The New Republic announced Wednesday that the magazine’s five-decade critic Stanley Kauffmann had died of pneumonia complications in New York: Noam Scheiber wrote: “RIP Stanley Kauffmann. A sad day for the cinephiles out there, and the TNR family.”
It’s easy to say that this is sad news but the man was 97 years old. We should all be so lucky to last so long–he filed his last column in August, reviewing “Our Nixon,” “Israel: A Home Movie” and “Museum Hours.” However it is disturbing that the older critics in Gerald Peary’s 2009 documentary “For the Love of Movies” are dropping, one by one, from Roger Ebert to Andrew Sarris.
Kauffmann was a key contributor in the culture wars of the 60s and 70s–along with other critics of his generation such as Sarris and Pauline Kael–to pushing movies and criticism into being taken seriously. In fact Kauffmann coined the phrase the Film Generation. He particularly boosted French New Wave auteurs such as Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. New Yorker critic David Denby writes:
“Stanley electrified educated people with the news that movies had become one of the high arts again, and that there were contemporary works—by Bergman, Truffaut, Antonioni, and many other directors—the equal of the masterpieces of the silent era.”
A New York tribute is planned for Kauffmann, who wrote several film books and started his career as an editor at Knopf, where as Andrew Beaujon from Poynter Online pointed out, “he discovered Walker Percy’s ‘The Moviegoer.’”