BALAZS Bela (Bauer Herbert)—philosopher who studied the aesthetics of film, theoretician and critic of film, writer, b. 1884 in Szeged (Hungary), d. 1949 in Prague.
Balazs lectured in many film schools (Moscow, Berlin, Prague, Łódź). He was political emigrant (a participant in the Hungarian Revolution of 1919), and a co-author of interbellum cinematography in Hungary.
He was the author of several publications: a collection of stories (including an autobiography), poetry, and film scripts. Balazs’ greatest works in the aesthetics of film are: Der sichtbare Mensch oder die Kultur des Films (W 1924); Der Geist des Films (Hl 1930), and Iskusstvo kino (Mwa 1945, better known in the German version: Der Film—Werden und Wesen einer neuen Kunst, W 1949); in Polish only Wybór pism [Selection of writings] has been published (Wwa 1957).
Initially Balazs studied the literature connected with theatrical art. Later (after leaving Hungary) his attention turned toward the theory of cinematography. In his first work (Der Sichtbare Mensch) he made a systematization of the aesthetic content of so-called silent cinema based on its form in the characteristic features of the new means of expression. Balazs identified this new means of expression with a new conception of the plan or montage of film. A montage is a distinct aspect specific to film and it underlies the artistic work. In his later works he studied film based on the expression of sound. He treated films with sound as a kind of new original art while preserving its characteristic means of expression that set it apart from silent means of expression. The aestheticism of this cinema is manifested principally in a harmonically selected structure of combinations of sounds and artistic imagination. While residing in Moscow (from 1932), Balazs shifted his studied to the development of a theory of the cinematographic medium and to the development of a general theory of film (Iskusstvo kino). His work, especially his later work, was not free of the influence of dialectic materialism.
B. Stella, Balazs et il film, Rivista del cinema italiano (1953), 64–70; H. Agel, Esthétique du cinéma, P 1962, 19664, 63–73; G. Aristarco, Storia della teoriche del film, Tn 19602, 131–146; U. Barbaro, Servitu e grandezza del cinema, R 1962; J. Zsuffa, Bela Balazs, The Man and the Artist, Be 1987.