Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/20431
Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: Film Hierophany: Analysing the Sacred in Avant-garde Films from the 1920s to 1950s
Authors: Nilubol, Lalipa
Supervisor(s): Hass, Andrew
Keywords: film
sacred
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: I am focusing my dissertation on the concept of ‘hierophany’ as established by Mircea Eliade in order to formulate a theory of the ultimately cooperative relationship between the sacred and the avant-garde. On the outer surface, the relationship between the two seems intensely characterised by contention and conflict, due to the sacred being bound to the timeless, mythical dimension and the avant-garde being conventionally defined as a modern movement. However, I intend to re-theorise the avant-garde as being much more than a historically and culturally constrained phenomenon, that avant-garde — much like the sacred — is an inherent predisposition within the consciousness with transhistorical and transcultural qualities. And even though the sacred is normally associated with the archaic while the avant-garde is defined by a constant newness, I am setting out to establish that the archaic can indeed exhibit avant-garde aspects, and this is where my study of Antonin Artaud’s theoretical material enters to help resolve such difficulties. Apart from upholding a dream cinema that detaches from (modern) conventions of aural narrative, Artaud proposes a revival of a mythical theatre, especially in his romantic idealisations of the Balinese theatre where the playing out of images and gestures is as he posits a process of transmutation channelled by the gods. Correspondingly, with a mechanical assemblage such as a work of cinema revealing mythical images and symbols, such an idea of radically mixed connotations goes to show that film may not be exclusively modern afterall. Film may in fact be essentially aligned with the primitive tendency to seek divine meaning and empowerment in everyday objects, places, and events — that through the cinematic medium, objects that are normally considered inanimate and even ordinary would come to possess sacred significance, acquiring a life force that magnifies the object’s relationship with higher dimensions. Ultimately, my attempt to show that film inherently possesses such animistic qualities would lead to a dismantling of the dichotomy between the sacred — which Eliade so insists is a separate dimension completely alien to this world — and the profane — which predominantly characterises modernity, of which both the avant-garde and the cinematic medium are considered by conventional standards to be two of the main components. The films I focus upon either express an idealisation of Eastern philosophy — regardless of whether or not such an idealisation is directly articulated — or provide an answer, or rather a replenishment, for a vision of higher fulfillment that the modern Western cultural attitude is severely missing. My original contribution is — not exactly to play one cultural attitude against another, as that would be the greatest fallacy — but to discern, by way of the intrinsic film form, the nature of those themes, images, and symbols that profoundly resonate with the mythical/sacred imagination, so much so that such operative patterns within the consciousness can be considered universal. In that connection, I set out to examine those aspects of the sacred that are inherently predisposed towards expanding creativity, which is that intense area of hybridity where the sacred and the avant-garde converge. Apart from analysing some interpretations of Germaine Dulac’s The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928) in Chapter 2 — or more precisely, Artaud’s ideas of this film that is based upon his original scenario — I discuss in detail specific scenes from the following films, all of which break open modern secular norms and enter completely uninhibited into the mythical realm where conventional definitions of reality become radically challenged: 1.) Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) 2.) Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) 3.) Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff (1954), Ugetsu (1953), Utamaro and His Five Women (1946), and The Life of Oharu (1952)
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/20431
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities

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