ANDRÉ BAZIN by Dudley Andrew

ANDRÉ BAZIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Andrew eulogizes Bazin as ""the subtlest, most natural, and most important thinker the field of film has had,"" but his real interest lies not in the nuances of Bazin's strikingly original work, but in its continuity with contemporary French thought. The result is a complex, sometimes turgid study of Bazinian theory and its influences, with particular attention to French thinkers Roger Leenhardt and Emmanuel Mounier, as well as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, AndrÉ Malraux, and Jean-Paul Sartre. In the first major book devoted exclusively to the ""Aristotle of film,"" Andrew (The Major Film Theories, 1976) explores Bazin's philosophy of life and cinema, describing his critical virtues as an ability to discern the intent (rarely realized) of any film and ""an even greater ability to point to the means by which the artistic transaction of any film or genre can be honored."" Bazin's passion for deep focus, reality-oriented filmmaking and for the ""personal"" films of Orson Welles, the Italian neorealists, and Jean Renoir is examined as an extension of Mounier's ""personalist approach""; and Andrew argues, quite convincingly, that even Bazin's favorite films serve as grist to wellhoned theories. The indefatigable teacher who founded cinÉ-clubs throughout France is sketched here, as is the St. Francis figure, frail and exuberant, who adopted crocodiles, parrots, and FranÇois Truffaut; who inspired ""serious"" film criticism the world over; and whose Cahiers du Cinema nurtured France's ""New Wave."" Yet, despite a plethora of quotes, the personality of Bazin never really quickens. Where Andrew succeeds is in his scholarly analysis of Bazin's critical terrain.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
ISBN: 0231073992
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press