The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse
Time-lapse photography—the extremely accelerated recording and projection of an event
taking place over an extended duration of time—is almost as old as the movies
themselves. (The first known use of time-lapse dates from 1898.) In the early decades
of the twentieth century, cineastes, not to mention scientists, artists, and poets,
waxed eloquently on the promise of time-lapse photography as a means for revealing
“things we cannot see,” and expanding human perception. This essay examines
time-lapses tremendous initial imaginative appeal for such figures as Ernst Mach,
Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Rudolf Arnheim, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Collette, and
speculates about the possible reasons for its diminution over the course of the
(London: Gordon Fraser,
1976), p. 126.
7 G. Perez, The MaterialGhost: Films and Their Medium (London: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 250. See also G. Perez, ‘House of miscegenation’, London Review of Books 32:22 (2010), p. 24.
8 J. W. Carey, Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Revised
Edition (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009), pp. 11–28.
, Vertigo, p. 41.
75 J. Harvey, Movie Love in the Fifties (Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2001), p. 34.
76 G. Perez, The MaterialGhost: Films and Their Medium (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 75.
77 Branigan briefly presents such an argument, including a useful comment
about the ideological element of defining perception as normal or abnormal, in Point of View in the Cinema: A Theory of Narration and Subjectivity
in Classical Film (Berlin: Mouton, 1984), pp. 78–9.
78 Branigan, Point of View in the Cinema, p. 79.
79 Smith, Engaging Characters
in mind is of course Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes,
2002). The question of how fully that film conforms to the conventions of
an earlier phase of Hollywood filmmaking (the subject of my master’s dissertation) is not one I will explore here.
18 Gilberto Perez takes issue with the treatment of Aristotle’s terms by recent
narratologists. See G. Perez, The MaterialGhost: Films and their Medium
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), pp. 59–60.
19 G. Genette, Narrative Discourse, trans. J. E. Lewin (Ithaca: Cornell
University Press), p. 164 (original
, The MaterialGhost: Films and Their Medium (London: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1998), p. 77.
Communication, love, death 109
32 Wilson, Narration in Light, p. 104.
33 Perez, MaterialGhost, pp. 77–8.
34 Wilson, Narration in Light, pp. 103–4.
35 R. Wood, ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman: the double narrative’,
CineAction 31 (1993), p. 9.
36 Perkins, ‘Same tune again!’, p. 46.
37 Wood, ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’, p. 10.
38 T. Modleski, ‘Time and desire in the woman’s film’, Cinema Journal 23:3
(1984), p. 29.
39 S. White, The Cinema of Max Ophuls
Panofsky (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1979 ), pp. 19–20; Norbert
Nussbaum, German Gothic Church Architecture , trans. Scott
Kleager (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000 ), e.g., p.
Gilberto Perez, The MaterialGhost: Films and
Their Medium (Baltimore: Johns
diverting him. He repeatedly persists, and she repeatedly rolls her head
back and forth in avoidance (Fig. 3.41). This goes on and on – on my
counting eighteen of his attempts to kiss her are shown – as she becomes
ever more distressed to the point of petrified catatonia. This is continuing
even as the scene fades to black which enhances its never-ending quality;
Perez’s chapter on Godard in The MaterialGhost is entitled ‘The Signifiers of Tenderness’ (1998).
The English language title of the film is My Life to Live.
As mentioned in Part II, ‘relevance’ to