This essay examines Guy Debord's and André Bazin's opposing approaches to Charlie Chaplin—both the man and his cinematic image—in the early 1950s. Jennifer Wild focuses on the notorious “Chaplin affair” of 1952, which gave rise to the International Lettriste and its eponymous journal. Looking closely at Debord's nascent strategy of détournement that wielded the power of negation as a political weapon, Wild reevaluates Bazin's metaphysical, humanist analysis of the cinematic image and the image of death whose theoretical purchase, she argues, develops at the expense of both politics and modernism.

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