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December 11th, 2010

What Is Real, Anyway?

Posted by kwildermuth in

            Kracauer’s view on film is divided into two properties, basic and technical.  Basic properties follow much like photography.  Technical properties involves editing.  Film to him is equipped to reveal and record physical reality, or at least gravitate towards it.  He’s concerned with real reality – the world we live in.  Editing then serves to establish a meaning of this reality.

                 Films go beyond photography in two simplistic manners to Kracauer.  First, they picture movement and “subjective” movement, what the audience interprets through editing and cutting. The film maker is obligated to “stage” the actions and surroundings.  Although we must question, is this reality? Can reality be staged so accurately that the camera-eye doesn’t detect any difference between the original and the copy? Physical reality tends to put film in a “straight jacket.”  It’s questionable what is real and not real on screen.

            Kracauer thinks we all must look beyond what we see on the screen.  Even the most creative film maker is not as dependent on nature and doesn’t use “reality” as he is filming.  The filmmaker in a sense is more concerned with letting nature penetrate what’s on the camera.  Films are deeply steeped into CAMERA-life.  The camera adds aspects of physical reality with a certain twist to make us view them.  It constructs our view of reality by editing devices to deliver the message.

            Bazin, unlike Kracauer, thinks the image of the world is framed automatically, without the interference of the camera.  The cinema to Bazin is replaced by the world’s double.  However, he was well aware of the construction of creating the “realistic” image.  Bazin believes the film camera is accepting reality.  There is truth and real behind what we see on screen.  We are able to see a fuller picture of reality in a sense by the use of long-takes and minimal cutting.

             Bazin believes montage is manipulative. The use of montage can also be “invisible.”  For a film to be considered realistic, it must be artistic.  Bazin discusses a stronger approach to artistic use in film.  The filmmaker is no longer competing with the painter, they are in fact equal to each other.  Unlike Kracauer, Bazin emphasized the way films re-present reality rather than manipulate it through elaborate cutting.  Photography is finally explained as the very essence of our obsession with realism.  The nature of photography survives in film.

            Kracauer was more concerned with creativity which creates reality.  The creativity found in editing and constructing a film. Bazin was more focused on the artist.  What exactly is art on the screen? According to Bazin, a photograph allows us to admire in reproduction, something our eyes could not have taught us to love alone.  Photography  (art) produces something that is real in nature.  Each theorist has a different view of realism used in cinema.

            In my opinion, Kracauer’s argument seems more applicable to contemporary American films.  Film continues along the lines of photography but is in fact very different.  There are properties we must consider and the background knowledge of what takes place in creating a film.  Not all films are artistic and incorporate physical reality.  The filmmaker thinks of how the film is to be portrayed before in fact filming.  More American films today are inspiring and trying to – portray – reality on the screen.  There’s the use of green screens, fantasy films and special effects which take away from what is real.  The term art is misleading.  Bazin’s argument seems to be more linked to stage plays, not cinema.  For stage plays, what you see is what you get – something artistic.  Although we can argue artistic use in film is still used.  Hence, operas, ballets, and the like. 

            The most recent film I’ve watched is 28 Days Later.  This film is in fact not real.  It would follow the use of Kracauer’s ideas about Realism.  The film is trying to produce reality on the screen, but is in fact not.  There are many gory, blood scenes which don’t take place in real life.  The use of cutting shots and dramatic effects take away from the “artistic” real life, photographic view of real life.  There is no truth behind this film except for the pure pleasure of entertainment and what the director wants to imagine.

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