Expanded and revised second edition now out in paperback, hardcover and on the ProQuest library e-book platform.

Read samples from the book below, including a major essay by Jacques Aumont and the translator’s glossary essays on Bazin’s terms.

The revised and expanded second edition has two additional newly-translated Bazin texts and an expanded and revised glossary of Bazin’s terms, now including mise en scène.

Praise for this new caboose edition of Bazin’s writings:

This unique translation is a must-have for every film scholar working in English. It represents a massive and vital undertaking that, for the first time, brings together key essays by Bazin, many of which were previously unavailable in English — and it does so by going back to the original French versions rather than the edited and revised ones that circulated after Bazin’s death! This collection is simply the best access to Bazin’s work that currently exists in English. It also includes a very useful glossary of terms that in itself stands as an important contribution to film studies, with detailed discussions of key terms in Bazin’s writings. Attention to details — the documenting of sources, the identification of films in their original titles alongside the standard English titles and release date — as well as an introductory essay by major French film scholar Jacques Aumont add to the excellent translations to make this volume an essential document for every serious film studies library.
—Martin Lefebvre, Concordia University Research Chair in Film Studies

Read comments on and PDFs of print reviews of the 2009 caboose edition of selections from André Bazin’s What is Cinema?

$140 CAD
sewn hardcover
$80 CAD
sewn paperback


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André Bazin: Selected Writings 1943–1958

With an essay by Jacques Aumont
Translated with annotations by Timothy Barnard

Following its acclaimed volume of selections from André Bazin’s What is Cinema?, caboose is pleased to present a greatly expanded collection of articles by France’s foremost film critic and theorist. This second edition of André Bazin: Selected Writings 1943–1958 more than doubles the number of articles found in the earlier volume to twenty-eight, totalling some 150,000 words, making this the most comprehensive collection in English of a broad range of Bazin’s writings throughout his entire career, with extensive annotations and corrections. For copyright reasons, no other English-language edition has been able to bring together all the major texts in the way the caboose volume has.

The 28 texts included here are all offered in their original version, as they were written, published and discussed in Bazin’s day in post-war France—before Bazin and in some cases his posthumous editors revised and abridged them for republication. In most cases this is the first time these articles have been republished in their original form in any language, including French. Readers will discover the essay “Découpage”, the basis of Bazin’s most famous text and the most widely-read article in cinema studies, “The Evolution of Film Language”. “Découpage” languished unread for nearly 60 years before the translator unearthed it. This new translation re-introduces to English-language cinema studies Bazin’s theory of découpage, which is central to his aesthetic system but was obscured for a half-century by a poor translation. New translations of other texts reveal Bazin, contrary to all conventional wisdom, to have developed a refined theory of – montage! Or rather, as the French word montage is translated in this volume, of assembly.

Several of the essays in the volume have never before been translated into English. The volume includes brilliant essays on major filmmakers of the classical film period, including Renoir, Welles, Chaplin, Bresson, Malraux and Wyler; essays on film and the other arts—literature, painting, theatre; the famous essay on Italian neo-realism; essays on documentary and science film; comedy; film language and mise en scène; film history; and the ‘politique des auteurs’ and the role of the critic. The volume’s new translations of these texts re-assert Bazin’s status as the pre-eminent film critic and theorist of all time. Each essay is extensively annotated by the translator, situating the man and his work in the cultural and social climate of post-war France.

Bazin sparkles in these new and revised translations, accompanied by 50,000 words of commentary. Jacques Aumont, France’s pre-eminent living film theorist, offers a portrait of Bazin and his work in an introductory essay that places him in his time and highlights his work as a cultural activist. This essay, written especially for this volume, is not only a rare opportunity for English readers to enjoy Aumont’s marvellous writing style and keen insights, some of which go against the grain of the myth around Bazin, but is also the first time in an extraordinary career that the author has trained his sights on his illustrious predecessor.

Aumont’s essay is complemented by a glossary of terms by translator Timothy Barnard, who presents a lively and accessible discussion of some of Bazin’s key terms, including découpage, montage/assembly, mise en scène and fait, and situates this terminology in a history of film theory.

Timothy Barnard brings a long career as a professional translator and his solid background in film history and theory to bear on this stunning new translation. Reviews of Barnard’s translation of What is Cinema? lauded its “elegant” and “graceful” style and the accuracy of his translations. In a published review, the film historian Paolo Cherchi Usai remarked that the book was “the most accurate, thoughtful and inspired translation of Bazin (or, for that matter, of any French film theorist) into English we have seen in a very long time”, while the film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum described it as “vastly superior” to previous translations of Bazin’s work.

The second edition of André Bazin: Selected Writings 1943–1958 is published in beautiful sewn paperback and cloth editions, using the best materials and finest workmanship available.

For copyright reasons, this volume is not available for purchase in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe or Australia. Canadian orders may be placed directly with the publisher. For orders in Japan, China, India, New Zealand, Taiwan and Korea, please contact caboose. Contact caboose for information about the availability of the book in countries not mentioned above.

When Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey made the first science films, they not only invented film technology, they created at the same time cinema’s purest aesthetic. This is the miracle of the science film and its inexhaustible paradox. Here, at the furthest reaches of interested and practical research, where the most absolute proscription of aesthetic intention as such reigns, cinematic beauty unfolds like a supernatural grace. Could any cinema of the imagination have conceived and depicted the bronchoscope’s fabulous descent into the underworld of bronchial tumours, where all the laws of the dramatisation of colour are naturally present in the sinister bluish hue of a visibly fatal cancer? Could any trick effect have created the fairy ballet of the freshwater animalcules which, under the microscope, miraculously arrange themselves like a kaleidoscope? Is there a brilliant choreographer, a delirious painter, a poet who could imagine these patterns, these shapes, these images? The camera alone holds the key to this world, whose supreme beauty is that of nature and chance—in other words, everything that a certain aesthetic tradition views as the opposite of art. Only the Surrealists had a presentiment of its existence; in the almost impersonal automatism of their imagination, they sought the secret of an image factory. But Yves Tanguy, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel would remain at a remove from the surrealist drama in which the late Dr de Martel, in order to carry out a complicated trepanning, began by sketching and hollowing out a face on the nape of a neck that had been shaved as bare as an egg. Whoever has not seen this does not know how far cinema can go.
—André Bazin, “The Science Film: Chance Beauty”, 1947

Revised and expanded second edition. June 2020, 6” x 9”, 533 pp., index. Cloth boards, sewn binding, ISBN 978-1-927852-13-2, $140 CAD. Paperback, sewn binding, ISBN 978-1-927852-27-9, $80 CAD. PDF, ISBN 978-1-927852-28-6.

Praise for the previous caboose edition of writings by André Bazin:

This is the most accurate, thoughtful and inspired translation of Bazin (or, for that matter, of any French film theorist) into English we have seen in a very long time. Barnard has taken up the challenge of cleaning up the apparent mess created by previous English versions of Bazin’s work, commenting upon a number of key passages and concepts and making Bazin’s prose more accessible and enjoyable than ever before. Any serious film scholar should make the extra effort necessary to obtain a copy of this book. — Paolo Cherchi Usai, Journal of Film Preservation

One of the many merits of Timothy Barnard's new translation is that it puts Bazin back into history. The translation restores some of the urgency of the writing, while the copious footnotes supply much-needed context. It is far more scholarly than the existing edition, both in its annotations and in the quality of the translation, which is both elegant and accurate. — Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Film Quarterly

For the first time, Timothy Barnard has given us the meticulous and scholarly edition of What is Cinema? that every lover of Bazin has dreamt of. The translator’s notes alone, with their enthralling discussions of important theoretical problems, make this edition worth consulting without delay. — Jacques Aumont, Université Paris 3

Each [text] is accompanied by an impressive philological labour, consisting either in finding the original of a quotation that Bazin had distorted or in setting out hypotheses, backed up by evidence, as to the meaning Bazin accorded to one word or another. The most imposing (and conclusive) research concerns the meaning of a term essential to Bazin, découpage. Barnard devotes to this word and to the difficulty of translating it a twenty-page note that is a veritable exercise in historical semantics. Most of all, Barnard’s entire enterprise consists in reintroducing history into a body of work from which it had largely disappeared. Through his editorial choices, Barnard has in a sense turned What is Cinema? inside out like a glove, revealing part of its hidden historical dimension. Anchored by his apposite notes, Bazin’s texts recover their historical weight.— Laurent Le Forestier, 1895

Girish Shambu informed me of a bookshop on Toronto’s College St. that carries a new translation of Andre Bazin’s What is Cinema? Because of copyright conflicts with the publisher of the previous translation, this edition, published by caboose, is unavailable [in the United States]. When I arrived and began perusing the film section, the clerk called out to me, “Are you looking for What is Cinema?” Rather astonished, I replied, “How did you know that?” “Oh, everyone with a TIFF badge who comes in here is looking for that book,” he replied. It seems that bringing home this translation is, hyperbole aside, almost reminiscent of the Americans who had to smuggle Ulysses out of France in their suitcases during the 1920s. Girish told me that, when he bought the book a few days earlier, the clerk quipped, “Some good, old-fashioned contraband, eh?” — Richard Porton

Vastly superior to the two volumes published by the University of California Press. I'm especially taken with the graceful flow of the translation. — Jonathan Rosenbaum

One of the boldest moves ever seen in Anglophone cinema studies. This new translation challenges us to jettison received wisdom and take a fresh look at what Bazin actually wrote, linking him tellingly to Malraux and Kracauer (an astounding and ingenious intuition). Barnard’s mission is to strip the questions in each essay bare for others to address. This tender and chivalrous sentiment is reinforced by painstaking translator’s notes, certain of which will undoubtedly become famous in their own right. — Dudley Andrew and Prakash Younger, CiNéMAS

Read Paolo Cherchi Usai’s review in the Journal of Film Preservation (Brussels) (no. 81, Fall 2009). Download PDF

Read Geoffrey Nowell-Smith's review in Film Quarterly (vol. 64, no. 3, Spring 2011). Download PDF

Read Jacques Aumont’s review (in French) in CiNéMAS (Montreal) (vol. 20, no. 1, Fall 2009). Download PDF

Read Dudley Andrew and Prakash Younger’s review in CiNéMAS (Montreal) (vol. 20, no. 1, Fall 2009). Download PDF

Read Donato Totaro’s review in the on-line film journal Offscreen.

Have a look at this gallery of films discussed by André Bazin in What is Cinema? and created by a customer. Thank you, Kaya!