Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Illuminating the Dark Spots: Translation as Reincarnation in the Films of Jean Cocteau and Fritz Lang
by Weller, Vanessa Celeste, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2015, 114; 10305715
Abstract (Summary)

In translation theory, the work of art is considered to go through a transformation. In essence, it is reincarnated. The “aura” or soul of a work of art is key to the acknowledgement of the metaphor of translation as reincarnation. This requires the presupposition of the sentience of a work of art, endowed with a soul and a being at its creation. The artist gives birth to the work of art. I discuss the philosophies of Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Antonin Artaud, Gayatri Spivak, W.J.T. Mitchell, Susan Sontag, Jean Cocteau and Marina Tsvestaeva in their conception of the multisensory nature of the creation of a work of art.

The genre of fantasy film at the peak of its innovation—the introduction of sound—is one of the most fruitful artistic endeavors to pursue this metaphor. Returning to the roots of cinema allows for an exploration of the poetics of cinema and its innovations in a way that is far more accessible to the modern audience than other forms of art. Fritz Lang and Jean Cocteau both use adaptation, mythology and intuition to create their cinema, funneling their personal proclivities into an authentic portrayal of their Zeitgeist.

I discuss six films: Metropolis, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and Liliom, by Lang and The Blood of a Poet, Love Eternal and Orpheus by Cocteau to explore questions surrounding the authenticity and soul of the work of art. I argue that authenticity is not determined by whether the work of art is wholly original, but whether its interpretation is authentic. Inspiration is not necessarily a singular and superhuman struggle. It can be a collective activity, motivated by temporal recognition of the divine within the human.

Cultural translation, by broadening the definition of translation from a purely linguistic activity to a more socio-ethno-linguistic one, allows for the expansion of the metaphor of translation as reincarnation. Not only the text, but the space around it, the intellectual moment of the text—including its theoretical influences—must be taken into account in the process of translation.

Keywords: Fritz Lang, Jean Cocteau, reincarnation, film studies, cultural translation

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Craven, Alice
Commitee: Sprenger, Anca
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: Cultural Translation
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Aesthetics, Film studies
Keywords: Austria, Cocteau, Jean, Cultural translation, Films, France, Lang, Fritz, Reincarnation
Publication Number: 10305715
ISBN: 9781369492798
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