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In fact, French cinema uses the machine to attain a mechanical composition of movement-images in two ways. A first type of machine is the automaton, a simple machine or clock mechanism, a geometrical configuration of parts which combine, superimpose or transform movements in homogeneous space, according to the relationships through which they pass. The automaton does not – as in German Expressionism – illustrate another menacing life which threatens to plunge into darkness. Rather, it illustrates a clear mechanical movement as law of the // maximum for a set of images which brings together things and living beings, the inanimate and the animate, by making them the same. The puppets, the passers-by, the reflections of puppets, the shadows of passers-by, enter into very subtle relationships of reduplication, alternation, periodical return and chain reaction, which constitute the set to which the mechanical movement must be attributed. This can be said of the young woman's flight in Vigo's L'Atalante, but it can also be applied to Renoir; from The Little Match-Girl's dream to the great composition of La Regie du jeu. It is obviously Rene Clair who gives this formula its greatest poetic generality, and animates geometrical abstractions in a space which is homogeneous, luminous and grey, without depth. [ft.13] The concrete object, the object of desire, appears as a motor or spring acting in time, primum movens, which triggers off a mechanical movement, towards which an increasing number of characters contribute, appearing in turn in space, like the pans of an expanding mechanised set (The Italian Straw Hat, Le Million). Individualism is the essential element throughout: the individual holds himself behind the object, or rather himself plays the role of spring or motor developing its effects in time; ghost, illusionist, devil or mad scientist, destined to be wiped out when the movement which he determines has reached its maximum or overtaken him. Then everything will return to a state of order. In short, an automatic ballet, whose motor itself circulates, through the movement. (Deleuze C1 1986: 41-42; Deleuze C1 2005: 43)
Deleuze, Gilles (2005 ) Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London / New York: Continuum / Athlone.
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