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November 1996, Week 3


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"Michael A. Arnzen" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 19 Nov 1996 17:07:49 -0800
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Irony!  I just watched Blow-Up yesterday, and was wondering the very
same thing about whether we would call the tennis ball bounce
diagetic or non-diagetic sound (an issue we're teaching this week in
our Film History class at UofOregon).
I think it's diagetic, because it extends the shattering of Thomas'
<?> mastery over the very media he works in.  But this is only if we
treat the diagesis as a sort of self-reflexive allegory.  Diagesis is
always tricky with art cinema, no?
-- Mike Arnzen
Stephen Brophy wrote.....
  I just had an opportunity to watch "Blowup" over the weekend, and as
you can imagine I paid considerable attention to the tennis game.  As
the game gets underway, we only hear the sounds of the mime-players'
bodies as they move around the court.  The sound of the ball only
appears after the photographer picks it up from the grass and throws
it back to the players.  Since the sound only comes in after he has
involved himself in the pretense, I interpret it to represent some
complex weakening of his mental state vis a vis reality, given what he
has experienced through the night.  With this interpretation, the
sound of the tennis ball becomes analogous to a voice-over.
  But that raises a question for me.  Are voice-overs and similar
devices which are taken to be unreliable considered to be part of the
diegesis, or are they non-diagetic?  I suspect the former, but perhaps
I'm not familiar enough with the concept.
                                                Stephen Brophy
                                                Cambridge, Mass.
Michael A. Arnzen * Dept of English * University of Oregon
"The eye sizes it up, flags it down,
                      demands credentials, waves it on."
                                            -- Walker Percy, THE MOVIEGOER
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