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Book R eviews Jean-Louis Leutrat. Kaléidoscope: A nalyses de film s. Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1988. Pp. 169. It seems not unreasonable to say that Kaléidoscope is only reluctantly a book. Its first three-quarters are composed of a series of analyses of films. These are followed by review articles of Jean Louis Schefer’s L ’Homme ordinaire du cinéma, and of Gilles Deleuze’s two recent volumes on the cinema. The latter reading is of itself particularly fertile for its obser­ vations concerning Deleuze’s work as a whole. However, in spite of the formal characteris­ tics and thematics of the first 120 pages, the organizing eccentricity of the book only becomes clear in the final pages, and it becomes clear how much that owes to Deleuze: “ La réflexion de Deleuze s’exerce sur la notion de totalité. Comment penser un tout qui ne soit pas la somme de parties... ou qui ne résulte pas d’une totalisation dialectique?” (164). Kaléidoscope would be read therefore as an attempt to produce a book that resists dialec­ tical totalization. As theoretical standpoint Leutrat’s resistance to totalization is admirable, and sufficient to account for the fragmentary nature of the film analyses, the suspension of conclusive statements as well as of explicit theoretical pronouncements (“ Ces pages ne cherchent pas à appliquer une théorie, mais elle n’ignorent pas toute théorie” [7]). But it is difficult to know how a practice, particularly one which avowedly relies “ sur le principe de la frag­ mentation d’éléments ... avec ... une préférence pour les ‘microlectures’ ” (7), can avoid being read as an application of an idea with obvious theoretical pedigree (Barthes and Deleuze), nor why it should want to avoid the same. Unless the reason be that the author has designed the book as a loose collection of previously published short pieces on a variety of films (Godard, Visconti, Hitchcock, Jerry Lewis being the privileged objects), that can do without the systematization and development of any number of interesting questions that are raised throughout the analyses; that is to say that what has been opted for here is a type of loose scholarship. I wouldn’t be drawn to such an unsympathetic conclusion but for the fact that Leutrat falls prey to the frustrating habit of declining to reference the quota­ tions he has recourse to in the film analyses. I don’t know what strange economy or concep­ tion of academic cooperation it is that presumes a reader will not want to follow up on a reference made in the course of a discussion, but it seriously impairs the rigor of Leutrat’s richly diverse and informed readings of a thought-provoking repertoire of films. Also lacking from Kaléidoscope, and owing no doubt to a more insistent economy, are illustrations to accompany the analyses. As a consequence the author has constant recourse to written descriptions of the images—in fact there is no easy distinction to be made between description and analysis. However, it is from this point of view that the book offers its most pleasurable and resourceful aspect, in the idea, given in conclusion, that “ il n’est d’écriture que du mouvement et de la lumière” (167). For under Leutrat’s pen the films come to be not just seen, but written, in all the kaleidoscopic complexity of their con­ centricity, decentricity, and eccentricity. This is most evident, perhaps only because it is more sustained, in the final six pieces on Godard, where the image as purely visual repre­ sentation loses its primacy and centrality as it moves outward in a play of music and paint­ ing, and through a maze of intersections with the word. D avid W ills Louisiana State University VOL. XXX, No. 2 107 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
p. 107
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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