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Projections of MemoryRomanticism, Modernism, and the Aesthetics of Film$
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Richard I. Suchenski

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190274108

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190274108.001.0001

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“The Era of the Image Has Arrived”

“The Era of the Image Has Arrived”

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 “The Era of the Image Has Arrived”
Source:
Projections of Memory
Author(s):

Richard I. Suchenski

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190274108.003.0002

The ecstatic tone of Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927) encapsulates the euphoric hopes of the silent era. Conceived as a “Cathedral of Light,” the film offers the strongest possible link to Romantic aesthetics and ideas. Although they have a shared investment in temporal scale, ritual, and the Promethean functions of the artist, post–World War II works in this vein proceed with very different assumptions. The war blocked access to a past onto which unrealized aspirations could be projected. In his seven-and-a-half-hour Hitler, a Film from Germany (1977), Hans-Jürgen Syberberg transplants these ideas onto the war itself, examining the mutual co-option of both filmmaking and utopian Romantic rhetoric in the Nazi period. Syberberg’s Brechtian distance and reliance on sound acts as a dialectical foil to the image-oriented paradigm advanced by Gance. By addressing their work together, the first chapter demonstrates the historically contingent nature of this type of project.

Keywords:   Abel Gance, D. W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Manoel de Oliveira, Élie Faure, religion, opera, silent era, politics

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