Of More Than a Certain Tendency in the Indian Cinema
Bs film a universal art-form? Does the aesthetic derived from its very nature, the supposed universality of its technology, suggest its own universality, or would the various streams in international film have to be defined in the context of the cultures within which they are rooted?
I think that from this very point we begin entering a jungle, a mass of critieal/ideological/technological issues made ever more complicated by the growing indispensability of cinema as mass-communication to modern capitalism itself. One would have thought that the question of universality versus culture-specificity has been answered, repeatedly, by the practice of filmmaking. From Eisenstein, Rossellini and Bunuel to Fellini, Godard and Ozu, every filmmaker has sought that particular dialectic between the interaction of the materials of cinema and the various cultural traditions reflected in its content. This dialectic, emerging from the emphatically modern context of film—embedded in its very nature of a genuinely collective art-form, its ability to transform capitalist technology into art—has in the work of the filmmakers mentioned above, and in several others, provided the vital means to transform material traditions centuries old into a contemporary intervention.
But it is of course now clear that such practice has not resulted in corresponding theoretical advancement; that filmmaking is still bound down to rules that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, are still believed commonly to be 'universal'. And it is also not surprising that it should be so if we consider the odds against such a remarkable transfer of a technology of reproduction into an art-form so extraordinarily
Journal of Arts and Ideas 5