The Cinematic Real: Aesthetics and Spectacle

Bruce Isaacs


This essay considers the importance of an aesthetic approach to film analysis, focusing on the unique contributions of Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and the contemporary 'auteurism' of Steven Spielberg and Wong Kar-wai. It argues that a return to an aesthetic 'film studies' must necessarily offer an alternative to a dominant 'realist' film aesthetics. The essay re-examines the work of Andre Bazin and the myth of a cinematic Real, offering an alternative reading of Welles's use of deep focus in Citizen Kane. The 'reality' beneath deep focus cinematography is revealed to be a cinematographic construct, more 'cinema' than 'real'. This departure from Bazin's realism leads into a discussion of contemporary film aesthetics.

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