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With a new introduction, acclaimed director and screenwriter Paul Schrader revisits and updates his contemplation of slow cinema over the past fifty years. Unlike the style of psychological realism, which dominates film, the transcendental style expresses a spiritual state by means of austere camerawork, acting devoid of self-consciousness, and editing that avoids editorial comment. This seminal text analyzes the film style of three great directors—Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Dreyer—and posits a common dramatic language used by these artists from divergent cultures. The new edition updates Schrader’s theoretical framework and extends his theory to the works of Andrei Tarkovsky (Russia), Béla Tarr (Hungary), Theo Angelopoulos (Greece), and Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey), among others. This key work by one of our most searching directors and writers is widely cited and used in film and art classes. With evocative prose and nimble associations, Schrader consistently urges readers and viewers alike to keep exploring the world of the art film.
About the Author
Paul Schrader is an American screenwriter and director whose writing credits include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ and whose directing credits include American Gigolo, Mishima, Light Sleeper, Affliction, and First Reformed. Transcendental Style in Film was first published in 1972 by University of California Press.
"An exemplary book of criticism."
— New Yorker
"This deep dive into three all-time great moviemakers is the perfect example of why eating your cultural vegetables can be endlessly rewarding, potentially even life-changing."
“Reading Transcendental Style now, it’s impressive not just how vibrant and convincing a study of a cinematic aesthetics it is, but how prescient it feels.”
— Art in America
"This is a joy to read, and all the more startling when discovering that Schrader was 24 years old when he wrote the original text."
— Film Stage
"The second edition, particularly graced by Schrader’s new introduction, is especially salient not only for ongoing evaluation of Schrader’s work as critic and filmmaker, but also as a contribution from Schrader himself to the critical task of interpretation and reception of new cinema and burgeoning cinematic movements. Like any number of Schrader’s own screenplays or directed films, this volume rewards repeated visitations."
— Journal of Religion & Film
"Schrader’s investigation of mid-century art cinema masters as extensions of spiritual art is worthy of our careful consideration, especially given the legacy of Yasujiro Ozu, Robert Bresson, and Carl Th. Dreyer. . . . Transcendental Style is a masterful work of structure, methodology, and art history."