A new study explores the playwright’s enduring relationship with the moving image
In 1936, Samuel Beckett wrote a letter to the Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein expressing a desire to work in the lost tradition of silent film. The production of Beckett’s Film in 1964, on the cusp of his work as a director for stage and screen, coincides with a widespread revival of silent film in the period of cinema’s modernist second wave.
Drawing on recently published letters, archival material and production notebooks, Samuel Beckett and Cinema is the first book to examine comprehensively the full extent of Beckett’s engagement with cinema and its influence on his work for stage and screen. The book situates Beckett within the context of first and second wave modernist filmmaking, including the work of figures such as Vertov, Keaton, Lang, Epstein, Flaherty, Dreyer, Godard, Bresson, Resnais, Duras, Rogosin and Hitchcock.
By examining the parallels between Beckett’s methods, as a writer-director, and particular techniques, such as the embodied presence of the camera, the use of asynchronous sound, and the cross-pollination of theatricality and cinema, as well as the connections between his collaborators and the nouvelle vague, the book reveals how Beckett’s aesthetic is fundamentally altered by his work for the screen, and his formative encounters with modernist film culture.
Samuel Beckett and Cinema will be published by Bloomsbury in February 2017. It is now available for preorder.