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August 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Daniel V. Gribbin" <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 16 Aug 1994 21:53:30 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Re:  The discussion of subliminal backgrounds.
I'd be interested in hearing from those who participated in the discussion on
subliminal backgrounds in reference to the following question:  Given that
some cross-referencing of previous cinema seems trivial or self-promoting,
still, should't we consider it as a special case of the larger process
(characteristically modern?) of drawing upon pre-existing cultural material
as a basis for new creations?  We don't get upset at the borrowing involved
in a remake of the beauty and the beast legend, presumably because the work
satisfies us or entertains us in fundamental ways (the Jean Cocteau version
is in my mind here, not so much the Disney animation), perhaps even because
it seems to reflect fundamental truths about human nature.  Any artist worth
his or her salt working in any medium does well to be aware of previous
culture, and many consciously draw upon mythological and artistic precursors
(often, we can assume, favorites of the artist) as foundation or
ornamentation for their "new" productions.  The modern concept of originality
(creating something new under the sun) came into vogue in the early
nineteenth century, but perhaps it has never totally supplanted in the minds
and practice of artists the Renaissance (and earlier?) notion of originality
as recasting for one's own generation monuments of unaging intellect, to
borrow Yeats's phrase.  To sum up, several SCREEN-L correspondents have
pointed out the existence of admittedly trivial background references, but it
seems important to be mindful of the less obvious referencing to previous
works, myths, and archetypes that customarily feeds our art.
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College
Ferrum, VA 24088
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