What Is Non-Fiction Cinema? On the Very Idea of Motion Picture Communication

By Trevor Ponech | Go to book overview

To talk about a special slice of a documentary's external significance, its content, in terms of situations captures some of the complexity of the cinematic constative's meaning. Although leaving reality well within the scope of motion picture representation, to talk of situations allows for meaning without associating it exclusively with reference to reality, and it licenses an anything goes approach to content without depriving us of a cogent description of what non-fictions represent. Consequently, even if they never have lived in Bluff Creek, Sasquatches now can be located on a map of non-fiction's native semantic turf.


Notes
1.
The citations are from: Gregory Currie, Image and Mind: Film, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 13; G. Roy Levin, "Introduction", in Documentary Explorations: 15 Interviews with Filmmakers, ed. G. Roy Levin ( New York: Doubleday, 1971), 4; Lewis Jacobs, "Introduction", in The Documentary Tradition, ed. Lewis Jacobs, 2d ed. ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1979), 2; Dziga Vertov, "The Essence of Kino-Eye", in Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov, ed. Annette Michelson, trans. Kevin O'Brien ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 49-50; Noel Carroll, "From Real to Reel: Entangled in the Nonfiction Film", Philosophic Exchange 14 ( 1983): 17; Forsyth Hardy, "Introduction", in Grierson on Documentary, ed. cont, 2d rev. ed. ( London: Faber and Faber, 1979), 13; John Grierson, "First Principles of Documentary", in Hardy, G rierson on Documentary, 148; Richard Meran Barsam, "American Direct Cinema: The Representation of Reality", Persistence of Vision 3/4 (1986): 131; Carl Plantinga, Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 84; Michael Renov , "Toward a Poetics of Documentary", in Theorizing Documentary, ed. Michael Renov ( New York: Routledge, 1993), 25; Jean-Louis Comolli, quoted in Realism in the Cinema, ed. Christopher Williams ( London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), 226-227; William Guynn, A Cinema of Nonfiction ( Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1990), 41; Bill Nichols, Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 110.
2.
Plantinga, Rhetoric and Representation in Nonfiction Film, 16-17, 84-86.
3.
Nichols, Representing Reality, 115.
4.
In Big Footprints: An Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch ( Boulder: Johnson Books, 1992), the cryptozoologist Grover Krantz performs a frame-by-frame analysis of the Patterson footage in an effort to prove its authenticity. To learn more about Sasquatch, consult Russel Ciochon, John Olsen, and Jamie James, Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory ( New York: Bantam, 1990); David George Gordon, Field Guide to the Sasquatch ( Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1992); and John Green classic, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us ( Seattle: Hancock House, 1978). With courteous regard to cryptozoologists, I note that to say we do not currently have adequate reason to believe in Bigfoot's existence is not the same as claiming that we will never have grounds to hold this belief. Maybe new and probative evidence will be uncovered one day, in which case the authenticity of Patterson's film should be reexamined. Or maybe such creatures

-95-

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