The Real Image

The dominant view in Hollywood of the image — besides that the image sells and sells well — is that the image can attempt to convey the real. Movies are going to more and more elaborate measures not to extend the image into our lives but to extend the represented in the image into our lives. The surround sound, the 3D — it's meant to bring us closer to the experience of flying, being crushed, hurtling through space.

The mythology, as presented in studio brands — most conspicuously, perhaps, by Disney —, is that film brings you the world and fantasy is made real.

But this of course reveals a fundamental disdain of the image. It rests on the assumption that the image is in and of itself not real; it's a derivative of the real, a pointer, a stand in, a substitute.

The image is real — not because it represents something well but because it is an event in and of itself. An image is part of the fabric of experience, of perception. An image is a body — not because it approaches veracity but because it is its own mode of being in the world.

An image happens — right there, before our eyes. We experience it. Of course this experience enjoys a relationship to the thing represented in the image. But this relationship is not one of original and derivative, of real and copy. It's a relationship of two things, more or less related, playing in and on and with and through each other.

Now, to be fair, all that Hollywood high tech goofy ass nonsense is sometimes really cool and could be really, really cool. If only the technology were not deployed to represent but to create beautiful, live, real experiences unto themselves.

For instance, I'm watching Godard's A Woman is a Woman the other day. Throughout the film, Godard plays with image and sound — music starts, stops, street noise starts and stops, visual and sound do not match (or, rather, they match in odd ways). All this, amongst other things, makes of the image, of the film, an event happening right there on the screen, in the act of watching. It insists on itself as an event; it is not story telling or representing. It is happening.

Well, now take all that Hollywood pyrotechnics and give them to Godard. Or, rather, don't. But give it to someone who makes images, who respects images, give an image maker all those resources and let's see what they cook up. Let's watch them make life, not a story about life. Let's watch them make images.


pierre daud said...

just an idea about reality and representation of reality. Another aspect is the narrative aspects: biopics have been a popular craze since now several decades. Their purpose are not only Malcolm X, Howard Hugues, Coco Channel, Bob Dylan, but also the preexisted depiction of those people. It involves a step forward in the eludation of simple life show.

If you take chinese movie viwes and concubine, whose scenario look like a biopic but without famous name, the audience feels more the originality of the subject.

drwatson said...

We had this discussion about film in a pop culture class I was teaching. I remember arguing that the phrase "I didn't relate to that film" was on to something but not expressing that something very well. I don't relate to, say, the first Terminator at all, and I'm actually quite thankful for that, but I really like it.

The sentiment seems to be pointing towards an inability to be affected by a movie. I think the difference between being affected by and relating to the film is the difference between wanting "the real" and wanting a significant experience.

By the way, thanks for the Merleau-Ponty chapter. I really enjoyed the take on style. I'm going to read it again and then try to say something coherent about it.

pierre daud said...

hollywood. This godar movie is illustrated very much the idea of the post, but a movie from "why not" production (producteur of desplechin et jacques audiarà
e) is also very interesting: movies from podalydès brother.

Hope my post is pertinant in regards with the post on reality.


(and pleasure being something slow in the podalydes nbrother movies is so evident)

regards Professeur

I am contiuing learning rhetoric ten on i.tunesU. thx

i really try my post to be usefull usefull

Daniel Coffeen said...

Pierre — I love your posts and appreciate them enormously.....

Vlad said...

3D view, 3D sound, maybe it's just an extension of camera....or extension of a display.....

may be it's just easy to do?...a new camera was created that can shot in a HD, in 3D - and now let's all movies shot in HD and 3D :) maybe it's just easy to apply new technology on _every_ movie? other than extend the image?

Extend the representation and apply it to every movie is easy then extend an image of every movie? :)

Or it's a speed of movies...and to extend the image of a movie Hollywood should slow down a little bit? :)

Or it's just a some step...step in technology..that after some time every director will use 3D...(like when the 1st camera were invented, it was without a sound, and movies were silent, but after some time every movie become with sound etc..) :)