FROM FACE TO CLOSE-UP – AND BACK Cover Image
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A KÖZELKÉPTŐL AZ ARCIG ÉS VISSZA
FROM FACE TO CLOSE-UP – AND BACK

The face–close-up relation in the cross-section of the concepts of physiognomy and photogénie

Author(s): Beáta Margitházi
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Film / Cinema / Cinematography
Published by: Scientia Kiadó
Keywords: physiognomy;photogénie;Deleuze;close-up
Summary/Abstract: Photogénie and physiognomy are among the most wide-known concepts of the early film aesthetics, and reveal two different ways of thinking about the nature of film. Although these concepts do not imply coherent, theoretical systems, they develop two specific viewpoints about the importance of movement and representation in film. In this way, photogénie and physiognomy meet in the problem of the close-up, both of them dealing intensely with the aesthetics of face in film, naming it as an unusual, delicate area, which carries some truly “film-like” characteristics. The close-up initiates the specific idea of seeing “in close-up” and provides that technical condition, through which the face can appear as an artistic opportunity for the film. While photogénie deals with the differences between reality and its filmic image, physiognomy emphasizes the ability of the filmic image to produce sensitive surfaces, or even to “facialize” its subject. This study discusses these concepts by evoking the writings of Béla Balázs and the artists of French impressionism, Jean Epstein, Germaine Dulac and Louis Delluc. To test the validity of these concepts, the author analyses two very different films: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915), which was one the French impressionists’ most adored American films, and John Cassavetes’ Faces (1968), which contains a lot of close-ups evoking different aspects of photogénie.The paper also refers shortly to the after-life of these concepts, which are often evoked by the philosophical film theory of Gilles Deleuze.

  • Page Range: 57-92
  • Page Count: 36
  • Publication Year: 2007
  • Language: Hungarian