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Transcendental Style in Film - Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer [Paperback]

Paul Schrader
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Jan 1988 Da Capo Paperback
The acclaimed director of Mishima, American Gigolo, Hard Core, Blue Collar, Cat People also the screenwriter for Taxi Driver, Paul Schrader here analyzes the film style of three great directors--Yasajiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, Carl Dreyer--and posits a common dramatic language by these artists from divergent cultures. Unlike the style of psychological realism, which dominates film, the transcendental style expresses a spiritual state with austere camerawork, acting devoid of self-consciousness, and editing that avoids editorial comment. This important book is an original contribution to film analysis and a key work by one of our most searching directors and writers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press, New York; New Ed edition (1 Jan 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306803356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306803352
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Paul Schrader is the acclaimed director of Mishima, American Gigolo, Hard Core, Blue Collar, Cat People and the screenwriter for Taxi Driver.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The films of Yasujiro Ozu exemplify the transcendental in style in the East. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Schrader accurately analyses the style of major directors.This boook does not limit itself to a mere cinematographic study but,on the contrary, explains the close links between philosophy, theology and paintings and the work of Ozu, Bresson and Dreyer.
Above all, it makes the reader feel like dicovering all these movies.
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Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a book on a rare cinematic style 15 Aug 2009
By L. Pals - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a gem of appreciation for an all but dying cinematic style. Bottom line, it's an enthusiastic analysis of a very rare style shared by three different filmmakers, all auteurs in their own right. You may disagree with the "spiritual" import, or the importance of the stylistic similarities across cultures, but you cannot deny that Paul Schrader is onto something worth studying. Schrader's background in Calvinism (and its analytic, ascetic tendencies) is a unique and fitting window through which the reader can appreciate Bresson's, Ozu's, and Dreyer's work as it relates to the aesthetics of grace. Schrader's concentration on the primacy of filmic form as a means to communicate with the audience, as opposed to content, vicarious emotion (empathy), and visceral sensations, flies in the face of visual narrative styles today, even the most "artistic."
Sure, it's a masters thesis, and sometimes reads like one. It is a little uneven rhetorically and goes in some tangents. But the negative reviews on this book seem emotionally charged with some kind of weird rivalry endemic to the academic world and petty film critics.

If you take the time to understand the complexity of stasis, disparity, abundant and sparse means, and the "choices" at work in predestinarian logic and the moment of grace, you won't be disappointed. You'll see Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer and filmmaking in a new light.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile 8 Oct 2009
By Martin Purvis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read the book about thirty years ago and found it contained original, and still useful, insights about film expression. The self-absorbed critics on this page who have panned the book should probably reflect on their own verbal excesses before they criticize Schrader's. Anytime you take on the subject of the transcendental, you will necessarily be speaking metaphorically. Schrader's model may not be precise, but they offer food for thought.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the beginning was a critic... 29 Sep 2000
By J. KNIGHT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this years ago, before Schrader was well known as either a screenwriter or a director, but this book introduced me to the three great filmmakers he analyzes here. Hard to believe the same writer would go on to script TAXI DRIVER, HARDCORE, and RAGING BULL. But after you read this you will see the 'transcendental' element is in all of Schrader's screenplays. This book is not for the "movie buff" but a more scholarly audience. But if you are a Schrader fan, it is a must read.
36 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Transcendental Twaddle 11 Jun 2003
By Colin Burnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For some reason or other, this book remains, thirty years after its publishing, an authoritative introduction for newcomers to Bresson and Ozu (not so much to Dreyer). Having spent several years studying French and English-language Bresson scholarship and criticism, I must encourage those who are looking for a reliable way to 'insert' themselves into Bresson's films to begin elsewhere. Schrader's book has not aged gracefully.
Its primary shortcoming is that, in the case of the chapter on Bresson, it is sadly outdated. First and foremost, for a book that boasts to offer a 'theory' of (transcendental) style, it offers little more than an interpretation of a select group of Bresson's films (the so-called 'Prison Cycle') and their stylistic tendencies. While some of these stylistic observations remain strong, they are covered over with the most outrageous of readings of Bresson's film that they themselves lose their initial value. Published in 1972, the theory that Bresson's style is adapted to 'express' the 'Holy' fails to account for the filmmaker's later, almost atheistic, color work, like 'Lancelot du Lac,' 'Le Diable, Probablement' and 'L'Argent.' In order to convince us that this theory applies, Schrader would have to write a new edition of the book, which would have to make sense of the 'anti-transcendental' leanings of the last stage of Bresson's career. I doubt whether this could be accomplished. He would also, I believe, need to address an issue raised by David Bordwell in 'Making Meaning,' in the chapter 'Why Not to Read a Film.' Schrader fudges the line between hermeneutics and theory, offering not a 'theory' that makes sense of Bresson's 'style,' but an interpretation that periodically makes use of formal and stylistic observations. In short, there are many shortcomings to Schrader's scholarship, here.
To those new to Bresson, I'd have to suggest a few other texts that are more sober in their methods and conclusions: Kent Jones' Introduction to his BFI Modern Classics book on 'L'Argent,' Andre Bazin's essay on Bresson's style in Volume I of 'What is Cinema?' (which remains not only one of the best pieces on Bresson, but one of Bazin's best as well), and last but not least, the collection of essays edited by James Quandt (particularly the essays by P. Adams Sitney). The best essays on Bresson contextualize his stylistic development, noting that his 'autere' style emerged in part as a response to the French 'cinema de qualite.' Even Manny Farber's short write-up on 'La Femme Douce' in 'Negative Space' is more sound than Schrader's entire chapter on Bresson.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is an incredible way to immerse oneself in ... 15 July 2014
By paula morales - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an incredible way to immerse oneself in Dreyer, Ozu and Bressons world through Schrader's eyes. A must!
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