Who is Andre Bazin? | “Who is” Movie Bios in Three Minutes or Less


Bradley Weatherholt: Andre Bazin is the most
influential film theorist and critic in all of cinema’s hundred year history. If you’ve ever used the word “auteur”
to describe a filmmaker, you have Bazin to thank for that, and a lot more. So who was Andre Bazin? And why should you care? Here’s a quick breakdown of the man, but
if you want more analysis, you might want to check out our more comprehensive look at
the man and his times here. Andre Bazin was born in France in 1918 and
died in 1958 of leukemia. In the course of his forty years, he would
lay the groundwork and popularized the practice of film theory. In 1951, Bazin co-founded world renowned film
magazine, Cahiers du cinema, and would continue editing the magazine until his death. His writings were then published posthumously
in a four-volume collection titled “What is cinema?” “What is Cinema?” is, if not the greatest
single contribution to film theory, every bit as groundbreaking as Kuleshov’s and
Eisenstein’s work before Bazin or Bordwell’s body of work after him. Bazin responded to Kuleshov’s montage
theory and developed his own philosophy of cinema. In contrast to Russian ideas of montage, which
Bazin feared distorted “objective reality” and could manipulate viewers to political
ends, Bazin instead argued that films should depict reality as accurately as possible,
favoring directors who made themselves invisible and relied on deep focus, wide shots, and
continuity through mis-en-scene over editing and special effects. For him, the interpretation of the film should
be left to the spectator. Although he favored directors who made themselves
invisible in the edit, this is not to say he wasn’t a major proponent of directorial
vision. The exact opposite is true. Bazin argued that a director was the true
artist of a film and that film’s should be personally linked to a director’s vision. A critic of another time, Bazin believed in
“appreciative criticism,” the practice where critics only reviewed films they liked,
thus encouraging constructive criticism. Film criticism, to Bazin, should be a constructive
process, where theorist and filmmaker responded to each other and through the feedback, the
art of cinema would grow. This said, Bazin probably wouldn’t have
been a fan of Rotten Tomatoes. This is just a small look at Andre Bazin. If you want to learn more about Bazin, and
the period of cinema he lived in, check out our video on the French New Wave from our
Timeline of World Cinema series. That video might give you an even better answer
to the question: “Who is Andre Bazin?” Thanks for watching. Subscribe for more! And don’t forget to tell us below what you
think of Andre Bazin and his theories. In the comments, below! (music playing)

Maurice Vega

3 Responses

  1. André does deserve one of the most illustrious places in film theory's history. Furthermore I think his views make a lot more sense than most later structuralist/screen theory proponents. Maybe it just resonates more with me but I suspect it also makes more logic.

    Thank you for this video and just a side note: It's not pronounced "Bazeen" but rather "Bazan", with the "n" at the end sounding like a nazal sound and not like an actual "n", ie, "BazĂŁ".

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