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I'm coming in late on this very interesting topic.  Mike Frank notes:
"in other words, by convention the sound track can represent a total distortion
or fabrication by a character (i.e., a "lie"), while the image track can
represent only a character's intervention in a representation that still
retains a certain degree of objective validity . . ."
 
That's certainly a bias that many  approach film with, but I wonder about
its ontological (or even epistemological) certainty.  Seymour Chatman has
some interesting things to say about this issue in COMING TO TERMS, especially
in regard to Hitchcock's STAGE FRIGHT, an example often cited as "cheating"
by the film narrator, since "the camera" shows a "lie."  (Part of the confusion
may be due to the tendency, noted some time ago by Baudry, to conflate a
whole range of cinematic activities under the signfier "the camera.")
 
A similar problem erupted in the popular press around COURAGE UNDER FIRE, which
gives several different accounts of a military operation.  Reviewers either
tended to compare it (favorably or unfavorably) to RASHOMON or to complain
that we were being shown lies by the witnesses as "truth."  Neither of these
approaches had too much validity, I thought.
 
A much more complex question about the role of sound occurs in Coppola's
THE CONVERSATION.  Many commentators have assumed that the new emphasis on
a line in a taped coversation (from "He'd *kill* us if he got the chance" to
"He'd kill *us* if he got the chance") means that the content of the tape
has always been in doubt--but close analysis shows that the former emphasis
is the correct one.  The second statement occurs through the new understanding
acquired by Gene Hackman as he comes to understand the nature of the plot he
was involved in.  But there are visual reinforcements of several types in
THE CONVERSATION whose status is also questionable.
 
 
Don Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
 
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