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October 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 20 Oct 1994 09:19:30 -0600
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Patrick Bjork asks:
"You know, "based on a true life story" is
often used in TV to sell certain programs/movies. Why people resist
metaphor remains a mystery to me, but if someone on this list could
explain it to me, I'd be eternally grateful."
I'm not about to "explain" something this complex (and I still haven't
seen PULP FICTION--it opens here tomorrow), but I wonder if it has anything
to do with the primacy of The Word (calling Derrida!) and the faith in
the "reality" of the visual. Most people still see films as a "window on
the world" that offers glimpes of Reality (ordered and arranged, to be sure).
While allowances can be made for certain films that fall within a particular
genre (eg. fantasy), audiences seem to prefer films that offer some vision
of reality with a Lesson to be learned from it (a kind of compromise between
Aristotle and Plato, perhaps). We over-educated few who have learned to
"read" metaphor in words and images tend to prefer a different kind of film
as well. (Just as anecdotal evidence, I find a high degree of resistance
among my students to film modernism and post-modernism, whether it's
Bergman or Tati, but they generally enjoy Hitchcock, perhaps because he
creates an illusion of reality in which to cloak his fantasy). I encounter
similar resistance among people of education to the films of Powell and
Pressburger, because of their high degree of artifice. NATURAL BORN KILLERS
 seems to have lost some of its shock value and is declining (at least
locally) while FORREST GUMP still has legs (so to speak)--fantasy with
a sweet "message."
GUMP reaffirms the belief that reality can be beautiful, while NBK tells us
that reality as a media-created monster. Guess which message is going to
have more appeal? (And frankly, I dislike both films.)
I don't know if any of this is consistent--I'm fighting off a cold and am
lucky to be coherent at all, but it is an interesting question.
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN