Time to Revisit Classical Film Theory

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79 (1):42-51 (2021)
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Film audiences are no longer in a position to know for certain which images, or features of images they see on the screen were created by photography and which were created in a computer. Yet they are reacting to the advent of computer graphics as if it is merely a technical improvement, not a change in the nature of film itself. This would mean that one of the most influential early theories of film—realism—is wrong. It held that film is by nature photographic and that its unique value is to afford the audience the physical connection with reality that photography, uniquely among pictorial media, brings. I argue that the audience is right about this. Even as applied to purely photographic films, realism was simply a mistake.



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Lester Hunt
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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References found in this work

The world viewed: reflections on the ontology of film.Stanley Cavell - 1971 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Photography and Representation.Roger Scruton - 1981 - Critical Inquiry 7 (3):577-603.
The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film.James Milton Highsmith & Stanley Cavell - 1972 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 31 (1):134.
Visible traces: Documentary and the contents of photographs.Gregory Currie - 1999 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57 (3):285-297.
Film as Art, 50th Anniversary Printing.Rudolf Arnheim - 1957 - University of California Press.

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