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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathAkerman

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complies excessively—and this is her transgression—with classical cinema's demand for linearity, and for uniformity of texture. Her long takes and extended in-character monologues oversaturate textual and diegetic homogeneity, creating a rhythmic imbalance, a taint in classical cinema's precious equilibrium. Akerman's formal allegiance to Bresson, Dreyer, Yasujiro Ozu, and Warhol demands an understanding of how her nondidactic antinaturalism shares in a shift in sensibility that is distinctly post-Godardian. Akerman's refusal to mediate between herself and others from within the film is compounded by her discourse of excess, which establishes the separateness and independence of the audience: «I cannot but leave a place for the spectator in his/her difference,» [29] says Akerman.

A problematized linearity of episodes or ellipses, and a preference for obliquity over frontality in mise-en-scène, replace the direct questioning of cinematic language and the direct address of the audience. At stake in the term «theatrical,» is the cleavage between two presences that demand recognition at the same time: that of the spectator


and that of the scene. These are related through conditions of separation or of familiarity that are, at each instant, absolute. And these two poles define a gravitational field in which the engagement with the represented scene parallels, but never erases, one's acknowledgment of one's own severance from the scene. To unbalance representation by rephrasing drama's old antitheses of naturalistic absorption and artifice means taking the Godardian frontal address askance. In the cinema of Bresson, Dreyer, Rohmer, Handke, Straub and Huillet, and Akerman, the self-absorption of characters as they speak and listen to one another is hyperbolized to the point where their delivery is transformed into an almost mechanical pathway for the text. In Dreyer's «Gertrud», the speech of one character to another constantly goes beyond the addressee—«they talk past each other.» [30] Verbal discourse is intensified, and the text hangs over the bodies as film music does. [31] «It is the first time,» says Dreyer, «I've given so much importance to the word and this helped me find a new form between the theater and cinema.» [32]

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