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July 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 5 Jul 1995 22:21:16 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (44 lines)
just returned from a brief julyfourth trip to find the following comment from
gene stavis on my query relating to video and film:
>  I think the answer to Mike Frank is that he refers to films as
> "cinematic texts". This literary model of looking at films indeed barely
> requires the films themselves. If all one is concerned about is the "text"
> then a videotape is perfectly sufficient.
> But don't pretend that you are studying "cinema".
and i have to admit that i'm baffled . . . a little bloodied at being told
that i'm not "studying 'cinema'" . . . but that's ok . . . the real problem
for me is the implicit claim that films are not texts . . . i thought a text
is anything that you read, understand, respond to . . . perhaps i made a
wrong turn somewhere but for years almost everyone who gets into these
conversations seems to have agreed that a text is simply the name we give to
a set [any set] of signs of signals that we can understand  . . . neither i
nor anyone else is claiming that cinematic texts are read exactly the same way
as verbal [or "literary"--though that word should just go away] texts, but
they certainly are read . . . in these terms the question becomes, and i hope
this will point the issue in a way that makes it possible to move beyond this
sticking point with those who champion cinema: are cinematic texts read the
same way as video texts (or, alternatively, are movies read the same way when
they are projected off film as when they are projected of a video storage
or maybe the question should be put differently . . . using video sources i
find i can follow the arguments and demonstrations of robin wood and e ann
kaplan and bordwell & thomson and andre bazin and even rothman's frame by
frame readings of hitchcock . . . that is to say almost all of the cinematic
discourse that i know of is intelligible to one who knows only video versions
of the films . . . does this mean that those critics --and dozens of others--
are also NOT studying cinema?
maybe i need to ask what it means to study cinmea . . . maybe i don't yet
mike frank
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