Kino-Eye, Kino-Bayonet: The Avant-Garde Documentary in Japan, France, and the USSR
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis dissertation considers a grouping of films in the former USSR, France, and Japan from the perspective of the political aesthetics they aim to create. These films, usually considered avant-garde documentaries, provide complementary and transnational examples of a freer and more affect-driven Marxist political filmmaking practice that likely originated with Dziga Vertov in the USSR. Rather than simply transmitting a tendentious political message, Vertov and others try to emancipate the viewer's political sensibility through a series of disruptive and playful aesthetic techniques. By utilizing what Friedrich Schiller and Jacques Rancière call ‘free aesthetic play,’ these documentaries free the viewer from the ballast of habit. This emancipatory political filmmaking did not end with Vertov, and forms a trajectory: importantly, it reappears with the failure of political change on a mass societal scale. Faced with the disappointment of political movements which emphasize a simple transmission of text from government and citizen, artists instead attempt to use cinema as a tool for a personal, and political, transformation.
This tendency thus re-emerges in France and Japan in the 1960s during their own failing revolutionary moments: Mai ’68 in France, and the protests against ANPO (the US-Japan Security Treaty) in Japan. However, the films created from these political avant-garde movements vary in success: while many Japanese filmmakers from the 1960s (e.g. Matsumoto Toshio, Hani Susumu, Imamura Shohei, Wakamatsu Koji, Terayama Shuji) exhibit the playful and estranging qualities of Vertov’s films, French filmmakers post-1968, especially the Dziga Vertov Group, are quite didactic, and differ significantly from free aesthetic play, and from Vertov’s own productions; although they aim to emancipate, the films’ anti-pleasurable tendencies serve instead to alienate the viewer. This dissertation thus unearths a political avant-gardist tendency that highlights a politics of emancipation rather than transmission, and is defined by play, affect, and formalist estrangement. It is grounded in theories of politics and aesthetics, especially Walter Benjamin and Jacques Rancière, and stems from archival research in the National Diet Library and the Sogestu Art Center in Japan.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:39987970
- FAS Theses and Dissertations