Philosophy and Film: Live Blogging

Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- 5:00 PM
Ken Taylor

I'm sitting in my study at home listening and thought I would get this blog back on track. Right now, a repeat episode of Philosophy Talk s about to air, even as I type. The episode is Philosophy and Film, with noted critic, David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. I thought that maybe a good way to get the show started would be to do a little bit of live blogging. I'll get it started by quoting our original blurb description of the show:

Film is a distinctive and distinctively powerful art form. Cinematic representations move us in ways that few others do. Film has also proven to be an outstanding vehicle for conveying philosophical ideas. John and Ken explore both the philosophy of film and philosophy within film with David Thomson, author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

Would be glad to know your thoughts about the show as it develops in the comments section. I'll try to keep the conversation going.

Join in.

Ken

Comments (7)


Ken Taylor's picture

Ken Taylor

Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

David Thomson just said, in passing, that we hav

David Thomson just said, in passing, that we have to be careful about using the word "art" in talking about film as a medium. He's explaining the difference between film and, say, theater. I don't remember why he made the remark about being cautious about the use of the term of art.

Ken Taylor's picture

Ken Taylor

Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

Ah it's because "our role" as spectators and obser

Ah it's because "our role" as spectators and observers is different from any other art form.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

I'm not sure our "role" as spectators and observer

I'm not sure our "role" as spectators and observers is that different from other art forms and would appreciate further clarification about why such a difference requires caution using the term art. Film seems to resemble theatre, but on an other level it's much like visual art, only the image appears to be kinetic, and in another way it is like music in that the editing lends creates a rhythmic component.

Ken Taylor's picture

Ken Taylor

Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

Hi Cweiss: Well the conversation has moved on.

Hi Cweiss:
Well the conversation has moved on. But he seemed to be making a couple of different points. One had to do with the fact that it isn't a "live" performance and that the actors aren't really "there" and could even be dead when we're watching it. It makes it a lot different from "performance arts" and more like painting in one way. But on the other hand it's not like painting because of its temporality.
His second point seemed to be is that film "externalizes" things that other arts -- like the novel -- can't. We didn't ask him exactly what he meant by the unfortunately.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

Where is the soul (or have it your way, the heart)

Where is the soul (or have it your way, the heart) of the film? Having pondered this for many years, I think the person with the final cut contributes the most to what is obviously a group effort. But that means that there have to be many "takes"; it doesn't work with a low budget film. Next the director, if it's a Hitchcock-type director who also spends most of his time storyboarding. Both director and cutter have to have a sense of how many seconds per scene, how many for changes of POV in a scene, and what I think of as the "relief" factor--you need to follow an intense scene with one that allows the audience to relax and catch its breath. In some movies, of course, the great actor takes over. Despite indifferent cutting and direction, "To Die For" is transcendently Nicole Kidman's. And Kate Nelligan "owned" the second half of "Eye of the Needle." Many of Cary Grant's films would be insignificant without him. (See my piece on Cary Grant, especially the counterfactual on how he would have improved other films): http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/books/06/38/cary_grant.html )
I've left out the writer, who in one sense is the most important, but only if he or she storyboards the film. Surely without the writer all the rest of the cast would be out of work (except for some recent movies which just seem to have been made up as they were filmed). Writers are a "but-for" cause, but if I had my choice, I'd take the final cut.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

I see that the "html" of my url (above) was cut of

I see that the "html" of my url (above) was cut off in the final posting (what's the preview for? It doesn't tell what the final post will look like)
The complete web address of the Senses in Cinema article is
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/books/06/38/cary_grant.html
Let's see if that works.

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, July 17, 2008 -- 5:00 PM

I'm glad there was a shout-out (from a caller, no

I'm glad there was a shout-out (from a caller, no less) to Au Hasard, Balthazar, which I keep telling people is the greatest film ever.

 

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