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Releasing in May 2018, Schrader’s seminal text Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer will be reissued with a substantial new introduction representing Schrader’s experiences and ideas as a filmmaker that have evolved over time, giving the original work both new clarity and a contemporary lens.
Already widely cited and used in courses in film studies, film genre, and art and avant garde film, this updated edition situates “Transcendental Style”, forty-five years later, as part of a larger movement in post-war cinema, the Slow Cinema movement.
Hear one of our most searching directors and writers discuss some of the techniques and attitudes of slow films:
Paul Schrader is an American screenwriter and director whose writing credits include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and directing credits include American Gigolo, Mishima, Light Sleeper, Affliction and First Reformed. Transcendental Style in Film was first published in 1972 by University of California Press.
When we watch a film, we experience it with eyes and ears, but also connect with it in a way that awakens our senses of touch, movement, and emotion, says Jennifer M. Barker, author of The Tactile Eye. In her interview on ROROTOKO last week, Barker illustrates how a film invites us to see and feel the world through its eyes, as if the film had a body of its own. Barker explores the three areas of touch—skin, musculature, and viscera—that are engaged between cinema and spectator, and illustrates how watching a film is a kind of mutual possession. Film and viewer are not entirely separate entities, but engulf one another for a time and then emerge again, as she shows in the example of James Williamson’s 1901 film, The Big Swallow (below). This scene, says Barker, embodies perfectly the all-consuming yet transitory nature of the encounter between film and viewer: “The Big Swallow forces the question, where are we in this picture? The ambiguity of Williamson’s film suggests the tactile, corporeal, reversible contact between film and spectator, who embrace or even ingest one other—in both directions—and yet do not disappear into one another entirely. The Big Swallow depicts quite literally and imaginatively the intimate and tactile crossover of the inside and the outside, of the subject and the object of this tactile vision.”