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March 1995, Week 2


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Gloria Monti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 11 Mar 1995 10:29:30 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> I once suggested that Souleymane Cisse's BRIGHTNESS (YEELEN--better
> translated in its French title, "The Light") plays off influences by and
> allusions to African oral traditions and classical European mythology,
> the characterizations of both European art cinema and the patterns and
> traditions of tribal life.  One scene, depicting a ceremony in the tribal
> cult of the "Komo," seems puzzling and too long to Western eyes, but
> Cisse said it would have tremendous impact to a native Mali (Bambara)
> viewer, connecting them to the roots of songs and ceremonies passed down
> but repressed.  In other words, it points for the need for a prior knowledge
> that pure formalism cannot acknowledge--a contextual formalism can give
> access to some of these films, but we need to find the contexts first.
> When an American viewer who even lacks much of the context of the classical
> Western past encounters these works, there is little to anchor them.
> --Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN
        You are pointing to the important problem of diegetic
intelligibility predicated upon extradiegetic knowledge.  But isn't
Bertolucci (not the Bertolucci of the "Asian" trilogy!) always assuming
historical-cultural knowledge about his films?  *Il Conformista,* just to
name one.  And Godard's *La Chinoise?*  Godard in general?  But we have
all gained the necessary expertise to access these films, havent' we?
Why can't it work for Sembene's films as well?
        Gloria Monti