Don's comment below raises an even more basic problem: what has film studies
lost or avoided in focusing on films as "narratives" more than as
"dramas"--in the theatrical sense of dramatic script and performance, going
back many centuries in a tradition that directly influenced the invention
and development of cinema?
Probably more films today are made from novels than from plays and there are
certain many ways that films are more like novels, in their "editing" and
viewing, especially with videos versions that can be skipped through,
backward or forward, unlike live performance. But we still go to a movie
THEATRE to see cinema (and often watch video in a "home theatre" if we've
bought the fancy equipment advertised as such). Film is an art that
combines narrative (through the camera/editing control of viewpoint and
sometimes with VO), theatre (through its drama and performance), visual art,
and music. But theatre itself has a long tradition of combining narrative
(with chorus, solioquies, and asides) with the performance of dramatic
action and dialogue. Even Aristotle made the distinction between dramatic
and epic poetry--showing that they already threatened to overlap originally,
which some modern theorists like Benjamin and Brecht have valued as a
non-Aristotelian tradition of theatre, from ancient times to ours.
Is it the history of academic politics, with many film scholars emerging
from English and foreign language departments, which has biased film studies
toward narrative and relegated "drama" to being merely a generic subset of
film? Or is most film today epic rather than dramatic poetry--and what is
at stake in that neoclassical distinction?
Dept. of Dance and Theatre
Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28223
Phone: (704) 547-4488
> In addition, the "conflict and change" that you cite are essential
> elements of many narratives, "drama" or otherwise. They are also key
> components of the "classic Hollywood narrative."
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu