… the cinema’s mission does not seem to me to have been correctly understood. The camera lens is… an eye endowed with non-human analytic properties. It is an eye without prejudices, without morals, and free of all influences; it sees in human motion and the human face features that we, burdened… by our habits and thoughts, are no longer able to see…. If our first reaction in the face of our own image on film is a kind of horror, it is because we, civilized people, lie on a daily basis without any longer realizing it. Brusquely, this glassy stare pierces us with its amperage light.
– Jean Epstein, Le Cinematographe vu de l’Etna, 1926
Cinematic vision makes us see the unexpected magical depths in nature which, because we always see it with the same eye, we have exhausted, we have stopped seeing.
– Jean Epstein, “La Feerie reele,” 1947
Excellent comments that preempt Benjamin, Bazin… Echoing Vertov as well. Curious whether Epstein read Vertov; I would assume so.
The focus in pre-war film theory is on the apparatus itself; what separates cinema from other forms of art is the technology – what is filmed and how it is filmed is second to the miracle of the moving-picture.