Stylish Politics: Long Takes in Post-1945 Cinema
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This dissertation is a politically conscious, comparative-historical formal analysis of long takes at the intersection of art and mass-market cinemas in the post-WWII era. Given the contemporary fascination with long takes in the critical discourse of film along with its fairly rampant employment in contemporary mainstream cinema, the discipline has lacked scholarship carefully examining formal techniques as such while remaining alert to the non-reductive possibilities for their political significance. Enlisting and building on the analytical approach of a cinematic poetics, the project outlines numerous contingencies in the practice of very long takes and their function in producing meaning before attending to the technique at the levels of cinematography, editing, and mise-en-scène in separate chapters. Objects of analysis are roughly divided in each chapter between progenitors of contemporary long-take practice—Italian neorealist films, Rope (1948), the 1960s and 1980s films of Jean-Luc Godard, and Jeanne Dielman (1975)—and more recent examples—Timecode (2000), Children of Men (2006), Birdman (2014), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014), and Too Late (2015). The dissertation invests in the inseparability of form and content, as well as the political stakes of long take practice at both levels by parsing out the historical, technological, cultural, and diegetic contexts of long takes. In so doing, the approach exemplifies previously unrecognized possibilities for employing a historical poetics in a manner acknowledging a formal technique’s commitments to and participation in social power dynamics. These dynamics are legible within a film, in its production, and in its participation in the historical tradition of authorship as constructed in European art cinema.