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Published: 20-11-2019

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A Comparison Between The 7 Deadly Sins And The Cinema's 7 Cardinal Virtues

Peter Wollen’s article, “Godard and Counter-Cinema: Vent d’ Est,” outlines the “seven deadly sins and seven cardinal virtues” of cinema and deliberates the formal components that reflect counter-cinema, that film director, Jean-Luc Godard, utilizes in practically all his compositions. (Wollen 120). Wollen lists the values of traditional cinema and disputes them with their contemporary counterparts. He is extremely favorable to Godard’s counter-cinema method and holds him in higher regard even so, Wollen does have apprehension regarding Godard’s series of terms: “fiction/mystification/ ideology/lies/deception/illusion/representation” (Wollen 120). Two films that employ the elements of counter-cinema consist of Godard’s Tout va Bien and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. These films, as does counter-cinema itself, exhibit a paradoxical attitude toward suture and apply the conventions of Godard’s counter-cinema.

Wollen begins his write-up cataloguing the “sins” and “virtues” of cinema. The “sins”, referring to the classical code of film, include: narrative transitivity, identification, transparency, single diegesis, closure, pleasure, and fiction (Wollen 120). Contrastingly, Godard’s avant-garde canons, incorporate: narrative intransitivity, estrangement, foregrounding, multiple diegesis, aperture, un-pleasure, and reality (Wollen 120). Counter-cinema resists the “stitching” of suture suture demonstrates a closed planet-an unified fiction, in other words, the viewers are not conscious of a film’s editing. This defiance causes the façade of continuity to fade and promotes aggravation in spectators. Kicking off our exploration into the formal elements of counter-cinema identified in Tout va Bien and Rear Window is the destruction of narrative transitivity. Narrative transitivity is defined as the “sequence of events in which every single unit [] follows the a single preceding it according to a chain of causation” (Wollen 121). In Tout va Bien, Godard replays scenes twice, or even extra occasions, back-to-back, which outcomes in the slaughter of continuum. The viewers’ concentration is sundered due to the evidence of editing. Yet another instance in Tout va Bien that shatters suture is the “Grocery Store” scene, in which the camera is liberated from the appear of the camera. This causes dissatisfaction amongst the spectators. Wollen describes the reasoning behind Godard’s attraction to narrative intransitivity, stating, “[Godard] can disrupt the emotional spell of the narrative and therefore the spectator, by interrupting the narrative flow, to reconcentrate and refocus his attention” (Wollen 121). In Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the “Ms. Lonely Heart” scene is held briefly as her pleasure dissipates this assists the viewer in discovering the frame and editing. By exploiting the narrative transitivity through the repetition of shots and hesitation throughout scenes, nothing is hidden from the onlookers.

The subsequent conflict is in between identification and estrangement this is defined as empathy and emotional involvement versus divided characters and commentary (Wollen 121). Godard’s initial devices to breakdown involvement incorporate “nonmatching of voice to character, introduction of “real people” into the fiction, [and] characters addressing the audience directly” (Wollen 122). This is apparent in the opening of Tout va Bien unidentified characters provide voiceovers and the ripping and signing of checks reveals the production aspect of the film that is traditionally hidden from the audience. Tout va Bien’s audience is addressed point-blank by way of interviews, exactly where the questions are omitted and only the character’s answers are heard. The reduction of dialogue in Tout va Bien is replaced by the interviews, or, monologues in Godard’s case. The spectator requires the position of the interviewer and the camera. Wollen explains, “the ruse of direct address breaks not only the fantasy identification but also the narrative surface” (Wollen 121). Once more, the cohesion is interrupted when the spectators realize the editing.

Moreover, the clash among single diegesis and numerous diegesis is implemented in Godard’s Tout va Bien and Hitchcock’s Rear Window. These conventions of cinema are characterized as “a unitary homogeneous world” against “heterogeneous worlds [and] a rupture in between diverse codes and distinct channels” (Wollen 124). Wollen specifies that “Godard breaks down the structure of the single diegesis, [and] he also attacks the structure of the single, unitary code that expressed it” (Wollen 124). In Tout va Bien, the storyline of the strike at the French sausage factory and class struggle is paired with the frequently referenced “May ‘68” political shift in France due to universities being occupied by students, with the help of labor unions. The married couple that becomes entangled in the strike is linked to the problems of the operating class struggle. One more example of several diegesis is located in Rear Window the primary character, L.B. Jefferies, examines his neighbors’ lives by way of his apartment window. Each of the residents’ lives is readily displayed for Jefferies’ pleasure and fixation. His neighbors struggles and successes are scrutinized throughout the film and concerns, like voyeurism, scopophilia, and feminism, are confronted.

Peter Wollen’s article mulls more than the formal elements of counter-cinema and connects them to Jean-Luc Godard’s filmmaking techniques. Wollen credits Godard as “the most important director working today” nonetheless, he admits there are perplexities in Godard’s technique. Wollen equates the classical elements of cinema as the “sins” and the elements of counter-cinema as the “virtues.” Godard’s Tout va Bien and Hitchcock’s Rear Window exemplify counter-cinema formalities, such as, narrative intransitivity, estrangement, and multiple diegesis. General, counter-cinema dismisses the rules of vintage cinema, often correlated to Hollywood studio films, and promotes Godard’s components of counter-cinema.
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