Cinema of Attractions

1670 WordsNov 9, 20127 Pages
The cinema of attraction. ‘A matter of making images seen.’ This is what Fernand Léger was writing in 1902 about the new art, trying to describe the possible changes in cinema, by emphasizing the fact that imitating the movements of nature is not necessarily the best way of defining cinema’s essence. This is only one of the writings concerning this topic which influenced Tom Gunning in characterizing the cinematic period before 1906 as that of the ‘cinema of attractions’. In this essay I am going to talk about the cinema of attractions and its main characteristics with examples from several early films, with an emphasis on ‘Un homme de têtes’ (Georges Méliès, 1898) and L'arrivée d'un train à la Ciotat (Auguste and Louis…show more content…
‘Unlike psychological narrative, the cinema of attractions does not allow for elaborate development, only a limited amount of delay is really possible’.(TG, p122) It is exactly this newness that makes it exciting, as it instantly produces a show with a high impact, offering sensational thrills through powerful images in motion, without the traditional narrative structure. In this type of cinema, the spectator identifies himself with the camera more than a character and his confrontation with the film is rather unmediated by the story. Hence, seeing this exhibitionist style as a precursor for the later narrative structures would show a misunderstanding of its value. Another iconic film for the cinema of attractions is Un homme de têtes, 1895. I have chosen to discuss this film because of its director, which most of the time is put in contrast with the Lumière brothers, because of their different styles. The first one uses editing and multi shots, while the Lumière brothers show nature caught on camera, in a single shot. Still, both styles have the same essence, that of the act of display, the pleasure of the spectacle. One aspect that one can definitely notice in Méliès’ film is the presence of a showman/monstrator whose role is to present the film to the audience, a mediator between the crowd
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