|Abstract (english)|| |
Ivan Martinac's only feature film, House on the Sand (1985), is taken as the starting point for theoretical reflections on the language of film following Noël Burch’s book Theory of Film Practice (1969), in which he calls for the exploration of the structural possibilities inherent in film parameters. House on the Sand departs from classical narration by using an approach that corresponds to David Bordwell’s parametric narration. The film is the only Croatian example of a specific type of minimalism that Andreas Balint Kovács calls “metonymic” and which Paul Schrader, in his book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (1972), calls the “transcendental style”. House on the Sand continuously downplays the representational dimension of the film medium in favor of the anti-representational, i.e., the affective, by focusing on overcoming the visible/invisible opposition within the world of film. The diegetic world of House on the Sand consists equally of the material dimension of the image, which Gilles Deleuze, in his book Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), calls the “actual”, and its invisible dimension that Deleuze calls the “virtual” and which embodies the reflection of the real in its own imaginary. The structure of the film is based on the systematic repetition not only of shots and scenes, but also of depicted gestures that bring the reality created by the film close to the logic of a ritual that can be interpreted as a transition from the living to the dead. The living and the dead are united by the phenomenon of resurrection, which was also dealt with by two directors associated with Martinac, Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson, by which the material/spiritual, i.e., actual/virtual, opposition is overcome. Death corresponds to the central emptiness in House on the Sand, so the film becomes a mediation on emptiness which, as its final idea, paradoxically produces a presence that manifests itself as a virtual reflection of the material reality. The first chapter gives an overview of previous research on House on the Sand and contextualizes the film within Martinac’s corpus. The chapter illustrates the continuity of ideas and forms in Martinac’s films and shows that House on the Sand is a kind of summa summarum of his artistic work marked by his continuity of approach to film form as serial and musically structured. House on the Sand is a film that strives for a kind of musical composition of its elements that are organized into a structure whose logic is primarily based on formal rather than substantive relationships of the parts of the whole. The second chapter examines how narration in House on the Sand coincides with David Bordwell’s concept of parametric narration and analyzes the procedures by which the camera is emancipated, most notably by fixing it to a specific position. This is a procedure that Martinac first carried out in his second professional short film, Focus (1967), whose form is compared to that of House on the Sand to illustrate Martinac’s continuity in contemplating film form. This chapter starts from the assumption that each individual frame always narrates (in terms of structuring what is shown) with its parameters, of which the cutout of the frame and the camera movements that change the frame are crucial. Narration therefore occurs not only at the level of the relationship of a shot to a shot but also within individual shots, and the one who narrates is literally the camera itself. To describe more precisely the level of narration that takes place within each individual shot, whose narrator corresponds to the camera itself, the term monstrator, proposed by Canadian filmologist André Gaudreault, is used. The third chapter discusses Ivan Martinac’s conscious placing of House on the Sand into the tradition represented by the works of Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson. House on the Sand is seen as an example of Paul Schrader’s transcendental style that avoids conventional interpretations of reality because, for the transcendental artist, they are emotional and rational constructs created to dilute and explain the transcendental. The fourth chapter turns to the interpretation of the thematic preoccupation with the resurrection as a gesture of redemption, and House on the Sand is linked to André Bazin’s reading of Robert Bresson's film Diary of a Country Priest (1951). The strategies by which Martinac radicalizes Bresson’s idea of the model are analyzed. Instead of psychologizing and expressing with their faces, models use gestures, which are an integral part of the dramaturgy of House on the Sand. The conception of a work of art as a kind of ritual is analyzed by comparing Martinac’s film with the film Mass for the Dakota Sioux (1964) by American director Bruce Baillie, to whom House on the Sand is dedicated. The fifth chapter analyzes practices related to sound, music, and speech that are exponentially radicalized in House on the Sand through the systematic use of the acousmatic voice (cf. Chion, 1999), i.e., the practice of separating speech from the body or concealing its source. In House on the Sand, image and sound communicate on different levels because the sound and image represent two types of reality for the protagonist. The sound dimension is shaped as a musical composition composed according to the principles of atonal music in which a specific dramaturgy is established, which is based on the rhythmic repetition of certain noises that function as tones of the musical scale, with special importance given to the sound of turning the lights on or off that becomes a kind of leitmotif. The sixth chapter discusses the logic of film image, which, in Martinac’s film generally, corresponds to what Gilles Deleuze describes as the “crystal regime”. In House on the Sand, the film image from the beginning to the end of the film gradually moves from the registration of socalled external reality to the registration of internal or transcendental reality. At the same time, the film presents possibility and reality, creating a structure in which these poles are constantly mirrored in each other, encompassed temporally as a number of movements towards the future and the past. The seventh chapter discusses the camera in House on the Sand, which is established as an element independent of the protagonist and the action by tying it to two specific points, one on the lower and the other on the upper floor of the main character’s apartment, located on the same imaginary axis. The goal of camera-related choices can be defined as the realization of the protagonist’s spiritual presence in shots and scenes in which he is physically absent, but the view of the camera remains equated with his viewpoint. The whole film can also be understood as a view of material reality taken from a virtual vantage point because the camera aspires to a kind of comprehensiveness that is not human. The view that the camera directs for the film-created reality seems to come from another dimension that hovers over the material, just as death hovers over life, so this view can also be interpreted as the view that death has on the living. House on the Sand operates within the category of clairvoyance in terms of the ability to see beyond physical space and time, that sight and the act of seeing as such overcome the physical coordinates of perception and acquire their own logic. The vision that produces the view of the camera becomes a transcendental category that encompasses the totality of reality; that is, it registers both the spiritual and material dimension, including the actual and virtual dimensions of the image. The eighth chapter concludes that House on the Sand is a kind of representation that reflects on itself as a representation because it raises the question of what lies beyond its own boundaries. The form of the film becomes a kind of thought exercise on emptiness which, as its final product, paradoxically produces presence. Martinac’s film explores the possibility of producing the presence of an object within a representation. Presence is produced by referring to its permanent absence from the surface of the image, not counting sound as well as those parts of the image that act directly on the senses. Affective layers communicate content that establishes presence or, at least, a meditation on the possibility of its inclusion in representation.