Realist film theory and cinema

The nineteenth-century Lukácsian and intuitionist realist traditions

By Ian Aitken

Realist film theory and cinema

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7000-6
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: August 2006
  • BIC Category: The arts / Film theory & criticism, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, Film history, theory & criticism, Film and Media


'Realist film theory and cinema' embraces studies of cinematic realism and 19th century tradition, the realist film theories of Lukács, Grierson, Bazin and Kracauer, and the relationship of realist film theory to the general field of film theory and philosophy. This is the first book to attempt a rigorous and systematic application of realist film theory to the analysis of particular films.

The book suggests new ways forward for a new series of studies in cinematic realism, and for a new form of film theory based on realism. It stresses the importance of the question of realism both in film studies and in contemporary life.

Aitken's work will be of interest to scholars and advanced students of film studies, literary studies, media studies, cultural studies and philosophy.


1. From the `true style' to the art form of the bourgeoisie: The origins, characteristics and theoretical foundation of the nineteenth century French realist and naturalist tradition
2. La Bête humaine, the evolution of French cinematic realism and naturalism 1902-1938, and the influence of the nineteenth century tradition
3.`The adequate presentation of the complete human personality', Lukács, the intensive totality and the nineteenth century realist tradition
4. From the historical cinema of democratic humanism to the film Novelle: Lukácsian cinematic realism in Danton (1990), and Senso (1954)
5. `And what about the spiritual life itself', distraction, modernity and redemption: The intuitionist realist tradition in the work of John Grierson, André Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer
6. Transcendental illusion and scope for realism: Cinematic realism, philosophical realism and film theory


Ian Aitken is Associate Professor in Film Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, and Senior Research Fellow in Film Studies at De Monfort University

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