  The proofreading is awful but Angelucci's emphasis on the "unexpected cohesion," "continuous circulation," and "forceful coherence" (19) of his concepts makes up for these many blemishes.  I believe there is a gestalt shift to be had at the heart of Deleuze's cinematic philosophy that can make parsing his almost fractal taxonomy a bit easier.   Angelucci understands that this Deleuzian gestalt shift is both a process and a product: like writing, addiction, software, experience, or love.  And this gestalt shift requires overcoming energetic barriers known to anyone who has tried. As Deleuze says, "Everything is like the flight of an eagle: overflight, suspension, and descent." (20). Daniela Angelucci has experienced this flight of the eagle and she can help get you there.

 

          1        Daniela Angelucci, Deleuze and the Concepts of Cinema, Sarin Marchetti (trans.), Deleuze Studies, Volume 8, Number 3, Edinburgh University Press, London, September 2014

          2        Ibid, 316

          3        Ibid, 317

          4        Ibid, 326

          5        Ibid, 325

          6        Ibid, 409

          7        Ibid, 404

          8        Ibid, 405

          9        Ibid, 386

          10      Ibid, 390

          11      Ibid, 348

          12      Ibid, 349

          13      Ibid, 349

          14      Ibid, 349

          15      Gilles Deleuze, Coldness and Cruelty, New York: Zone Books, 1991

          16      Ibid, 375

          17      Ibid, 371

          18      Ibid, 382

          19      Ibid, 365

          20      Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994, 234

 

© 2018 Max Delahaye

 

 

Max Delahaye

 


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