In most cases, to film (the act of filming something) implies capturing an event which actually takes place, in order to create an image of this event – faithful or not, altered or not, but always referring to it. We all know the momentous importance that the history of film theory has assigned to this conservation of the filmed event, in a filmic work that would perpetuate its memory. This talk will try to assess the value of a wholly different, and highly paradoxical, hypothesis: a film produces as much forgetfulness as it does remembrance.
This thesis will be backed up with examples taken from documentary films by Imamura, but also from the work of Godard, Herzog and Resnais; we shall try to appreciate what happens when, instead of recording reality, one records its sliding into oblivion. It is of course largely a matter of editing (or rather, of montage) and a question of duration – therefore, it has to do with the inherent properties of what we call a shot. It will not come as a surprise, then, that it is in the way it deals with this essential quality of forgetfulness, that contemporary filmmaking mostly diverges from its classical and modern moments.
Jacques Aumont taught film esthetics and film analysis for over forty years, mostly in Paris but also, more occasionally, in Berkeley, Madison, Iowa City, Montréal, Lisbon, Nijmegen, Florence and Jeonju. He has also been, for 16 years, the curator of a program of weekly lectures at the Cinémathèque française. He is currently teaching at the École supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He published widely on various topics in the theory and history of representation : L’Œil interminable, 1987-2007; Du visage au cinéma, 1992; Le Cinéma et la mise en scène, 2006; Moderne?, 2007; Le Montreur d’ombre, 2013. His most recent books are Montage (Montréal, caboose, 2013-2015) and Limites de la fiction. Considérations actuelles sur l’état du cinéma (Paris, Bayard, 2014).