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Cinematicity in Media History$
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Jeffrey Geiger and Karin Littau

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676118

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.001.0001

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Nature Caught in the Act: On the Transformation of an Idea of Art in Early Cinema

Nature Caught in the Act: On the Transformation of an Idea of Art in Early Cinema

(p.107) Chapter 6 Nature Caught in the Act: On the Transformation of an Idea of Art in Early Cinema
Cinematicity in Media History

Nico Baumbach

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter, written by Nico Baumbach, focuses on the Lumières’ film Le Repas de Bébé (Baby’s Meal); taking as its starting point Georges Méliès’s observation that it was through this film that he first registered the potential of cinema. It is not the spectacular that Méliès notices, but the incidental detail of moving leaves in the background of the film. Baumbach homes in on this incidental detail to explore the significance it held for filmmakers, including D. W. Griffith. Baumbach addresses film’s power to construct palpable, seemingly concrete visual phenomena, though here he examines the transitory aesthetics of the ‘wind in the trees’. Baumbach enriches the interest in what Tom Gunning and André Gaudreault called the ‘cinema of attractions’ by suggesting, via detours into Kant, Benjamin, German Romantic poetry, and Impressionist painting, that the inscription of the incidental could often be as powerful as the spectacular.

Keywords:   Lumière Brothers, Early cinema, Kinesis, D. W. Griffith, Film Theory, Film and Philosophy, Impressionism, Film aesthetics

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