This chapter presents several interconnected arguments about modern art cinema. First, modern cinema was a historical phenomenon inspired by the art-historical context of the two avant-garde periods, the 1920s and the 1960s. Second, modern cinema was the result of art cinema's adaptation to these contexts rather than the result of the general development of film history or the “language” of cinema. Third, as a consequence of this process of adaptation, art cinema became an institutionalized cinematic practice different from commercial entertainment cinema as well as from the cinematic avant-garde. And last, another result of this process is that modern cinema took different shapes according to the various historical situations and cultural backgrounds of modernist filmmakers. There are three terms—modern, modernist, and avant-garde—that need distinction and clarification at the outset so as to lead us to various possible conceptions of cinematic modernism. The chapter also examines the origins of the concept of the “art film” as an institutional form of cinema.
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