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Theories of filmic reality

In formulating a notion of filmic reality, this book offers a novel way of understanding our relationship with cinema. It argues that cinema need not be understood in terms of its capacities to refer to, reproduce or represent reality, but should be understood in terms of the kinds of realities it has the ability to create. The book investigates filmic reality by way of six key film theorists: André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. In doing so, it provides comprehensive introductions to each of these thinkers, while also debunking many myths and misconceptions about them. Along the way, a notion of filmic reality is formed that radically reconfigures our understanding of cinema.

logics in which their allegedly sexist spectacles are embedded. For reasons that will become clear in the course of my argument, I will consider the three films in counter-chronological order. Regardingthe gaze Voyeurism and fetishism are concepts with considerable critical currency in film studies. In 1975, Christian Metz theorized that film, in contradistinction to theatre, which admits of the

in Patrice Leconte

‘irréductiblement étranger au cinéma qui l’a suivi’. 8 But by examining Méliès’s films in the light of a structural model of narrative analysis designed with modern films in mind, we can begin to erode the entirely artificial dichotomy between early and modern cinema. Christian Metz developed the grande syntagmatique in order to break film down into discrete units of meaning, each of which could be analyzed in relation

in Georges Méliès

3  The imaginary as filmic reality 5  Over the rainbow: the imaginary of The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) I f ‘filmic reality’ for Bazin was a matter of authenticity and the establishment of ‘social’ forms of reality, as I argued in the preceding chapter, in what ways might Christian Metz provide a theory of ‘filmic reality’? At first sight, ‘reality’ would appear to be a concept quite alien to Metz’s conception of cinema. Certainly, he did once write an essay on the ‘impression of reality’ in the cinema (Metz 1974b), but impressions are precisely what

in The reality of film
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and coded meanings which lie within the text. Pioneered by Christian Metz in the 1960s, such work in breaking down the filmic language and seeking to understand how meaning is communicated through visual and auditory representation can help us explore the deeper textual meanings being played out on screen.2 Unlike semiotics, which draws on linguistics and language, the discipline of history – along with politics, media studies and sociology – approaches film in a different way, foregrounding the importance of film as a cultural object and emphasising the importance

in Using film as a source

instrument rather than a scribal tool, and yet sound remains a material substance that can be crafted into acoustical structures, which rival the materially adorned artefacts that produced them. Christian Metz and Georgia Gurrieri define the concept of the ‘aural object’ in order to readdress ‘the conception of sound as an attribute, as a non-object, and therefore the tendency to neglect its own characteristics in favour of those of its corresponding “substance”, which in this case is the visible object, which has emitted the sound’. 43 We can read the material and

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Film theory’s foundation in medievalism

from multiple perspectives but from a centred, single viewpoint: the eye of the beholder. According to apparatus theorists like Christian Metz, Jean Baudry and Daniel Dayan, and media theorists like Marshall McLuhan, the single eye of the Renaissance viewer is in traditional cinema emulated in the subject-position of the spectator, following the ‘eye’ of the camera. 10 This encourages fantasies of

in Medieval film
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On the reality of film

between illusion and reality – that this book argues. The remaining six chapters of the book try to posit various ways of going beyond political modernism and its logic of illusion versus reality in the cinema. Each chapter focuses on the work of a specific film theorist, so that there are chapters on André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. What pans out, I think, is less a singular, pointed and specific theory of what filmic reality is and more of a sense that what I mean by filmic reality is an attitude one takes

in The reality of film

briefly given and, moreover, I imagine many would claim that my diagnosis is a positive and necessary one. It is necessary to pinpoint precisely what is at stake here, however. For example, a range of theorists, typically associated with cognitivism and analytic philosophy, have condemned the political modernist paradigm for its supposed reduction of cinema to the realm of illusion tout court. Writers such as Noël Carroll (1988) and Gregory Currie (1995), for example, dismiss the theories of Christian Metz and Jean-Louis Baudry on this count: that political modernists

in The reality of film
La Belle captive

semiology of cinema by Christian Metz. Metz attempted to construct a semiology of cinema, which he called the great syntagmatics, and which was the precise determination of a certain number of cinematographic syntagmas. The underlying criticism that one can make of Metz is that he based his syntagmatics on the novel […] Chateau and Jost, in opposition to the idea of syntax, which was

in Alain Robbe-Grillet