Béla Balázs's two works on silent and early sound cinema, Visible Man/Der sichtbare Mensch (1924) and The Spirit of Film/Der Geist des Films (1930), were acknowledged by such contemporaries as Siegfried Kracauer and Rudolf Arnheim as seminal contributions to the
‘dramaturgy’ of early film. Yet anglophone reception of Balázs has remained dependent on his Theory of the Film, a 1952 English translation of Balázs's 1948 Hungarian text, Filmkultúra. A film müvészetfilozófiájá. The extract published here derives from a first full translation of Visible Man (Berghahn, forthcoming). In this ninety-page treatise, Balázs stakes a claim for film as an art that may restore to modernity
the lost expressive capacities of the visual body. Under such headings as ‘Type and Physiognomy’, ‘The Play of Facial Expressions’,
‘The Close-Up’ and ‘The Face of Things’, he presents a typology of expressive elements which together comprise the ‘only shared
universal language’, the image-language of film. This article reproduces sections from Balázs's comments on the new cinematic
visibility of the human body, together with extracts from his theoretical sketches on performance, the closeup and montage.
This article examines the performance of memory within British television documentaries that explore the 1960s. Taking ‘cultural memory’ as its theoretical frame, it investigates how the meaning of the sixties is negotiated in the interplay between witness memories, voice-over commentary and archive footage. The specificities of televisual codes and conventions in animating or constraining ‘memory work’ are examined through an analysis of various aspects of memory performance, including narrational style, bodily expressiveness, and physical location. These differing ways of performing memory are shown to struggle for authority against voice-over commentary and archive footage. Commentary, in addition to subordinating witness testimony, constructs an artificial distinction between forms of rebelliousness that were often interrelated in practice. The three categories of archive footage - film of music festivals and protest demonstrations, and excerpts from 1960s' television or films - are demonstrated to exist in varying relations to individual memories. While music festival footage is largely detached from witness recollections, memories of protest demonstrations act principally as commentary on the archive film. Only the interleaving of individual memories and archive excerpts from television or fiction film grants more authority to the voices of witnesses, but even here memory work, as a process, remains bounded.