Friday, June 01, 2012

Human Development and Film 2

Conflicts and Polarities

William Blake: An illustration for Dante's Inferno
In arguing that film may allow us to understand these central issues around human development, I wish to borrow a framework from William Blake in order to get a handle on our subject.  The following thoughts are going to be divided into two complementary sections along Blakean lines, namely, Little Boy/Girl Lost (Conflict) and Little Boy/Girl Found (Resolution of Conflict).  While I am conscious that Blake moved these poems around somewhat between the two sections of his beautifully illustrated work Songs of Innocence and Experience, what I wish to point out here is how film on the one hand can deal with human nature at its most fragmented or fractured (our metaphorical lost-ness) and also at its most positive and most healing (our metaphorical found-ness), I also argue that reality exists somewhere in an opposition between these two poles or extremes – in short, in a sort of healthy tension.
A Note on the Role of the Director

In law, film is treated as a work of art, and the auteur (in this case, the Director) as the creator of the film, is recognized as the original copyright holder. In fact, under European Union law, the film director is considered the author or one of the authors of a film, largely as a result of the influence of auteur theory. Andrew Sarris[1], the film critic who introduced the term and indeed theory of the “auteur” maintained that only after viewing all the films of a particular director can a critic make an evaluation.  In other words, the directors of films are looked upon as auteurs or writers in their own right who bring something distinctively new to the viewing public in the film genre that is not in any of the other genres of the creative arts.  Yet, as the Swedish director, writer and producer Ingmar Bergman (2005, p. 231) puts it: “film is not the same as literature. As often as not the character and substance of the two forms are in conflict.” [2]

[1] Sarris introduced the auteur policy into North American film in a 1962 essay in Film Culture, No. 27, Winter, 1962-63.  See Buckland, W. (2008), p. 82.

[2] In the same article Bergman continues, “What it really depends on is hard to define, but it probably has to do with the self-responsive process.  The written word is read and assimilated by a conscious act and in connection with the intellect, and little by little it plays on the imagination and feelings... When we see a film in the cinema we are conscious that an illusion has been prepared for us and we relax and accept it with our will and intellect... The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings without touching the mind.” (Ibid., p. 231)

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