From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bazin was a major force in post-World War II film studies and criticism. In addition to editing Cahiers until his death, a four-volume collection of his writings was published posthumously from 1958 to 1962 and titled Qu'est-ce que le cinéma? (What is Cinema?). Two of these volumes were translated into English in the late 1960s and 1970s and became mainstays of film courses in the US and England.
Bazin argued for films that depicted what he saw as "objective reality" (such as documentaries and films of the Italian neorealism school) and directors who made themselves "invisible" (such as Howard Hawks). He advocated the use of deep focus (Orson Welles), wide shots (Jean Renoir) and the "shot-in-depth", and preferred what he referred to as "true continuity" through mise en scène over experiments in editing and visual effects. This placed him in opposition to film theory of the 1920s and 1930s which emphasized how the cinema can manipulate reality. The concentration on objective reality, deep focus, and lack of montage are linked to Bazin's belief that the interpretation of a film or scene should be left to the spectator.
Bazin believed that a film should represent a director's personal vision, rooted in the spiritual beliefs known as personalism. These ideas would have a pivotal importance on the development of the Auteur theory, which originated in an article by Truffaut in Cahiers. Bazin also is known as a proponent of "appreciative criticism," wherein only critics who like a film can write a review of it, thus encouraging constructive criticism.
Bazin in pop culture
- Truffaut dedicated The 400 Blows to Bazin, who died one day after shooting commenced on the film.
- Richard Linklater's film Waking Life features a discussion between Filmmaker Caveh Zahendi and poet David Jewell regarding some of Bazin's film theories. There is an emphasis on Bazin's Christianity and the belief that every shot is a representation of God manifesting creation.
- Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (Le Mépris) (1963) opens with a quotation wrongly attributed to Bazin (in fact the author of the quotation is french film critic and later playwright Michel Mourlet from his famous article "Sur un art ignoré" in: Cahiers du cinéma No. 98).
- David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest references Bazin in regards to film and film criticism.
- Bazin, André. (1967-71). What is cinema? Vol. 1 & 2 (Hugh Gray, Trans., Ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520020340
- Bazin, André. (1973). Jean Renoir (Francois Truffaut, Ed.; W.W. Halsey II & William H. Simon, Trans.). New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0671214640
- Bazin, André. (1978). Orson Welles: a critical view. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0060102748
- Bazin, André. (1981). French cinema of the occupation and resistance: The birth of a critical esthetic (Francois Truffaut, Ed., Stanley Hochman, Trans.). New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co. ISBN 080442022X
- Bazin, André. (1982). The cinema of cruelty: From Bunuel to Hitchcock (Francois Truffaut, Ed.; Sabine d'Estrée, Trans.). New York: Seaver Books. ISBN 039451808X
- Bazin, André. (1985). Essays on Chaplin (Jean Bodon, Trans., Ed.). New Haven, Conn.: University of New Haven Press. LCCN 84-52687
- Bazin, André. (1996). Bazin at work: Major essays & reviews from the forties and fifties (Bert Cardullo, Ed., Trans.; Alain Piette, Trans.). New York: Routledge. (HB) ISBN 0415900174 (PB) ISBN 0415900182
- Bazin, André. (Forthcoming). French cinema from the liberation to the New Wave, 1945-1958 (Bert Cardullo, Ed.)
- La politique des auteurs, edited by André Bazin. Interviews with Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir, Luis Buñuel, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Orson Welles, Michelangelo Antonioni, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Roberto Rossellini
- Qu'est-ce que le cinéma?, by André Bazin, originally published 1958-1962. New edition: Les Éditions du CERF, 2003.