Left Bank Cinema: Memories of History and the Experience of Time
Keywords:Memory, Time, Modernism, Katabasis, Cinema, Film Studies, Les Statues Meurrent Aussi, Resnais, Marker, Sans Soleil, Statues also Die, Sunless, Left Bank cinema
In this paper, I use two films—Les Statues MeurrentAussi (Statues also Die, 1953) directed by Resnais and Marker and Sans Soleil (Sunless, 1983) as representatives of Left Bank cinema to show how they construct experiences of time and memory using various modernist strategies. Key to this is the use of a mental journey genre in modernist cinema and the construction of a facial dispositif which leads to a perceptual experiencing of inner states. Les Statues MeurrentAussi is a key film in the history of French cinema as it highlights Alain Resnais’ and Chris Marker’s early commitment towards a politically avant-garde filmmaking style. The film was banned for many decades because it was highly critical of France’s colonial interests. The film is also a proof to the less emphasised collaboration between two pioneering directors and especially in their use of the essay film genre. Sans Soleil on the other hand is considered as a philosophical masterpiece because of its meditations on time and memory. In taking these two films, I hope not only to demonstrate cinema’s capability to generate affective spatio-temporal states but also to highlight a piece of film history which is often misappropriated under the tag of the French New Wave.
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