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

6  Filmic reality and ideological fantasy  8  Ideological reality: Independence Day (Roland Emmerich, 1995) F or film studies, the key insight that can be derived from the writings of Slavoj Žižek is that reality cannot be separated from fantasy. Films do not occupy a domain of fantasy that can be straightforwardly distinguished from reality; films do not provide audiences with fantasy escapes from reality; films do not provide us with illusions of reality. Rather, if films are fantastic, then they are fantastic in the same way that reality itself is fantastic

in The reality of film

7  Filmic reality and the aesthetic regime  9  Some things to do: The Far Country (Anthony Mann, 1954) W hat contribution does the philosopher Jacques Rancière make to an understanding of filmic reality? While Rancière’s approach to cinema, and to aesthetics more generally, is strategically ambivalent – he is a philosopher who is not keen to ‘take sides’ in specific debates (see Rancière 2009: 21) – that ambivalence raises questions worth considering for the notion of filmic reality. Rancière is at his most confident when describing what cinema is not, and his

in The reality of film
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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.

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On the reality of film

films help us to shape what we call ‘reality’. It is this attempt to acknowledge the reality of film that I call filmic reality. My attempts to spell out exactly what I mean by filmic reality over the many months of this project have most often led to my being tied up in rhetorical knots. Why might this be so? I believe that my difficulty in providing a clear definition of just what filmic reality is derives to a large extent from the fact that it is a concept that lies well beyond the accepted paradigms of thinking about films (as indeed Castoriadis stresses a

in The reality of film

without an esthetic’ (Bazin 1981: 37). The kind of world affirmed by the ‘filmic reality’ upon which Bazin insists is one in which people treat each other and their world in ways that are authentic and not in ways that are false or artificial. Such a conception is a long way away from merely trying to determine whether a film’s aesthetic choices correspond with perceptual reality. It further implies that the way spectators watch and understand films can be considered a matter of authenticity too; Bazin wants a trip to the movies to be one where aspects of authenticity

in The reality of film

of photogénie, then turn to his best-known film, La Chute de la maison Usher, which deals with the legacy of Symbolism. Epstein sees photogénie not as a partial feature (the camera for Arago, or the photogenic object or face), but as a total relation between pro-filmic reality, what stands in front of the camera, filmic images, and the embodied viewer. A canonical definition is given in ‘De quelques conditions de la photogénie’ (1923), collected in Le Cinémato­graphe vu de l’Etna (1926): ‘J’appellerai photogénique tout aspect des choses, des êtres et des âmes qui

in Jean Epstein
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Afterword  I began this book by declaring the difficulty I had in defining just what is meant by ‘filmic reality’ and that a cause for that difficulty had been the location of this concept beyond the normal paradigms of thinking about film. ‘Filmic reality’ is simply not a concept film studies would wish to foster, for we all know that films are not real. They are, on the contrary, escapes, illusions or representations. And while I have done my best to counter this tendency of film studies to dismiss films in this way and to defend a claim for the reality of

in The reality of film

, for example. To pit the superiority of one conception of film over others is not the aim of the present book, however. Rather, I am examining the ways in which a number of Rushton_06_Ch5.indd 127 31/08/2010 09:35 128  The reality of film theorists offer a perspective on film I have called ‘filmic reality’. All the same, Deleuze’s criticism that Bazin remains too dependent on reality must certainly raise questions for my own argument, for my claim is that both of these writers are theorists of the ‘reality’ of film. In what ways, then, can Deleuze be defended as a

in The reality of film
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Epstein as pioneer of corporeal cinema

a text entitled ‘Bodies Too Much’, that 1970s theory ‘has framed realist cinema as needing demystification rather than ­explanation’ (2003: 7). For much 1970s film theory, realism was inherently suspect, manipulative, bourgeois, that is, ideologically conservative. But that was an ideological position that could not account for the brute fact of filmic reality, of bodies in front of the camera, and of viewers not only viewing but also sensing and being affected by bodies on film. Margulies and others consider that corporeal realism can be strongly oppositional, as

in Jean Epstein