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June 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]>
Tue, 6 Jun 1995 14:18:21 -0400
text/plain (57 lines)
> Let me profess both my own ignorance and the appreant ignorance of THE
> AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY in not knowing the meaning of this word and it's
> sibling, extradiegetic.
        The dictionary is not a good place to gather information of this
kind.  It does not contain the verb *to racialize* either, as some
administrators pointed out to me when I gave them the descriptions of my
course syllabus.
> PS - As these words were used in Gloria Monti's Sat, Jun 3, 1995 4:16 PM EDT
> post of Re: On the race of actors and characters.
        I know there is going to be a mad rush to answer this posting.
Let's see who gets it in first. :-)
        From Bordwell&Thompson's *Film Art: An Introduction* (1993), 4th ed.:
The total world of the story action is sometimes called the film's
diegesis (the Greek word for "recounted story")  In the opening of *North
by Northwest,* the traffic, streets, skyscrapers, and people we see, as
well as the traffic, streets, skyscrapers, and people we assume to be
offscreen, are all diegetic because they are assumed to exist in the
world that the film depicts (67).
        Within the diegetic world of the film, it is important to distinguish
between onscreen diegetic and offscreen diegetic material.  In the
examples cited from *Northwest,* the first instance is onscreen diegetic
(the spectator can locate those elements visually), the second instance
is offscreen diegetic (the spectator cannot locate those elements
visually, but s/he knows they belong in the world of that film).
        Non diegetic (I prefer the term extradiegetic), therefore, pertains to
material that does not belong to the world of that film.  For example, a cut
to a shot from another Hitchcock's film following the sequence from
*Northwest* would constitute an example of extradiegetic material.  In
particular, this would be an extradiegetic insert.  Godard does it all
the time.
        These two concepts are widely used when discussing the spatial
properties of sound.  Thus sound can be diegetic (when its source can be
located within the story of the film) or extradiegetic (when its source
is not within the story of the film--for example, musical
accompaniment).  It is very important to distinguish between different
kinds of diegetic sound.  Onscreen diegetic: when the source of sound is
visible within the frame & offscreen diegetic: when the source of sound
is not visible but still belongs to the story.
        Last, let me mention internal diegetic sound: when the source of
the sound belongs to the mind of a character & external diegetic sound: I
am quoting Bordwell&Thompson, because their definition was never too
clear to me--"that which we as spectators take to have a physical source
in the scene." (310)  Maybe they simply mean onscreen diegetic sound?  An
example of that does not come to mind easily.
        Class dismissed. :-)
        Gloria Monti
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