[ http://matty-panic.podomatic.com/entry/2010-12-17T06_38_06-08_00 ]
Above this sentence, you should see a dot. It sits within a field of not-dot; a most basic definition by contrast. If we think of this dot mathematically- as a point with no length, or depth, or width; it is an adequate representation of an ideal, any ideal. Notice how it does not change with time.
But of course, the elephant in the room is indeed the elephant in the room- I mean the “you” and the “we” and the “I” to which I have been referring but that our diagram does not depict. “We” the observers would be represented by another dot. “I”, the party responsible for this dot, would be a third, and the original dot about which we speak in-between:
. . .
I admit- this second diagram is confusing. Not only does it need labels, but as I have been writing and you have been reading these sentences from left to right- I assume we are in agreement about the concept of points on a left to right axis representing sequences over time, and we have not yet addressed the issue of time which I would like to accommodate, but the printed word is not conducive to depicting an axis of depth. Perhaps that is why we have only recently begun discussions of authors and audiences and why we have as yet such poor models of both.
I will make one more point, though, before we turn this diagram in our minds so that we are sitting on the “we” dot- that dot which represents “we” is bothersome because, looking closer, it consists of a “you” and an “I” that are not of the same mind (otherwise, this essay would be quite redundant).
: . .
And now we have added a Y-axis. On this Z/Y plane, we can plot our instantaneous acknowledgement of different works, or different elements within a work (: : .), and different authors (: : :), and then, putting two such sets adjacent along an X-axis to represent different slices of time would, together, give us a fairly accurate depiction of the reality of depictions of reality:
Figure 1: Julie reads sheet music.
which could, in turn, be mapped in comparison to other maps and analyzed for its effect on its audience- and so on, giving us a series of similar Euclidian spaces at greater or lesser magnification- boxes within boxes, each demarcated by a conceptual framework encapsulating the medium-specific limitations/abilities which narrow or expanded accommodations for the author/audience, differences between authors/audience members, differences between elements represented or between representations, or differences over time or between times. And though it can account for even the greatest reductions, our new ever-expanding meta-three-dimensional model of models would not put dots-in-fields-of-not-dots out of business, because this is how even our model grows.
But if our goal is to understand the world we live in, as it is lived in, and then represent our understanding so that it too may be talked about, then we can certainly put a dot to shame. Especially if we want to set up the dot as a straw-man to reductively represent how some people reductively represent the world, and then, over time, argue against such solipsism…
Take the opening shot of L’Eclisse (1962, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni), if you will- a still, unmoving, context-free black-and-white close-up shot of an assortment of equally un-moving objects…interior, interior objects, some of them are books; some of the mise-en-scene is not-books. One (unmoving) object laid across the top of these books is…the camera tracks right to contextualize that object to be the shirt-sleeved forearm of a clean-cut man seated in the corner who stares, slightly off-camera, but does not move. We now have two points on our Y-axis of symbolism: man and books. But because they are both static, so similar as to be nearly non-distinguishable without a shifted perspective, their points are rather close. Which shouldn’t be- man should be Dazein! Indeed, the odd-one-out in Antonioni’s diagram thus-far is the camera with its ability to move. So in retrospect, L’eclisse has already one-upped the photograph-like still frame with which this scene opened- encapsulating and expanding upon photography’s capacity- distinguishing itself visually and temporally from two other forms of media and their associated, by implication limited, audience.
But behind that camera there is a man responsible for the first shot and the next shot and movement in between and certainly a catalyst for any meaning we make of and between the two. That man is Gianni Di Venanzo, the cinematographer, and Pierro Poletto the art director, and Eraldo Da Roma the editor, and any one or all of the four co-“scenarists”, and the director Antonioni, and Giovanni Fusco who wrote the opening musical sequence which preceded this shot and set up a stark contrast between hip jazz and astoundingly dramatic orchestral score that set us up to look for similar patterns…and I could go on, but to forget any of the cast and crew and the conditions under which they worked would be reductive- if we wanted to make another L’eclisse, we would have to recreate them all.
But an interesting pattern develops over time. The rest of the shots in this scene develop the same theme. As do the rest of the scenes in this movie. As do the rest of the movies in this trilogy. As do a series of films on which only Michelangelo Antonioni was the common contributor. Therefore, the line that can be drawn through those congruencies can safely be called “Antonioni”.
Consider, then, an argumentative style which fully develops, explores, defines, tests, and applies a theme over time as opposed to one which sets up an instantaneous contrast, as photography is want to do. The extended, “Argumentative” style, as Leonard Bernstien calls it, seems to be able to account for and logically order more information, more details, therefore giving us a more accurate picture- a more realistic depiction. And though we cinephiles would like to call such an arrangement cinematic and that Auteur theory is logical extension of montage theory, the same effect can be achieved in literature, music, painting or photography (especially murals or friezes), and certainly curated exhibitions. However, Bernstein’s understanding of a peer-and-time-appreciative Argumentative style is rarely used in any of these apparently congruent forms of communication. More often (Bernstein agrees here with Linda Williams) we find melodrama- a monotonous repetition of the initially established conflict which lamentably does not fully utilize what I have been calling the breadth of the Y-axis, over time, nor the audiences’ abilities to make meaning. Knowing that all of his photographs evoke the same (instantaneous) impression; the photographer/protagonist (David Hemmings) of Antonioni’s 1966 Blow Up quickly flips through a whole book of his prints and tells the publisher that “any one will do” for the cover.
But as that same photographer learns later via blowing-up a photo he took at the park until the grains assemble what can be interpreted as a dead body and his brains assemble a murder plot: to look too closely at any one item that was consciously designed to be part of a set (for instance- only one frame fromL’eclisse, or one pair of shots, or one man who worked on the film, or one film from a career, or one career amongst comparable catalogs [we’re getting to that]) is an abstraction, and our conclusions will be unreliable.
To comment upon cinema’s ontological crisis is, I suppose, what lead Antonioni away from his early work in documentary. If even photographs were necessarily framed (Z-axis), then between an un-captureable reality and complete melodramatic disregard for the same lies the surprisingly modern and analogous questions asked by phenomenologists, neo-realists, and Antonioni, who I assume was able to imagine an author behind every work, to ask what where why how, and then judge it against its peers and in context with reality as it meant to him. What separates Antonioni from most of the rest of us, however, (what makes him an author) is that he was able to in turn articulate his experience.
Now around the same time that supposedly objective photography was developed, a hundred-and-fifty-years ago, God died (or was declared dead, or the Church’s hypodermic version of a melodramatic God was explained by a lonely outsider to be an incomplete and outdated model- which was not news to a lot of people). And since then, more of us prefer spectrums to dichotomies, and ecologies to taxonomies (e.g. that reality is somewhere between personal experience and a social construction, or both, or it is through art that discussions between the two take place…) though it was not so long after that Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-2009) began his structuralist work.
Levi-Strauss was able to collapse seemingly disparate myths, and in his opinion the effective elements within those myths, into dichotomous “mythemes” by taking out the individual stylings of any one version of the myth, and grouping the elements according to his interpretation of their effect, rather than in chronological order (which would be seeing the myth, mistakenly, as “unilateral). While Levi-Strauss’ approach was equally helpful and destructive, my favorite part is how he demonstrated it:
Figure 2: “The Structural Study of Myth” (extract)
At the top left corner here, you can see the second paragraph, and how it and certainly the third, have broken out of the traditionally understood restrictions of the essay medium as much as Marcel Duchamp’s “cubist” Nude Descending Staircase, No. 2 (Nu descendant un escalier n° 2, 1912) cries to break out of its two-dimensional medium, to make an argument over time and about time, an argument that is more about developing a theme than a plot. But like Duchamp, Levi-Strauss’ point comes at the cost of what we know and like about nudes descending staircases- that is to say- in order to make his argument about time and form rather than making an argument over time about form and style, Levi-Strauss had to abandon (…chose to abandon, his project made a point about abandoning…) the unique stylistic inputs that give each story-teller an identity, a value.
Though auteur-structuralism (and I dare say genre study) uses Levi-Strauss’ model, considerable improvements have been made: we can now summarize a stylistic element for its thematic importance (or not), we can acknowledge a designer (though auteur-structuralists do not, in general, acknowledge their contribution to perceiving the design), and if we are dealing with whole films or whole careers- two such charts can be placed in sequence or stacked on top of each other to show longitudinal congruency and development.
But, I argue, this model is unsound because the man who made the chart is unaccounted for. Though Peter Wollen’s claims are backed by evidence, the particular rearrangement of that evidence is to his credit or blame, and the style of presentation determines whether I will run to or from his next attempt.
But then the dramatic language I just used warns me that I am exaggerating and simplifying, like Julie (Juliette Binoche), the protagonist of the the second film in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s color trilogy: Blue(1993); who cannot stand the sight of nor escape the sound of the music her husband wrote before he died, in an accident, that she survived. Also, she cannot bear to live in their old home, nor any of what was their furniture because, like the symphony, these things are not only reminders but painful reminders of plans which have been… corrected. After the accident, Julie is allergic to any such attempts at projected logic, order, harmony; maybe she even kills that family of rats (has them killed by a cat) just to be right. Through most of the film (wait for it), Julie never awakens from what we take to be a state of shock (one person, a reporter, does comment that she was nicer “before” [before the movie starts]). The other characters run around her doing their caricatures of what people do while she is noticeably estranged- a lot like the protagonist, Vittoria (Monica Vitti), of L’eclisse compared to the seated man we talked about earlier (and especially when we compare Vitti to the non-professional “actors” of L’eclisse or L’Avventura who can do nothing but play their parts), and like Vittoria with the doodling man who lost his money, Julie spends a lot of time considering media and mediated relationships- through her friend the stripper and her mom the television watcher. Which reminds me a lot of the condition of the physically detached but potentially psychically invested members of the audience of any film- and their consideration of the characters, on the screen, and the author’s consideration of all three. Which reminds me of Claire’s Knee.
Ostensibly Éric Rohmer’s films portray conflict between men and women who discuss their theoretical motivations for monogamy versus adultery or divorce, or the libido versus more intellectually justified or philosophically prescribed righteous actions, but when Rohmer was still more of a professor and film-critic (before he was a director), he wrote a series of essays that bared no judgment on one particular way of living, or reasoning, in support of another more “moral” one. His essays measured every existing art-form according to its ability and its limitations for depicting reality. So if there is a morality to be found in the work of this colleague of André Bazin, it seems that the trope of love, like the medium of cinema, was only used by Rohmer to explore the strange relationship each has to reality, fantasy, and rationalization in our everyday lives.
How realistic are the films of Éric Rohmer? In contrast to the form we have come to expect from traditional “moral tales”, Rohmer’s sensibilities are not betrayed by a protagonist’s oddly eloquent monologue or a villain’s Gnostic disruption of a hectically paced action-movie. Indeed, if nothing else, Éric Rohmer’s films are conspicuously marked by a focus on dialogue- where both sides are so evenly matched and naturalistic (to an admittedly specific socio-economically defined culture, but still) that it is difficult to tell which (if either) of the fairly portrayed perspectives any of Rohmer’s films sides with or would have his audience eventually support. Should pigeon-holing Rohmer, his motivations, or the end product of his work be our goal- his faithful adaptation of reality’s openness to interpretation, the documentary quality of his presentation as opposed to a suspiciously designed drama, has made any attempt to identify his bias particularly difficult. Rohmer’s films portray quite literally discussions about socially unresolved conflicts.
But by literally, I do not mean literarily. There is a vagary of dialectics that, while not exactly cinema specific as Dostoyevsky wryly satirized the same in Notes from the underground (1864), does require time- that is, how the more a person pontificates about their past or themselves or their predictions about the future, the less accurate their speech becomes. Rohmer, who did not cut away to every possible reaction-shot, allows the viewer to study the speaker’s behavior, movement, and physiognomy in search of deeper meaning or more convincing truths than words can convey, as we normally do in conversations that lack editing. Now, the viewer may be trained in the art of such supposition or merely accept what the character himself or herself reports to be the truth about their situation in the world; but by the end of the film, undoubtedly some unanticipated event, or reaction to it, will either show the character how futile philosophies are or have the character eventually return to a scenario which better fits his foundational epistemology- where things may be more morally sound but not (as Rohmer depicts them) all that great or for the best. As much as we may now equate moralism with conservativism, Rohmer’s husbands’ returns to their wives are not necessarily happy endings.
Throughout and beyond the series of films he called Six Moral Tales, Rohmer investigated an unfortunately all too common and perhaps unavoidable practice to be found in both cinema viewing and real life- the persistence of our tendency to presuppose, predict, and predetermine according to popular or personal philosophies that are repeatedly inaccurate and demand considerable violence be played out on the world, events, our comfortable selves, others, or our interpretations of the same (in order to avoid dissonance- which only invites another round of unrealistic retrospection, analysis, prediction, and testing). Rohmer’s scenes and films end when he has made a point about, when we understand the parameters of, the protagonists’ conceptual frame-work and his or her capacity do deal with tests to that frame-work.
So where Antonioni usurped more static modern art, a Rohmer film will begin, not as much ironically as “realistically” with an ideological declaration-in-conversation only to show the futility of that ideology (or its regrettable success) when applied over time to active agents living in a dynamic world. “There are not enough lies in cinema,” Rohmer wrote in 1948, and his cinematic project was in pursuit of a “talking cinema”- where dialogue is a helpful element, not just counterpoint, to a cinema-specific style. And because such conversations become infinitely more fascinating when they discuss a mise-en-abyme where the “people” trying to understand themselves and the world and predict their own and each-other’s actions can be (but do not have to be) understood as “characters” reading pre-scripted dialogue…this study of Éric Rohmer’s signature will find what it is looking for in his most meta-fictional work: Claire’s Knee (Le genou de Claire, 1970).
When the protagonists of Claire’s Knee reintroduce themselves to each-other, Aurora (Aurora Cornu) expositions to her long-lost acquaintance, Jérôme (Jean-Claude Brialy), that she is a fiction writer on vacation. Since each scene in Claire’s Knee is separated by inter-titles written in feminine hand-writing, wecan assume that the following film is a (diegetically justified) representation of the notes Aurora has taken regarding the events which have piqued her personal interest during that vacation. Some of those events she has witnessed and some have only been retrospectively reported back to her by her friends, but in either case, we have such little guarantee of the veracity of Aurora’s perception and presentation that it would probably be better to assume, when things work out too coincidentally or when Jérôme’s character shows a significant change between the times when it is witnessed by Aurora and those time when it is imagined by her, that a certain amount of (self-effacing) dramatic license has been taken.
It is not so surprising when Aurora or Jérôme reintroduce each-other to the details of their lives using more words of rationalization than description- this is unremarkable behavior for characters in films and the middle-aged effete bourgeoisie in general. But we only really see how dated, pathetic, and second-hand such a quote-laden mind-set is when the 15 year old Laura (Béatrice Romand) and her un-consummated boyfriend describe themselves, “proper” behavior, ideal Love and other platonic categories using language no doubt parroted from the previous generation (or their movies or, with a nod to Flaubert’s realist/idealist masterpiece Madame Bovary, their books). As such, when Laura and her boyfriend use the same language as Aurora and Jérôme, the young couple call attention to the generality and naïveté of the same statements we the audience accepted as truth when it was coming from the mouths of our attractive and sophisticated protagonists. In an obituary written for The Guardian, Gilbert Adair goes against the tide of most of Rohmer’s fans when he describes what could only be irony in “characters which
are among the most foolish and ineffectual milquetoasts ever to have graced a cinema screen; 90% of their celebrated talk is unadulterated twaddle. This is absolutely not a flaw: it is, rather, a species of trompe l’oeil (or trompe l’oreille). Rohmer jangles the small change of wit with such unfailing mastery that, just as his characters are persuaded they are making clever remarks, so most of the audience are persuaded they are hearing them. It helps, too, that he had an extraordinary gift for pastiching the rhetorical tropes of classical French comedy, with a particular affection for the “nothing but … ” formula to which many 18th-century aphorists were addicted: “Women are nothing but … “, for example, or “Sexual attraction is nothing but … “. It scarcely matters what specific tailpiece Rohmer added – the audience are already nodding in worldly acquiescence.”
For Jérôme, at least, Laura is therefore a “girl” according to prescription, and should be easily enough wooed according to prescription. If he fails? That means he loves his fiancée. However, if Jérôme does not succeed in his seduction of Laura, Aurora will have found faith in her own ability to resist Jérôme or any seducer that may come along after her soon-to-be-had marriage. And though Jérôme’s attempts at seducing Laura were somewhat half-hearted, being done more out of principle than sincerity, Laura’s strength (Aurora’s second-hand imagination of Laura’s strength) could rekindle a lost faith in the ability of a younger generation, or any indoctrinated person (in this case (of course because she is writing the story) one that reminds Aurora of herself (note the similarity of names))- to recognize ingenuousness, and be dynamic rather than act according to formula. Therefore, Laura is acting as Aurora’s ingénue by proxy. And through Jérôme, Aurora, Aurora’s notes, Rohmer, and his film- Laura is somewhat morally inspirational to the relaxed audience of the film, “bourgeoisie” if only for their petit time in the theatre.
But the lesson learned from Laura is not the end of this story, after all the film is about the genou de Claire. Signified by her coat and non-possessive attitude regarding her boyfriend, Claire is more modern than the characters mentioned before, and from any notion of Rohmer as a conservative Catholic. Her modernism, though I admit it is not described as such in the film so at least rebelliousness, reawakens something in Jérôme that he thought he had lost…and so fourth, typical older man about ingénue dialoge…a little too typical. Truthfully, Claire does not so often speak her mind and we, Aurora, and Jérôme are able to project a more flattering interpretation onto her without it being corrected or betrayed by her real thought processes.
Through Jérôme’s eyes, we see Claire and her boyfriend boating by a neighboring camp’s swimmers. The camp counselor comes to complain and finds Jérôme sitting outside. But when Claire and her boyfriend show up and get into an argument with the counselor through which we, and Jérôme, learn that Claire’s stunt was at least motivated- the camera stays on Jérôme and ignores the debate. If written, this scene would appear to have Jérôme’s words in quotes while Claire’s would merely be reported, only followed by ‘she said’. The page cannot do such simultaneous justice to a prolonged study of a listener’s reaction, nor can it adequately objectify the spoken word- Rohmer only cuts back to Claire after she is done speaking (even Jérôme’s head is down during her speech, out of anxiety), allowing us to see her as the accumulation of everything that was said, allowing us to see her own physical reaction to that now past dialogue.
When Jérôme interacted with Laura (often as imagined by Aurora), both were equally idealistic and obtuse, but the point was made about age. However, Claire is much less outspoken regarding her psychological motivations and expectations. Aurora’s distance from Claire is such that the latter’s thoughts cannot even be guessed at. It is a characteristic of Claire’s that she either gives no credence to or at least does not say her suppositions out-loud- a characteristic of which Aurora is extremely jealous or at least curious. Without Aurora (or Rohmer) hazarding to guess what is going on inside the mind of Claire, she lacks something of prescribed psychological depth, she is an object, though neither Jérôme, Aurora, nor the audience finds her any less interesting. As with Jérôme and Laura, Aurora would be even more curious about and inspired by Claire than Jérôme’s lust would ever allow him. He is even too intimidated to approach Claire and Aurora has to initiate their contact (his hand upon her holy knee) by seeming accident. As the writer of the story these events will eventually become, Aurora does have to encourage their taking place.
But as Jérôme finds Claire alone and offers to take her into town on his boat and their trip is interrupted by rain and they take shelter, alone, together- giving Jérôme another even better opportunity to try what he will with Claire, and he does, and is interrupted again by a thunderclap and the sudden cessation of the rain; no less unrealistic than the dialogue (what sounds like a man written by a woman who ‘does not know how to write men’- that could easily be comical if it were not for the seriousness portrayed by the actors) are the weather conditions and their perfect timing. In no way does Rohmer allow this scene to hint at camp or deus-ex-machina until after it is over (just like when Claire boated too close to the swimmers) and in the following scene, Jerome is recounting his actions and thoughts to an Aurora who whishes she were taking notes. She is not taking notes, therefore when she later reconstructs this event and this Jérôme’s retelling, both become a little too perfect and a little too romantic.
But the rain does not stop to help Jérôme (unless of course it is God keeping Jérôme on the straight and narrow path)- this scene lasts just long enough for Aurora’s new ingénue to explicate her philosophy, to have that attacked, to demonstrate her vulnerable humanity after all (by crying) and for her to teach Aurora one final metaphysical lesson regarding her knee. If the common concensus as to why Claire cried is that Jérôme made her realize that her boyfriend’s general disregard for the opinions of others applies to her own feelings as well, then the reason she let Jérôme touch her knee may have something to do with a mind/body disconnect she is attempting at that point: to separate oneself from one’s emotions and frail heart would no less distance oneself from one’s knee. But as this vignette was written by Jérôme’s non-sexual-despite-all-of-his-advances friend, then the storm ended at just the right time for that author to conclude a reason for and retain her admiration for this not-inhuman but self-objectifying girl’s philosophy.
Rohmer may have looked at a mind/body disconnect espoused by the modern generation with some sort of curiosity or even admiration, while at the same time admitting that the old romantic notions of holistic passion and eternal love would continue to be practiced despite their short-comings, but Jérôme too admitted that his upcoming marriage would be more practical than loving, and his relationship with Claire allowed Aurora to understand this new form of attachment. As far as being a character in a movie goes, Claire’s unexamined life certainly has its advantages over those of Jérôme and Aurora who, despite all their attempts to figure themselves out, are still slaves to the script and the whims of the director.
In a 1977 interview, Rohmer complimented the way AmÉrican cinema does “it”. Which can go to mean what David Bordwell has understood as a particularly AmÉrican genius when it comes to making polysemous works that can incite extravagant and satisfying interpretations from each viewer regardless of their particular preoccupation- without the film itself necessarily demanding that its elements be read in one particular way beyond their most general, subjective, and most complicated, iconicity- an effect Jérôme is all too familiar with regarding silent-Claire’s intrigue versus crying-Claire’s easily abandoned pathetic state. Indeed, despite all of Rohmer’s dialogue, the use of extended…I hesitate to call them “reaction” shots…listening shots and even his fearless hold on a speaker until the meaning of the words becomes subordinate to the speaker; all increase the intrigue and number of potentially satisfying interpretations.
For all of its investigation of conversationalism, the dialogue in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995, or any of his films really) has to work too hard to make up for what the film lacks of Rohmer’s finesse with presentation. Rohmer knew that realism is in itself critical, and that reality will correct ideology (despite our best efforts to the contrary). In contemporary AmÉrican independent cinema, there is a fairly popular branch called Mumblecore which is indebted to (or would benefit from further study of) the tact of realism versus conversational philosophy that composes Éric Rohmer’s project. Both Mumblecore films and Rohmer’s catalog are concerned with the persistence of historical, popular, and personal philosophies, ideologies, despite their inapplicability to modern life. Being AmÉrican films and perhaps appreciating Rohmer’s point about the film making a point over and above what the characters say, the protagonists of Mumblecore movies disclose comparatively little about their philosophical motivations, almost knowing that such declarations beg for correction. Rohmer’s films represent the commonly regrettable but irreplaceable condition of over-cognition and test the success of such a habit without really criticizing anyone who philosophizes or philosophizes in a particular way. These films enjoy a wide and international audience because, regardless of the exact cultural conditions and language used, most of the issues are universal but even more- the process, the conflict, is as applicable to cinema viewing as to living life. Gerald Adair seems to think that the words spoken in Rohmer’s films scare away as many viewers as they earn half-hearted acclaim amongst viewers who agree too easily with any movie that sounds smart. But Rohmer’s films depict a process where reality is not just ‘what we make of it’, and are shot in a way as to increase interpretive possibilities before a (hopefully) now unconvincing narrator gives his own interpretation.
And Antonioni makes the same point, in his way, at least once but most memorably at the end of L’eclisse- when our two protagonists go from making-out on the couch to play-acting making fun of other couples they saw at the park, to making fun of themselves when they were earlier flirting, to making promises to each-other to meet tonight and tomorrow and the next day…and then they don’t, and I don’t think the audience is supposed to know that won’t, because the film soon cuts to the spot where they were supposed to meet- expecting them to be there. But they aren’t there. And the camera roams, now so alone, here and there finding an interesting figure, a woman from behind who looks like…no, from the front we can see it isn’t her…the camera finds neither of those characters it once thought were so interesting, so both protagonists must have known that both of them were lying. But then this seven minute de-establishing montage reminds us that they were characters to begin with- not real people like the citizens the camera is now catching. The story was constructed by the very force which moves the camera now- through shots which rhyme with earlier ones, and all this story was, and is, reconstructed in our own heads which, as Martin Scorcesse says in his commentary on the same ending- “led us to believe that anything was possible”. And Scorcesse was not yet a director in 1962.
The ending of L’eclisse is very similar to L’ère industrielle: Métamorphoses du paysage, a 1964 documentary shot by Rohmer- where from moving cars filming nacient neighborhoods and the sides of construction sites, the narrator tells us that these are the things that stir our imaginations. Like Scorcesse’s narration over the end of L’eclisse, Rohmer’s narration over Métamorphoses eventually, ironically, goes to prove Rohmer’s point about such suppositions.
But the world can be overwhelming, as it is to Guliana (the fourth appearance of Monica Vitti) in Antonioni’s 1964 Red Dessert (Il deserto rosso), and early Julie in Kieślowski ’s Three Colors: Blue (Trois Couleurs: Bleu). Like Antonioni and Rohmer, Kieślowski also moved from documentary to feature fiction film, and the world being overwhelming is shown through impressionistic and overwhelming color and sound- something a documentary true to Bazin couldn’t do, but that realityism demands.
But luckily for Julie, she finds out that her husband had a mistress.
Up until Julie meets her husband’s mistress, she has been both shut off from the world and yet overwhelmed by the score that reminds her of her late husband (though all she/we hear(s) is the piano- allowing a musical motif, but indicating a limited understanding of the whole piece). She has been both critical and curious about her mother’s ability to watch bungee jumpers on t.v., but after she learns of her husbands…improvisation if you will (his ability to replace her, nay- carry on a double-life, a two-part harmony sung in a round; with another similar, younger woman whom he also loved and impregnated), Julie goes to see her mom (who is watching t.v.), and leaves without saying anything, and the same old piano music plays again.
But then!, perhaps appreciating her mother’s unaffectability via television, Julie is able to look at her late husband’s score. But when she touches it (fig. 1), the camera is in extreme close-up, the edges are impressionistically blurred, and the music is loud- all to relate how overwhelming this experience still is to her. But she/we has/have a narrator who describes the score, and the other instruments in the orchestra besides the piano; but more importantly keeps Julie moving along. And when the camera cuts back to an establishing shot of Julie and her narrator in his living room; perhaps inspired by her husband’s agility at fungability, Julie, too, is able to replace a piano for a trumpet. Like the photographer of Blow Up, Aurora ofClaire’s Knee, and any Scorcesse-like viewer watching the end of L’eclisse- Julie has transcended her own experience by becoming the (an) author of it. It is difficult to find villains in the works of Antonioni, Rohmer, and Kieślowski , but if there are heroes, these are they- the characters who deserve, nay demand the camera’s attention. But they are also the villains because, in a work that concentrates more on character development than nostalgia, there is no desire regain an earlier ignorant self.
Though the extent of self-determination shown by these protagonists (a better word than hero as they, for the most part but certainly not all- move the story along) may not be simply limited to the world of film, but cinema is a good place to start experimenting- with thinking of theatres as phenomenological laboratories, and movies as, like Daria (Daria Halprin) was able to do at the end of Antonioni’s 1970 Zabriskie Point- indulge in a momentary deconstructive outburst that we know (or soon find out) is only imaginary.
And in a coup de grâce of auteurial prowess, Kieślowski brings back all of his protagonists for a final curtain call at the end of Red (1994). He is writing the movie and they are just characters- so why not? And this assembly is being watched on television by a retired judge, much like us.
That the themes, scenarios, and styles of these three directors can at once support and, if we want to be honest, confound auteur-structuralism does not mean that we should throw the theory out- Kieślowski , among others, have certainly been using an approach similar to auteur-structuralism in order to lean and develop- apparently one that abandons Wollen’s style-less and dichotomous definition of thematic elements and does more with a series of films than he hoped to imagine. And I would hate to think that Kieślowski somehow charted L’eclisse and Claire’s Knee and said ‘wow, they’re the same’, but I’m glad I did. But then- I tend to trust myself; I know of a million little details that had to be cut from this presentation. Hopefully I have relayed and arranged some of the most convincing ones.
Which is why we should also not abandon our interest in the ontology of the image nor its signs and symbols- but rather incorporate them into a larger discussion about series of images and films and catalogs and human observers and human viewers and human analysts of human viewers. To describe all those dynamic factors over time, we cannot rely on one image, yet, and we never will be able to exactly model reality, but realityism is not a bad goal. And verisimilitude helps, and so does the creative arrangement of elements, as do the commonalities between two (or more) detailed analyses over time.
 Still frame from Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Three Colors: Blue” (1993) modeling Y-axis (comparison of items), X-axis (time), and Z-axis (Juliette Bionche- creative reception). Retrieved December 16, 2010:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRKWcN7biSo&feature=related
 See G. Moses, “Auteur Effect”, p. 3.
 Omnibus, “The Music of J.S. Bach” (1957), ABC. Retreived December 16, 2010:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m09X0D2bstQ . Transcribed in <span>The Joy of Music</span>, by Leonard Bernstein. Pages 232-3. Simon and Schuster, NY. 1959.
 Williams, Linda. “Melodrama Revisited” in Refiguring American Film Genres: History and Theory , edited by Nick Browne, 42–88. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
 what makes him an auteur is that he was able to do this recognizeably over time. The reason anyone cared to see or explain how he does this recognizeably over time is that his articulation is admirable.
 From <span>Theories of Auteurship: a reader </span> edited by John Caughie, pp 132-3. First published in Paris, 1958.
 “The Auteur Theory”, from Signs and Meaning in The Cinema, Seeker & Warburg, London, 1967 and 72, as cited in <span>Theories of Auteurship: a reader </span> edited by John Caughie, pp 138-51.
 The Ontology of the Photographic Image. André Bazin; Hugh Gray. Film Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 4. (Summer, 1960), pp. 4-9. Retreived December 16, 2010: www9.georgetown.edu/…/Bazin-Ontology-Photographic-Image.pdf
 ERIC ROHMER: REALIST AND MORALIST. By C. G. Crisp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
 Rohmer, “For a talking cinema” Les Temps modernes, September 1948.
 I often find such a framing device to be helpful when analyzing film, perhaps in no small part due to how such justified narration belies a self and socially-conscious work.
 Gilbert Adair, “Eric Rohmer: Let’s talk about… everything”, January 12, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jan/12/eric-rohmer-gilbert-adair
 Eric Rohmer “Film and the three levels of discourse: indirect, direct and hyperdirect”, Cahiers Renauld-Barraoul, 96, October 1977. Translated by Carol Volk.
 · Parlons cinema.Retrieved November 15, 2010: http://vimeo.com/293207
 David Bordwell, “Superheroes for sale”, August 16, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2010:http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2713
 One protagonist of 1995’s Before Sunrise was played by actress Julie Delpy who, in 1994, played the…antagonist in Kryzstof Kieslowski’s White.
 Retreived December 16, 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d0eFv1vHxo
 Retreived December 16, 2010: http://vodpod.com/watch/3195336-lre-industrielle-mtamorphoses-du-paysage
 <span>The films of Krzysztof Kieślowski: the liminal image </span>(2004), by Joseph G. Kickasola, is heavy on contemporary phenomenology and knowledgeable about Bazin, but does not use the word realityism, that is mine.