Visionary cinema

At the dawn of cinema these two tendencies were already evident in the split between the brothers Lumiere and George Melies, for whereas the former concerned themselves with realist spectacles such as the arrival of a train at a station or people sitting around playing cards, Melies invented the special effect as a tool by means of which he was able to render spaceships, robots and dragons in a way that would be convincing, at least, to the average theater goer.

It was precisely Melies’s concern with what we refer to as the “Visionary” tendency in cinema–its Carnival cultural residue–to be the true and proper use of the medium. In this sense, film is closer to the spirit of the delighted rabble depicted watching The Magic Flute in Milos Forman’s Amadeus , than to the stiff-necked upper classes shown patronizing The Marriage of Figaro. For it is in the Visionary modality that myth functions as the telescope for viewing into the deepest reaches of the human soul, ironically transforming the movie camera from a mere optical device for recording consensus reality to a pulsing organic machine capable of peering with its intrusive Eye into our dreaming skulls.

from “The Visionary Movie: a Manifesto”


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