sentation and communication. We already have a fair knowledge of how
people communicate non-fictionally using language. So how is it that
motion pictures can be used constatively by people to pass on ideas and
(mis)information to one another? What follows is a model for one possible response to this question. It is essentially tentative and ultimately
only partial. It promises not so much to resolve the puzzles at hand as to
announce a new topic of research: the role of agency, rationality, and
practical reasoning in non-fictional cinematic communication.
The sorts of motion pictures I have in mind may be live transmissions as
well as works recorded on film, video, CD-ROM, or some other medium. They
can be of any appreciable length, on any topic. As far as I am presently concerned, unedited and unviewed convenience store surveillance camera footage,
an animated TV commercial for allergy medication, and some of the poetic works
of Chris Marker can all have one thing in common: their status as non-fiction. Notice that I am not at all fussy about whether or not the motion picture in question
consists entirely or mostly of photographically produced, instead of digital or
hand drawn, images. I should also note that from time to time I will use the term
"documentary" as a substitute for "non-fiction motion picture." I am aware that
documentary can be, and in some discursive contexts should be, reserved to refer
to a specific sub-category of non-fiction. But here I wish to take advantage of its
popular use as a synonym for non-fictional cinematic representation in general.
See John Graham, There Are No Simple Solutions: Wiseman on Filmmaking and Viewing," in Frederick Wiseman, ed.
Thomas Atkins ( New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1976), 36.
Quoted in G. Roy Levin, "Wiseman", in Documentary Explorations: 15 Interviews with Filmmakers, ed.
G. Roy Levin ( New York: Doubleday, 1971), 318.
Noël Carroll, Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Contemporary Film Theory ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 234.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: What Is Non-Fiction Cinema?On the Very Idea of Motion Picture Communication.
Contributors: Trevor Ponech - Author.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 7.
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