Was Bazin directly inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” in the elaboration of his uniquely influential theory of film? Did his ontologic conception of film as reproduction somehow spring out from the reading of Benjamin’s most famous writing? Answering this question would be of strategic importance in acknowledging what should appear to be a quite obvious, if subterranean, Benjaminian lineage in the French cultural tradition, since Bazin seems to be the missing link in an otherwise recognizable critical constellation, which includes André Malraux, Jean-Luc Godard, Guy Debord, and Serge Daney. The debt these authors owe Benjamin, mainly uncredited, marks their own assumption of his idea of critique as appropriation, where the practice of citation goes without the use of quotation mark. As for Bazin, no evidence has been uncovered to date that he may have known the essay, but his elaboration of the theme of technological reproducibility shows so many points of convergence—as well as divergence—with Benjamin’s theory, that the doubt is inescapable. At any rate, the hypothesis is not implausible, since the “Artwork” essay was for a long while only available in French, published in 1936 by the Institute for Social Research in its journal, which at the time was issued in Paris. It was not until 1955 that a later German version of the essay (initially destined to appear in the Moscow-based journal Das Wort) was finally issued in Germany, while the first English translation did not come into being until 1968. So in fact for more than twenty years the corpus of reflections to which Benjamin had attributed the most decisive value, in programmatic terms, remained accessible only to Francophone readers. While certainly not intentional, this exclusively French destiny was also not entirely accidental on the part of Benjamin, as publication in French was quite an unusual choice for the Institute journal – an exception that can only be explained by the author’s explicit vow that the essay should chiefly address “the avant-garde of French intellectuals.”

From Benjamin to Bazin: Beyond the Image, the Aura of the Event

DALL'ASTA, MONICA
2011

Abstract

Was Bazin directly inspired by Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” in the elaboration of his uniquely influential theory of film? Did his ontologic conception of film as reproduction somehow spring out from the reading of Benjamin’s most famous writing? Answering this question would be of strategic importance in acknowledging what should appear to be a quite obvious, if subterranean, Benjaminian lineage in the French cultural tradition, since Bazin seems to be the missing link in an otherwise recognizable critical constellation, which includes André Malraux, Jean-Luc Godard, Guy Debord, and Serge Daney. The debt these authors owe Benjamin, mainly uncredited, marks their own assumption of his idea of critique as appropriation, where the practice of citation goes without the use of quotation mark. As for Bazin, no evidence has been uncovered to date that he may have known the essay, but his elaboration of the theme of technological reproducibility shows so many points of convergence—as well as divergence—with Benjamin’s theory, that the doubt is inescapable. At any rate, the hypothesis is not implausible, since the “Artwork” essay was for a long while only available in French, published in 1936 by the Institute for Social Research in its journal, which at the time was issued in Paris. It was not until 1955 that a later German version of the essay (initially destined to appear in the Moscow-based journal Das Wort) was finally issued in Germany, while the first English translation did not come into being until 1968. So in fact for more than twenty years the corpus of reflections to which Benjamin had attributed the most decisive value, in programmatic terms, remained accessible only to Francophone readers. While certainly not intentional, this exclusively French destiny was also not entirely accidental on the part of Benjamin, as publication in French was quite an unusual choice for the Institute journal – an exception that can only be explained by the author’s explicit vow that the essay should chiefly address “the avant-garde of French intellectuals.”
Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife
57
65
M. Dall'Asta
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/92230
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