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August 2000, Week 1


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Gregory Sims <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 Aug 2000 14:53:39 +1000
text/plain (93 lines)
        While I agree entirely with the point made by Leo Enticknap
about the importance of artistic technique as inextricably bound up
with technology and its multiple constraints/possibilities, I feel
obliged to point out that "Death by Hanging" was directed by Nagisa
Oshima, not by Ozu. At least Stephen Heath got that much right...

>David Issac Humphrey writes:
>  >  Political discussion about the cinema strikes me as *far*
>  >  more important than debating the relative merits of Todd-AO
>  >  or Super VistaVision or arguing about which aspect ratio
>  >  "Miller's Crossing" is meant to be shown in.
>If you think that the role of technology in political representation is
>unimportant, then you should be concentrating your efforts on virtually any
>medium other than film.  Theatre requires only a performance space and
>performers (although admittedly, a range of other technologies are
>routinely used as well), music requires only the human voice (although
>admittedly, ditto), whilst literature and journalism can be produced using
>comparatively simple technology that has been widely available for several
>centuries.  Cinema, together with radio and television, cannot exist at all
>without a complex and inter-related range of mechanical, electrical,
>electronic and chemical technologies.  The bottom line is that without a
>camera, film, lab infrastructure and projector, it is quite simply
>impossible to produce and show a film.  Far too many humanities scholars
>have chosen to ignore that fact for the simple reason that they do not
>grasp the basic technical concepts needed to engage with these issues.
>I could cite the most amazing rubbish that has been published by supposedly
>leading academics, which a high school leaver with science 'A' levels would
>laugh his or her head off at.  My favourite example is a densely-theorised
>paper in Screen by Stephen Heath, in which he procedes to analyse a scene
>from 'Death by Hanging' in considerable detail.  As Barry Salt lucidly
>observes, his conclusions are somewhat flawed, as the editing techniques
>used by Ozu, "had less to do with the intricacies of 'narrative space'
>than with the difficulties of getting a cat to behave as directed within
>the restrictions of low-budget film production".
>Determining the correct aspect ratio to project MILLER'S CROSSING in might
>seem to you like a worthless exercise, but learning these skills in print
>examination would also teach you how to (i) see where cuts have been made
>either in the print itself or the negative it was printed from, (ii)
>discover the year and country in which the print was made, and (iii)
>discover other evidence printed through from the negative onto areas of the
>print stock which are not projected or transferred to video.  All of this
>could be pretty useful for a political historian, don't you think?
>Incidentally, I would find it a challenge indeed to debate the relative
>merits of Todd-AO and Super VistaVision, because the latter does not exist.
>We all know the standard jokes - WILDE (special presentation - in
>SodomyScope) or any slushy, romantic genre film (a new motion picture
>experience - in Retch-O-Rama), or even the colloquialism 'Technicolor
>yawn', meaning to vomit.  But all of the products being satirised came
>about for specific economic, cultural and technical reasons, and casually
>writing them off in the way you seem to be doing is to undermine virtually
>any argument or conclusion which casually ignores them.
>Leo Enticknap
>Technical Manager
>City Screen Cinemas (York) Ltd..
>13-17 Coney St., York YO1 9QL.
>United Kingdom
>Telephone: 01904 612940 (work); 01904 625823 (home); 07710 417383 (mobile)
>e-mail: [log in to unmask] (work); [log in to unmask] (home)
>Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
>University of Alabama:


Dr Gregory Sims,
French Section,
Dept. of French and Italian Studies,
University of Melbourne,
Melbourne 3010, Victoria,
Tel. (61-3) 8344-8119/5179
Fax: (61-3) 9347-2489

"Dieu n'avait fait que l'eau, mais l'Homme a fait le vin"
                                        Victor Hugo

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