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Roland Barthes (1915 — 1980), was French essayist and social and literary critic whose writings on semiotics, the formal study of symbols and signs pioneered by Ferdinand de Saussure, helped establish structuralism and the New Criticism as leading intellectual movements. Roland Barthes once said of himself that he resists cinema. Barthes’ preference for photography over cinema is well-known. His affection for photography rests on the medium’s stillness and immobility, which allows the beholder to concentrate on a (contingent) detail otherwise impossible to seize in the movement of the film’s images. For Barthes, film is a bait: “I pounce on the image like a beast pouncing on deceptively real shreds of material held out in front of it [and] the picture holds me captive: I’m glued to the depiction, and this glue is what thanks the naturalness (the pseudo-nature) of the filmed scene.”. Barthes’ way of resisting cinema is not to remove himself from the fascination of the performance/ the performed illusion, or to capture it in shades of ideological criticism or counter discourses; instead, he resists cinema by surrendering himself to the movie as well as to the movie theater. This means seeing the film and auditorium, experiencing darkness, the projector’s beam of light, the bodies of others, the hiss of the soundtrack, and, not least of all, the actors. In this sense, he ‘loves’ to leave the movie theater and rise out of the film, since this stage of confusion following the screening belongs to the structural limits of cinema. Encountering cinema – with a double meaning in words, as both a welcoming and a resisting – through the perception of what it surrounds, its materials, its effects.

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Barthes - Leaving the Moive Theater

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Roland Barthes Biography

Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida – Rereading

Camera Lucida
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