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The Virtues and Limitations of Montage by Andre Bazin
Among some film makers such as Bazin, montage is the essential element film production that makes scenes more real and appealing to viewers. Accordingly, cinemas should produce movies that are not endowed with priori meaning, since in reality, events occur in unpredictable manners. This paper will review Bazin’s neglect of montage except when it occurs in matches and determine the practicality of this view in enhancing quality of films.
Bazin notes that films should have an element of realism by depicting the real world by illustrating its physical continuity and dynamic events. Therefore, in “The Virtues and Limitations of Montage,” he opines that “essential cinema, seen for once in pure state…is to be found in straightforward photographic respect for unity of space” 15. This argument implies that a scenes in a movie should not be too specific to an extent that actual events have to be modified. Additionally, he also asserts, “What is imaginary on the screen must have spatial density of something real. You cannot therefore use montage here except within well-defined limits or you run the risk of threatening the very ontology of the cinematographic tale” 16. This statement further supports his argument of the unpredictability of world events. Thus, he appreciates that a producer must limit his usage of mortgage to ensure that his film’s story is not distorted by real-life events.
One of Bazin’s most notable assertions is that there montage cannot exist unless there are exact matches. As a result, he opines that film makers should produce continuous shots of key events. In this regard, he asserts that films that have long shots are more “real.” In particular, he notes that such shots reveal more reality within a single piece of a film and enable a spectator to have a more neutral view of all events. In this regard, Bazin states:
“Contrary to what one might at first, “decoupage in depth’ is more charged with meaning than analytical decoupage. It is no less abstract than the other, but the additional abstraction which it integrates into the narrative comes precisely from a surplus realism. A realism that is in a certain sense ontological, restoring to the object and the décor their existential density, the weight of their presence; a dramatic realism which refuses to separate the actor from the décor, the foreground from the background; a psychological realism which brings the spectator back to the conditions of perception, a perception which is never completely determined a priori” 20.
These claims are consistent with Bazin’s desire for continuity, which is not always possible or practical in filming.