Avant-garde is a term used in the military literally means foreguard. This term was used to typify various aesthetic groups that arose immediately before and after the First World War. The Avant-garde movement that arose after the war showed the horrors of the war.
Evolution of Avant-garde in Cinema
Avant-garde is a movement that seeks to break the tradition and politicise the issues. It was in 1920 when a small group of theorists first used avant-garde. French theorists like Louis Delluc, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein sought to create avant-garde cinema. The members pointed out that the theoretical approach to cinema addressed the issues like realist versus naturalist films, spectator-screen relationship, editing styles, subjectivity, and psychoanalytical potential of a film, auteur cinema and the semiotics of the film. With this they turned to making film with experimentation as its central part.
Avant-garde which is also called as experimental film works in 3 overlapping levels
- Possibilities of film language
- Redefining subjectivity along with its representation
Experimenting with these levels; the avant-garde filmmakers attacked the understanding of the narrative, omniscience that also raised the questions about the subjectivity and its representation. The outcome was achieved after disrupting space and time that focused on discontinuity, fast editing disoriented shots.
Groups and movements made during Avant-garde era
- Futurism, 1919
- Dadaism, 1916
- Constructivism, 1920
- Surrealism, 1924
Stages of Avant-garde
- Subjective Cinema
- Pure Cinema
- Surrealist Cinema
1. Subjective Cinema
The major influences were from the work of modernist painter in the early part of the avant-garde movements.
2. Pure Cinema
The influence from Sergei Eisenstein’s montage theory and Bertolt Brecht’s theory of distanciation. The films exhibit the structures and materiality which draws attention to the artifice of the cinema. In pure cinema the spectator doesn’t evidence the narrative structure of the films. This type reflects the revolutionary role of the avant-garde.
3. Surrealist Cinema
This type denaturalizes the dominant cinematic language bringing the theory of the counter cinema into practice. This stage is a collision between the first two stages of avant-garde bringing the irrational dreams and fantasies that are normally repressed.
Avant-garde Films that lived through the time
- Manhattan – Charles Sheeler – 1921
- Ballet Mecanique – Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy – 1924
- Ghosts Before Breakfast – Hans Richter – 1928
- Un Chien Andalou – Luis Bunuel – 1929
- Meshes of the Afternoon – Alexandr Hackenschmied, Maya Deren – 1943
- Dog Star Man – Stan Brakhage – 1961-1964
- Scorpio Rising – Kenneth Anger – 1963
- Julien Donkey Boy – Harmony Korine – 1999
- The Heart of the World – Guy Maddin – 2000
- Inland Empire – David Lynch – 2006
Avant-garde – The Heart of the World
Written and directed by a prominent director Guy Maddin, “The Heart of the World” was created for the Toronto International Film Festival in year 2000. Fellow moviemakers Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg, agreed upon filming four-minute short-lived flicks which may be used to show first before a number of highlighted movies of the film fest. When gossips about his colleague’s ideas, Maddin manifested for this film to have 100 shots a minute to a staggering speed and a plot to sufficiently serve as a full-length movie. This hushed avant garde motion picture which was released in Canada in 2000 runs only for 6 minutes and stars Leslie Bais as Anna, Caelum Vatnsdal as Osip, Shaun Balbar as Nikolai and Greg Klymkiw as Akmatov. Osip and Nikolai are brothers fighting for the affection of a scientist named Ana who suspects that the planet is edging to self annihilation. Nikolai being an undertaker attempted to excite her by his embalming antiques. On the other hand, Osip being an actor ventured on captivating her by means of his tolerance in painstaking portrayals on his play, however Ana was beguiled by a wicked investor, but changed her mind, throttled the magnate, slinked down the planet and rescued the globe from eradication.