Cinephilia goes global

Loving cinema in the post-cinematic age

Authored by: Belén Vidal

The Routledge Companion to World Cinema

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138918801
eBook ISBN: 9781315688251
Adobe ISBN:


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Cinephilia is both straightforward and elusive. The word alludes to the bonding desire for cinema, but also to the practices and cultures that this desire has inspired and brought to life. In this respect, cinephilia can be said to spring from two foundational moments: the rituals practised by the early twentieth-century avant-garde artists fascinated by the possibilities of the cinematograph, and the culture of viewing, talking and writing about film animating the various cosmopolitan centres in the post-World War II period, most notably Paris. The journal Cahiers du cinéma, founded by André Bazin and home to the well-known group of film critics, later cineastes of the New Wave, is credited with the invention of the auteur and the valorisation of classic Hollywood cinema as art. These two by-products of the era’s intense cinephilia smoothed the path towards cinema’s consideration as a worthy object of academic study. Yet, paradoxically, cinephilia would be later sidelined by a nascent discipline—Film Studies—in search of academic legitimation (Elsaesser 2005; Sperb and Balcerzak 2009; Baumbach 2012). The break of 1968 and the era of counter-culture were the turning point for successive waves of specialist debates that shaped Film Studies in the second half of the twentieth-century. Film theory rejected cinephilia’s perceived amateurism and disarming sincerity in pursuit of more rigorously scientific methods, under the pressure of new political priorities (Andrew 2000).

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