In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

L ’E sprit C r é a t e u r Richard Abel’s excellently researched “ Exploring the Discursive Field of the Surrealist Film Scenario Text” considers the value of such works as literary texts published during the twenties and thirties. Peter Christensen analyzes with felicity “ Benjamin Fondane’s Scenarii intournables,’’ comparing this little known work with other avant-garde films and scenarios of the 1920’s. In his searching essay David Wills’ “ Split Screen” focuses on dream and the unconscious as these intersect with cinema and Surrealism in the works of Desnos. Inez Hedges’ most informative essay adds another dimension to an already fasci­ nating subject: Robert Desnos’ and Man Ray’s five minute film, L ’Etoile de Mer. Any additional information on the subject of Dali’s and Bunuel’s contributions to the film field, as given by Haim Finkelstein and Stuart Liebman in their separate but equally perceptive essays, is always welcome. In “ Between the Sign of the Scorpion and the Sign of the Cross: L ’Age d ’or,” Allan Weiss adds a provocative note, suggesting the Surrealist’s intent of sublimating and challenging the negative effects of perversion. Sandy Flitterman-Lewis on Dulac and Artaud, Tom Conley on the documentary Land without Bread, and Linda Williams’ “ The Critical Grasp: Bunuelian Cinema and Its Critics” also fill lacunae in this most important volume, which I recommend to scholars in the field and to libraries in general. The lack of an index, however, is most regrettable. B ettina L. K napp Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY Peter Brunette & David Wilts. S cr e en / P lay: D errida a n d F ilm T heory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. Pp. xi + 210. $37.50 cloth; $12.95 paper. It was perhaps inevitable, and certainly desirable, following upon the great success of the application of Lacan to cinema, that film critics would explore the relevance of other theorists to their object of study. Screen/Play makes a significant contribution to this process by delineating a specifically Derridean approach to the field. The authors stress the preliminary nature of their work, which is offered as an introduc­ tion to a new area of research. Recognizing the agonistic dimension of academic argument, they anticipate possible objections to their initiative while speculating on the rationale for the resistance to a deconstructive film criticism. This resistance is due to the failure to understand the political dimension of deconstruction, which, however much it differs from hermeneutic methods, is still within the tradition of critique (including a commitment to the Enlightenment metanarrative of emancipation). Much of the book is devoted to this foun­ dational strategy, positioning Derrida in relation to feminist and ideological versions of critique in a way that is generalizable beyond the specialized interests of film studies. The ambitions of the book are deliberately modest, in no way promising a “ method.” Instead, Brunette and Wills identify certain key “ concepts” or moments in Derrida’s theory and in his experiments in writing, and suggest how they might be applied to the dis­ course of cinema studies. The procedure is to extrapolate from the deconstructive problematizing of the classification system of Western philosophy and science as such, to the disciplinary operations of cinema studies. The “ realism” that has been the object of so much film criticism is shown to be operating as well in the science of the discipline itself. Not confining themselves to showing how the specific assumptions of film studies are subject to the same challenges deconstruction posed to Western science in general, the authors demonstrate in a series of chapters the useful leverage that such Derridean practices as anagrammatic word-play, mise en abyme frame experiments, and use of models (the postcard) provide for treating the particulars of film theory. Adding to this positive critique 112 S u m m e r 1990 Book Reviews (demonstrating an alternative to current practices) are the several suggestions the authors make regarding topics for future research. Whatever the interest might be of the two sam­ ple readings offered here (Brunette on Truffaut’s [“ true//awr” ] The Bride Wore Black, and Wills on Lynch’s Blue Velvet), the implication is that deconstruction in film studies...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 112-113
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.