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The Sounds of Balázs's Cinema
Eszter Polonyi, invited lecture at foreign university

Keywords: film studies, media studies, sound studies, early film theory, Weimar film, authorship studies
Published in RUNG: 14.12.2020; Views: 2256; Downloads: 0
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The Promise of Collective Authorship: Bela Balazs’s Move to the Soviet Union (1931-1946)
Eszter Polonyi, unpublished conference contribution

Abstract: Balazs belongs to a generation of Central and Eastern European critical thinker, cultural philosopher and writer that is often credited with exporting Marxist cultural analysis to North America, but about whom very little is known to English-language scholars. The fifteen years he spent in the Soviet Union are among the most undocumented of his career, even though this was when he wrote the text that would become his most widely-cited book, Theory of the Film. This paper examines Balazs’s decision to flee to the Soviet Union from Germany in 1931. While it has long been assumed that Balazs’s decision to move East rather than West—the route otherwise taken by colleagues of his such as Siegfried Kracauer, Michael Curtiz or Rudolf Arnheim—was due to commitments of a political nature, this paper evaluates Balazs’s options from the viewpoint of the scenarist’s rising importance within competing modes of film production. Pre-constituting a film by way of a plan, sketch or model, the scenario promised different types of leverage over production to capitalist and communist systems. Conceived of as a commodity blueprint in Hollywood, the scenario appeared as it was a means of enhancing the effectiveness of production and as a tool of capital, whereas, for Balazs at least, the scenario was a source of sensory and spiritual attunement between an assemblage of humans and machines. Understood as offering vision rather than oversight, collective authorship rather than collective control, the script appeared to complement the utopian arguments driving the Soviet film industry.
Keywords: film studies, industrial design, Soviet studies, authorship
Published in RUNG: 14.12.2020; Views: 2228; Downloads: 0
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