Volume 13, Issue 2 / February 2009

Bazin Renewed

In this issue

Due to its own monthly schedule and mandate to treat old and new films/events alike, Offscreen is rarely in the position to, in journalistic terms, “break a story.” There is always a first time for everything, so Offscreen is proud (and very excited) to announce the publication of a new English translation of one of the most important film studies books ever, André Bazin’s Qu’est-ce que le cinéma? (What is Cinema?). The driving force behind this event is the book’s translator/publisher Timothy Barnard, who is releasing the new edition through the Montreal-based publishing house, caboose. For the time being, as a result of copyright issues (which Barnard discusses in the contained interview), this brand new, vastly improved, expanded (in some respects), better researched, and copiously annotated translation will only be available in Canada (to quote the famous Red Rose tea commercial, “……pity”). To celebrate this special event the issue starts off with a review of the new translation, followed by an interview with the person who made it all happen, Timothy Barnard. The Bazin focus continues with Prakash Younger’s two part essay on one of the most hotly contested but vaguely understood phenomena, cinephilia, the ‘love of cinema,’ but from a decidedly ‘philosophical’ perspective. In the first part of the essay Younger tackles the concept head on, rephrasing the question from the other side: what does it mean to say one ‘loves’ cinema? If philosophy is the love of wisdom and truth, as Younger states, then what (and how) are we loving? Younger feels the regularly misunderstood filmic philosophy of Bazin holds a key to cinephilia, and in the second part of the essay argues that a correct understanding of Bazin’s ontological argument, which stems from the often defined separation of Bazin the Critic vs. Bazin the Theorist, “reveals the cinephilosophical dimension of that legacy.” In Younger’s nuanced reading of cinephilia through Bazin, to love and desire something (cinema) is a bit more complex than how Film Studies normally construes it. Fittingly, the one non-Bazin essay features Sergei Eisenstein, the figure often set in opposition as the representative of ‘formalism’ to Bazin’s ‘realism’. “Eisenstein on his audiovisual collaboration with Prokofiev” marks Robert Robertson’s sixth Eisenstein essay for Offscreen, and Offscreen is equally pleased to announce another (imminent) publication, of Robertson’s book Eisenstein on the Audiovisual, published by Tauris. We’ll be sure to let you know when that book is in our hands. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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