ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Urban Non-narrative and an Independent Language of Cinema

The progress of cinema as an art form can be seen through the emergence of an independent language of depicting the urban.

In his autobiography, Charlie Chaplin mentions a meeting with Gertrude Stein and her thoughts on cinema as an art form and how she would like to see Chaplin in a film. “She would like to see me in a movie just walking up the street and turning a corner, then another corner, and another. I thought of saying that her idea was a paraphrase of that mystic emphasis of hers: ‘Rose is a rose is a rose,’” Chaplin writes. As a principal mentor of the Parisian avant-garde, Stein knew the nuances of a city scene and the potency of the cinematic medium that doesn’t need the structural reinforcement of a conventional narrative.

In the early days of cinema, the identity of specific cities was of little or no consequence and film viewers need not have identified them. However, the themes portrayed were essentially urban (unemployment, migration, homelessness, crimes, etc). With the progress of cinema as an art form, all the above concerns are placed in real cities, and while the concerns remain universal, the contexts are specific. The film-maker can shoot in urban locations, and natural urban sights and sounds, everyday city life can seep into the film to add to the essential non-narrative that the city is.

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Updated On : 2nd Sep, 2022
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