Jean Louis Schefer’s Ordinary Man of Cinema

Tod Browning, Freaks, 1932, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 64 minutes. Production still.

The Ordinary Man of Cinema, by Jean Louis Schefer, translated by Max Cavitch, Paul Grant, and Noura Wedell. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2016. 224 pages.

CINEMA IS THE SOLE EXPERIENCE where time is given to me as a perception.” This statement, cited by Gilles Deleuze in the second chapter of Cinema 2: The Time-Image (1985), seems to clarify and crystallize the thesis of his book: Cinema does not just represent time but can allow us to perceive a direct presentation of time—in Proust’s words, “a little bit of time in a pure state.”

The films that have watched our childhood.” In an essay written shortly before his death in 1992 in which he was attempting to come to terms with having devoted his life to cinema, the critic Serge Daney quoted this phrase, saying he knew of “few expressions more beautiful.” This, for Daney, got to the heart of how the movies marked him and his

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