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THE COMPAKATIST "DIRECTING" THE READER: KHODASEVICH'S "SORRENTO PHOTOGRAPHS' AND MONTAGE Jason Brooks Each performance in the theater is unique. Actors have the leeway to adapt to the audience or to make adjustments from one night to the next; there is room for unexpected error; indeed, the actress who plays Ophelia one night may no longer be playing the role a week later. Not so in motion pictures. The final product as viewed in the movie theater is unchanging. The director of the film provides the moviegoer with a singular version of the work: actors were directed; editing and special effects were completed before the sprocket hits the perf; adjustment from night to night is impossible. This unchanging quality of a film coupled with the passive role of the viewer creates a strange dynamic between spectator and spectacle. Spectators do have a level of freedom when watching a film, since all texts have a surplus ofmeaning that effectively allows a viewer play, yet certain filmic techniques limit the audience's range of play within a film-text.1 The great Russian director and film theorist, Vsevolod Pudovkin, for example, believed in a filmmaker's power to manipulate, control, direct his audience, forcing them to specific, conceptual conclusions. According to Pudovkin, the spectator sees only that which the director chooses to show him, and thus is at the conceptual mercy of the filmmaker. The film director keeps his audience in this vulnerable, impressionable position ofpassivity through the use ofvarious filmic structures and stylistics. Scene composition, lighting, sound, close-ups, and the use ofpeculiar film-stock are some of the many tools a filmmaker may use to influence and focus the spectator's attention. Chiefamong a director's repertoire is montage, the highly coercive formal element of filmdescribed by Bazin as the "abstract creator of meaning" (45). In his article, "On Montage," Pudovkin asserts that montage delineates the director's general cultural level which allows him, not only to know, but also to understand life correctly. It also delineates his ability to observe life, to evaluate his observations, and to think about them independently. Finally, it delineates his artistic talent by means ofwhich he converts inner hidden relationships, which can be clearly seen and immediately perceived without explanations (Dart 165).2 Because the director, via film's formal elements, exercises what Pudovkin called a "despotic" control over the spectator, it is essential to consider the effect that such an influential medium can have, not only on the viewers but on other forms ofcultural and artistic expression that intersect and come into contact with film. Clearly, for European poets of the modern period, film was a prevalent and influential medium. Film in some ways is a metonym for modVoI . 28 (200V: 39 "SOKKENTO PHOTOQKAPHS" ano MONTAQE ernism, and the move from static to motion images came to define much of this period. With this in mind, the present essay explores the merging offilmic and poetic techniques in Vladislav Khodasevich's poem, "Sorrento Photographs" ("CoppeirraHCKHe cpOTorpadiHH"). Illustrating the use of the motion picture technique of montage in Khodasevich's text as a means ofdirecting the reader to specific conclusions, the following argument leans heavily on the film theory of Vsevolod Pudovkin, who, as seen above, placed great power over a viewer in the director's hands. Emphasizing Khodasevich's use ofmontage, his juxtaposing of multiple, disparate images in different lines and stanzas, this discussion must also consider the generic and media constraints on a poetic text, as well as how poets can incorporate filmic structure and style into their work. Ultimately , we must address the question: to what extent can a poetic system allow for the integration ofvarious media? Therefore, what is the evolutionary potential of the systematically conservative art of poetry? Clearly this essay is too limited in scope to answer these questions outright; however after a close analysis ofKhodasevich's poem through the lens offilmic style, this essay will at least suggest an answer to such questions ofgenre and interdisciplinary borrowing. To this end, my theoretical discussion uses Roman Jakobson's theory ofintersemiotic translation as a starting block for an "intersemiotic adaptation of systems."3 Thus, the present paper reads in parts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 39-51
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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