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Camera historica - the century in cinema
Antoine de Baecque
Paperback / softback
Columbia University Press
UK Publication Date

Antoine de Baecque proposes a new historiography of cinema, exploring film as a visual archive of the twentieth century, as well as history's imprint on the cinematic image. Whether portraying events that occurred in the past or stories unfolding before their eyes, certain twentieth-century filmmakers used a particular mise-en-scne to give form to history, becoming in the process historians themselves. Historical events, in turn, irrupted into cinema. This double movement, which de Baecque terms the "cinematographic form of history," disrupts the very material of film, much like historical events disturb the narrative of human progress.

De Baecque defines, locates, and interprets cinematographic forms in seven distinct bodies of cinema: 1950s modern cinema and its conjuring of the morbid trauma of war; French New Wave and its style, which became the negative imprint of the malaise felt by young contemporaries of the Algerian War; post-Communist Russian films, or the "de-modern" works of catastroika; contemporary Hollywood films that attach themselves to the master fiction of 9/11; the characteristic mise en forme of filmmaker Sacha Guitry, who, in Si Versailles m'tait cont (1954), filmed French history from inside its chateau; the work of Jean-Luc Godard, who evoked history through his own museum memory of the twentieth century; and the achievements of Peter Watkins, the British filmmaker who reported on history like a war correspondent. De Baecque's introduction clearly lays out his theoretical framework, a profoundly brilliant conceptualization of the many ways cinema and history relate.

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Antoine de Baecque is a historian and film critic and professor of cinema studies at the University of Paris X Nanterre. His books in English include Truffaut: A Biography; The Body Politic: Corporeal Metaphor in Revolutionary France, 1770-1800; Glory and Terror; and A History of Democracy in Europe. He has served as culture editor for the newspaper Liberation and as editor in chief of Cahiers du cinma.

Ninon Vinsonneau teaches American culture and cinema at cole Centrale Paris.

Jonathan Magidoff teaches history at Sciences Po Paris.

De Baecque is one of our most meticulous and enterprising film historians, and in Camera Historica, he finds a new way of looking at the two sides of his interest, film and history, making each a clarifying reflection of the other. As a particular bonus, he's especially good on important filmmakers who emerged during the 1960s, such as the Nouvelle Vague and Peter Watkins.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic

Camera Historica marks a new stage in thinking about the relationship between cinema (as art) and history (as both real and narrative). Going beyond the classic 'histories of cinema,' this book reveals what cinema makes of history, its way of making history visible, and of allowing us to judge it.
Alain Badiou

Thanks to this book I now understand precisely why and how I am goth.
Tim Burton

Those in search of superb academic writing need look no further. De Baecque renders a beguiling mix of auteurism, rigorous methodology, and historical analysis in an evenhanded, engaging tone.
Film Comment - Jonathan Robbins

Cinema and history are in lively dialogue here, which creates much more exciting reading...highly recommended.

Politics, social insights and film art blend in a scholarly international probe perfect for film analysts studying the art and culture of cinema.
Midwest Book Review

presents an intelligent, opinionated, emotionally engaging, intermittently flawed meditation on cinema's ongoing negotiations with history...
Cineaste - David Sterritt

Camera Historica is a refreshing and stimulating read, ultimately offering a vital contribution to the ongoing need for serious discussions of the intersections between film and history.
American Historical Review - Paula Amad

Keyword Index
Motion pictures and history.|Motion pictures - History.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages

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