FILM AS A SUBVERSIVE ART by Amos Vogel

FILM AS A SUBVERSIVE ART

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Broader than deep and laid out like a textbook, on Film and the 20th century mind. Just what relationship that ""and"" presumes is still somewhat muzzy. At one point Vogel claims for the medium an orphic potency (in the imperceptible micro-interval of darkness after each frame, images dive unobstructed to the deepest levels of consciousness, and ""the power of the image. . .is real. . .""); at another, he styles its artists mere ""naked barometers,"" senders of ""flares in the night."" These probably aren't irreconcilable propositions, and at this introductory level of cultural history it doesn't matter much anyway, but it would help to have a more settled definition of ""subversion."" Taken sometimes as the ""attempt to undermine existing institutions or value systems,"" it can just as often mean the purely testimonial shifts of bearing, reflecting new ideas and altered moods, that come more or less automatically to any art in a progressive (or declining) culture. The subversiveness of art per se is only glancingly considered, and film is made a special case largely on grounds of its compatibility with an electro-mechanical age. In chapters introducing pertinent themes and loci of action -- Soviet renaissance, Surrealism, Nazi propaganda -- it is shown to have undermined us with everything from sex to the space-time continuum. The extensive and valuable annotated lists of titles include many that seem as if they'd be hard to get -- but where there's a readership an archive should not be far away.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1974
ISBN: 1933045272
Publisher: Random House