Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Hillary Radner & Alistair Fox publish Raymond Bellour: Cinema and the Moving Image

Book on Raymond Bellour film theory
Radner & Fox, Raymond Bellour: Cinema and the Moving Image

Edinburgh University Press, 2018
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1474422896
ISBN-13: 978-1474422895

All text below by the book’s authors, as presented on

Table of contents

Part 1 Raymond Bellour: Cinema and the Moving Image

INTRODUCTION: Cinema and Its Discontents: The Place of Raymond Bellour in Film Theory from the Twentieth to the Twenty-first Century — Hilary Radner

Raymond Bellour, while one of the most influential early theorists of cinema and the moving image, remains less well known among contemporary film scholars than he should be, even though he has exerted a formative influence on the field at large. One reason for this neglect is that his work is scattered across a myriad of essays published in French, the majority of which have not been translated into English. Bellour has also shown himself to be an exceptionally subtle and complex thinker, which makes it doubly difficult to gain an overall impression of the coherency of his thought…

CHAPTER ONE: Film Analysis: Image and Movement — Hilary Radner

Grounded in the French tradition of “explication du texte” as a means of approaching literature, and formed by his initial postgraduate work on French poetry (on Henri Michaux, in particular), Raymond Bellour was among the first film scholars to bring a French literary sensibility to the analysis of classical Hollywood film, which enabled him to recognize the rhetorical refinements of the cinematic medium and its potential for poetic expression. One of his most important contributions to the practice of film analysis, therefore, was his application of the techniques of literary analysis to the “body” of a film, specifically by paying…

CHAPTER TWO: The Digital Challenge: From the Theater to the Gallery — Hilary Radner

Raymond Bellour’s work on video art, while a product of his own preoccupations, emerges within more general speculations about spectatorship before 1990, including such notions as “suture,”¹ and Brechtian “distanciation,” or “alienation,” that marked film scholarship as it was widely discussed in France, in Britain, and to some degree in the United States, primarily among what were known in English for a variety of reasons as the “Screen” theorists, including their association with the journal Screen. Bellour, together with Thierry Kuntzel conceived of this new medium (or rather media as it turned out) as having the potential to transform the…

CHAPTER THREE Cinema and the Body: The Ghost in the Theater  — Hilary Radner

Bellour’s magnum opus, Le Corps du cinéma: hypnoses, émotions, animalités (The Body of Cinema: Hypnoses, Emotions, Animalities), a massive volume of more than 500 pages, brings together many themes that have marked his exploration of classical cinema over the previous decades. Described as “the first large-scale work on the rhythmic and formal aspects of cinema that unify the animal, the viewer, and the production and unfolding of film,” the volume focuses on the relations among these last, within the context of a particular dispositif or apparatus. Bellour uses this term to refer to the “set-up” within which the viewer engages…

CHAPTER FOUR An Elegy for Cinema — Hilary Radner

In the new millennium, returning to a preoccupation with classical cinema, Raymond Bellour argued, as discussed in the previous chapter, that hypnosis rather than the dream (as proposed in the view of Christian Metz) offers the most accurate metaphor for understanding the cinematic viewer’s relationship to the screen narrative. Bellour posits a viewer caught by, and subject to, somatic responses, like an animal, that are basically emotional in nature (hence not under his or her rational control) and generated from outside him or her, but that he or she experiences as autogenic in origin. The physicality of these responses draws…

PART TWO BELLOUR BY BELLOUR: Selections from an Interview conducted by Gabriel Bortzmeyer and Alice LeRoy in December 2015

CHAPTER FIVE: Formative Influences

[In this section of the interview, Bellour describes how he began to engage in film analysis in the 1960s, beginning with a sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, with the aim of establishing the way that it worked as a “text.” He proceeds to describe his personal encounters with major figures like Roland Barthes, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Michel Foucault, and his friendship with Christian Metz, suggesting how his interchanges with them helped to shape his own thinking, and how it diverged from theirs.]

CHAPTER SIX: Film Analysis and the Symbolic

Bellour explains the difference between Christian Metz’s semiological approach and his own approach to film analysis, and the degrees to which he became disenchanted with psychoanalysis, despite his debt to Lacan’s notion of the imaginary, the real, and the symbolic. With reference to his analysis of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, he proceeds to comment on how he evolved such key notions as “symbolic blockage” and “the undiscoverable text,” and proceeds to describe the influence of Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and his interest in American cinema and filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Curtiz, and Fritz Lang.]

CHAPTER SEVEN: Thierry Kuntzel and the Rise of Video Art

[Bellour describes how his interest in video art grew out of his personal friendship with Thierry Kuntzel and the latter’s growing interest in experimental filmmaking using the new technology, and how this interest prompted him to seek to understand how the new medium was leading to a modification of perception. He goes on to explain how video technology enables the production of images that escape the natural conditions deemed to constrain photography, also emphasizing the influence of painting on video art.]

CHAPTER EIGHT: Arrested Images and “the Between-Images”

[Bellour explains his concept of “between-images,” and comments on the status of the arrested image in relation to the time-image, suggesting how video was an instrument of transformation at a brief historical moment that is already in the past because of the advent of the digital. In the contemporary world, he suggests, the computer now enables a continuous, ideal passage between all the domains of words, images, painting, and photography, obliterating the boundaries that formerly distinguished them. He concludes this section by speculating on the nature of images, ways of forming them, and how they only make sense when related…

CHAPTER NINE Spectators, Dispositifs, and the Cinematic Body

[Bellour explains why he returned to a preoccupation with cinema in general, and the spectator in particular, and how he came to write Le Corps du cinéma, emphasizing his interest in the diverse dispositifs represented by Foucault’s Panopticon on one hand, and by the phenomena of panoramas and phantasmagorias on the other. He describes how his discovery of Daniel Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant marked a critical turning point, leading him to explore an analogy between the infant and a spectator watching a film in the cinema – an analogy that enabled him to break with the psychoanalytic model…

Part 3: Biography and Publications of Raymond Bellour

Raymond Bellour (1939–): A Biographical Sketch — Alistair Fox

An understanding of the education, professional experiences, and cultural activities that have influenced Raymond Bellour’s intellectual formation helps to explain the breadth of his research interests, as well as many of the distinctive dimensions of his film theory. What follows is designed to give a brief outline of the intellectual and cultural factors that shaped his preoccupations, the range of his interests, and the course of his career.

A native of Lyon, Raymond Bellour was born in that city on January 18, 1939, where he would remain until 1964, before relocating to Paris. A precocious child, Bellour began to read…

A Select Annotated Bibliography of the Publications of Raymond Bellour 

Select List of Sources Cited


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