Movie review

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A film review is usually differentiated from a film review, which serves as a service for the cinema-goer and usually contains an evaluation recommendation in addition to a content rendering. Film criticism, on the other hand, is concerned with placing the film in an aesthetic, technical, economic, sociological or philosophical framework and using the film to open up a discourse about deep ideological and aesthetic meanings. The work is analyzed and critically questioned from an artistic , aesthetic and film-theoretical point of view. The task of film criticism is also to interpret and present the - possibly subtle - relation of a film to social circumstances and thus to open up a discourse on deep ideological and aesthetic meanings.

Film criticism, film review and film review are by no means synonyms. Film criticism requires specialist knowledge that goes beyond quantitative film acquisition through the viewing process. A film review makes use of a large number of comparative values.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it was initially reserved for film critics to accompany and honor the first films. With the onset of more complex dramaturgies, film criticism established itself as a point of discussion for aesthetic issues. Up until the end of the Second World War , in particular , film criticism was often an instrument of political ideology. As a result of the Nouvelle Vague , the understanding of film in general also changed the film criticism, which on the one hand had to adapt to new visual languages ​​and narrative styles, but on the other hand also promoted them.

Features of film review

Interpretation, sensitization and aesthetic translation function : The most important function of film criticism is to interpret and explain the film in its variety of interpretations and aesthetic references to film genres as well as national film history and visual language for the viewer, and to sensitize them to this process. It is also about "discovering the film in its particular expression" and either appreciating or rejecting it.

Information and service function: A film review usually also provides information on the production data of a film, such as the country of production, the length of the film, the genre and the film crew . At the same time, the reader is often given a non-judgmental presentation of the relationships with regard to the directors , actors , producers , cameraman etc. and their previous experiences and commitments. In addition, the plot of the film is usually roughly explained. For Imbert Schenk, the information function is essential for the reader to make judgments. The reader would be shown preparatory information about the “form, content and structure of the film”, which is then processed as part of a “contextualization, order and assignment”.

Communication and publicity function: The film criticism is part of the social attention that is given to the film under discussion. It communicates information, descriptions, interpretations and evaluations of the film to the public and acts as a mediator between the work and the consumer. At the same time, film criticism is part of society's dealings with the medium of film in general and may therefore have social , political and economic influence.

Media transfer and media translation function: film criticism is a “discourse about a discourse”, that is, a linguistic discourse about a visual one. Treating a film as part of a film review, according to Karl Prümm , “requires a transfer [...]”. What is meant is the translation of the moving image into language, which can sometimes turn out to be “crooked”, “when words speak about images that were not made for them,” says Jean-Luc Godard . Jacques Rivette : "The ideal film review can only be a synthesis of the questions on which the film is based: a parallel work, its refraction on a verbal level." Accordingly, it must be the task of a serious film critic to find "precise" words.

historical development

From the beginning to the aesthetic film review

In the early years of cinematography , critical consideration of films was limited to an appreciation of the moving image as such. The first film showing by the Skladanowsky brothers was accompanied by reports from the press in November 1895. The new medium required advocacy, for example with regard to "special skills in the decoration technique, special subtleties of the material, special refinements of the actors or the scene". The film criticism found itself in a kind of process of discovery: the search for adequate criteria and standards for measuring the quality of a film should establish the medium of film as a new art form. When the first film reviews appeared, the "originally plebeian-proletarian medium of the fairs and traveling cinemas [...] penetrated beyond the still and shop cinemas of the suburbs into the cultural reserves of the bourgeoisie in the centers of the big cities". At the same time, the films have increasingly " claimed the French Film d'Art's claim to art ".

When discussions began in 1912 about whether films should be criticized at all, the first critical publications had long since appeared, for example in Germany the film column of the magazine Der Komet or the first German film magazine Der Kinematograph (1907). The latter was so successful that the short-lived Erste Internationale Filmzeitung followed in the same year and Die Lichtbild-Bühne followed in 1908 . From 1910 the films became longer and thus offered space for a more demanding dramaturgy. The film reports that are now appearing were based on the established theater criticism and became a regular part of the local sections of the newspapers. The last doubts about the capability of the new medium to be featured in the features were allayed when The Other and The Student of Prague premiered in 1913 . The first efforts at an aesthetic film criticism can be found in the magazine Bild und Film (1912/13) by Malwine Rennert . The publications of these first film critics in the sense of a "form-aesthetic film theory" - including Kurt Tucholsky , Herbert Ihering , Rudolf Arnheim , Béla Balázs and Siegfried Kracauer  - appeared rather irregularly. Nevertheless, the image of film criticism was already differentiating: while Kracauer advocated a “sociologically oriented ideological criticism of film” that seeks to identify collective ideas hidden in the aesthetic structures of the works, ”Arnheim and Balázs were careful to emphasize the aesthetic qualities of the film.

Politicization of film criticism

After the film criticism of listings and notes in the local section occasional publications in the feuilleton had brought, appeared after the First World War and magazines. They put the focus on the attractions of the film, i.e. the stars, costumes, locations and decorations. Criticism was not common in these magazines; instead, industry advertisements dominated them. In the early 1920s, continuous film criticism caught on in the daily newspapers. At the same time there was a sociological film criticism as well as in the newspapers of the labor movements such as Film und Volk or later in the KPD magazine Arbeiterbühne und Film a political film criticism that gave "most culturally and politically decisive, film aesthetics but rather inexperienced impulses". A little later, the film review was criticized, for it was "the clear and sharp determination of the particular ideology of a work of art and [the] effect of this ideology on the masses more important than the analysis of the particular aesthetic characteristics of the work of art in question."

During the time of National Socialism , the "art criticism" was suspended and requested to honor ideological works accordingly. Journalists were placed under the control of the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , Joseph Goebbels . The National Socialist film policy stipulated that film critics as “film observers” were only allowed to publish content descriptions and no reviews of films. The important journals Der Kinematograph and Die Lichtbild-Bühne ceased to appear in 1935 and 1939. The most influential German film magazine was thus the daily Illustrierte Filmkurier until 1944 . With regard to film criticism in the Third Reich , the question of its subjectivity, independence and responsibility arose later. Now and then, the question arises whether the responsibility should be towards the reader or towards the film.

Development after the Second World War

In the 1950s, film criticism found itself caught between economic and editorial interests: from an economic point of view, as much attention as possible should be generated while the authors' freedom should be preserved in terms of content. For the most part, no “judgmental film reviews” were published in the daily newspapers. Only two percent of all reviews went beyond content information, advertising copy and brief reviews. As at the beginning of the film criticism, “film and cinema [...] were not found to be worthy of the rank of culture [...]”, since the mainly commercial studio productions made hardly any artistic claims. With the renewal of film taking place almost simultaneously in numerous national film cultures ( New German Film , New Hollywood ), film criticism also regained importance. In France, the initiators of the Nouvelle Vague founded the Cahiers du Cinema in 1951 , which was in journalistic competition with the Positif , published a year later .

In 1957 the magazine Filmkritik was founded, which ran a demanding, socially critical film criticism independent of the churches. In the sphere of influence of this magazine, a “new critique of film” arose, which referred to the “socio-psychological and ideology-critical postulates of the Frankfurt School” and at the same time referred to the positions of the authors of the Cahiers du Cinéma . In the Federal Republic of Germany up to this time, subjective, columnar texts, such as those by Gunter Groll , had dominated, which were now given a counterbalance by the magazine Filmkritik . Trained by Adorno and Kracauer , they saw themselves as "social critics, who critically reflect on film as a product of a capitalist industry and examine political statements and social attitudes". Groll, on the other hand, took the view that the film critic “said the difficult things easily” and had “the ability to clarify, the love of the matter and the distance to the object”.

The 1960s and 1970s were marked by the controversy between the political left and the aesthetic left , especially within the journal Filmkritik . The Nouvelle Vague sparked a dispute over new modes of reception that should take account of the new film aesthetics . In “dissonant, fragile staged films, the viewer cannot succumb to the whole”, as is the case with classic crime films . That is why the Aesthetic Left aimed at “unveiling one's gaze, drawing attention to unfamiliar images or irritating rhythms, for poetic nuances or subversive undertones”. The dispute repeated itself in the 1980s. In 1980, for example, the magazine Films was founded, which felt obliged to the aesthetic left . In addition to these fronts, there was a “film criticism as a literary genre” in the 1970s, in which the film critics saw themselves as authors and benefited from their literary and journalistic reputation, such as André Bazin , Karsten Witte or Pauline Kael .

Today, film criticism has lost its importance in terms of cultural policy, also because film as a social indicator has to compete with numerous other media. At the same time, the trend can be observed that the "differentiation of taste cultures leads to a leveling of film journalism": "This threatens a generally accepted, medium-sized, normalized criticism, an established review system that continues almost automatically without ever being problematized."

See also


  • Praise is heavier than blame , D, 2016, documentary about Stuttgart's film critic, director: Wolfram Hannemann


  • Helmut H. Diederichs: Beginnings of German film criticism . Fischer & Wiedleroither, Frankfurt 1986, ISBN 3-924098-03-4
  • Gunter Groll: Magic of the film . Munich 1953
  • Enno Patalas : Plea for an aesthetic left . In: Filmkritik 1966. No. 7
  • Frieda Grafe: On the self-image of film criticism . In: Filmkritik 1966. No. 12
  • Roland Barthes: literature or history . Frankfurt 1969
  • Jacques Rivette : Writings for the Cinema . Munich 1989, 2nd edition 1990. (Cicim 24/25.) ISSN  0938-233X
  • Norbert Grob, Karl Prümm (ed.): The power of film criticism . Munich 1990
  • Imbert Schenk (Ed.) Film review. Inventory and perspectives . Marburg 1998
  • Günter Rohrbach: The pout of the autistic . In: Der Spiegel . No. 4 , 2007 ( online ).
  • Lars-Olav Beier : The rumbling of the mimosa . In: Der Spiegel . No. 7 , 2007 ( online replica).
  • Hennig-Thurau, Thorsten, André Marchand, and Barbara Hiller. The Relationship between Reviewer Judgments and Motion Picture Success: Re-analysis and Extension (PDF; 454 kB) Journal of Cultural Economics , 36 (3), 249–283, 2012.
  • David Steinitz: History of German Film Criticism . edition text + kritik , Munich 2015.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Film criticism - Lexicon of film terms. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Norbert Grob: film review . In: Thomas Koebner (Hrsg.): Sachlexikon des Films . 2nd Edition. Reclam, 2006, ISBN 978-3-15-010625-9 , pp. 210-214 .
  3. a b Schenk (Ed.), Marburg 1998.
  4. ^ Barthes, Frankfurt am Main 1969.
  5. a b Grob, Prümm (Ed.), Munich 1990.
  6. ^ Rivette, Munich 1989.
  7. a b Walter Turszinsky. Quotation in About cinema theater criticism, cinema theater criticism, aesthetic and sociological film criticism - Historical outline of German-language film criticism 1909 to 1969 ( Memento of the original from June 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Lecture by Helmut H. Diederichs at the Society for Film and Media. Vienna, November 23, 1996.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. a b Heinz-B. Brighter. In: The power of film criticism . Munich 1990.
  9. a b c d e Hans J. Wulff: film review . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe , edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  10. a b Hans Helmut Prinzler. In: The power of film criticism . Munich 1990.
  11. ^ Groll, Munich 1953.