Taken Up by Waves: The Experience of New Cinephilia

Mysteries of Lisbon (Raúl Ruiz) 2010 Portugal 272 min

By Girish Shambu

This essay draws from two previously published pieces: “The 21st Century Cinephile” (which appeared in the Dutch film magazine De Filmkrant in February 2011) and “Mediators” (published on the blog, girish).

Cinephilia is enjoying a wonderful, global resurgence. Not that it ever disappeared: cinephilia has been around almost since the birth of the medium. When we in the West trace its history, we tend to locate its first distinct and unified incarnation in France in the ‘20s. Louis Delluc and Jean Epstein are the key figures we associate with this historical moment. The next great flowering of cinephilia occurs during the ‘50s, also in France, in the decade preceding the Nouvelle Vague.

But before we continue with this story, it is important to ask: Who is a “cinephile”? What sets a cinephile apart from any other person who loves films? Yes, both likely enjoy watching films in good numbers. But beyond that, I would draw a line and assert: cinephilia involves an active interest in the discourse surrounding films. Not just watching but also thinking, reading, talking, and writing about films in some form, no matter how non-standard: these activities are important to the cinephile. Continue reading

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