Events Calendar

German/Cinema Studies Lecture: Nora Alter (Temple)
Tuesday, November 06, 2018, 11:15am - 01:00pm

Please join us for a lecture co-sponsored by the German Department and the Cinema Studies Program

Nora Alter, Temple University

Strategies for Filming Capital


Upon completion of October in 1927, Sergei Eisenstein sketched out in diary form preliminary thoughts on the filming of Karl Marx’s Capital. Eisenstein’s proposal to film Kapital from “thousands of tiny details,” in which “the form of fait divers or collections of short film-essays is fully appropriate for replacement of ‘whole works.’ He found the question of how to represent an abstract concept such as capital, which lacks a material base, to be particularly perplexing. In his project notes, Eisenstein reflected on a “new form of cinema” that would have to be “discursive” and based on Marx’s “libretto.” Eisenstein conceived of his filmic translation of Marx’s three-volume work in musical terms. Eisenstein ultimately failed to realize this project. However, his text challenged other filmmakers to find an appropriate artistic means to depict the immaterial, unstoppable, insistent, and nefarious flow of “all that is solid melts into air.” In 1971 Harun Farocki attempted it with his pedagogical Something Self-explanatory (15 X)—a didactic film formally indebted to Brecht’s Lehrstücke. More recently, in the new millennium several filmmakers have once again taken up Eisenstein’s provocation, producing essay films based on Marx’s seminal text. These include Alexander Kluge’s News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Capital (2008) that follows Eisenstein’s sketches including its musical structure. In her talk, Nora M. Alter will discuss how both  Kluge and Farocki have struggled with the best strategy of how to translate an abstract concept such as “capital” into audiovisual material. 
Nora M. Alter is Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University. She has written on a wide-range of contemporary artists and filmmakers. She is author of Vietnam Protest Theatre: The Television War on Stage(1996), Projecting History: Non-Fiction German Film(2002), Chris Marker(2006), co-editor with L. Koepnick of Sound Matters: Essays on the Acoustics of Modern German Culture(2004), and co-editor with T. Corrigan, Essays on the Essay Film (2017). Her most recent book, is The Essay Film after Fact and Fiction(2018). She is completing a monograph on Harun Farocki. 


Location Academic Building West Wing, room 4140