Third Cinema revisited

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Displacement

Posted by keith1942 on July 4, 2019

Synonyms for displacement – deracination- move / movement – rearrangement – shift – supplanting

In this case, as indicated in the notice from Il Cinema Ritrovato 2019, the movement was occasioned by the screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s new version of ‘Apocalypse Now – The Final Cut’ (USA 2019). The screening in a digital format was programmed for the Piazza Maggiore, a square that can accommodate several thousand people. To this was added the ‘pop-up’ screening which added 600 places. And then to this the space at the Cinema Jolly, a further 360 seats.
The term ‘supplanting’ best describes the latter as it replaced a screening of Youssef Chahine’s Seråa fi al-wadi / Struggle in the Valley (Egypt 1954). For many cineastes at the Festival there was justified frustration though the organisers presumably thought, as this was the second screening of the Chahine title, that it was a minor disruption. At the level of values and interests this change was symptomatic of Coppola”s famous film; a work that superficially addresses a neo-colonial war but resolutely upholds the values of the dominant state. So a better term might be ‘deracination / uprooting’ which is exactly how the European and North American neo-colonial states treat the oppressed peoples and nations.
In an article in ‘MOVIE’ Andrew Britton discussed the many Vietnam films. His basic argument was that most so-called anti-war films do not address the actual politics of actual wars. Of the Coppola film in its original release version he commented:

“There is no more characteristic feature of the ‘seventies Hollywood cinema than the invitation to purchase the bankruptcy of American [i.e. USA] capitalism as the ultimate spectacle: the end of the world realised as an exchange-value.” (‘Sideshows: Hollywood in Vietnam’, Issues 27 and 28).

Apocalypse Now would seem to fit exactly the description by Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino in the Manifesto, ‘Towards a Third Cinema’.

“The cinema as a spectacle aimed at a digesting object is the highest point that can be reached by bourgeois film-making. The world, experience, and the historic process are enclosed within the frame of a painting, the stage of a theatre, and the movie screen; man is viewed as a consumer of ideology, and not as the creator of ideology.”

Of course, it is a masterful spectacle but empty of genuine political opposition for all that.
I do not think that the ‘Redux’ version, whilst adding filmic material, added to the political content of the film. I have yet to see ‘Final Cut’, which is actually slighter shorter than ‘Redux’, but I doubt that this will do that either.
All versions owe something to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. Whilst criticism, as that by Chinua Achebe, are valid the novella does more than merely reproduce Africa as spectacle. Unfortunately there is not a good filmic rendition of this work. It certainly deserves more than to be seen as the property for this Hollywood extravaganza. With reference to Vietnam a good antidote would be the Cuban film 79 Springs / 79 primaveras (1969), directed by Santiago Alvarez. This would have made a good screening at the Ritrovato. Meanwhile the Chahine film is one of the titles in the Ritrovato programme that has been transferred to a digital format, so that at least suggests that it will now be more accessible than in the past.

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