There are few apt synonyms for compromise. It has a specific meaning: to compromise is to reach an agreement between parties following a period of concession. This definition explains why compromise appears to endanger a project or an idea. photogénie rather sees compromise as a frisson point from which pure cinema can arise: a cinematic essence, in other words.
Within this issue, we collect several possible forms and shapes of compromise. Our six pieces treat different eras, aesthetics and decisions by studying filmmakers that have (or have not) compromised for the sake of their art, happiness or politics. What it shows is a poetry of limits, a productivity and creativity that springs from contestation.
It’s all aboard as the issue opens with Jack Seibert’s survey of Italian ‘Swords’n’Sandals’ epics. He dives head-first into the formal aspects of films co-directed by Mario Bava, who shows how our nominal reliance on auteurism can be self-limiting. Then, Fedor Tot’s focus on the Yugoslav Black Wave director Živojin Pavlović argues the opposite: that singular artists can shine through industrial pressures if the clouds have broken.
1970s American cinema is the battleground of compromise in two essays: Lemba de Miranda uses Pam Grier’s performance in Coffy as an entry point into the defiant and zeitgeist-defining genre films that come under the ‘Blaxploitation’ umbrella. Blaise Radley highlights George A. Romero’s quasi-Vampire satire Martin as an example of aesthetic resistance to the formal trends of the era.
David Finn uses Bezhin Meadow, an unfinished work by that master, Sergei Eisenstein, to imply that compromise can be a process of montage that takes place in the viewer’s mind as much as in the filmmaker’s. Finally, we are brought back down to Earth through a film that is anything but grounded. Zoe Crombie’s case study on the doomed Studio Ghibli work Tales From Earthsea shows the director Goro Miyazaki succumbing to compromise: by wrestling with the studio, by adapting Le Guin, and by following in the footsteps of his illustrious father.