i guess i like to teach the difference between diegetic and non-diegetic
as a source of interesting and often indeterminate debate rather than as
a set of categories.
my own favorite example for helping students think
about the problems created by trying to pinpoint easy definitions can be
found in the hitchcock film "saboteur" when the good spy and bad spy are
wrestling atop the statue of liberty, and bad spy falls over the edge.
good spy tries to pull him back up, but the sleeve of his jacket
unravels, and he plummets to his death. the camera is focused on a long
shot, long take of the good spy looking down, as if he is mesmerized by
the falling body. the shot is punctuated by a loud, distinct woman's
scream which stands in for the sound and the timing of the man's body
hitting the ground.
students seem to enjoy debating whether the scream is
identifiable within the diegesis - which is not quiiiite logical, given
that the scream is too distinct and piercing, rather than distant and
muffled - or whether the scream is doing work equivalent to that of the
non-diegetic laugh track....to punctuate and highlight.
i teach my students that sometimes i care more about how they justify their
argument than about whether they've managed to pin a "correct" definition
of diegetic or non-diegetic on the sound.
i'm enjoying this line of discussion....
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