Monday, 15 October 2007

r.i.p. rudolf arnheim

I have just learnt (through Cinematical) of the death, last June, of Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007), one of the greatest and most important of film theorists. Though there is much to criticize in his theories (as Noel Carroll demonstrates so eloquently in Philosophical Problems of Classical Film Theory), it is undeniable that his early contributions to the academic field of film studies was instrumental in the development of the understanding of film as a new and valuable art form.

Despite the flaws in his arguments, and a certain narrowness in his vision (he continued to criticize the sound film as a dilution of the purity of silent cinema), the ideas expressed in his seminal work Film als Kunst (1932) are still endlessly valuable in understanding the cinematic art. Locating the value of film in the specific ways in which it diverges from the mechanical, photographic recording of reality (and thus emphasizing the inherent artifice, rather than the realist aspect, of fimmaking), he outlined these specific divergences as being the cause of film's expressive power, thus paving the way for much formalist analysis of the medium. He remains one of the greatest and most important theorists of this still-young medium.


Lara said...
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Lara said...

To have your name preserved even in some insignificant nook in history is a compulsion that drives any serious writer...Arnheim's place is more like a meteor-sized crater in the realm of film as art...We can only hope that this was enough for him...Maybe even when we achieve this we cannot be happy to go, I guess we won't know till we get there...Thank you for writing for yourself and for us :-)