Cinematic Vitalism
Cinematic Vitalism
Film Theory and the Question of Life
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Acknowledgements Introduction: ‘The sanguine, pulsating, enterprising modern life’: Cinema and Vitalism 1. Taking Life for a Spin 2. Turn-of-the-century Vitalism and Philosophy of Life 3. Early Film Theory 4. Cinematic Vitalism Chapter 1: Vitalism and Abstraction: Rhythm and Non-Organic Life from Hans Richter to Sergei Eisenstein 27 1. The Reinvention of Cinema in Abstract Film 2. A Universal Language 3. Bergson, Intuition, and Art 4. Setting Form into Motion: Scroll Paintings and Empathy 5. Transition to Film 6. Back into Matter: from Abstraction to Montage Chapter 2: New Worlds: Uexküll’s Umwelt Theory at the Movies 1. Forays 2. A Meditation on Mediated Dogs 3. The Agony of the Starfish: Uexküll’s Chronophotography 4. Of Ticks and Humans 5. Against Anthropocentrism: Umwelt and Cinema 6. A Necessary Field of Action: Benjamin, Umwelt, and Play 7. Painlevé’s Cinema of Bewilderment Chapter 3: The Interweaving of World and Self: Transformations of Stimmung in Expressionist and Kammerspiel Film 100 1. The Mediation of a Dog’s World 2. A Brief Aesthetic History of Stimmung 3. Turn-of-the-Century Vitalist Stimmung and the Cinema: Georg Simmel and Hugo von Hofmannsthal 4. Balázs, Kammerspielfilm, and Expressionism 5. The Kammerspiel Film: Naturalist Plots and Progressive Aesthetics Chapter 4: Open Bodies, Open Stories: Evolution, Narration and Spectatorship in Postwar Film Theory 1. The Axolotl and the Cinema: Bazin, Bergson, and Evolution 2. Cinema’s Milieu 3. Life and the Temporalities of Film and Painting 4. Post-Apocalyptic Life: Kracauer’s Theory of Film 5. Conclusion: Vital Cinema Bibliography

Inga Pollmann

Cinematic Vitalism

Film Theory and the Question of Life

This book argues that there are constitutive links between early twentieth-century German and French film theory and practice, on the one hand, and vitalist conceptions of life in biology and philosophy, on the other. By considering classical film-theoretical texts and their filmic objects in the light of vitalist ideas percolating in scientific and philosophical texts of the time, Cinematic Vitalism reveals the formation of a modernist, experimental and cinematic strand of vitalism in and around the movie theater. The book focuses on the key concepts including rhythm, environment, mood, and development to show how the cinematic vitalism articulated by film theorists and filmmakers maps out connections among human beings, milieus, and technologies that continue to structure our understanding of film.

Inga Pollmann

Inga Pollmann is Assistant Professor in Film Studies in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.