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

BOOK REVIEWS 535 eluded. Have Straussians proved that there is no higher human knowledge than philosophy? One hopes that they will meet their critics, because Stmussians are deeply serious men and women, and we can all learn from their mentor. Hillsdale, College Hillsdale, Michigan D. T. ASSELIN Philosophical Problems of Classical Film Theory. By NOEL CARROLL. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988. Pp. 268. This book is a provocative, clearly written, and carefully argued presentation of a philosophical critique of traditional film criticism. If film is taken as a serious art form, one which can stand alongside of music, painting, theatre, and literature, then Carroll's book is a good example of the type of philosophical study that is needed. Assistant professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University, Carroll knows the world of film well and attacks with vigor what he takes to be erroneous in traditional film criticism. His three targets are the film theories of Rudolf Arnheim, Andre Bazin, and V. F. Perkins. It would be difficult to overemphasize the influence of Arnheim and Bazin on the history of the aesthetics of film: each man is a giant in the history of theorizing about film. Though much less influential, Perkins does present an mteresting view of film. Philosophical Problems of Classical Film Theory consists of an introduction , three central chapters, and a conclusion. Each of the three chapters is devoted to one of the film theorists, and each chapter begins with an explanation of the theory being discussed. In trying to present the theory in its strongest form, Carroll includes a detailed discussion of its historical setting, and this makes its contextual importance clear. But most of each chapter is devoted to criticism of the theory iii question. Thinking of film theories as a series of answers to abstract questions, Carroll suggests that Arnheim, Bazin, and Perkins address the same central questions and expect the answers to these questions to be related logically in the same way. Carroll lists three questions that he thinks suggest a similar structure in the three theories he is studying: " What is the determinant or special feature of film? What is the value or role of cinema? What are the processes of articulation in film in relation to the previous two answers? " Concerning the answers to these questions Carroll writes 586 BOOK REVIEWS Most classical film theories-including those of Amheim, Bazin, and Perkins-relate answers to the three basic questions in the following way: the determinant characteristic stands to the role of cinema as a means to an end, while the articulatory processes are assessed as instances of the determinant characteristic of cinema (pp. 14-15) . Arnheim represents an early type of film theorizing which Carroll names the silent-film paradigm. Those who embrace this approach, and Carroll would include the Soviet montagists of the twenties such as Sergei Eisenstein, insist that film is not merely a record of reality but rather manipulates reality expressively. Though Arnheim wrote after sound had entered film, he disdained talkies and looked back to silent film to discover the paradigm of film. Carroll's treatment of Arnheim relies on the latter's 1957 Film As Art, which is a condensed version of his 1933 book Film. The 1957 condensation can he considered the authoritative articulation of Arnheim's position. The prejudice against cinema in its early days derived from the fact that a major constituent of film was photography. Many felt that photography could not be an art form because it was merely a copying process. Arnheim's theory can be called creationist because he successfully showed how cinema could be creative in capturing and re-presenting reality. Arnheim showed that film transcends the simple viewpoint that simple recording implies. Carroll summarizes Arnheim's view: In summary, Arnheim holds that one role of filmmaking-the one that concerns him-is art. He also contends that the determinant characteristics of the medium-those relevant to the purpose of art makingare the various ways that the medium diverges from the mechanical duplication of reality, and finally, Arnheim spends the bulk of Film As Art on lengthy examinations of the various modes of cinematic articulalation , in order to demonstrate...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 535-538
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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.