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Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2002 2:40 pm
I was reading today, in Walter Kaufmann's book, about Nietzsche's ideas on the 'suprahistorical', ie. that 'aesthetic values appeared to be, in a sense, independent of historical change... If the beauty of Greece is still beauty to us, is its independence of time rather different from that of the human anatomy?' If we were to apply this to cinema and its aesthetics would we find the same timelessness? Is cinema as art definable as suprahistorical, or is it simply decadent? I would like someone to discuss this with me.
Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2002 2:43 pm
I put this message here as I thought it was an important idea concerning whether certain films are objectively great and not just subject to individual taste.
Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:49 pm
I think I know you from the bbc films website. I certainly don't believe that cinema is entirely "immune" to time. Of course, our frame of reference for discussing this only goes back to the beginning of the 20th Century (the beginning of film). It's not the same as looking back to ancient Greece! But maybe it's not all that different.
I suppose there are certain standards of beauty, drama, and other aspects of art that will always be common to the human race. But art is still very much subject to time. Most people today would be more moved watching a dramatic play about contemporary life and issues than a play by Aeschylus, for example. In the realm of cinema, a lot of contemporary viewers are completely unmoved and disinterested when they watch a film from the 1940's or 50's, for example.
On the other hand, I could give a counter example from my own experience in the form of, say, 'Maedchen in Uniform.' I think the film is aesthetically beautiful; the fact that it was made in 1931 means nothing to me, perhaps other than the idea that it was from an era of cinematic greatness long past. Yet, someone 500 years from now may look at that film and react to it the way that I react to Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" -- with a very indifferent shrug. Chaucer could have been the voice of his generation in his time, but I look at the "CT" as something basically absurd and alien.
Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 2:39 pm
I don't really know about that. Greek tragedy was always artificial, very different to modern theatre, more like opera in fact. Of course someone like Shakespeare was recognisably influenced by the Greeks, Sophocles in The Winter's Tale, etc. When I look at a Renaissance painting I still find it beautiful. Perhaps that is because I am really just a classicist at heart. I hate the idea of cinematic Marxism. It appears to me that fashion has got an awful lot more to do with both Marxism and Fascism than some people would like to admit. Maybe I'm just biased, but I don't believe so. I think that cinema is losing credibility rather than gaining it, I long for an apolitical filmmaker. I think that the suprahistorical exists outside of politics or religion, perhaps that is what art is. If you look at a Raphael painting, even with a religious theme, there is always something which transcends it. I wonder if anything in cinema does this, or can ever do it.