Tagged: Week 2 Sem 1 2014

HOFT Jean Epstein, “On Certain Characteristics of Photogene”

Epstein, Jean. “On Certain Characteristics of Photogenie.” French Film Theory and Criticism 1907-1939. Vol. 1: 1907 – 1029. Ed Richard Abel. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988. 314-18

“The art of cinema has been called “photogenie” by Louis Delluc. The word is apt, and should be preserved. What is photogenie? I would describe as photogenie any aspect of things, beings or souls whose moral character is enchanced by filmic reproduction. And any aspect not enchanced by filmic reproduction is not photogenie, plays no part in the art of cinema.”314 – Figures given last weeks readings discussing Truffaut and the French New Wave, with Truffaut’s fascination with real people, I think it infers his fascination with capturing realistic moral character in his stories. “I now specify: only mobile aspects of the world, of things and souls, may see their moral value increased by filmic reproduction.”p 315

Epstein goes onto discuss Time as the fourth dimension, the fourth spatial dimension. “The mind travels in time, just as it does in space.” p315 “Photogenie mobility is a mobility in this space-time system, a moblity in both space and time. We can therefore say that photogenie aspect of an object is a consequence of its variations in space-time. ” p316 “To the elements of perspective employed in drawing, the cinema adds a new perspective in time.”p 316

“To things and beings in their most frigid semblance, the cinema thus grants the greatest gift unto death. Life. And it confers this life in its highest guise: personality.” 317

“Personality goes beyond intelligence. Personality is the spirit visible in things and people, their heredity made evident, their past become unforgettable, their future already present. Every aspect of the world, elected to life by the cinema, is so elected only on condition that it has a personality of its own. This is the second specification which we can now add to the rules of photogenie. I therefore suggest that we say: only mobile and personal aspects of things, beings, and souls may be photogenic: that is, acquire a higher moral value through filmic reproduction.” 317