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March 2009, Week 2


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"Frank, Michael" <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 8 Mar 2009 11:53:13 -0400
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OK, fair enough  -  so let's say that  jaws is indeed an allegory for the aids epidemic . . . why not???;   people are clearly having a very good time finding films that might be read as allegorical, i.e., mapped onto some other set of referents   . . . but the minute we start talking  in those terms is there anything that is NOT allegorical  . . . as frye pointed out a generation ago - and bazin anticipated with regard to film specifically a generation before that - there are a small number of mythic patters that repeat over and over again, at least in western culture [and, arguably, they are universal to the extent that life and death are] . . . my guess is that clever critics [and we're all of us certainly that] can make any film allegorical

i think the conversation would be more fruitful if we delimited the notion of allegory in some way . . . i tried in an earlier e-mail to use an old formalist standard, seeing allegory only where there is one-to-one correspondence between two sets of referents-but apparently such is the state of formalism today that no one even bothered to rebut the argument . . . given the death of the author [or the auteur] we can hardly turn to explicit allegorical intention to provide a standard of judgment, but unless we find some way of distinguishing allegory from other sorts of meaning this discussion can end up including almost anything


PS - after writing the above i realized that this discussion has spread to a number of different list-servs and the earlier message mentioned above was never sent to screen-L . . . . so, for whatever it may be worth, i append it here - - - could it be that screen-L people are less allergic to formalism than some of their colleagues who inhabit other lists?

can't help wondering whether at least some of the ambiguities and complexities in this thread might be ameliorated, at least somewhat, by a more careful [or at least traditional] terminology . . . traditionally an allegory was a story whose major features existed in a consistent one-to-one relationship to some other, often already known, story . . . frequently the names used in the allegory signaled very clearly what was being represented - e.g., Everyman, or Pilgrim's Progress . . . i was about to say that any work that has a character named "death' in it might count as an allegory, but that would be wrong for it ignores the consistent one-to-one relationship of true allegory . . . thus Seventh Seal, though it has a character named death, would not count as an allegory - it is rather, like much [perhaps almost  all] narrative, richly symbolic

but Seventh Seal does suggest that the membranes that separate symbolic stories from purely mimetic ones - stories in which the diegesis represents absolutely nothing but itself, if such a thing is even imaginable - is an extraordinarily porous membrane

hope this helps at least a little



-----Original Message-----
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gay, Christian J
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] Allegorical films

Daniel Selden wrote an interesting article that discusses Speilberg's JAWS as an allegory of the coming AIDS crisis........



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