This article concerns the complex nature of post-war European film modernism’s historicity. According to András Bálint Kovács, this cinema rose in an arc starting from the mid-1950s, peaking in the 1960s, and slowly petering out by 1980. At its best such historicizing produces precise contextual detailing, rather than romantic-hermetic affirmation or subsequent backlash dismissal, in the process creating room for new accounts of films and filmmakers beyond their role in the heated politics of then-contemporary critical taste and the competitive linear regime of vanguard innovation. But we also need to look closely at the peculiarities of this particular modernist cinema’s apparent ‘past-ness’ as revealing crucial elements of modernism’s perennial (if variously contested or disavowed) power, challenge and attraction. This article explores the uncanny, untimely return of such cinema’s 1960s apogee, embedded in a very real past while also emerging from virtual futures, as it complicates anew our unstable present.
Studies in Australasian Cinema Vol. 5, Issue 2, p. 155-170