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

By Trevor Ponech | Go to book overview

9
The Truth of Non-Fiction

To assert that P usually manifests belief or knowledge that P, which makes it generally appropriate to take an interest in the assertion's truth. Indeed, during communicative exchanges, there is often a burdensometimes a quite heavy burden -- on the interpreter to make a determination, at least tentatively, about whether the asserted content is probably true, or about what true beliefs might be derived from that content. If a friend tells you that there is a storm system coming, bringing a severe blizzard today, and you have not put snow tires on your car; or if your physician tells you that your test results are inconclusive, and that she now has doubts as to whether you are cured, what you will do next, and how you shall feel about it, depend on what you believe about how well a statement indicates how things really are. Interpreting cinematic constatives is like interpreting constatives in general. Usually the spectator has, to some extent, a cognitive or practical interest in whether or not they are accurate; and usually communicators have some interest in leading an audience to believe that the constative is true.

Often one makes top-of-the-head judgments about whether a representation is true or false, without much in the way of confirmation procedures and explicit reasoning; sometimes one merely assumes that there is some degree of truth preservation, as when watching the nightly news. Maybe reporters only ever report the lies that the ruling elite want them to report; but if the White House correspondent says that the president announced today that Oceania is our ally, one can be reasonably sure that the president really made that announcement. In other cases, what we know or believe about its relation to how things actually are or were in reality help us to decide if a work, such as JFK, is best classed as non-fiction. For these reasons, the question of the truth of non-fiction is integral to the topic of interpretation.

This final chapter examines the reasons we sometimes have for regarding cinematic constatives as true and as inputs to the spectator's acquisi

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • 1 - What is Non-Fiction Cinema? 8
  • Notes 36
  • 2 - Representation and Depiction 40
  • Notes 69
  • 3 - What About Reality? 73
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Plans for Non-Fiction 98
  • Notes 114
  • 5 - Planning for Content 116
  • Notes 140
  • 6 - Planning for Force 143
  • Notes 171
  • 7 - Perceptual Access to Cinematic Meaning 175
  • Notes 206
  • 8 - Aspects of Interpretation 213
  • Notes 242
  • 9 - The Truth of Non-Fiction 246
  • Notes 276
  • Works Cited 281
  • Index 293
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