In a now-famous interview with Francois Truffaut in 1962, Alfred Hitchcock described his masterpiece Rear Window (1954) as "the purest expression of a cinematic idea." But what, precisely, did Hitchcock mean by pure cinema? Was pure cinema a function of mise en scene, or composition within the frame? Was it a function of montage, "of pieces of film assembled"? This notion of pure cinema has intrigued and perplexed critics, theorists, and
filmmakers alike in the decades following this discussion. And even across his 40-year career, Hitchcock's own ideas about pure cinema remained mired in a lack of detail, clarity, and analytical precision.
The Art of Pure Cinema is the first book-length study to examine the historical foundations and stylistic mechanics of pure cinema. Author Bruce Isaacs explores the potential of a philosophical and artistic approach most explicitly demonstrated by Hitchcock in his later films, beginning with Hitchcock's contact with the European avant-garde film movement in the mid-1920s. Tracing the evolution of a philosophy of pure cinema across Hitchcock's most experimental works - Rear
Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, and Frenzy - Isaacs rereads these works in a new and vital context. In addition to this historical account, the book presents the first examination of pure cinema as an integrated stylistics of mise en scene, montage, and sound design. The films of so-called
Hitchcockian imitators like Mario Bava, Dario Argento, and Brian De Palma are also examined in light of a provocative claim: that the art of pure cinema is only fully realized after Hitchcock.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 272
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm
Filmgoers who have ever wondered what Hitchcock meant by pure cinema-a phrase that has remained stubbornly associated with him despite his notoriously vague account of it-and whether they actually agreed with him will be engaged, fascinated, and sometimes piqued by Bruce Isaacs's exhilarating approach to the question of pure cinema as 'the materialization of schematic, abstractly rendered framed spaces animated by movement' and an equally abstract, fragmented use of
sound illustrated by an exploration of the latter-day Hitchcockians Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and especially Brian De Palma. Isaacs offers a tonic reminder that one of the best ways to see Hitchcock afresh is to see him through the eyes and films of his imitators. * Thomas Leitch, University of Delaware *
In The Art of Pure Cinema, Bruce Isaacs re-evaluates a spate of popular films, which include the creations of directors such as Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and, most importantly, Brian De Palma, whom Isaacs describes as 'a cohort of Hitchcockian imitators'. Providing close analyses of key sequences from these films, Isaacs invites the reader to consider these 'movies' as sustained explorations and extensions of the master's initial aesthetic propositions
and philosophy. As such this book constitutes an important addition to scholarship on the aesthetics of the thriller and horror genres. * Hilary Radner, Professor Emeritus, University of Otago *
Hitchcock had a method. It was a 'philosophy of visual and auratic form'-the dream of a pure cinema. With an unexpected gambit, Bruce Isaacs unearths this method through the rich pantheon of Hitchcockian imitators. A true discovery. * Francesco Casetti, Yale University *