Bazin, A. - Death Every Afternoon

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Transcript of Bazin, A. - Death Every Afternoon

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    RITES OF REALISMEssays on Corporeal Cinema

    Editedby I VONE MARGUL I E S

    IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

    DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS Durham and London zoo3

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    Death Every AfternoonAndr Bazin

    Tianslated by Mark A. Cohen

    I understand that Pierre Braunberger nurtured the idea for this film forquite some time. The result shows that it was worth it. The chances are thata noted aficionado like Braunberger saw nothing more in this project than away to honor and promore bullfighting as well as make a film his producerwould not regret. From this point of view, it was probably a good invest_ment-deservedly so I must add-because bullfight lovers wirl rush to see

    have been f-lmed copiously and repeatedly for the camera to convey thegction of the bullring so completely. Many are the passes and coups de grceduring top events featuring stars, which afford us long, practicallytakes in which the framing of man and animal is never tighter thanium shot or even an American shot. And when the head of the bullinto the foreground it is not a stuffed head, the rest follows.

    rhaps I am a fool to be so astonished by Myriam's talent. She editedfootage with diabolical skill, and you have ro pay careful atrention to

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    sotrcthing norc tilan a thcttcr stplays for bis lift, likc thc rrapezcof thosc rare cvents that jLrstficscirtcntatic spctif tity. Art of time, cinpeating it, a pr:iviicgc conrnlon touse with infinitely grcarcr porcntiamore precise since rhere.are other tc'rporal arts, rike'rusic. r_l,t nrusicartime is immedi:rtely and by definition ".rth"ti. time, whercas the cinenraonly attains and constructs its aestlsoni:rn "rlur(e," whicli is in essence ithat cinema reprociuces at will andof which we are a parr, the sensiblenrakes a nolcl both spatiai ancl tempor rxomentof my life, but cinema can rcpet any efinitclybefore nry eyes. If ir is tn-re that for eclual rony othcr, there is one on which this nverger,ery creaturc, death is the uniquc

    me of life is retroactively clefine cl" J, i:,H, :::-.,,:::,thcy c an ncverrhere s s b e as sirniiar :ji: : ::: :'j',::; ;i;:,,i:ine,ratic rcpetition is'rore par.rdoxical in thcory than i'orr.r".. ,r"_pite the o'tological co'tradiction it represents, we quite readily acceptrt as a sort of objective cornterpaft to menlory. However, two mo,.'entsin iife radically rebcr ag:rinsr trris concession 'rrdc by consciousncss: rhe

    gc fi-om onc stale to thc other. Inhaunting docunrentary about theai in which Rcd ,,spies,,werc exe-are. At each scrcening, at the flickancl then rhejelk of rhe sanre bul_3o aNon tAZrN

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    let jolCed their necks. The film did not even leave out the gesture of theoo..-rn who had to make cwo ttemPts with his jammed revolver, anintol.rrbl. sight not so much for its objective horror as for its ontologi-cal obscenity. Before cinema there was only the profanation of corpses andthe desecration of tombs. Thanks co film, nowadays we can desecrate andshow at will the only one of our possessions that is temporally inalienable:dead without a requiem, the eternal dead-again of the cinema! aI imagine the supreme cinematic perversion would be the projectionof an execution backward like those comic newsreels in which the diverjumps up from the water back onto his diving board.

    These observations have not taken me so far as it seems frorn The Bull-fght. One will understand me if I say that the film of a performance ofMolire's Malade Imaginaire has no theatrical or cinematic value but that ifthe camera had been present at Molire's final performance it would be anamazingfrlm.tThis is why the represenlation on screen of a bull being put co death(which presupposes that the man has risked death) is in principle as movingas the spectacle of the real instant chat it reproduces. In a certain sense, itis even more moving because it magnifies che quality of the original mo-ment through the contrast of its repetition. It conGrs on it an additionalsolemnicy. The cinema has given che death of Manolette a material eternity.On the screen, the toreador dies every afternoon.Notesr A movieola is a playback machine.z Translator's note: Given that T-hc Bullfglt has a voice-over commentary written byMichel Leiris, it is probable that lJazin sees this as n essay flm, as suggested by his use

    of Alexandre Astruc's r.ern mnra stylo.3 A truca is a special effects optical printer.4 Tianslator's note: In the French this is rc-rlolls, which is a pun on te-rnords, rneaning"remorse."5 Translator's note: Molire diecl shortly after falling ill onstage cluring a performance ofthis play in 1672.

    DEATH EVERY AFTERNOON 31