Temporal Grammar

Marker discusses cinema with technical confidence and a lucid, inclusive conception of its nature and relationship to the other arts. In his review of Henry V, he positions cinema as the inheritor and destiny of both theatre and painting, come to ‘finish their conquests, and fulfil their prophesies’.

…The preamble to his essay on Jiri Trnka’s Prince Bayaya pushes aside the false opposition of painting or cinema with a vision of cinema as the art of time and movement…

Marker locates the nature of cinema in the perpetual conflict or exchange between space and time. These two dimensions are reconciled in his notion of a temporal grammar of film shots, where long shots correspond to the past and close-ups to the present. His analysis of Dreyer’s film, renowned for its use of extreme close-ups of the human face to carry the drama, goes beyond conventional psychological readings to correlate the close-ups (along with the minimal, austere decor and costumes) to a tangible experience of historical events made to seem eternally present…

Chris Marker: Memories of the Future, Catherine Lupton (UK) (US)