Lukácsian film theory and cinema

A study of Georg Lukács' writing on film 1913-1971

By Ian Aitken

Lukácsian film theory and cinema


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6264-9
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: June 2021
  • BIC Category: Film and Media, Television, Radio, Films, cinema, Electronic, holographic & video art, ART / Film & Video, The arts / Film, TV & radio, The arts / Film theory & criticism


Lukácsian film theory and cinema explores Georg Lukács' writings on film. The Hungarian Marxist critic Georg Lukács is primarily known as a literary theorist, but he also wrote extensively on the cinema. These writings have remained little known in the English-speaking world because the great majority of them have never actually been translated into English - until now. Aitken has gathered together the most important essays and the translations appear here, often for the first time.

This book thus makes a decisive contribution to understandings of Lukács within the field of film studies, and, in doing so, also challenges many existing preconceptions concerning his theoretical position. For example, whilst Lukács' literary theory is well known for its repudiation of naturalism, in his writings on film Lukács appears to advance a theory and practice of film that can best be described as naturalist.

Lukácsian film theory and cinema is divided into two parts. In part one, Lukács' writings on film are explored, and placed within relevant historical and intellectual contexts, whilst part two consists of the essays themselves.

This book will be of considerable interest to scholars and students working within the fields of film studies, literary studies, intellectual history, media and cultural studies. It is also intended to be the final volume in a trilogy of works on cinematic realism, which includes the author's earlier European film theory and cinema (2001), and Realist film theory and cinema (2006).


"Aitken has done a brilliant job in articulating Luka´cs's contributions to film in Luka´csian Film Theory to the extent that I would deem it absolutely essential to read Aitken's contextualizing chapters alongside the pieces written by Luka´cs himself." (Richard Rushton, The Years Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, 22, April 2014)

'What makes Aitken's analysis peculiar is the seriousness and consistency with which he delves into Lukács' philosophical and political universe. He explicitly takes the time to unravel the philosophical framework through which the aesthetic notions are then analysed. The filmic medium is thus understood for itself, in its own terms, but also as embedded in a complex of conceptual relations exceeding it. Hence, his book not only gives a comprehensive insight into Lukács' original thinking and the way he correlates politics, philosophy, art and film, but also an illustration of the fruitfulness and the need of trespassing (while respecting at the same time) the intellectual division of labour in the analysis of specific art forms, particularly the filmic medium.'
Stefanie Baumann (IFILNOVA)


1. The early aesthetic and 'Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic
for the Cinema' ('Gedanken zu einer Ästhetic des Kino')
2. Narrate or Describe? Lukács' literary 'typology'
3. Lukács' late aesthetic and film theory: The Specificity of the Aesthetic (Die Eigenart des Ästhetischen)
4. The late writings on film, socialist humanism, and Toward the Ontology of Social Being (Zur Ontologie des gesellschaftslichen Seins)
5. Lukácsian aesthetic and cinematic realism
6. The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) (1963)
7. Thoughts Towards an Aesthetic of the Cinema
8. Film
9. Blue Devil or Yellow Devil?
10. Cultural Manipulation and the Role of Critics
11. Film, Ideology and the Cult of Personality
12. Technique, Content, and the Problem of Language
13. The Expression of Thought in the Cinema
14 Revolution, and the Psychology of Everyday Life


Ian Aitken is Professor of Film Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

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