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May 1998, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 4 May 1998 21:01:50 -0400
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      I am likely to resent or be perplexed by praise heaped on a
     particular film if that film failed to move me significantly. If, on
     the other hand, I got caught up in a film significantly as I viewed
     it, if it touched my heart, I'm naturally going to be incredulous when
     some critic or reviewer dismisses the film as fluff or attacks the
     screenplay as tripe.
     Or praises some film that I regard as absolute detritus. But why
     should I fret about the fact that a film that didn't move me proved
     highly popular?
these are, i suppose, all reasonable questions, but they are based on the
premise that the PURPOSE of movies [and presumably of art] is simply to
touch our hearts . . . that a movie may hae a point or a point of view,
that it may carry ideological weight, that it may represent or
misrepresent, that it may play a part in constructing a culture and hence,
in the final analysis, play some part in constructing us . . . all of these
possibilities are ignored by this premise as are any notions of skill,
craft, artistic language, form, control that went into the work . . . an
examination of the prosody of donne or the brushstrokes of monet are not in
themselves going to make a poem or painting touch my heart . . . and indeed
we're all aware of works that touch us by their facile pressing of all too
exposed buttons . . . this view is the one that was discredited as 'the
affective fallacy' by the new critics [themselves admittedly now
discredited but who still have some worthwhile things to say to us]
so to the apparently reasonable question:
     But why should I fret about the fact that a film that didn't move me
     proved highly popular?
perhaps the best answer is that we may care about films strongly enough to
feel that pleasure alone is not what we want our films to provide . . . and
that we may object to certain merely 'entertaining' films the same way we
object to certain good tasting foods . . . and surelyu we can all think of
other activities that provide some people with pleasure that we ourselves
would be in principle against
mike frank
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.