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August 2000, Week 1


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Daniel I Humphrey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 3 Aug 2000 03:05:19 -0400
TEXT/PLAIN (60 lines)
  As the person whose question (worded in as non-partisan a
  way as I could manage) started this controversy--the one on
  political discussions on this list serve--I'd like to offer
  the following few points.

  First, the history of (narrative) film includes "Birth of a
  Nation", "Strike" "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", "Rome,
  Open City", "On the Waterfront", "The Human Condition",
  "Ashes and Diamonds", "I Am Cuba", "The Manchurian
  Candidate", "WR: Mysteries of the Organism", "Weekend",
  "Jeanne Dielman", "1900", "The Last of England", "The
  Unbearable Lightness of Being", "Forrest Gump"...  (Oh, and
  the 1950s Hollywood blacklist and the 1980s assault on the
  humanities-in-general that Dennis has already addressed...)
  Clearly, all of these bring up obvious and still-vital
  political issues and concerns.

  Secondly, we all know that most of the celebrated *written*
  texts in film studies, starting with Sigfried Kracauer's
  "From Calagari to Hitler" and including Bill Nichols
  "Ideology and the Image" and David Rodowick's "The Crisis
  of Political Modernism", are explicitly political in the way
  they approach their investigations of the cinema.  Thus,
  again, it seems absurd to me to suggest that politics are
  an inappropriate subject for film scholars, workers, and
  fans to bring up on a forum like this.

  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.  (Although the
  nice thing about this list-serve is that it's good for
  people wanting answers to these kinds of questions, too.)

  Finally, to make one last reference to Eleni's posting, I
  would respectfully assert that political discourse is
  *much* more legitimate on this list-serve than claims
  about which director is, or is not, overrated.  This is a
  discussion that can easily descend into meaningless
  assertions.  Eleni suggests Bergman's overrated (although
  I'm finding hardly anyone who'll actually defend his work
  anymore).  I'd say Kubrick's a naked emperor.  Most of my
  students from "Film History II" said Parajanov sucked.
  Yadda, yadda, yadda...

  Best wishes to all (and special thanks to those who helped
  me find the William Bennett quote.)  =)

        Daniel Isaac Humphrey
        Department of Art & Art History
        University of Rochester
        424 Morey Hall
        Rochester NY 14627-0456

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