Rejecting a reading of Theodor W. Adorno as a critic of the culture industry who could not conceive of film’s critical potential, many commentators have argued that for Adorno, film can become autonomous and thus a medium for social critique. This article argues that such a reading is only partly correct. Indeed, Adorno thought that film could be a medium for critique, yet he never stopped asserting film’s heteronomy. Building on the work of Miriam Hansen, the article argues that for Adorno, critical film could overcome the limitation of technique by film’s representational base and its inability to achieve a neutral standpoint through the use of montage, which arranges the material without dominating it.

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