Mass Communication: Principles and Practices

By Mary B. Cassata; Molefi K. Asante | Go to book overview

Chapter 8 Film: An International Medium

Since the best way to get to the core of a form is to study its effects in some unfamiliar setting, let us note what President Sukarno of Indonesia announced in 1956 to a large group of Hollywood executives. He said he regarded them as political radicals and revolutionaries who had greatly hastened political change in the East. What the Orient saw in a Hollywood movie was a world in which all the ordinary people had cars and electronic stoves and refrigerators. So the Oriental now regards himself as an ordinary person who has been deprived of the ordinary man's birthright. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, p. 294

Film is a series of images existing with or without sound that can be stored in a flexible celluloid base. Breitrose distingushes film from film recordings.1 Film recordings utilize the medium to continuously record an ongoing event from the same point of view. Thus monitoring persons in a department store or bank with a camera would not be considered film. Film attempts to show relationships, angles, and a variety of viewpoints.

The use of film as a communication instrument has become a regular part of contemporary society. Human beings have stored as much information on films in the last 50 years as could be contained in all the books in the world prior to 1850. Furthermore, the detail of information contained in film is more precise than most authors could ever write. Yet film's precision does not make a perfect instrument of com-

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1
Henry Breitrose, "Film as Communication" Ithiel de Sola Pool and Wilbur Schramm (eds.), Handbook of Communication ( ChicagoM: Rand McNally, 1973), pp. 559-560.

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