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September 1995, Week 3


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Ellen McCracken <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 20 Sep 1995 11:56:23 -0700
text/plain (65 lines)
Let's remember that this montage can work both ways.  An accompanying
verbal text can anchor the visual image in a different way.  Case in
point, the Rodney King video viewed in montage with the defense team's
"voiceover" which argues that the beaten King was really struggling to
fight back.  Claims about the "objectivity" of a given visual image are
at the heart of the struggle for ideological dominance and closure over
interpretation that we all engage in.  More important than the image's
actual "objectivity," it seems to me is its widespread perceived
objectivity.  Barthes discusses the problem of the photograph's appearing
to be a message without a code.
That said, I would still argue that visual images can provide a whole
series of clues about reality that verbal utterances can't.  A couple of
days ago I saw a new documentary video with lengthy footage of the
Chicano high school "blowouts" of the late 1960s in LA.  No matter how
many history lectures students listen to or articles they read about
these walkouts, there's no question that "re-seeing" these events even
through the non-objective video footage will provide them with a wealth
of previously unavailable information with which to understand these past
events.  How could one know how "clean cut" most of these kids looked,
for example, without access to that visual information in today's context
of quite different youth attire.
Ellen McCracken
Spanish & Portuguese
UC Santa Barbara
On Tue, 19 Sep 1995, Mike Frank wrote:
> somehow i just got around to liz weis's comments of 4 september in which she
> says, in part:
> > Often a naive or biased narrator is contradicted by the images--which are
> > SOMEHOW even more "objective" in contrast to the unreliable speaker.
> > Case in point:  "Badlands" with its naive narration spoken by Sissy
> > Spacek's character. [caps mine]
> yes . . . terrence malick's entire two-[wonderful]-film career was based on
> this device, a kind of eisensteinian montage in which the image track
> collides with the sound track to produce something quite new . . . this
> device is not all that uncommon, but is rarely theorized in this way . . .
> . . . but more important [i think] . . . is the claim that images are SOMEHOW
> more objective than speakers . . . is this always true? . . .  is it true in
> cinema specifically or is it a generalization about all images vis a vis
> . . . is someone out there willing to speculate or theorize
> about why this should be so, how it is so, and what use the language[s] of
> cinema can make of it? . . . aren't these issues at the heart of
> understanding the way images communicate?
> mike frank [[log in to unmask]]
> >
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