Engaging the Moving Image

Engaging the Moving Image

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0300091958

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Noel Carroll, film philosopher, has gathered in this book 18 of his most recent essays on cinema and television - what Carroll calls moving images. The essays discuss topics in philosophy, film theory, and film criticism. Drawing on concepts from cognitive psychology and analytic philosophy, Carroll examines a wide range of topics. These include film attention, the emotional address of the moving image, film and racism, the nature and epistemology of documentary film, the moral status of television, the concept of film style, the foundations of film evaluation, the film theory of Siegfried Kracauer, the ideology of the professional western, and films by Sergei Eisenstein and Yvonne Rainer. Carroll also assesses the state of contemporary film theory and speculates on its prospects. The book continues many of the themes of Carroll's earlier work, Theorizing the Moving Image, and develops them in new directions. A general introduction by George Wilson situates Carroll's essays in relation to his view of moving-image studies.

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communication. But even this claim raises some questions. For if film is a major form of international communication, then one wants to know what is it about film—or the ensemble of formal and technical devices associated historically with film—that makes it suitable to perform this function. What enables it to serve the purposes of global communication as expeditiously as it does? Attempting to answer these questions is the topic of the rest of this essay. IS FILM A LANGUAGE? Perhaps the

surroundings.”3 Again, this is not the position that Carroll defends, but various similarities and contrasts would be enlightening to explore. In my opinion, Carroll’s formulations and arguments constitute a considerable advance in clarity and plausibility, but it is a position that has suggestive historical antecedents. Finally, thesis  is a rather natural extension of , and Carroll defends both theses with ingenuity, originality, and verve. My point, once again, is that, as we try to assess

made to implement purposes not germane to other films by the director in question, they may not recur in other works of the filmmaker. For example, in Sunset Blvd., Billy Wilder opts for interior shots of Norma Desmond’s mansion that emphasize not only that it is large, but empty, at least in the sense of being bereft of people. Its emptiness, of course, underscores that Norma is isolated, that she is alone, with almost no one around her. The world has passed Norma Desmond by. Wilder’s stylistic

has done, like Arnheim, Kracauer, and Bazin before him, has been to mistake an essential (or fundamental) feature of a specific practice for the essence of cinema as a whole. That is, Perkins’s preference for a certain kind of filmmaking has biased his account of the nature of, as he himself calls it, film as film. One of the greatest promises of classical film theory was that it would solve the problem of the correct category. For, if we could make a classical film theory work, we would have the

competing categorizations. Where does this leave us? First, it lends support to our conviction that there are objective grounds for categorizing films one way rather than another. Thus, if the objective evaluation of films depends upon our ability to categorize films correctly, then we have shown that this requirement can be met sometimes, if not often. Moreover, if we possess the wherewithal to categorize films correctly—and to defend certain categorizations over others—then we have the means to

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