#NewsBytesExplainer: What's cinephilia? Do you belong to the cult, too?
Oh, the unparalleled joy of watching movies! Truly an experience like no other, watching and obsessing over movies leads to a rush of excitement, and who doesn't like transporting oneself to a fictional land far, far away? Did you know that this tendency to go gaga over movies has a name? It's called cinephilia, and there are chances you belong to this cult, too!
Do you know what comprises cinephilia?
Cinephilia is described as "a passionate interest in films, film theory, and film criticism." It's a portmanteau (combination) of two words: cinema and philia, the latter being the Greek word for love. Thus, a cinephile, cineaste, filmophile, or movie buff is a person who likes to watch films for the purpose of reading between the lines, deeply dissecting, and critically analyzing them.
Term appeared in French dictionaries in 1928
The term reportedly originated in the 1910s (pre-World War I) in France, when the business and art of cinema were in their nascent stage. The French press "used the term to describe a cinema lover, the opposite of the cinéphobe, or one who hates cinema." In 1928, the word appeared in the French dictionary for the first time but was still relatively unknown.
Who were the first-ever cinephiles?
Per research, the first-ever group of people who prided themselves on being cinephiles was "French artists and intellectuals." They were active in the 1920s and were associated with the avant-garde movement (experimental, offbeat cinema). Louis Delluc (1890-1924), Jean Epstein (1897-1953), Germain Dulac (1882-1942), and Ève Francis (1886-1980) are now known as the first set of cinephiles and the love for films brought them closer.
What makes one a cinephile?
People who keep a track of not just their nation's but international cinema, follow directors' distinct approaches, read up on themes, imagery, metaphors, and delve deeper into the craft are cinephiles. However, if you watch movies sporadically for leisure, you may not fit the bill.
Cinephilia has spread after the advent of OTT platforms, internet
Cinephilia gathered momentum after the advent of technology, particularly due to the easy availability of internet resources, behind the scene footage, interviews, and now, OTT platforms. The rise of OTT platforms, in particular, has allowed one access to a wide variety of cinema from across the world, with films transcending genres. Mubi, in particular, houses an impressive collection of international, experimental, and arthouse cinema.
Have you listened to these?
The rise in the number of cinephiles has made it a full-fledged topic of discussion for several entertaining podcasts. Some examples on Spotify include Once Upon a Time in Bollywood, Bollywood Superstars, Ticket to Bollywood, Upodcast-Bollywood Edition, The Midnight Cinephile, The Movie Podcast, The Cinematography Podcast, Cinephilic Sasha, among others. It's an expansive topic, and there is so much waiting to be dug up!
Movie that tip their hat to cinephilia
Who doesn't love films about films? There are several movies that explore movie-making and cinephilia and excellently portray the phenomenon. Examples include Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), Fade to Black (1980), Cinema Paradiso (1989), The Dreamers (2003), Cinemania (2002), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). Closer home, Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om can be cited as an example.
Cinephilia in Netflix's 'Monica, O My Darling'
Vasan Bala's recently released Netflix dark comedy film Monica, O My Darling is being considered an ode to the movies and is painted with evident strokes of cinephilia. It's apparent in its usage of '80s retro music and costumes, hidden easter eggs that nod toward other Indian and international cinema, scenes borrowed from other movies, inspiring directors and artists being thanked in credits, etc.