Scholars' Association News
Issue 22
May 2012


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Post-classical Cinema

Eleftheria Thanouli, Post-classical Cinema: An International Poetics of Film Narration, London: ed. Wallflower, 2009, p. 239 ISBN: 9781906660093

Eleftheria Thanouli, Assistant Professor of Film Theory at the Film Department at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, released in 2009 in Britain her book Post-classical Cinema: An International Poetics of Film Narration. Her research interests and her publications address the narrative and the aesthetics in modern international cinema.

In this book, she scrutinizes the concept of the narrative in post-classical cinema, composing a stimulating and valuable manual for students or friends of the theory of the art of cinema, without however excluding non-academic readers and cinema lovers who seek more than the delight of the dark room and the image.

Does the term “post-classical” belong in contemporary research and current debates on modern cinema? The book answers “yes” and supports this claim through an analytical presentation of fourteen popular and carefully selected films from all around the world, taking into consideration that films are products inextricably linked with a specific historical moment or socio-political era. These examples are analyzed in depth, frame by frame, and serve as the basis for mapping the rules and principles of the post-classical cinema, which has laid solid foundations in the USA, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The post-classical narration provides modern artists with a new range of creative alternatives for the direction, framing and montage of their stories. Through documented research and detailed emphasis on formal characteristics, Thanouli’s book distinguishes post-classical cinema from the well-established tradition of classical Hollywood, intentionally avoids the use of the problematic term “post-modern”, and clears the way for new contexts of form and aesthetics.

In approximately 200 pages, the author draws material and arguments from the standard bibliography of prominent theorists on the subject of the Narrative Cinema, such as David Bordwell, and either accepts or questions and rejects their standpoint. Also, in order to achieve the intended result each time, she uses the 14 films by renowned directors that were produced in the period 1993-2003 in a different way: Europa (1993), Arizona Dream (1993), Chungking Express (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), Trainspotting (1996), Run Lola Run (1998), Fight Club (1999), Magnolia (1999), The Million Dollar Hotel (2000), Requiem for a Dream (2000), Amélie (2001), Moulin Rouge! (2001), City of God (2002), Oldboy (2003).

This edition includes an extensive 30-page introduction and four main chapters which deal with narrative tools, causality and cinematic space and time, as well as the methodology and the techniques used in post-classical narration in relation to the narrative style, the degree of knowledge of historical data and the ability to convey the intended information to the viewer. The last chapter sums up the outcome of the research and also contains useful notes, filmography, rich bibliography (from Bazin and Elsaesser to recent articles) and a rather handy index for the reader.

In an era when “large-scale” fiction and superheroes monopolize the scene, and 3D technology, sequels, prequels, remakes and metafilms have (barbarically) invaded the world of the cinema, even this year’s nostalgic trend, expressed by the films The Artist and Hugo – a tribute to the first decades of the Seventh Art –, seems to emphasize the obvious lack of original and thus sufficiently “fictional” scenarios. It is then of interest to turn to recent, yet important, “little film diamonds” of different national origin, various genres and production scales, with powerful novel themes, influential narrative tools and revolutionary aesthetics; films that have already become “classics” (or possibly “post-classical classics"?)

All new creators need to rely on the history of cinema and carry the “load” of the Classical Narrative School heritage, as well as take a critical look, to question and be sarcastic, and to use new ingenious technological methods and tools. For I truly hope the future of the cinema is more than a mere “hologram”.

(Yola Christoula is Head of Cultural Affairs with a Master’s Degree in the Theory of Cinema and Art.)

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