Worksheet 2 - worksheet two Worksheet Film History 30...

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worksheet two Worksheet - Film History 30 August 2009 o ...an object in itself In most instances films are less autonomous objects than instruments for representing something - a story, a narrative, characters, performances, objects, settings. That is to say, a film is like a stage (in France, a film director is often referred to as a metteur en sc ne , a theatrical term for staging, with all that implies for putting into scene some pre-existing often written text). On that stage a play is organised ‘to take place’ and film as no more than a medium, a delivery system for other things, in this case, for a drama and the theatrical. Or, film can be thought of as a ‘window’ through which you regard if not a world, a dream, a world desired. It is significant, for example, that it was a rule (essentially an industrial, commercial, studio rule) for a film and its processes and structures to be effaced by what it represented so that the film became invisible in order to make visible the story, narrative, characters that it was meant to display, as if the central role of the cinema was to make itself disappear in order for something else to appear in its place (a make-believe world, characters, masquerade). The best films were considered to be films with little or no apparent presence, as if the film was at odds with what it represented, since, if the film declared its presence and made itself felt and its processes evident, such presence would risk not only the coherence but the believability of its narrative fictions and fantasies; it would be an interruption and intrusion into the fiction thus compromising it, derailing it; the film would become ‘real’ and thereby the world it had made to seem real (a verisimilitude) might falter or collapse by being intruded upon by something exterior to itself. Some of the earliest signs of modernism in the cinema, that is of a break with the continuities of linearity and the falsities of make-believe, is the appearance of the mirror, the duplicate, either in fact in the film within its story, or more formally by the film in its structure, by which an action or an event or an image is doubled, reflected and the film by that fact declares the ubiquity of falseness, of mere appearance and the uncertainty of representation, of any and every so-called ‘reality’ films might produce insofar as film is the transformation of reality into an image of it, already a double, not a window. All images are necessarily duplicitous, simulacrums and their sequencing as mirrors and reflections create a labyrinth where direction and centre are difficult to establish or perceive because you are openly within a hall of mirrors. In Histoire(s) du cinéma , the presence of the film overwhelms any representation and in doing so what stands out is the film as an object rather than any of the objects or scenes within it that it represents. Because every representation in the film (perhaps all
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representations in any film) is a citation, everything is in a mirrored, doubled relation, necessarily, of image to reality.
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