Theories of the Classical/Modern Distinction in the Cinema

András Bálint Kovács

in Screening Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780226451633
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226451664 | DOI:
Theories of the Classical/Modern Distinction in the Cinema

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This chapter, which provides an overview of the typical distinction between classical and modern cinema, suggests some basic principles to use as it constructs the stylistic-historical aspect of cinematic modernism. In the history of film theory, two main patterns of theorizing cinematic modernism have emerged. Theoreticians of the first group, known as “evolutionists,” contend that modern cinema represents a higher degree of development of cinematic form (language) and—even if they acknowledge the values of classical cinema—consider modern film as more capable of expressing abstract ideas. It is their conviction therefore that modernism surpassed classical cinema. Theoreticians of the latter group, known as “style analysts,” hold that modernism is a stylistic and/or ideological alternative to classical filmmaking, whether by classical they mean a pre-modern form or a surviving standard norm. By far the deepest and most developed theory of modern cinema has been formulated by Gilles Deleuze in his controversial books on film.

Keywords: classical cinema; modern cinema; style analysts; evolutionists; Gilles Deleuze; film theory; modernism; filmmaking

Chapter.  7105 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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