Precious Bodily Fluids

“The Obviousness of Cinema,” – Rosalind Galt, 2008

Rosalind Galt, “The Obviousness of Cinema,” World Picture 2 (Autumn 2008).

Before publishing on the “pretty” (see previous post), Galt wrote this piece for the online journal World Picture on cinema’s “obviousness.” Iconoclasm plays another important piece here, with Galt proposing a rethink of cinema’s supposed obviousness. Since “the image deals in surfaces,” and cinema is about images, surface readings can be deceptive. So cinema ends up either being obvious, which entails shallowness and simplicity, or deceptive, in the event that what seems obvious in fact isn’t. Galt cites Bordwell’s argument that the classical Hollywood mode is actually more complex than anyone acknowledges. Galt notices the “defensive undertone” here, as well as an assumed “disjuncture between appearances and reality.” Codification complicates cinema’s alleged shallowness or obviousness, a move made by Metz in The Imaginary Signifier. Metz and Bellour argue that it is precisely the disjuncture between cinema’s apparent obviousness and its actual complexity where cinematic relevance thrives. Cinema’s obvious is, in a word, difficult. Galt makes additional references to the gendering of the image, its feminizing, and the way that the image (as with the woman) is said to be deceptive. Jean-Luc Nancy and Bazin get into the sacred nature of the image, though they mean different things by it. Bazin wants to strip away the image and get to the objectif, the actual thing that is an analogue of the real. So, in Bazin’s formulation, there seems to be a “material trace of the profilmic world” defined “by problems and potentials of obviousness.” There has been a shift, though, from a linguistic approach in film theory to a more philosophical one. Galt makes a final appeal or application to Claire Denis’s film L’Intrus (2004), an enigmatic film that, she suggests, “produces for the spectator an experience of cinematic obviousness… Denis’ images are precisely not realist, rational, or analytical: they exceed classical economy and clarity of meaning. …[They] are grounded in force, experience, the obviousness of what is not visible.”

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This entry was published on September 14, 2013 at 11:06 am. It’s filed under Article Summaries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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