In Search of Lost Time
There is no easy way to summarise Gilles Deleuze's two film books, Cinema 1:The Movement Image and Cinema 2: The Time Image, yet we should see this not as a failure of argument, more the presence of images that cannot easily be disentangled. We sense less that Deleuze has sat down with a clear thesis in mind, more that the disparate images that he has encountered over the years of film viewing had been thus far inadequately explored and explained. This is partly because film has been seen for too long as a language system rather than an informational system, as a means by which to move narrative along over a perceptual field that we encounter. Many film theories have been held together by two assumptions: realism and narration. Now this doesn't mean that most film theorists have been realistically inclined: from Arnheim to Eisenstein this hasn't been the case. But while defending film formalism they have done so by taking for granted the real from which the film image must escape. Dudley Andrew notes: "Eisenstein recognized that the elementary film particle, the shot, is different from a tone or sound. It is already comprehensible, and appeals immediately to the mind of the spectator as well as to his senses." (The Major Film Theories) The realism in the shot had to be "neutralized" and given over to aesthetic arrangement. Equally, film narration has had a no less strong hold on film, and experimental cinema is often seen as an eschewal of narrative norms, a way of putting greater sensuality into cinema. As Stephen Dwoskin says: "narrative is stylized to form a general statement, and all other things become subordinate to the narrative." This is plot logic, and "the danger of being too intellectual is that one loses the ability to feel." (Film Is) Experimental film frequently tries to escape plot logic and searches out sensation.
Deleuze needed to find a completely new formulation to avoid falling into numerous theoretical traps that wouldn't allow him to open up the image, to see it in all its multi-faceted originality. The two books are works of subtle perception over a forced argument: they try to find singular ways in which to understand the greatest works of film. Any argument pursued must be contained by the brilliance of the finest filmmakers, and if some might balk at the idea of cinema as an art form held together by its finest directors, then look at any top hundred list of films and notice how few of them have been made by directors who don't have enormous reputations. Occasionally a memorable film is made by a filmmaker who wouldn't otherwise be worthy of much attention (Michael Curtiz's Casablanca, Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz) but most great films are made by important directors. Thus from Deleuze's point of view even a minor Hitchcock comedy is a working through of a directorial preoccupation. Seeing Hitchcock as a significant filmmaker of a certain type of thought process, he says "relations, as external to their terms, have always been the subject of English philosophical thought." He sees in Mr and Mrs Smith this problem when a couple realise their marriage was never legally verified: "When a relation terminates or changes, what happens to its terms?" This is a minor film working on a major theme (we will come back to Hitchcock later) and so Deleuze insists that "it is not sufficient to compare the great directors of the cinema with painters, architects or even musicians. They must also be compared with thinkers."
This is a grand claim, but no writer on film has more completely and successfully met his own challenge. By seeing filmmakers as thinkers, Deleuze escapes the two assumptions we have momentarily addressed: that film is a medium of the real, and that cinema is a narrative form. Deleuze isn't indifferent to these claims, but he wants very much to reformulate them, and this is where Henri Bergson becomes so important to the project, as someone who helps Deleuze capture a fundamental aspect of film as an abstract system in its commercial dimension, and often much more concrete in its more radical works. Deleuze opens by discussing Bergson's notion of time and space. Strictly speaking time and space are indivisible, but for various reasons we carve it up to make sense of it. Cinema is an addition to this abstraction that Deleuze traces as far back as Zeno and the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise, where because of the sub-division of space the tortoise will never be overtaken. Yet there is a basic difference. Where in life we have an ongoing flow of the real that we then shape into a reality, film as celluloid does the opposite. In life as Bergson notes: "we take snapshots, as it were, of the passing reality, and, as these are characteristics of the reality, we have only to string them together." In cinema however we start with the instants and create out of them a sense of flowing time. Cinema as celluloid form is made up of twenty four frames a second (initially eighteen), and the projector allows them to feel continuous.
Deleuze explores Bergson's three theses on movement, but what concerns us is this shift from seeing film as resembling our natural perception, to viewing cinema as a constantly changing mode of attention. If the first thesis indicates a similarity between our perception and cinema's, the second thesis distinguishes two types of perceptual illusions. Deleuze sees these as the ancient and the modern. In the ancient he notices that Forms and Ideas, eternal and immobile, are then "grasped as close as possible to their actualisation in a matter-flux." However, in the modern, scientific era: "instead of producing an intelligible synthesis of movement, a sensible analysis was derived from it." This is loosely Plato's Forms versus Bacon's empiricism, and while the more philosophically inclined might want to quibble with Deleuze and Bergson's broad sweep (wasn't Aristotle more inclined to the empirical than Plato in antiquity; wasn't German Idealism a reaction to empirical assumption?) the pedantry would be less interesting than the insight Deleuze and Bergson move towards. This sensible analysis was evident in cinema's scientific side: from Muybridge's experiments to Eisenstein's more aesthetically oriented interest in the cell: in using a shot to collide with other shots to create what he would call kino fist. Just as Muybridge could show in a still that the horse's four legs were off the ground simultaneously, so Eisenstein could put shots together that would create an impact on the viewer that was uniquely cinematic. These would be very different effects - one based on scientific precision; the other on artistic license (as time and space are hard to locate in The Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin) - but the point is the same. They take an instant and shape it into a clear perception.
Yet what about the third thesis? How does it differ from the first and the second, and why is it so vital to modern cinema? If the first thesis indicated a certain similarity with the givens of form (a mode of Idealism), and the second with the shaping of reality according to pragmatic principles (empiricism), then the third thesis indicates the importance of time working on us without interruption. Bergson gives as an example sugar dissolving in a glass. Of course, as Deleuze notes, we can stir so that the sugar will dissolve more quickly in the glass, but then we would have a moment of movement over the presence of time. By waiting for the image to change rather than instigating this transformation, we are allowing for an image of time to take place. There is a change, but we don't insistently bring it into being, we allow time to transform it. Man steps back from the action and is enfolded within the universe. The sugar in the glass might be a prosaic image, but its principle can be extended into any instance where we let being be, where we allow time its essence.
But how is this different from the Ancients and the idea of eternity, since some will see Bergson's position resembling theirs? The basic difference resides in the absence of time in Plato; the absolute centrality of it in Bergson. Plato's forms are eternal; Bergson's duration is constantly evolving. It isn't the eternally closed system of the forms, nor the contained closed system necessary for scientific analysis, but the open system that allows for ongoing change, for what Bergson would call, in the title of one of his books, Creative Evolution. As Deleuze says: "(1) there are not only instantaneous images, that is, immobile sections of movement; (2) there are movement-images which are mobile sections of duration; (3) there are, finally, time-images, that is, duration-images, change-images, relation-images, volume-images which are beyond movement itself."
If much that passes for classical cinema is consistent with the first and the second of Bergson's theses, modern cinema is closer to this third dimension: to direct images of time. To understand this contrast let us think of movement-images in a typical action film, and time-images evident in action's absence. Talking of the Western, Deleuze says: "finally, there was a big gap between the situation and the action to be undertaken, but this gap only existed to be filled." This could be the frontier spirit, where the family travel west to reach their goal. "The hero had to actualise the power which made him equal to the situation." In contrast, in images of time "daily life allows only weak sensory-motor connections to survive, and replaces the action-image by pure optical and sound images." A character walks the streets with no clear destination in La notte or Cleo from 5 to 7: instead of dictating the milieu they absorb it. Time is not the property of the character, but the character the property of time. If the western hero stirs the sugar, so to speak, the figures in Michelangelo Antonioni and Agnes Varda's films allow it to dissolve.
This though is a very provisional way into the differences, and we must always keep in mind that images of time are also from a different perspective images of movement. In the Movement-Image Deleuze discusses C. S. Peirce and 'firstness'. "It is not a sensation, a feeling, an idea, but the quality of a possible sensation, feeling or idea." This leads to expression over actualisation, and we might be left to wonder why this would be an image of movement rather than a question of time. If we think of all those scenes in sixties films of characters who are receptive rather than reactive, who see things but don't act upon them, then wouldn't they be examples of firstness? Yet this is where we should be careful not to simplify Deleuze's argument for the purposes of pointing out contradictions, but instead see that the brilliant tension in the work rests on being faithful to the auteurs under discussion while still creating an overriding argument that can contain them. Varda's work can be both movement-image and time-image, just as an actor like Alain Delon can be relevant to firstness in a Joseph Losey film like Mr Klein and pertinent to the time-image in Antonioni's The Eclipse. Firstness would incorporate what Deleuze calls the affection-image, an aspect of movement, but one that gets caught in an immediate quality.
Quoting critic Claude Ollier, Deleuze notices that Varda's films often "absorb not only the spectator, but the characters themselves, and the situations in complex movements affected by the complementary colours." In Varda's Le Bonheur we have the story of a man who cheats on his wife, tells his spouse, with the wife then committing suicide, but this isn't simply a tragic story of a woman's death; it is a tale of renewal too as the family continues but with the wife replaced by the lover. It is as though the colours the film utilises absorb the moral system we are expected to abide by. We can think here of the scene of the wife's death as the husband searches for her after she has drowned herself. There is little in the mise en scene to suggest loss: the visual aesthetic gives us the feeling of impressionist paintings. In Deleuzian terms we are in "a total cinema of colour" that can seem more important than other aspects of the film. Hence when Deleuze earlier says that "firstness is thus the category of the Possible; it gives a proper consistency to the possible", we can see how firstness functions on two levels in Varda's film. It is both an intensity of colour that 'blinds' us to the moral dimension; and in blinding us asks us to accept a new moral possibility: that the best possible outcome will incorporate the lover into the film now the wife is absent. The firstness here creates what Deleuze calls the Possible but through colour. "Colour is the affect itself" he says, while earlier remarking on the affect as the possible: "if you like it is an immediate and instantaneous consciousness." What we have in Le bonheur is a colour affect stronger than moral impact; and if we insist on seeing the film as a moral outrage we miss out on its colourist possibility.
Yet firstness can also manifest itself in very different ways. When Deleuze refers to Delon as a great actor of static violence this again falls under firstness. Deleuze notices that there is a keg of violence in Losey's films, with the characters often not bogus hard men, but bogus weaklings: they possess a violence within them that results on occasion with the "adult kill[ing] in a position of impotence and [thus] breaks down like a child." In the example from Le Bonheur we have the image as Possible: a colour affect that cannot easily be understood but can be absorbed with an open mind. In some of Losey's films (and Deleuze mentions Time without Pity, The Trout, Mr Klein) we have firstness as violent affect, as an impulse image. This isn't the controlled aggression of an action hero, but the repressed confusion of someone ignorant of their own drives. Hence why Deleuze says this often "sets the trap of psychological or psychoanalytic interpretations."
Yet how is this different from the scenes in La notte, Cleo from 5 to 7, The Eclipse, Kings of the Road and other films that would more obviously fall under the time-image? We should keep in mind the image of the sugar stirred or dissolving, and think of the scene in La Notte where Jeanne Moreau's character Lidia witnesses a fight in the suburbs. Antonioni isn't concerned here with the sort of internal violence that preoccupies Losey, but the passivity of a woman who watches and listens: who becomes a witness, or in Deleuze's terms, a seer. Just as Cleo is a witness to the Paris she walks around, Bruno in Kings of the Road a witness to a carved up country in post-war Germany, so Lidia wanders the streets and the suburbs, a figure capable of releasing the signs of a time-image cinema: chronosigns, lectosigns, son signs and op signs. How do these neologisms work in Antonioni's films we might wonder, and why would they be examples of time over movement?
Let us take one word at a time. A chronosign is "an image where time is subordinate to movement and appears for itself", Deleuze says in the glossary, but more directly notes in the text that there exists in Antonioni's work "a specific weight of time operating inside the characters and excavating them from within..." This would be the chronosign, where the action is obliterated so time can be seen in the non-action. Lidia is a woman in her mid-to-late thirties without children married to a man she may no longer love, or who suspects may no longer love her. The fight she watches and eventually intervenes in, is in no way directly relevant to her life, but her presence at it, her wandering into the suburbs, leads us to wonder why she is there. These are images that must be read as symptoms, illegible in themselves, but symptomatic of something, and thus lectosigns. As Deleuze says, a lectosign is "an image that must be read as much as seen." These images are shaped by op signs and son signs: by optical and sound situations that don't result in action, but usually remain transfixed in non-action.
Just as we need to acknowledge the subtlety of Deleuze's distinctions so that filmmakers apparently given to movement-images (Bunuel, Bresson, Rohmer) prove equally pertinent to time-images, so we need to see the fine distinctions Deleuze makes in movement-images and time-images. There is an enormous difference between the movement-images in Ford and Kazan's films, and Bunuel and Bergman's. This resides chiefly and obviously in firstness and secondness, between an image possessing a quality initself, and an image residing in its relationship to other images, which constitutes secondness. Now of course images usually are linked together, but these links can be quite different. If we think of a close-up in a Bergman film and a close-up in a Ford film they are both of course technically close-ups, but they function very differently. At the beginning ofPersona Liv Ullmann's actress Elisabeth chats to the psychiatric doctor, and we see in Elisabeth's visage a tension that isn't about the external relationship with the world, but an interior thought process that suggests the right place for the camera is inside her head. The forcefulness of Bergman's close-ups often reside in our sense that they can never get close enough: that the scrutiny of the face is the limit point of comprehending inner thoughts. In an early scene inStagecoach, a group of people are travelling on the titular vehicle and at one moment Ringo (John Wayne) is talking about his brother. He compliments the doctor who fixed his brother's broken arm and the doctor asks what happened to the boy. Ringo announces that he was murdered as the film cuts from Ringo to Dallas (Claire Trevor) and then to the doctor and a couple of others in the shot back to Ringo. The close-ups don't interrogate a face as Bergman's so often do, because the purpose of the close-up is to instigate an action not to understand a mind. It is to set in motion the idea of a revenge drama, evident in the tone in which Ringo tells the others of his brother's death. Ford's film announces the impending duel: "secondness was wherever there were two by themselves: what is what it is in relation to a second. Everything which only exists by being opposed, by and in a duel, therefore belongs to secondness." Ringo announces his personality as a quest: he is a man who has got to do what a man has got to do, and he exists as the man who has to do it. Elisabeth's conflicts are much more internally generated, with any narrative purpose residing in revelation rather than action. In Ford's film we find out very quickly what is on Ringo's mind: it is the motivation for a central aspect of the story. What is on Elisabeth's mind cannot easily be revealed, and this is partly why Bergman's use of the close-up can never penetrate far enough. Ford's sets in motion the duel and thus functions in relation to secondness. Elisabeth's is there for affect: for making clear that we cannot easily see beyond the face and works as firstness. "There is no close up of the face," Deleuze says. "The close-up is the face". Quoting Bergman he notes: "our work begins with the human face...The possibility of drawing near to the human face is the primary originality and distinctive quality of the cinema."
Here we are distinguishing between firstness and secondness, and see that both images, the affect and the duel, fit into the movement-image, but there are far finer distinction at work than these. Firstness incorporates not only Bergman but as we've noted Losey and Varda too, and also Bunuel and Bresson. But each author coincides with firstness in their own way. Both Bunuel and Losey are seen as naturalists: directors who draw upon the problem of originary worlds, of naturalism. "It is not opposed to realism, but on the contrary accentuates its features by extending them in an idiosyncratic surrealism." This is where out of Zola the filmmakers utilises milieux but with the purposes of exhausting them, or exhausting the self within them. Bunuel is more inclined to the former; Losey to the latter. There is in Bunuel's films frequently absurd repetition at work; in the latter the self turning against itself. In Bunuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie or TheExterminating Angel we have a meal that never starts in the former and a meal the characters can never escape in the latter. Often Bunuel's characters obsess over others as in El, Tristana and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, or follow absurd religious rituals: Simon of the Desert, The Milky Way. Much of Bunuel's humour comes out of this repetition and also his fetishism. Deleuze says: "there is an identical parasitic impulse everywhere. This is the diagnosis. Hence the two poles of the fetish, fetishes of good and fetishes of evil, holy fetishes and fetishes of crime and sexuality also meet and interchange." Losey's relationship with naturalism shares similarities but is also quite distinct. There is rarely much humour in Losey's films, while in Bunuel's it is vital to the work. Instead a terrible impulse is at work, a tragic rather than absurd desire. "Losey is not describing any psychological mechanism; he is inventing an extreme logic of impulses." These are often male figures, in The Servant, Mr Klein and Accident. But the women "seem in advance of the milieu...this is the case with the sculptress in The Damned, but also Eve and the new Eve whom Losey discovers in The Trout." Deleuze compares these women to those in Thomas Hardy.
If firstness covers the intensity of Varda's colourism, the force of Bergman's faces, the repetition of Bunuel and the impulses of Losey's men, then where does Bresson fit? The great French director is a filmmaker of any-space-whatevers. Deleuze notes that in Bresson's films the close-up isn't a product of what he calls external composition - their relationship with long shots, medium shots and so on that can clearly map out screen space, but are instead internal compositions. "There is an internal composition of the close-up, that is genuinely affective framing, cutting [decoupage] and montage...internal composition is the relationship of the close-up, either to other close-ups, or to itself, its elements and dimensions. There is, moreover, no great difference between the two..." Deleuze sees this evident in various filmmakers (in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, in Bergman's Cries and Whispers, in Pabst's Lulu), but no filmmaker has pushed this approach more than Bresson. In his work "it is the construction of a space, fragment by fragment, a space of tactile value, where the hand ends up by assuming the directing function which returns to it in Pickpocket, dethroning the face. The law of this space is fragmentation." Whether it is the pickpocketing scene in Pickpocket, a joust in Lancelot du Lac or a fight in L'argent, Bresson is amongst the most rigorous of filmmakers in reorganizing space for his own ends. Here we can see that firstness takes various manifestations but the most important aspect resides in the filmmaker's singularity.
A number of filmmakers of firstness hint at the possibility of secondness, whilst also containing the former dimension. Thus we can see similarities between Losey's impulses, Kazan's tortured figures, and Nicholas Ray's neurotics. Seeing similarities between Kazan and Ray, Deleuze says of the latter's characters: "the young man's violence is an active violence, a violence of reaction against the milieu, against society, against the father, against poverty and injustice, against solitude." Here there are characters who are involved in duels (the game of Chicken in Rebel without a Cause; the clash between Brando and the shoremen in On the Waterfront), but they retain elements of naturalism in their impulses: the neurosis of Dean in the former, the hesitant tenderness of Brando with the pigeons in the latter. These are not heroes of action cinema as we find in John Wayne films or Humphrey Bogart movies: they have absorbed the Method as actions pass through Stanislavski's emotion memory.
Thus secondness can incorporate the tortuous men played by Brando, Dean and Clift, but also the forceful figures of Wayne, Bogart, Holden and Randolph Scott. Whether tender-hearted or hard-drinking these are figures usually in conflict with others. How often do we see John Wayne vengeful and determined, whether it is killing the men who killed his brother in Stagecoach, taking on and threatening to take out Clift's character in Red River, or searching for his niece in The Searchers? The difference often resides in the degree to which any action is contained by an internal conflict demanding almost symptoms of external manifestation as in the Method actors, against any tortuousness that is sublimated in a more action-oriented figure. We don't doubt Wayne has demons in Red River and The Searchers, but his roles couldn't easily be played by James Dean or Marlon Brando. Yet Dean, Brando and others exist within the action-image. "We know that the action -image..., in this sense, found its systemisation in the Actors Studio and in Kazan's cinema....Now it is clear that the actor is never neutral and never stationary. When he is not bursting out he is being permeated and never remains tranquil."
However, this approach is quite different from what Deleuze finds in Howard Hawks' Western films. In the method approach Deleuze says "only the inner counts, but this inner is not beyond or hidden, it is not the same as the genetic element of behaviour, which must be shown....this realist image never forgets that it is presenting by definition fictitious situations and sham action..." This could be Brando's claim in The Wild One when, asked what he is rebelling against, he says what have you got, the drunken behaviour of Paul Newman's character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, or Dean's in A Rebel Without a Cause taking on a rival in a knife fight. But in Hawks' westerns Deleuze sees a much more functional milieu: "the purely functional prison in Rio Bravo does not even need to show us its prisoner; the church in El Dorado no longer bears witness to anything but an abandoned function; the town of Rio Lobo is reduced to a diagram..." "At the same time, the fundamental group becomes very vague, and the only community which is still well-defined is the incongruous makeshift group...it is a functional group which no longer has its foundation in the organic."
Thus the action-image can incorporate strongly internal characteristics, and also behaviour that isn't very psychologically motivated at all. Often in the action-image characters find themselves in situations, whether in Hawk's Rio Bravo, Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, in Stevens'Shane. The gunmen in each film must do what they have to do and consequently there is no sense of the sham action evident in the Method school cinema, no sense of the action caught between firstness and secondness in the naturalist cinema where a man might kill not because he has a reason in the milieu, but an idea of himself in his head. Hence Deleuze's remark about a character in Losey's films who might see himself as a weakling and thus makes up for this weakness with a brutal action. Yet it is there in Ray's films too: "the more violent he is, the more of a child he becomes", evident in Rebel Without a Cause. Naturalism and Method realism aren't always so far apart. The former remains affiliated with firstness, but the Method moves into the action-image.
There are a number of sub-divisions evident in the action-image, but probably the most pronounced distinction rests on the large and the small form, and in situation-action-situation as opposed to action-situation-action (0ften accompanied by an apostrophe that indicates a change). In Herzog's films Deleuze shows the director utlises both. It might seem odd that the philosopher places a director so central to a type of filmmaking that would seem close to the rarefications of the time-image, at the centre of the movement-image, but as we have made clear, these categories are far from fixed: a filmmaker can exemplify a problem in the first book and usefully explain a problem in the second one. Herzog is one such case. What Deleuze sees in Herzog's films as an 'action' director is this capacity to work in both large and small form. "In one, a man who is larger than life frequents a milieu which is itself larger than life, and dreams up an action as great as the milieu. "It is an SAS' form", Deleuze says, but a very special one: the action, in effect, is not required by the situation, it is a crazy enterprise, born in the head of a visionary, which seems to be the only one capable of rivalling the milieu in its entirety." We see this in Aguirre, Wrath of God, Heart of Glass and Fitzcarraldo. Yet there is also the small form. In Even Dwarfs Started Small, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Stroszek the figures are no "longer visionaries, but weaklings and idiots...beings incapable of being used." "The landscapes are dwarfed or flattened, they turn sad and dismal, even tend to disappear." This is ASA. The people in the latter don't have the strength to change their circumstances and the milieu often reflects a weakness in the world; where in SAS we have megalomaniacs strenuously asserting themselves in grand settings. Thus we can easily see how Herzog's large form, his interest in Situation-Action-Situation, resembles many an American film suggesting heroic prowess or a frontier spirit. Yet one reason Deleuze sees in Herzog an aspect that goes beyond the action film rests on the degradation vital to Herzog's 'epics'. For in the former the situation leads to an action that transforms the situation. The hero conquers the mountain he has always wished to climb; the frontier man builds a life for himself and his family out west. It is rather more complicated in Herzog's work.
Sometimes we find even in Hollywood films that the situation isn't modified positively, but negatively, leading to a downward spiral. The extreme form of this can be seen in films about alcoholics, gamblers or gangsters: mixing Deleuze's examples with some of our own we can think of The Lost Weekend, The Gambler, The Hustler; Scarface, Good Fellas, Mean Streets. Deleuze even proposes an SAS" to conceptualise the films. Such fine line distinctions can seem too subtle, but Deleuze's conceptual apparatus is always there to avoid falling into generalisations so broad they become useless. Better to risk obscurity with distinctions so refined they become very useful indeed. If for example we think of Herzog as an action director who often makes films about absurd heroes, then how does that make him so dissimilar from John Ford? Is Ethan Edwards' search for his niece in The Searchers a mad quest, turned sane by the final success of his mission? But of course that would only be the half of it. There is as Deleuze notes Herzog's fascination with Being: "he is the most metaphysical of cinema directors". This is partly why Herzog is of course also a filmmaker of the time-image: as Deleuze says in the volume of that name: "in Herzog we witness an extraordinary effort to present to the view specifically tactile images which characterize the situation of defenceless beings, and unite with the grand visions of those suffering from hallucinations."
One other aspect of the action image worth noting rests in the importance of the index. This is often useful for the small form, where rather than the entire environment being given; it can be suggested. Deleuze discusses an exchange between Mikhail Romm and Eisenstein. Talking of the German occupation in Rouen, Romm explained that he wasn't going to take on the entire milieu but settle for a 'a little tale'. Eisenstein said that he "personally would have taken the former: the large one: this is a perfect alternative between the two forms of action-image, SAS' and ASA'." Eisenstein then believed that if Romm was going to work minimally he should at least "film the boots so that it makes a striking image." This would be a very strongly specific image - the part that could signify a much greater whole in the absence of the missing epic dimension. It is something many a filmmaker on a low budget ought to think about. If one doesn't have the money for extended car chases or big explosions, how to show an index of the enormous event? Perhaps one would hear the explosion off screen and the film would cut to details of the aftermath: a leg blown off, blood on a wall.
This leads us into thirdness, and what Deleuze calls the crisis in the image, exemplified in the work of Hitchcock. This may seem similar to the duel in action, but as Deleuze says: "an action relates two terms, but this spatio-temporal relation (for example, opposition) must not be confused with the logical relation." Hitchcock was fascinated by the set-piece, but he rarely made 'action' films and this rests in his interest in relations: in the logical nature of events where the confirmation of the action sequence is curiously secondary to the working out of the interconnections. Think of all those moments in Hitchcock films where we work out the correspondences between things. This is exemplified in Rear Window where we have the apartment bound Jefferies making sense of a murder that has taken place in a flat across the way. Rope never leaves the apartment but a murder is solved through deduction not action: through the logical relations. Often Deleuze sees what he calls the demark in the director's work. "Certain of Hitchcock's demarks are famous, like the windmill in Foreign Correspondent whose sails turn the opposite direction in the wind, or the crop-spraying plane in North by Northwest." It starts us thinking about the relationship between things.
Yet how does this lead to the crisis in the image? We can think again of Rear Window, and imagine Jefferies thinking up a scenario but possessing no means by which to solve the crime. There are various hypotheses but no categorical outcome. In Vertigo Scottie loses one woman and tries to make her in the image of the woman he has lost, only to discover that the first woman was one he had, before her demise, never met: she was 'played' by the second woman in a murder ruse that allowed the woman's husband to get rid of his wife, and that Scottie then loses the second woman after getting her to reenact the events that led to the other woman's downfall. It is indeed an image of vertigo, with Scottie falling in love twice over, and the women falling to their deaths in identical fashion. Hitchcock even innovated technically for the film: adopting a zoom out/track in shot to capture the sense of vertigo. This leads in Deleuze's belief, to "a re-examination of their [the images] nature and status, moreover, the whole movement-image which would be re-examined through the rupture of the sensory-motor links in a particular character."
Hitchcock was far from alone in generating this crisis, and at the end of the first book and at the beginning of the second, in the chapter 'Beyond the Movement Image', Deleuze lucidly maps out what allowed for the development of a different type of image structure. He sees the new image coming out of a number of characteristics: "the form of the trip/ballad, the multiplication of cliches, the events that hardly concern those they happen to, in short the slackening of sensory-motor connections." In neo-realism and beyond the spaces filmed become almost as important as the stories told, with Deleuze looking at Visconti, Antonioni and Fellini. He sees in Visconti's first feature Ossessione in 1942 not simply an adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice, but a film where "we witness a very subtle change, the beginnings of a mutation of the general notion of situation...objects and settings take on an autonomous, material reality which gives them an importance in themselves." Deleuze reckons what matters now is that the action is "no longer sensory-motor, as in realism, but primarily optical and of sound, invested by the senses, before action takes shape in it and uses or confronts its elements." Deleuze goes as far as to say that while realism is still present, it seems secondary to a dreamlike connection that means the story floats within the situation: there is a poetic aspect missing from thrillers more focused on narrative, where the sounds and images push the story; they don't catch it in a wider world of sensitivity.
However, this becomes much more pronounced in Antonioni's work whilst holding onto the milieu of realism, and again in Fellini's, with the found reality of location often giving way to the presence of the Cinecitta set. "In Antonioni, from his first great work, Story of a Love Affair, the police investigation, instead of proceeding by flashback, transforms the action into optical and sound descriptions, whilst the tale itself is transformed into actions which are dislocated in time..." How often in Antonioni's work do we wonder what might be on a character's mind as the director eschews a flashback that would make it categorical? When Lidia walks alone in La notte and looks at an old clock lying on the ground is she thinking of her own body clock, her childless state? At another moment when she turns round and looks at a man in the street is she wondering about her husband's possible infidelities? Antonioni leaves such scenes suspended in interpretive mid-air as we must pay attention to the density of the present: to the sounds and images surrounding her. We have less information about her but more info about her milieu, and how she sensitively reacts to it. This remains evident even in Antonioni films where more information is provided. In The Passenger, Antonioni finds a variation of the flashback on more than one occasion. In one scene we notice that Antonioni moves from the present to the past within the one shot as Jack Nicholson's character replaces his name on the passport of a man who has recently died, and the film then shows this action before showing Nicholson and the man chatting on the balcony. In another scene we understand perhaps why Nicholson wishes to escape his identity as a TV journalist when in footage Nicholson recorded we see a rebel leader discussing, with Nicholson, the limitations of Nicholson's job. If Antonioni refuses the conventional flashback in his work it resides partly in the problem of the present that he doesn't want to resolve, but that he allows to resonate. It gives his work its famous ambiguity: it asks us to read signs but doesn't take for granted meaning. As Roland Barthes once said: Antonioni has "a proper feeling for meaning...you do not impose it, but you do not abolish it: your art consists in always leaving the path to meaning open..." ('Dear Antonioni...')
In Fellini's work, Deleuze notes the ambiguity functions quite differently. The director "achieves", in Barthelemy Amengual's words, "the deliberate confusion of the real and the spectacle." He does so, Deleuze says, "by denying the heterogeneity of the two worlds, by effacing not only distance, but the distinction between the spectator and the spectacle." Antonioni's worlds are abstracted but 'realistic'; Fellini's are often concrete but artificial, or realistic but spectacular. We can think of the mannerist tendencies evident in Roma, Casanova, And the Ship Sails On; the carnivalesque aspect to La Dolce Vita, 8 frac12; and Amarcord. All the world in Fellini is a soundstage or a party, and few filmmakers can be contrasted more than Antonioni and Fellini in how they utilise the frame. For Antonioni it is often what Deleuze calls a rarefied space; an emptied out mise en scene; in Fellini it is a saturated one: with more and more bodies, more and more freneticism filling the frame. In Fellini the idea of the stage and reality, of the performance and the self, of the set and the location, all become indeterminate. "...It is not simply the spectacle which tends to overflow the real, it is the everyday which continually organizes itself into a travelling spectacle..." Thus often a "character does not act without seeing himself acting, complicit viewer of the role he himself is playing..." Antonioni subdues performance; Fellini frequently exaggerates it. Fellini is also of course often drawn to the grotesque, with Roma, Amarcord and others possessing the dimension of a freak show, as though all the world is a circus if your dimensions are odd enough to become part of the spectacle. The ambiguous in Fellini's work frequently functions as a dissolution of environments and selves. This is why La Dolce Vita remains such a memorable work: the central character cannot quite commit himself to writing a novel because his life is novel: an episodic series of entertaining chapters in Roman life.
There are of course other filmmakers Deleuze mentions that moved the image into territory that couldn't be contained by movement, and few more so than Yasujiro Ozu. Ozu would seem to have pushed further than most into Andre Bazin's idea of drama losing its ontological base to the everyday; an aspect Bazin saw in Umberto D. Deleuze sees this everyday aspect at the core of Ozu's work, and thus disagrees with Paul Schrader's influential essay on the filmmaker where he talks of the director's 'Transcendental Style'. Schrader argues for a decisive action that marks a clear gap between the everyday and the spiritual. Deleuze instead believes that "everything is ordinary or banal, even death and the dead who are the object of a natural forgetting." In Ozu's films ordinariness is the basis for understanding, not at all limit situations. "Nature is happy to renew what man has broken, she restores what man sees shattered. And, when a character emerges for a moment from a family conflict or a wake to contemplate the snow-covered mountain, it is as if he were seeking to restore to order the series upset in his house but reinstated by an unchanging regular nature..." Deleuze disagrees with Schrader for very fundamental reasons: if Ozu in Tokyo Story, Late Spring and An Autumn Afternoon is a vital figure of the new image, of the time-image, then time must be more important than movement, stillness more significant than action. Schrader still believes in the decisive action, the moment that radically changes things evident for example in a spiritual conversion. Ozu's purpose for Deleuze is that he doesn't believe in decisive actions and thus Deleuze quotes Leibniz: "for the turns and returns, the highs and the lows...daily life allows only weak sensory motor connections to survive, and replaces the action-image by pure optical and sound images, opsigns and sonsigns."
Ozu is very important for understanding the shift from movement to time as Deleuze later talks again about Bergson and Peirce. "Why does Peirce think that everything ends with thirdness and the relation-image and that there is nothing beyond?" Deleuze sees that from the perspective of the whole that it expresses this would be the case, and this is why Hitchcock's films are so logically perfect: they usually manage to create a unified, coherent universe. "But we have encountered signs which, eating away at the action-image, also brought their effect to bear above and below."
What had been lost was the connection between movement images, with the perception image at one end, the action image at the other and the affection image in the middle. Thus the movement image retained coordinates: it had two sides "one in relation to objects whose relative position it varies, the other in relation to a whole - of which it expresses an absolute change. The positions are in space, but the whole that changes is in time." We have said too little about the perception image, and to do so we must flashback to the earlier stages of the first book. "One of its fascinating components rests on the freedom it can give to the camera and our eye. From Dziga Vertov's Man with the Movie Camera to the north American experimental school (Stan Brakhage, Tony Conrad, Michael Snow) we see what Deleuze calls a gaseous perception. "Flickering montage, extraction of the photogramme beyond the intermediate image, and of vibration beyond movement...hyper-rapid montage: extraction of a point of inversion...re-filming or re-recording: extraction of a particle of matter." Such an image is much more molecular than what he calls the 'liquid-image', evident in the French School: in Renoir, Gremillion, Vigo. The films are often concerned with water and the sea, and hinted at the more radical gaseous perception. "Finally, what the French school found in water was the promise or implication of another state of perception, a perception not tailored to solids..." The perception image could still hold strongly to narrative coordinates and characterisations, or could prove vital to the perceptual possibilities evident in Man with the Movie Camera, and then extended by Brakhage and others. This freedom evident in the image nevertheless doesn't quite call into question the image it would seem. This is where Deleuze notes an important distinction between movement-images and time-images. "It is still necessary for movement images to be normal: movement can only subordinate time, and make it into a number that indirectly measures it, if it fulfils conditions of normality." Eisenstein's films may be spatially incoherent as we cannot always distinguish where one character happens to be in relation to others in, for example, Battleship Potemkin, but the film's clear ideological thrust makes us aware not of intellectual bafflement, but time and space sacrificed to an assertive ideology. We are in no doubt that the proletariat are oppressed, and Eisenstein works from the montage cells we have earlier referred to (brief units of narrative information) believing that the overriding logic of the sequence will impose itself on specific moments of confusion. Indeed the confusion adds to the ideological: we aren't lucid spectators making sense of the situation; we are lost in it, at the mercy of the powerful filmic techniques Eisenstein utilises to make clear the importance of revolution. The camera can go anywhere in Man with the Movie Camera, but it doesn't retreat oddly from the action as we frequently find in Antonioni.
We notice here one of the fundamental differences between movement- images and time-images. Thus it isn't always enough for a film to be slow, to work in long takes and so on to pass necessarily for a time-image, though these will often be central to these images. What matters in one form or another is to create aberrations in time, or to eradicate our sense of the ready givens of time we find in movement. Frequently the movement becomes irrational, confused, disconnected, and with no overriding meaning making the images cohere. Equally we can have a long uninterrupted take but it isn't the number of minutes in the shot that will create this sense of time, it will be the dead time of the shot that offers so much more than narrative information. "The movement image can be perfect", Deleuze notes, but it remains amorphous, indifferent and static if it is not already deeply affected by injections of time which put montage into it, and alter movement." As Tarkovsky says: "the time in a shot must flow independently and, so to speak, as its own boss." (Sculpting in Time) In the movement-image time is not its own boss as movement takes precedence; but during cinema's history increasingly this was found as film managed to escape indirect images of time, usually as narrative, and was able to incorporate time into movement and allow for the informational system Deleuze invokes early in the first book. This is why the second book mainly concerns itself with post-war cinema, with Deleuze paraphrasing Nietzsche: "it is never at the beginning that something new, a new art, is able to reveal its essence; what it was from the outset it can reveal only after a detour in its evolution."
What are the main components of this new image, if we saw that movement concerned firstness, secondness, thirdness and its variations? There are 'the crystals of time'; 'peaks of present and sheets of past', 'the powers of the false', 'thought and cinema', and 'Cinema, body and brain, thought'. These are the main areas in which Deleuze explores the crisis in the image that allows cinema to fulfil its capacity. As long as it was held by the narrational and the rational, it was as though only one half of the image could be explored. We could have Peirce's threefold breakdown, but not quite a sensory motor collapse. Deleuze observes that Bergson distinguishes two kinds of recognition: automatic and attentive. In the former perception extends itself into the usual movements; this is pragmatic recognition, useful for going about our lives, and making immediate sense of our world. But attentive recognition is something else. "Here, I abandon the extending of my perception, I cannot extend it." Perception here gets trapped, petrified by what it sees and cannot easily act in relation to the image. It provokes thought rather than action, reflection rather than extension. Vital to this is the notion that, in the words of Jean-Louis Schefer, there must be a "birth of the world that is not completely restricted to the experience of our motivity." This is done, Deleuze says, when "normal movement subordinates the time of which it gives us an indirect representation, aberrant movement speaks up for an anteriority of time that it presents to us directly, on the basis of the disproportion of scales, the dissipation of centres and the false continuity of the images themselves."
Yet what is most important is how film shows this aberrant movement, the many ways in which mainly post-war film has explored this problem. In 'the crystals of time', Krzysztof Zanussi, Fellini, Max Ophuls and Visconti explore in distinct ways time's aberrance. In Zanussi, Deleuze see that science fascinates and reveals its limitations to men drawn to rational thinking, but drawn also to metaphysical probing. Should one rely on science or have an Augustinian illumination Zanussi explores in The Ilumination? "Which is luminous, the clear scientific schema of a brain section, or the opaque cranial dome of a monk at prayer (Illumination)? Between the two distinct sides, a doubt will always remain, preventing us from knowing which is limpid and which is dark, considering the conditions." What is a will to power without an established ethos underpinning it Camouflage wonders. If Deleuze sees that Zanussi has made an actor out of the man of science, then this is the actor as a Hamlet figure: indecisive and caught between professional obligation, ethical considerations and spiritual needs. Deleuze sees the crystalline image through Zanussi's desire to register an uncertainty principle.
Central to this uncertainty in the crystal image is that time isn't continuous but co-existent. Referring to Bergson, Deleuze says "the past co-exists with the present that it has been; the past is preserved in itself, as past in general (non-chronological); at each moment time splits itself into present and past, present that passes and past which is preserved." Yet this isn't quite the same as saying duration is subjective, even if this is often how Bergson is understood. No, it is more that time isn't internal to us, but that we are internal to time. This is why the Madeleine in Proust's work is so important. Marcel doesn't just remember the past, he involuntarily recalls it, with the taste invoking a memory that is in his head and in the world, but without that taste at that moment the memory is non-existent or very weak: to make it strong the moment from the past isn't recalled, it is evoked; accidentally provoked. There are two sides to such memories: matter and memory. The crystal image often reflects this. "The crystal image is, then, the point of indiscernibility of the two distinct images, the actual and the virtual..." In Ophuls' films Deleuze sees that in Lola Montez,Madame de... and Le Ronde "the actual image and the virtual image co-exist and crystallize: they enter into a circuit which brings us constantly back from one to the other..." What matters here isn't the use of flashbacks to separate the past from the present, but a certain dissolution evident as"Lola Montez herself experiences the vertigo of this dividing in two when, drunk and feverish, she is about to throw herself from the top of the marquee into the tiny net which is waiting for her below."
Deleuze goes on to discuss Renoir and Fellini but captures beautifully in Visconti's films the crystal image as regret, collapse and a wealthy claustrophobia. "Visconti's genius culminates in the great scenes of 'compositions, often in red and gold: opera in Senso, reception rooms in The Leopard, and music room in The Innocent: crystalline images of an aristocratic world." There are several elements to Visconti's crystals of time but the most important is the sense that "something arrives too late." In Death in Venice it is the realisation in the young boy of the sensuality missing in his own work as a composer. In The Leopard the old prince approves of the marriage between his nephew and the daughter of the nouveau riche, yet when the prince dances with her there is an affinity that suggests if he had been younger they would have been together. In The Conversation Piece the teacher discovers in the petty criminal he meets someone who is "his lover in nature and his son in culture."
From the image of time as a crystal Deleuze moves on to the image of peaks of present and sheets of past, and to a further commentary on Bergson. As Deleuze says: "memory is not in us; it is we who move in a Being-Memory, a world-memory." How do filmmakers reflect this idea, how to capture the notion that "in short, the past appears as the most general form of an already there, a pre-existence in general, which our recollections presuppose, even our first recollections presuppose, even our first recollection if there was one, and which our perceptions, even the first, make use of"? We might understandably believe that our past life is successive, with events ten years ago less recent than five years ago, but if we talk of the intensity of memory, then the chronology often collapses. An event from our childhood can be much more vivid than one from only a few weeks ago; sometimes a moment in the present can once again make us recall a past that we might have forgotten. Memories in this sense don't simply fade; often it is the fact that we are in a world-memory that makes clear that memory doesn't simply belong to us. How many of our memories are triggered by the present: an ex-girlfriend gets in contact, we smell peat from a chimney while on a rural walk and it reminds us of a night with our granny beside the fire; we see someone in a film and it brings to mind an uncle we hadn't thought of for years. Memory is in our head and in our past, but it is also in the world and potentially capable of being returned to the present. How many films are true to this relationship with memory? This is where peaks of present and sheets of past come in. Deleuze quotes Fellini: "We are constructed in memory; we are simultaneously childhood, adolescence, old age and maturity." Deleuze wonders how we find certain memories, and muses over what plane of recollection the memory might be on. "We have to jump into a chosen region, even if we have to return to the present in order to make another jump, if the recollection sought for gives no response and does not realize itself in a recollection-image." Is this what happens in Citizen Kane, the first great film, Deleuze reckons, of a cinema of time? This is an investigation into a man's life, even if it takes the form of a journalistic enquiry. This isn't Kane looking back on his life from his deathbed, it is another man looking back on Kane's life after his death, determined to understand what Kane's dying word Rosebud meant. It might seem to us now rather less radical than films that do possess a more subjective approach to memory ( and Time Regained) but Deleuze sees in it the complexity of the time-image, the acknowledgement that memory is never easy.
How complicated it can become is evident in the films of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Alain Resnais. They, of course, collaborated together on Resnais second feature Last Year at Marienbad, and Deleuze notices a fundamental disagreement between the two filmmakers on the question of time. The novelist turned scriptwriter Robbe-Grillet believed that the difference between Resnais and himself rested on this question. Deleuze notes: "the dissolution of the action-image, and the indiscernibility which results, sometimes takes place in favour of an 'architecture of time' (this would be the case with Resnais), sometimes in favour of a perpetual present cut off from its temporality, that is, of a structure stripped of time (in the case of Robbe-Grillet himself)." Resnais causes problems for the sensory-motor system by his interest in sheets of past; Robbe-Grillet in making time so indiscernible that we end up in a perpetual present. However,spiritua while Resnais is central along with Welles to the problem of time evident in peaks of present and sheets of past, Robbe-Grillet's purpose rests more on the next chapter 'Powers of the False', with Welles equally important to both chapters and Resnais chiefly interested in the former.
Why? Resnais' problem is rarely with falsity, and usually rests more on the problem of truth rather than its indetermancy. In this Last Year at Marienbad would seem more of a Robbe-Grillet film than a Resnais work. And this isn't because Resnais has no interest in unreliable figures (Stavisky is a 'biography' of a famous Ukranian born French forger; Providence puts into question the narrative reliability of its ageing antagonist); more that memory as a world consciousness and the intricacies of truth interest him far more than it would seem to engage Robbe-Grillet. Whether it is Hiroshima mon amour, Muriel or My American Uncle, often Resnais accepts the actual can be extracted from the fictions that might surround it. We don't doubt the affair the central character had during WWII in Hiroshima mon amour, that a torture took place during the Algerian war in Muriel, nor the cancer lie the wife tells in My American Uncle. It is often looking for the truth through the sheets of past that can reveal it. In Hiroshima mom amour this comes about through meeting the Japanese man: falling in love with him captures an aspect of the pain from the previous encounter. The Japanese man would also have been the enemy, but now the war is long since over, and any guilt the central female character feels will not be about an encounter with this man, but an awareness that the allies destroyed her new lover's city.
Of course there are no 'obvious' revelations in Resnais, nothing to resemble the full disclosures we demand from a conventional thriller that can reveal all, and this is why peaks of present and sheets of past are so important. "Events do not just succeed each other or simply follow a chronolological course", Deleuze says, "they are constantly being rearranged according to whether they belong to a particular sheet of past, a particular continuum of age, all of which co-exist." Equally there are no conventional love affairs in Resnais' films. In Hiroshima mon amour a peak of present (falling in love with the Japanese man, in a country still pitted and marked by war, leading to the revelation of her past moments with the German soldier) reveals sheets of past. In Je taime Je taime a man enters a time warp and relives his love affair with a woman who has taken her own life. Claude has himself been hospitalized after a suicide attempt and the film puts him in a kind of psychoanalytic time machine as he returns to the relationship based much more on his own emotional impulses than the givens of chronology. In My American Uncle, the relationships that develop are held together by a behavioural psychologist Henri Laborit, drawing comparisons between human relationships and those of mice, all the while incorporating questions of what the human species happens to be. This is Resnais' world consciousness at work: a properly open set where no narrative conventions can hold the film together, and no ready chronology can contain it.
Robbe-Grillet's importance rests as we have suggested more on the powers of the false, as though Robbe-Grillet doesn't want to expand consciousness into the broadest possible truth, but to say that we can only find truths by denying the validity of the truth. Robbe-Grillet's work seems consistent with the liar's paradox: if someone says they never tell the truth, they have told the truth at least once. In L'Immortelle, Robbe-Grillet explores the tale of a man falling in love with a mysterious woman in Istanbul, but the story keeps playing with time so that we can't quite work out the development of their relationship, and how much is fantasy, projection, memory, or fact. The image is offered indeterminately, and we seek a truth out of its refusal to provide a coherence for us. InTrans-Europ Express three people on a train (including a character played by Robbe-Grillet) discuss a story that turns into the film we are watching, with the tale never losing its status as a fiction casually cooked up on a train journey. In The Man Who Lies we can never believe the film we are watching because it is based on the constant lies of the central character as Robbe-Grillet jumps around in time and space playing catch-me-up with the man's inconsistencies. A number of filmmakers have produced films that contain this aspect of falsity (and Orson Welles is an important figure here, especially for his late film F for Fake), including Hugo Santiago and Bergala and Limosin, but it was perhaps the most important dimension of Robbe-Grillet's work.
A pressing question throughout the two volumes, and one that becomes so pronounced in the second one is what is thought and cinema. If many images are constructed to avoid us thinking it rests partly on their capacity to access automatic memory. We don't think about riding a bike or driving a car: we would probably fall off or crash if we did. Once learned they are automatically remembered. Are indirect images of time in cinema (movement-images) often consistent with this automatic memory? We might not know exactly what happens next in a romantic film or a thriller, but we know the film language well-enough to hazard good guesses. A close-up of a tattooed neck might make us assume this figure is the baddie; an ambulance hurtling along the street makes us wonder if the next shot will be a crime scene. But does this inject thought into film, or are we just second guessing: cinema as multiple choice? "Those who first made and thought about cinema began from a simple idea: cinema as industrial art achieves self-movement, automatic movement, it makes movement the immediate given of the image. This kind of movement no longer depends on a moving body or an object which realizes it, nor on a spirit which reconstitutes it." Deleuze quotes Heidegger: "Man can think in the sense that he possesses the possibility to do so. This possibility alone, however, is no guarantee to us that we are capable of thinking."
Eisenstein is important for film thinking because he understood that any "'intellectual cinema' has as correlate 'sensory thought' or 'emotional intelligence', and is worthless without it. The organic has a correlate the pathetic." But does it quite generate a thought as a Godard film might?Eisenstein achieves immense affect: how many watching the Odessa steps sequence aren't outraged by the atrocities we witness, and we are in no doubt who the victims happen to be and who the perpetrators are. If Eisenstein went far beyond his fellow Russian filmmaker Pudovkin's notion of the shot as building block of the narrative, to those complex collisions that he called kino fist, then Godard's images are not so much colliding with each other, as calling into question how they are interrelated. "Thus, in Godard, the interactions of two images engenders or traces a frontier which belongs to neither one nor the other." Instead of images that collide, Godard relies on 'irrational cuts': this leads "to an unthought thought in thought, to an irrational proper to thought, a point of outside beyond the outside world, but capable of restoring our belief in the world." While Eisenstein would still utilise broad character types to reflect his interest in revolutionary socialism, Godard insists on turning cliches into absurdist dramaturgy. "If, according to ready made formulas, the revolutionaries are at our doors, besieging us like cannibals, they must be shown in the scrub of Seine-et-Oise, eating human flesh. If bankers are killers, schoolchildren prisoners, photographers pimps, if the workers are being screwed by their bosses, this has to be shown, not metaphorized, and series have to be constructed in consequence." The irrational in everyday language is shown up in the absurdist aspect of making the cliche literal. One starts to think about the language we use and the images we see.
But what about the body in all this? In 'Cinema, body and brain, thought', Deleuze insists that "the body is no longer the obstacle that separates thought from itself, that which has to overcome thinking. It is on the contrary that which it plunges into or must plunge into, in order to reach the unthought, that is life." The unthought thought in thought cannot ignore the body; it must acknowledge its significance. This is of course what Eisenstein was insisting upon in his remark about 'emotional intelligence'. Yet was the thought he managed to produce out of the body (a certain shock of thought) still too comprehensible? As we've noted, we're clear what we should think of the atrocities in Battleship Potemkin. Godard's relationship with the body (the body of the viewer, the bodies within the film), leaves the unthought unthought, or to be thought. Often the characters are caught in playful gestures, spontaneous behaviour and offering inexplicable actions. Why does Patricia betray Michel in a bout de souffle; is it more than just self-interest? Is it just sheer absurd pleasure that leads to the characters running through the Louvre in Bande a part, what does Nana seek from the actual philosopher Brice Perain in Vivre sa vie? In each instance Godard accesses the provisional and the spontaneous, but through the body.
Nana's meeting with Perain is putting the body into philosophy as she asks him questions that he answers with an awareness of her body and his mind. She says when she talks she loses the thought that she wanted to express, and so Perain tells a story of Porthos the musketeer who was a great man of action but whose thought killed him. The moment he started thinking about what he was doing, why he would even put one foot in front of the other, led to his demise. Porthos thinks through his body, and Godard's achievement is partly to say that we are all doing this even if we don't do so with the purpose of a Porthos - indeed what so often fascinates Godard is the thought that comes out of the body without concentrated motivation. As Deleuze says, "In Godard, the attitude of body are the categories of the spirit itself." While Bresson and Carl Dreyer's characters are spiritual figures passing through the story as if pupeteered by a higher being evident in Deleuze's claim "only he who is chosen can choose well or effectively", Godard's character arespirited: figures caught in their own bodily attitudes and surplus energy. And of course Godard reflects this in his cinematic form: Michel jump cuts his way through A bout de souffle, a man so on the move, so disrespectful of the demands of time and space, that he literally, cinematically, jumps from one scene to the next. In Bande a part, the three lead characters dance as Godard cuts out the music at various points to allow for voice-over to come in as the spontaneity of the characters is matched by Godard's innovation. In Godard everything becomes a category, capable of its own discrete purpose. "The fact is that, in Godard, sounds and colours are attitudes of the body, that is, categories: they thus find their thread in the aesthetic composition which passes through them, no less than in the social and political organization which underpins them."
The attitudes of the body Deleuze sees continued in the post-New Wave: in Chantal Akerman, Jacques Doillon, Philippe Garrel and Jean Eustache, in Jeanne Dielmann, La Drolesse, L'enfant secret and The Mother and the Whore. There are risks in this cinema: it can seem deflated, depressive and without energy. "Certainly the cinema of bodies does not proceed without risk: a glorification of marginal characters who make their daily life into an insipid ceremony." But there is also a new attitude to bodies in these films, "there was undoubtedly a whole context, an organization of power, of political aims, a whole history surrounding these ceremonies, in these ceremonies." This could be feminist as we find in Akerman's work (and would be taken up in various different ways by Catherine Breillat and Claire Denis), films where we find a subtle form of feminism at play. "Female authors, female directors, do not owe their importance to a militant feminism. What is more important is the way they have produced innovations in this cinema of bodies, as if women had to conquer the source of their own attitudes..."
This had little to do with Antonioni's approach to the body: "Antonioni's formula is valid for him only, it is he who invents it. Bodies are not destined for wearing out, any more than the brain is destined for novelty." "He is not the author who moans about the impossibility of communicating in the world. It is just that the world is painted in splendid colours, while the bodies which people it are still insipid and colourless. The world awaits its inhabitants, who are still lost in neurosis." There is thus a slightly futuristic dimension to some of Antonioni's films (The Eclipse, The Red Desert, Zabriskie Point): the bodies are slow because they cannot quite countenance the new present in which they find themselves. It would make sense that Antonioni would eventually make a film about a film director who lives in a state of doubt, indecision and investigatory anxiety after a woman disappears, and decides thus that he wants to make a science fiction film (Identification of a Woman).
Comments on Antonioni segue into a section on Stanley Kubrick. "If we look at Kubrick's work, we see the degree to which it is the brain which is mis en scene", exemplified in the evolutionary dimension in the director's work, never more evident than in the famous match-cut in 2001 where a bone turns into a space ship. But Kubrick's is not always an optimistic relationship with the brain. We can think of Alex's violence in A Clockwork Orange where the authorities try and drain the violence out of him with the aid of Beethoven and a specula, the solitude that drives Jack mad inThe Shining, the fail safe system in Dr Strangelove that leads to nuclear annihilation. Deleuze talks of "the insane violence of Alex... [it] is the force of the outside before passing into the service of an insane internal order. In Space Odyssey, the robots break down from the inside, before being lobotomized by the astronaut who penetrates it from the outside." For Deleuze "the world-brain is strictly inseparable from the forces of death which pierce the membrane in both directions."
Next Deleuze addresses a certain politics in film. While the pre-political cinema of innovation was often a cinema of propaganda (The Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin and Triumph of the Will) Deleuze sees post-war political innovation countering the propagandistic and finding the ideological out of the unthought and not the too easily thought. This is why Deleuze can say "Resnais and the Straubs are probably the greatest political film-makers in the West, in modern cinema." Yet this isn't because of the existence of the people (so present in pre-war cinema) but of their relative absence as a people. This is necessary partly because in pre-war film the crowd led to racism, Nazism and the gulag. It was too blind a march to action. In Resnais' La Guerre est finie, in Straub films including History Lessons, Fortini Cani and Unreconciled, the filmmakers call into question the crowd and their actions, by creating dispersed individuals, empty landscapes, doubting heroes and hesitant behaviour. What is important is to show that the people do not yet exist, they haven't gone through a process of political actualisation, and this is what not only Resnais, the Straubs and of course Godard seek, but also those from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa: Glauber Rocha, Yilmas Guney, Lino Brocka, Youssef Chahine and Ousmene Sembene. Deleuze talks here of the clearly political: Rocha's Guevarism and Chahine's Nasserism, but also of Klee and Kafka. Kafka "said that minor literatures, 'in the small nations', ought to supplement a 'national consciousness which is often inert and always in process of disintegration' and fulfil collective tasks in the absence of people." Klee believed that painting "to bring together all the parts of its 'great work', needed a 'final force', the people who were still missing." These people might have been missing because of an illiterate public swamped by American, Egyptian or Indian serials, karate films and so on and thus the filmmaker would have to work with certain formulas to reach the people: Chahine sometimes made films that were light musicals or melodramas; Brocka was accused of making pornography, Rocha absorbed a mythical western into Antonio das Mortes.
The second major difference Deleuze sees between classical and modern political cinema "concerns the relationship between the political and the private." Kafka suggested that 'major' literatures always maintained a border between the political and the private. Again referencing Kafka, Deleuze sees that 'major' literatures can separate the public from the private. 'Minor' literatures lack this luxury: "the private affair was immediately political and 'entailed a verdict of life or death'". Classic cinema maintained a boundary between the political and the personal Deleuze believes, but this is not so in modern political cinema. In Guney's Yol he sees that "the family clans form a network of alliances, a fabric of relations so close-knit that one character must marry the wife of his dead brother, and another go so far away to look for his guilty wife, across a desert of snow, to have her punished in the proper place." Sometimes this correlation between the public and the private arrives at the absurd: "in Glauber Rocha's work, the myths of the people, prophetism and banditism, are the archaic obverse of capitalist violence that they suffer from somewhere else..."
By this stage Deleuze is ready to start recapitulating key points and moving towards a conclusion. In 'The Components of the Image', he looks at what constitutes sound cinema. "The break between the talkie and the silent picture, and the resistances which it produced, have often been emphasized. But it has been shown with as much justification how the silent film called for the talkie, already implied it: the silent film was not silent, but only 'noiseless'." Very few films are completely silent (The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes, Hotel Monterey, Les haute solitudes), so even if sound wasn't evident in silent film, music was. Some might insist that the birth of sound led to the demise of cinema: that it became too close to the theatre. But Deleuze says this is only in instances of bad cinema. In good films the speech-act gives new dimensions to speaking, and Deleuze goes as far as to say that "it is strange to note how powerless theatre and even the novel were to grasp conversation for itself, except in authors contemporary to cinema or by those influenced by it: Proust, James, Sarraute for example. From screwball comedies to the New Wave, from the Bogart and Bacall couple in Hawks' films, to the sound cinema of von Sternberg (The Blue Angel) and Lang (M), sound is no mere necessary evil. It becomes instead a utilisable good. "Talking cinema is an interactionist sociology in action...it will come as no surprise that rumour has been a cinematographically privileged object..."
In modern cinema however we notice that sound can be used to play up the sensory motor collapse: "the speech act is no longer inserted in the linkage of actions and reactions, and does not reveal a web of interactions any more." In Eric Rohmer's films the speech-act is the constant thoughts expressed around moral actions. In Claire's Knee there would almost be no film if it weren't for the protagonist's explanation and exploration over touching a teenage girl's leg, and in My Night at Maud's the film is exactly that, as our hero decides whether he should stay or go, having theorised his reasons for leaving. But this question of a talking cinema is more radical in Godard and the Straubs. In Straub/Huillet's work "a new sense of 'readable' appears for the visual image, at the same time as the speech-act becomes itself an autonomous sound image." Often in the Straubs' films we have a dense voice-over accompanying landscape shots. The former might be informing us of events in the latter, but we feel the gap between the words and the images in Fortini Cani andToo Early, Too Late: the cinematic condition of a sound strip separate from the celluloid image finds its correlative in images that are tentatively connected to the words we hear. We listen to Straub films and we watch the images, but we don't accept easily their combination as we do in most films.
Of course Godard is no less demanding in divorcing the two. "Godard is definitely one of the authors who has thought most about visual-sound relationships." Deleuze sees an archeological concept akin to Foucault, saying "it is a method that Godard was to inherit, and which he would make the basis of his own pedagogy, his own didacticism: the lessons in things and the lesson in words in Six fois deux, up to the famous sequence in Slow Motion, where the lessons in things bears on the postures that the client imposes on the whore, and the lesson in words on the phonemes that she has to come out with, the two being quite separate." Another demonstrative pedagogy occurs in Jean Eustache's film Les photos d'Alix, which "reduces the visual to photos, the voice to a commentary, but between the commentary and the photo a gap is progressively excavated, without, however, the observer being surprised at this growing heterogeneity."
There is Robbe-Grillet's films too: "In Last Year at Marienbad, and in all his work, Robbe-Grillet put into play a new asynchrony, where the talking and the visual were no longer held together, no longer corresponded, but belied and contradicted themselves, without it being possible to say that one rather than the other is 'right'."
Marguerite Duras' work is also fascinated by the gap between word and image. A novelist who wrote Hiroshima mon amour, her own directorial work emphasises the gap between word and action. Of one Duras film she says: "There are two films, the film of the image and the film of the voices...the two films are there with total autonomy." From Nathalie Granger to India Song, Duras creates gaps between the sound and the image, an often melancholic awareness that registers loss.
In the final chapter, 'Conclusions', Deleuze tries to tie together the numerous threads that he has weaved throughout the two volumes. It is a difficult task because he has refused throughout to allow a theoretical assertiveness to impose itself on a critical adventure. The arguments proposed have always been defended with a rigorous empiricism that can make the argument dissolve into the numerous categories required as he remains true to the distinct artists he focuses upon. There is no mention of Peirce or Bergson in this summing up, no attempt to bring the book together with a theoretical flourish. Yet what we can say is that the books have explored intricacies of the image without taking for granted the notion of the story, the idea that film is a language, and that it is indebted to the real. Of course most films tell stories, we do talk about a language of film, and cinema has a direct relation with photographic reality. But by emphasising these three aspects we can arrive at stale thinking about film, or recapping arguments already eloquently expressed and explored by Bazin, Metz and others. By seeing cinema's central problems being those of movement and time, by insisting that we can break down the movement into various components indebted to Peirce, and then breaking it down all over again by invoking another type of image proposed by Bergson, Deleuze allows for a theoretical equivalent of splitting the atom. He creates an enormous amount of intellectual energy by coming at film from an angle that hadn't so much been ignored, but hardly at all conceptualised.
This doesn't mean of course that Deleuze has no predecessors, and few works of theoretical analysis are so rich in their referencing. From philosophers to fiction writers, as well as numerous remarks by the filmmakers themselves, Deleuze is a generous thinker. But he also references numerous theoretical texts on the cinema too: Balazs, Mitry, Schefer, Burch, Eisenstein, Bazin, Schrader, Chion, Bellour, Daney, Douchet, Commoli and others. The emphasis is on French writing, but as Rod White would say in The Cinema Book "some strange destiny seems to have determined that the cinema is written about in France with superior perceptiveness and intelligence than elsewhere." It makes sense the focus is on the French.
Yet for all the referencing, the work is unequivocally original: an attempt at understanding cinema as a temporal machine rather than a recording device, as a mode of information over a linguistic system for telling stories. By distinguishing between two types of image, Deleuze helps remove what he sees as disastrous for any understanding of the cinema: the idea that the image is in the present. It gives the impression of being in the present as it is recorded, but movement images then use editing to create an indirect presentation of time as they tell stories. Here we have two problems that are hard to eradicate because they are so intuitively easy to accept. One is that film is recorded in the present; the other that the story is told by taking these moments from their recorded reality and then shaping them into a narrative. We wouldn't want to underestimate the significance of this for film, but the disaster lies in theorising cinema simply on this basis. We might falsely assume that film has given us a direct representation of time, when Deleuze insists this is not so: it is closer to Zeno's paradox; it divides time up but can never quite get the proper measure of it. Achilles can never catch up with the tortoise. But by insisting that film isn't part of the world (a recording of it), but a capability of thought, time finds its proper manifestation as perceptual possibility, of the new in thinking. "The brain has lost its Euclidean co-ordinates and now emits other signs." As Deleuze says a few lines earlier: "it is born from an outside more distant than any external world."
We can now see why viewing film as an information system over a language system or narrative system would be so appealing to Deleuze, and why films that refuse too narrowly defining their own meaning can be at the centre of Deleuze's project. When he says near the beginning of The Movement-Image, "for if the frame has an analogue it is to be found in an information system rather than a linguistic one", it leads to the notion that the movement-image was limited by the amount of information it could provide. The time-image opens the image up to far more potential thought circuits. "The cinema does not just present images, it surrounds them with a world. This is why, very early on, it looked for bigger circuits which would unite an actual image with recollection-images, dream-images and world-images." But often these images remained too grounded, centred and focused on telling stories, too linked to movement-images. How not only to make the circuit greater, but accept that the image can have two-sides, the virtual and the actual? This is where the image becomes indiscernible, no longer sure of itself as we are no longer sure of it. "If the new cinema...is of considerable philosophical and logical importance, it is first of all because of the theory of descriptions it implies..." "If normal movement subordinates the time of which it gives us as an indirect representation, aberrant movement speaks up for anteriority of time that it presents to us directly, on the basis of the disproportion of scales, the dissipation of centres and the false continuity of the images themselves."
What so obviously concerns Deleuze is moving away from what the givens of cinema are, to the thought process that it can activate. This is part of a bigger project than cinema, as Deleuze is of course chiefly a philosopher who has written on other art forms too: literature, painting and music, as well as on various philosophers (Nietzsche, Hume, Leibniz, Spinoza, Bergson), and offered radical takes on being through his work with Felix Guattari: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. The difference between the demands of the movement-image and the possibilities in the time-image more generally are well explored by John Rajchmann in his short book The Deleuze Connections. "In short stories, for example, Deleuze thinks that the question of what has happened is turned into a kind of secret that is not a hidden content to be revealed, as in a detective story, but rather something expressed more in the "postures" than in the "positions" of bodies, that points obscurely to what might yet take place." Rajchmann adds that it is "this other time that is thus "in us", expressed or implicated in our bodies and their modes of being as a kind of force or power." It is this which Rajchmann sees Deleuze searching out in The Time Image: it "may be read as a complex study of it and the ways in which it contrasts with the kind of "movement" that had predominated prewar cinema."
Initially we suggested that Deleuze had no clear thesis to present, and now we are admitting that Deleuze's ideas on cinema link up to his thoughts in other areas too. Yet here is one of the many paradoxes of Deleuze's thought: his thinking always opens up onto other areas (he is a wonderful example of the 'open') but that doesn't mean he wishes to elucidate a theory in a readily coherent manner. How can one expect it if vital to Deleuze's philosophy is not about taming thought but creating proliferations in thinking? "I see philosophy as a logic of multiplicities...creating concepts is constructing some area in the plane, adding a new area to existing ones, exploring a new area, filling in what's missing. Concepts are composites, amalgams of lines, curves." To understand Deleuze is not to argue with him but to think the Deleuzian. If after all Deleuze insists that filmmakers are like philosophers, can we then not say certain philosophers are like novelists? We think the Deleuzian as we might think the Proustian, the Dostoevskian, the Kafkan. We think our way into an imaginative world. Raymond Bellour for example has suggested Deleuze's film books resemble fiction: "only that here the concept-characters enter into fusion with these multiple characters who are the various filmmakers." ('Thinking, Recounting: The Cinema of Gilles Deleuze') It is perhaps, finally, a companion piece to Proust, with both Gilles and Marcel influenced by Bergson and searching for a certain sense of lost and found time.
© Tony McKibbin