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Middlebrow modernism in film(theory): Visconti’s Senso (1954) vis-à-vis Diamant-Berger’s La madone des sleepings (1955)

Author:

Peter Verstraten

Résumé

By reflecting upon the travelling concept of the (film) ‘auteur’, the first part of the article argues that Modernism manifests itself differently in cinema studies than in literary studies. Whereas the literary canon is constituted by excluding anything connoting conventional reading matter, a ‘pantheon’ of great directors exhibits a ‘peaceful coexistence’ between popular films and art cinema. The second part of the article addresses the shift in Rudolf Arnheim’s film theory from die-hard Modernist in the 1930s to middlebrow Modernist in the 1950s in a period when Henri Diamant-Berger made an adaptation of Maurice Dekobra’s La madone des sleepings. Concerned with a ‘psychology of art’, Arnheim is to claim a ‘stylized simplicity’ which in the end is better represented by Luchino Visconti’s colourful but nonetheless ‘sophisticated’ melodrama Senso than by Diamant-Berger’s too modest picture. Visconti’s film gives body to the idea of film as a ‘pan-art’, which implies that it is characteristic of cinema to incorporate influences from other art films but also to parasite upon sentimentalism and (high) emotion.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/relief.909
How to Cite: Verstraten, P., (2015). Middlebrow modernism in film(theory): Visconti’s Senso (1954) vis-à-vis Diamant-Berger’s La madone des sleepings (1955). RELIEF - REVUE ÉLECTRONIQUE DE LITTÉRATURE FRANÇAISE. 9(1), pp.89–101. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/relief.909
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Publié le 22 Jun 2015.
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