Is there proximity between the theory of gesture, as originally conceived in the early cinema era, and the cinematic representations of travel? What kind of bond connects the idea of moving images as a universal language and the globalisation processes which increasingly unfold throughout the twentieth century? How does a body that dances before the eyes of a ‘foreigner’ establish hierarchies of the gaze and simultaneously exceed them? This essay seeks to answer these questions through the analysis of three different films: Jean Renoir’s The River, Fritz Lang’s The Tiger of Eschnapur, and Louis Malle’s Phantom India, in which these European filmmakers represent exotic ‘Indian’ dances. In particular, this essay dwells on the multiple and ambiguous entailments that the dancing body establishes through its gesture within the relationship between the camera, characters, and audiences, in a context where the encounter of cultures speaking different languages occurs. Finally, through the theoretical arguments of Simmel, Focillon, and Lyotard, this preverbal relationship is defined as ‘pure gesturality’ and as a – yet unexpressed and maybe even inexpressible – promise of meaning.

‘Pure gesturality’: Exploring cinematic encounters through exotic dancing

Marco Dalla Gassa
2019

Abstract

Is there proximity between the theory of gesture, as originally conceived in the early cinema era, and the cinematic representations of travel? What kind of bond connects the idea of moving images as a universal language and the globalisation processes which increasingly unfold throughout the twentieth century? How does a body that dances before the eyes of a ‘foreigner’ establish hierarchies of the gaze and simultaneously exceed them? This essay seeks to answer these questions through the analysis of three different films: Jean Renoir’s The River, Fritz Lang’s The Tiger of Eschnapur, and Louis Malle’s Phantom India, in which these European filmmakers represent exotic ‘Indian’ dances. In particular, this essay dwells on the multiple and ambiguous entailments that the dancing body establishes through its gesture within the relationship between the camera, characters, and audiences, in a context where the encounter of cultures speaking different languages occurs. Finally, through the theoretical arguments of Simmel, Focillon, and Lyotard, this preverbal relationship is defined as ‘pure gesturality’ and as a – yet unexpressed and maybe even inexpressible – promise of meaning.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3721262
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