Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Assignment # 1 by Daniel Min.

September 18th, 2011 by Daniel Min · 1 Comment · 1 Diagramming Difference

Assignment #1 (If that link doesn’t work then here is the post)

Assignment #1

            The purpose of composing a narrative is to give an account of one’s experience. It is the driving force to incite the intellectual mind by persuading the reader to interpret one’s work. This is the essential reason to create such works of art within the realm of media. However some may beg to defer and see film as an inferior medium and might not easily factor this idea of literary art into photography, paintings, performance art, etc, because of its blatant pageantry. A number of students from Queens College are presenting a grassroots movement to change the negative paradigm against film by presenting series of diagrammatical differences that compares and contrasts important aspects between cinema and literature. We are carefully considering their decision without deliberately altering their approach on cinema and why it should be accepted as an academic medium.

Apparently it is clear that reading a five hundred page novel takes a lot longer to finish than completing a full length movie. Cinematic experience can be leisurely suitable for those who are inept in time management, movie studios are provided with abundant resources to compress works of literature into bite-size entertainments by condensing enough details and portraying them without having to omit crucial information, however readers have the advantage to understand the concept of the book in spite of how long it will take for them to finish it, they have the adequate means of figuring out the author’s expression at their own pace without having to feel distant compare to movie goers.

Obviously there are other films that consumes more than two hours of our existence, some may go as far as thirteen hours like “Out 1” (Noli me tangre) directed by Jacques Rivette , the most highbrowed of all film makers of the French New Wave era. He is known for creating long and tedious films, a director of such caliber that could flawlessly grasp the idea of “the human comedy” and scrutinize the components by implementing onto the film. Rivette’s “Out 1” would most certainly be acknowledged by Balzac enthusiast, because of his artistic perseverance at replicating the work as closely to the original as possible regardless of the film’s longevity.

 Hollywood’s reputation of spreading this disease by appealing to the mass audience has definitely desecrated some of the best novels. The producer’s incessant motive to please the audience continues to be much more concerned about its revenues instead of the artistic values of the product. This consistent trend of appealing to the mass audience became indirectly proportional to the cerebral minded level of interest based on how realistic the situation presents itself without having it to be contrived. Although Hollywood directors like to flaunt their conspicuous skills by propelling a story through ridiculous means of dull imagination, the same concept can also be apply to writers as well (especially Nicholas Sparks), however writers could utilize their creativity to the fullest extent without ever having to worry about characters visually displaying the same level of exaggerated emotions that overrated actors tend to portray and unlike cinema they’re not predisposed to being sanitized in par with other medias on the basis of what society deems appropriate.

 Movies are at a disadvantage when it comes to leaving viewers to interpret or imagine how character/settings should look according to one’s idealistic view. Cinema audiences cannot alter character’s appearances nor can they choose the location of an appropriate setting because the filmmakers already have it fixated for them. This near ineffective method of convincing the audience to widely accept the filmmaker’s interpretation of a particular character from some popular novel, may have the tendency to disappoint a few due to variety of reasons, whether it’s some spoiled overpaid actor who is ignorant in reading the material, poor character analysis, awful casting director, etc.

Writers also have the same inclination to a certain extent, since they’re the director, producer, cinematographer, costume designer and so forth, but avid book readers still have the aptitude to modify certain aspects regardless if the author has described something less than what they’re limited to. For example, John Grisham who ceaselessly writes about legal thrillers, describes most of his protagonists, as highly educated lawyers from the Midwest who are usually in their early thirties, however there is this vacant hole that is in need to be filled by our imagination. What is actually necessary to describe a person of that age? How can you actually tell if the person is a Midwesterner without hearing the accent? Sure it may seem insignificant, but nevertheless we need some sort of imagination to illustrate the protagonist in order to follow him or her throughout the story.

 Our experiences can provide us the information and the necessary means to fill in the vague description that are casually left open by the writer. It evokes us to relate our experience with the work of an author, it benefits us exponentially to process our mind by creating an illustrative image and progressively use our mental state of reasoning to relate a particular situation in a story, for example most combat veterans of the armed forces could actually relate harrowing experiences of war to Hemingway’s most famous work because of its unsentimental violence. Films are perhaps in the same way to a lesser degree, although there is no considerable amount of denotative details to specifically describe the labyrinth of the human emotion, we could still understand it with very little cognitive activity when the actor’s portray it on screen.

With enough viewing, we can train our mind to understand the perplexity of films, especially the ones that require our full focus. We can use that as an experience to appreciate cerebral films later on, even understand the most difficult elements such movies can possess, especially some of Andrei Tarkovsky’s movies.

            Students find it difficult to follow the sequence of a novel that contains large amounts of subsidiary information and subplots. Film is the right medium to maintain the artery of the narrative without having to lean towards the subordinate feature possibly due to limited budget or the short amount of time that they’re offered, therefore it is an extremely important conscience decision for the film producers to carefully decide which part is vital in order to express a narrative in a straight forward manner, however filmmakers can leave this great void of unexplained query that may be impervious to interpretation. Writers in the other hand have an unlimited option to describe a narrative in full detail and are mostly inclined to leave frivolous information.

Our mind could get caught up in the narrative for a number of reasons. We could be reading a difficult passage that deals with complex film theories and there comes along a well written prose that finally catches our attention and go on to explain something totally different thus losing track of what we read. Literature can also share the same ingenious scheme much like film by bombarding it with nonsensical violence and other various incidence of no significance, therefore we should maintain our perception on the important aspect of the work while acknowledging the irrelevant part that may be inconsequential.

Lastly, cinema and literature are both competing medium that share almost all of the commonality except one might have a stronger aspect than the other, a vast difference between two mediums on how it would be distributed amongst the consumer and those who can appreciate one’s work. This status quo of what is considered a grand art has developed an esoteric association with the intellectual, has irritatingly affixed bourgeois sentiment towards the independent/world cinema and other various mediums of high art, but literature is one particular medium that is arguably the crown of all media in terms of academia.

Why should literature be the apex of all media? Is it because it’s the archetype of all medium? Literature had its fair share of controversy as much as cinema, to the point where it helped liberalized publishing in the United States. Although the study of cinema is at a fetal stage compare to literature, there is large growing community in film appreciation. As students develop their keen sense of perception through reading works of literature, they should be allowed to study film from the academic perspective. It develops their mind to become a profound thinker and penetrate the intricacy of cinema, to the same effect that literature has done for great minds.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Daniel,

    One thing you do a good job is establishing a MOTIVE (Harvey’s term), or intellectual context for your writing, right from the beginning. That’s clear when you discuss some of the purpose of narrative as well as when you specifically discuss the QC students and how that gives your presentation tangible motive. It seems, though, that you start to change your motive around the 3rd and especially 4th paragraph, where your STANCE switches to a more critical one rather than the unbiased point of view you began with.

    One thing you don’t do, though, is give your readers a sense of STRUCTURE in this opening paragraph. So, when we start on paragraph 2, we’re still trying to figure out our way, and don’t yet have a sense of what direction you want us to take. (even something basic like: “is this a similarity or a difference?”). I like that you give specific examples to help more sharply explain to your readers, although I wonder if in doing so you’re not sacrificing your structure? For example, how does the third paragraph help develop or complicate your essay’s structure? Or, in general, why is it important that the paragraphs are in the order they are in (how do they link or transition between each other)?

    (also–your charts are awesome! I especially liked the one with variable size circles to represent the amount of imaginative leeway readers/spectators are given.)

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