On the Eve of the Future : Selected Writings on Film

The celebrated critic and film scholar Annette Michelson saw the avant-garde filmmakers of the 1950s and 1960s as radically redefining and extending the Modernist tradition of painting and sculpture, and in essays that were as engaging as they were influential and as lucid as they were learned, she set out to demonstrate the importance of the underappreciated medium of film. On the Eve of the Future collects more than thirty years’ worth of those essays, focusing on her most relevant engagements with avant-garde production in experimental cinema, particularly with the movement known as American Independent Cinema.

This volume includes the first critical essay on Marcel Duchamp’s film Anemic Cinema, the first investigation into Joseph Cornell’s filmic practices, and the first major explorations of Michael Snow. It offers an important essay on Maya Deren, whose work was central to that era of renewal and reinvention, seminal critiques of Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, and Harry Smith, and overviews of Independent Cinema. Gathered here for the first time, these texts demonstrate Michelson’s pervasive influence as a writer and thinker and her role in the establishment of cinema studies as an academic field.

The postwar generation of Independents worked to develop radically new terms, techniques, and strategies of production and distribution. Michelson shows that the fresh new forms they created from the legacy of Modernism became the basis of new forms of spectatorship and cinematic pleasure.

About the Author
Annette Michelson is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University. A founding editor of the journal October, she has written on art and cinema for more than five decades.

“Annette Michelson is one of the most brilliant minds that has ever turned its focus on the art of cinema. It’s a blessing to have her illuminating, inspiring, and informative pieces available in this volume.”
—Jonas Mekas, filmmaker and writer

“When many of these texts first appeared, they were undergroundbreaking. Now, as history, they continue to be impressive for their subtle insights and nuanced style. Annette Michelson’s writing is as avant-garde and of-the-moment as that of a critic/historian can be.”
—Michael Snow, filmmaker, musician, visual artist

“Written with enviable precision and grace, these essays remain the most compelling chronicle of the radical impact that film would have on the other arts in the twentieth century. Through her writings, Annette Michelson defined a field of critical inquiry where others saw only boundaries.”
—Bruce Jenkins, Chair, Department of Film, Video, New Media and Animation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

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On the Eve of the Future : Selected Writings on Film
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