18 décembre 2008

Ouvrir Bazin 3 - Marc Vernet

Day 3. Full program here
My notes on the lecture "Un Bazin pro-censure ?" [Bazin pro censorship ?]
  • The short answer is : yes.
  • About 15-20 articles written on censorship by Bazin.
  • 1950-1957 : Proud member of the Control of Films Comission. He talks about it openly and with honesty. He exposes the pro and con arguments in public, in the Press.
  • 1950 : "Censure et censures au cinéma" (Parisien Libéré, #1918, Dec 11, 1950) first article on self-censorship.
  • Bazin promotes integrity, firm principles and open debate (mentality alike to Resnais' in the realm of filmmaking)
  • Bazin is a pacifist. He believes censorship is a necessary evil ("servitude honteuse" = shameful servitude) against pro-crime movies. The political censorship is the worst.
  • To filmmakers who complain against censorship, he tells them they should blame themselves, they should accomodate and anticipate censorship themselves, with self-censorship.
  • In France, the cinema censorship is managed by the government and by the profession (producers) : CNC (Centre National de la Cinematographie) is a consensual censorship.
  • "Everybody speaking about censorship is subject to self-censorship"
  • Bel Ami (1955/Daquin) is an example of censorship dodge thanks to the litterature argument : "If the novel wasn't censored, then why would an filmic adaptation get censored?"
  • There is a context of political "cold war" in France at the time (see previous post), the PCF (French Communist Party) puts on latent pressure in the hope to overthrow the government. Cinema acts as a political leverage for a race to power control.
  • It's also the time when France begins to lose grip on colonies. The government raises the severity of film censorship.
  • Another mecanism of censorship is to be used by the authority as a publicity stunt : a film gets an obviously unfair censorship in order for the government to get the opportunity to showcase generosity, grace, pardon in the Press and lift censorship.
  • "Censeurs, sachez censurer" (Radio Cinéma Télévision, #411, Dec 1, 1957) Bazin's article : The 2 roles of censorship is to protect underaged children and to secure public order.
  • "Le Vatican, L'humanité et la censure" (France Observateur, #302, Feb 23, 1956) Bazin's article : he reminds people who apply censorship to reprehensible films opposed to their values, they shouldn't complain when films they like are conversly censored by other people.
  • In the USA, censorship is managed by the profession alone: the Hays code (1934-1968).
  • Bazin, dandy erotomane, admires the censorship system of the Production Code that develops suggestive eroticism (Pin up girl) in American films.
  • 1957-60 : in France, Malraux-De Gaulle administration. Censorship crisis. Malraux restores free circulation of films, without censorship. Which causes the emergence of local partisanship (lobbies) replacing the official censorship. See Bazin's article in Qu'est-ce que le cinéma? (also in Cahiers, #70, Apr 1957): En marge de "L'érotisme au cinéma"
  • In France, censorship has always been temporary and opportunistic. There is never full and permanent censorship. Films are eventually approved and screened, after a few years.
  • Bazin questions censorship of bad movies that aren't worth such attention/publicity. 8 out of 10 films censored are bad films.
  • Bazin defends Les Statues Meurent Aussi (1953/Resnais) and Nuit et Brouillard (1955/Resnais)
  • In the daily Press (Le Parisien Libéré), weekly (Nouvel Observateur), Bazin reacts promptly, on the go, to censorship decisions and comments them openly. In the monthly Press (Cahiers, Esprit) he looks back with more distance on the events.
  • Film censorship creates palimpsest films, patchwork with the holes of cut scenes and pieced together in a discontinuous manner. Not only the audience is spoiled, but the film itself, the integrity of the artwork is wasted.
  • Bazin promotes the idea of censorship as a public debate, in the open, that both the audience and the filmmaker would know the reasons, the arguments behind censorship decisions. *IF* censorship must be, at least it should take place in public, between intelligent people, instead of petty manipulations of small comities behind closed doors. Bazin breaks the intellectual censorship (taboo) on the censorship system.

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