We can continue this "yes, he did", "No, he didn't" argument
separately if you really want to, but in continuing to argue
the point, we've taken the initial query a little to far down
this road. my contention is less of Deleuze's intent, but of
the inescapable permutations of his attempting to narrate a
collection of films into a manageable corpus. Which are
ultimately to be seen as his view on the development of the
My interest is in the philosophies behind film study, and
Deleuze, Bazin, Kracauer et al. heve all contributed to the
philosophy of film history, whether or not in truth they were
just waxing rhapsodic about their favourite films, or aiming
at a developed theory.
In viewing cinema from the period of the late teens to the
present, we are all film historians in some way, whether
charting an arbitrary, conceptual/philosophical, or
My point about Deleuze is that he misses out so much of the
very early period of cinema, and pre-cinematic vision
cultures, in looking at the development of the movement
image, which is why I consider his view of film history a
little truncated. It might be because he was not as versed in
cinema of attractions, or precinematic forms; or it could be
that he simply didn't think them worth considering. I find
that examining the effect of his ideas on viewing this
history of visual development is fascinating.
It may not have been his intention, but there are many Film
theorists who do in fact follow a lead from him in viewing
cinema history in this way. It's one of many leads which
Deleuze'z writing encourages, and he is not alone as a
philosopher in influencing film histories.
Myself, I find Deleuze's work fascinating in opening up a
view of vision culture based on a 'quest' for the
representation of perception, of both movement and time. I
see Deleuze's ideas, drawn from Bergson, as providing a view
of the development of both vision technologies and vision
cultures from the Rennaissance onwards. If Gilles Deleuze
wasn't particularly interested in this, I'm sure he would
have had no objection to theorists developing his ideas.
It would be interesting to conjecture on Bazin's ideas on
photography and its progression to cinema, but thankfully we
have his writings on photography for just that purpose.
Deleuze himself never developed such a cross-form analysis in
such detail, but that doesn't mean study of his writings
should not open out into these areas.
Finally, two points:
1 The original question was one of epistemiology. After
students of film have been immersed into the dominant
history of film, a la Bordwell Thompson, and so on. Surely
students should be made aware of the philosophies which guide
this history (Marx', Adorno's, Bazin's or whoever) and
philosophies which might be seen to challenge dominant
paradigms. It seems a shame to me that we can't promote this
curiosity and discourse.
2 A point on the subject of paradigms. The dominant paradigm
in film study on the intention of meaning and the unconscious
is the use of psychanalysis, but the dominant (and indeed
accuracy and usefulness) of this approach is constantly
questioned. Are we to rebuke such argument as well?
Damian Peter Sutton
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