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June 1996, Week 1


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 3 Jun 1996 13:41:20 -0600
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Michael Plott admits:
"Judging from some of the most recent posts in this list, I probably shouldn't
be a subscriber.  I have no degree in film and I do not usually look for some
deep meaning, philosophy or message in any film I view.
Film, to me, for the most part is simply another means of
recreation---similar to reading a book.   I subscribed to this list with the
intention of simply lurking and seing what other people had to say regarding
film and the business of making films, and in that context I suppose I am not
annoying anyone with my ignorance (until now)."
Mike--I haven't seen ISHTAR, so I can't address your main question, but I too
would  be curious to see some answers.  (I *have* seen several reviewers saying
that they thought it was underrated--as some even said of HEAVEN'S GATE!)
But that question of meaning, message, etc. is a vexing one.  I find it
that you compare film watching to recreation "similar to reading a book."
Way back in high school, a chemistry teacher complained that I had to stop
the textbook "like a novel."
Thing is, I thought he meant I was reading *too closely*, nitpicking the
It did not occur to me until years later that he might have meant that I was
reading too *superficially* and quickly!
Part of our perennial debates over meaning and value in what we watch or read
is in part conditioned by experience.  If one knows what to look for in an
Antonioni film (to use Murray's recent example), one can be rewarded.  If one
does not, the film will be a blank surface.  If one watches a Hitchcock film,
thinking only of, say, PSYCHO, one will get what one expects (or disappointed
that one did not).
Some of us are bred--if not born--to "read deeply" but we all read all too
superficially in other ways.
So, *is* there a way into ISHTAR that defies its categorizing as '
"flop" (box-office or cow, take your pick)?  I too would be curious to know
what to look for when I do see it.
Don Larsson, Mankato State  U (MN)
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