Daily Archives: May 7, 2019

Theory of Film Practice, by Noel Burch

From the Village Voice (February 28, 1974). -– J.R.


Theory of Film Practice

A book by Noël Burch

Praeger, $3.95 and $8.95


These comments were written before the release of Tati’s ‘Playtime’. Even if they still hold true for films in general, they are not applicable to Tati’s film, the first in the history of cinema that not only must be seen several times, but also must be viewed from several different distances from the screen. In its form, it is probably the first truly ‘open’ film. Will it remain an isolated experiment? Masterpieces somehow eventually assert their authority and become models.”

– “Theory of Film Practice”


It seems oddly appropriate that “Theory of Film Practice” should appear in Cahiers du Cinéma that same year (1967) that “Playtime” opened in Paris, and also that they should arrive in America at approximately the same time. Films that re-define the language and syntax of cinema are rare in any period, and it is hardly surprising that books that do the same are even less common.

Both works, emerging out of years of reflection, stand defiantly apart from the surrounding landscape, inviting us to share that broad perspective. Each offers us a fresh garden of possibilities in the midst of a familiar terrain by drawing us into a kind of creative collaboration that requires, at least implicitly, that we become film makers.… Read more »