Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 8/12

Based on my advocacy of watching films in the stacks at Memorial Library, it should be apparent that I think a film is a film, whether you’re seeing it on a silver screen, an IMAX screen, a laptop screen, a 9-inch TV screen, an HD TV, or even a crisp white sheet hanging from the ceiling. However, reconciling this belief that “a film is a film” with my personal cinephilia  has always been tricky. There are so many arguments concerning the ‘proper’ way to watch a film, and it leads me to wonder: Is there such a thing as a ‘right’ way to see a film? At what point does a cinematic experience become something else? Is watching a film always a cinematic experience, regardless of the technological medium you’re using to facilitate that experience? Moreover, what happens to a film designed for the big screen when it’s viewed on the little screen?

Well, I’m far from the first person to ask these questions. Case in point: this quotation, from Serge Daney’s essay “From the Large to the Small Screen” (the title is relatively self-explanatory), in which Daney asks a few preliminary questions that might be useful in an investigation of both the cinematic experience and cinematic achievement across multiple mediums. I wonder what Daney would’ve made of what I did at Memorial Library just this afternoon, or of cinephilia in the internet age in general.

“We are tempted to ask those who systematically denigrate cinema as it comes across on television, the following question: do you miss the film or the fact of going to the movies? In the latter case, raise your voice so that films may be made once more—real films—that will require large halls (but do not be too surprised if such films are mostly American and if there are good reasons for French cinema not being able to deliver on such a large scale). But if it is the film that counts and the film was already a work of genius in a hall, ask yourself if this genius is so volatile that it disappears with the mere change of medium. Chances are rather stronger, perhaps, that the word ‘genius’ has been used lightly.” (Serge Daney, “From the Large to the Small Screen”)

Readers, if you’re out there: is there such a thing as a ‘right’ way to watch a film, and why?

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One Response to “Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 8/12”

  1. Brian Says:

    and I suppose, in the mass-market age we live in today, a painting or sculpture whose genius is not evident in a reproduction or photograph, has likewise had the word ‘genius’ applied too lightly.

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