Fine Art

The cinema has engaged in a dialogue with the traditional fine arts—visual art, literature, music, theater, and architecture—from its inception to the present. The relationships between cinema, the "seventh art," to the other arts is indeed vast and complex. Film's ability to build convincing worlds with spatial depth recalls the functions of architecture, while music lends film its power to arouse abstract emotions that neither words nor images can fully express. The movies' emphasis on the body and human emotions connects it with the theater and poetry. Film's narrative emphasis has obvious affinities with prose fiction, and of course the medium's visual aspect aligns it with painting. Further, the ways in which cinema references art informs a variety of cultural discourses.

Born out of the circus, vaudeville, and the Grand Guignol, the cinema engaged in a dialogue with the arts and high culture during its early or primitive period, when one shot with movement inside the image was enough to capture the viewer's attention. The pioneers of filmmaking were well aware of the arts: Georges Méliès (1861–1938) was educated as an academic painter, and the Lumière brothers (Auguste Lumière [1862–1954] and Louis Lumière [1864–1948]), although trained as engineers and photographers, restaged the commonplaces of French Impressionist painting in their depiction of leisure time and daily life. The films of Méliès and the Lumières are marked by jokes, puns, parodies, puzzles, anagrams, riddles, and charades about the clichés of painting. Louis Lumière's short Partie d'écarte ( Card Game , 1895), for example, recalls a trope familiar from Flemish genre painting to Cézanne's The Card Players (1890–1892). D'écarte , from the verb écarter (to separate), is a pun for des cartes (referring to cards). The card game in this particular party represents the unpredictable nature of life, with its promises and surprises.

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