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June 1998, Week 3


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Thomas Morsch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 16:18:36 +0200
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Boris Vidovic, [log in to unmask] wrote:
>i would like to suggest a broader use of tom gunning's notion of "cinema of
>atracitons". if you want to take action films as genre, then i would suggest
>to think about it not as a narrative structure, but as a means of holding
>viewer's attention. action is, first and foremost "attraction".
Personally I'm inclined to agree with your opinion; and it seems to me that not only the action cinema but postclassical cinema in general has a strong tendency towards an aesthetics of attraction, although David Bordwell, for example, would stronmgly deny this - I recall an analysis of DIE HARD, where he designated the film as "the return of the classical Hollywood cinema".
However, one should also remember Tom Gunnings own hesitation to align the cinema of attractions with the modern special effects cinema: in one of his essays he wrote that effects are "_tamed_ attractions".
In an essay on the action cinema that I'm currently writing I draw on Vachel Lindsay and his  book "The Art of the Moving Picture". It seems to me that Lindsay sees "action" as a general aesthetic capacity of cinema ("intimacy" and "splendor" being the other capacities he uses to get to a classification of cinema.
Lindsays idea to me presents a strong alternative to the notion of generic classifications that seem plausible only for the period of the Classical Hollywood Cinema. Based on his view, action could be understood as a general aesthetic principle of cinema that materializes in different (narrativ and visual) forms in the history of film.
As I'm still working on this paper on action cinema, comments would be extremely welcome.
Thomas Morsch
Thomas Morsch
Intitut für Film- und Fernsehwissenschaft
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
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