Sunday, November 08, 2009

"I cannot remember a more misleading statement than Mr Eric Russell Bentley’s in the Spring Number of the Kenyon Review, 1945: ‘The potentialities of the talking screen differ from those of the silent screen in adding the dimension of dialogue—which could be poetry.’ I would suggest: ‘The potentialities of the talking screen differ from those of the silent screen in integrating visible movement with dialogue which, therefore, had better not be poetry.' "

Erwin Panofsky, Style and Medium in the Motion Pictures
And earlier in the same essay
"Today there is no denying that narrative films are not only 'art'—not often good art, to be sure, but this applies to other media aswell—but also, besides architecture, cartooning and 'commercial design,' the only visual art entirely alive...

In the beginning, then, there were the straight recordings of movement no matter what moved, viz., the prehistoric ancestorsof our 'documentaries'; and, soon after, the early narratives, viz.,the prehistoric ancestors of our 'feature films.' The craving for a narrative element could be satisfied only by borrowing from older arts, and one should expect that the natural thing would have been, to borrow from the theater, a theater play being apparently the genus proximum to a narrative film in that it consists of a narrative enacted by persons that move. But in reality the imitation of stage performances was a comparatively late and thoroughly frustrated development. What happened at the start was a very different thing. Instead of imitating a theatrical performance already endowed with a certain amount of motion, the earliest films added movement to works of art originally stationary, so that the dazzling technical invention might achieve a triumph of its own without in-truding upon the sphere of higher culture. The living language,which is always right, has endorsed this sensible choice when it still speaks of a 'moving picture' or, simply, a 'picture,' instead of accepting the pretentious and fundamentally erroneous 'screenplay.' "
Brilliant, brilliant, man.

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