Montage as Hermeneutical?

The Movement-Image: Movement-Image and Montage[i]

From Bergon’s third thesis Deleuze writes of the “translation in space”[ii] as movement. This means that rather than being stuck in a quantified domain, a qualitative change occurs in movement. Movement, in this sense, cannot be confined to an active space, a space of sensory-motor-situations.  The flow of action-perception-action in the confined sense would be a circular pattern, where action would dominate the discourse of the cinema. Yet, Deleuze suggests that when the action ceases (or lacks) there is a certain breaking down not only of the classical linear narrative that persists through the circuitous flow of action-perception-action, but also in readdressing the very nature of action that can no longer be perceived as being “rooted” in the chain of sensory-motor-situations.

Rather than seeing this lack of action as a break from motion, it might be argued, as Deleuze suggests (unsurprisingly) that action continues or “wanders” into alternative regions. In this sense, action as a relation between actions in montage is traversed, and the image “comes into contact with the virtual image, a mental image or mirror image.” Movement, within the movement-image, thus continues—though in a domain that goes beyond sensory action.  The variety of images, perception images, action images, and affection images become crucial in a layered analysis of the capacity of the cinema to continue motion by the constant folding and unfolding of differences. Cinema as the constant motion of differences.

It is in this space that Deleuze articulates his theory of montage.  It might be imagined that if the level of montage is a constant relation between varieties of movement, then montage is the “wholeistic” approach to the cinema.  This means that the entirety of a cinema of movement becomes engaged in movement and change.  Yet, one ought not to be so quick to write of this totalizing approach to cinema as a vague approach. As Deleuze notes of Bergson, it may be problematic to envision the whole as the given set of identities, rather than the ever changing nature of a variety of relations. Montage as the relation between motion and difference, and the formation of change.

And while this theory of montage and cinema relates greatly to a natural history, a history that categorizes the variety of images within cinema, a great question can be formulated as to how Deleuze’s theory of cinema and montage does not become just another hermeneutical device. In constantly relating back to Godard, the most meta-montage film maker in the late history of film, Deleuze falls into the trap of making montage the discourse of the film. This is montage, not made possible by the formation of relations of images, but by the obvious “discourse” of montage within the content of a film. This discussion is just as limiting as any psychoanalytic approach to the content of cinema.

~Jay Bowe


[i] On the Movement-Image

[ii] Theses on Movement

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