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August 1996, Week 3


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Martin F Norden <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 17 Aug 1996 00:24:44 -0400
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On Thu, 15 Aug 1996, Pip Chodorov wrote:
> Interestingly, the rarest of all occurences in film time is 1:1; that is, a
> film which lasts 90 minutes that represents 90 minutes of real time
> (Hitchcock's ROPE is full of theatrical time elipses, and even Warhol had to
> stop to load his camera when filming EMPIRE). Any ideas on this?
I'm intrigued by the fact that at least 3 post-WWII Hollywood films
experimented with "real-time" storytelling: ROPE (1948), THE SET-UP
(1949), and HIGH NOON (1952).  I'm not at all certain why their creators
chose to explore this strategy at that moment in Hollywood history (a
response to the new, "live" medium of television?), but it's quite clear
that these films did not inspire anything that might be called a
tradition.  I suspect much of it has to do with audience conditioning --
we've been conditioned over the years to become restless or bored if the
units of "real time" in a movie run on more than a few minutes each.  (I'm
reminded of Hitchcock's famous dictum that "cinema is life with the dull
bits cut out.")  I still think, though, that some truly memorable films
could be made that examine, say, two continuous hours out of some
characters' lives.  Such films would be difficult to write, but in an odd
sort of way they would be appropriate for today's fragmentary,
15-minutes-of-fame, postmodern world.
--Marty Norden
  OO       Martin F. Norden
  [_]<|    Dept. of Communication                 [log in to unmask]
  /|\      University of Massachusetts/Amherst    fax: 413 545-6399
           Amherst, MA  01003     USA             tel: 413 545-0598, 545-1311
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