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August 1996, Week 4


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Pip Chodorov <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 21 Aug 1996 15:16:48 -0400
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Mike Frank wonders:
>does the phrase "real time" refer to the represented or diegetic time--in
>which case ROPE would seem to serve as a good example
Rope is a bad example of both types. At one point, several hours are ellipsed
as the sun rises; this is a theatrical gimmick, making rope more like filmed
theatre (thus highly unrealistic) than like filming real time (an attempt to
be hyper-realistic). If we forgive those zoom-ins into a character's back to
hide reel changes, the film could have been a good example of real diegetic
time, but unfortunately it is not.
To answer the question, I am interested in both cases; diegetic time for
fiction film, and real/reel time for experimental film, such as in Warhol's
"Empire" or "Sleep", or certain very long shots in Wender's early shorts. I
am not interested in this as "a matter of historical record" as Mike says,
but as an artistic (and highly unusual) use of time in film; and even moreso
to follow through the study of slow motion and accelerated motion by its
metaphysical antithesis: non-manipulated time, which we find right away to be
impossible (cameras and projectors manipulate time by nature).
The attempt to show something really happening as it happens is, one could
say, against the nature of cinema, or of any art form, though it comes up
again and again in documentary, in pornography, in snuff films perhaps. It is
used in fiction film to very good effect: some recent examples are "Breaking
the Waves" by Lars Von Trier and "Fate" by Fred Keleman, in which scenes are
shot as long as possible in continuous takes. The attempt to show real time
in the context of a film screening is an attempt to bring our own realities
and consciousness of time passing into a place of distraction. This
self-consciousness then raises awareness of spectators' voyeuristic
tendancies. These concerns go much farther than the meaning of slow or fast
-Pip Chodorov
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