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Movies in art and life
by Eos3011 on January 21, 2009What it the relation of art and life? Let’s go to the movies! Stephen Prince in Movies and Meaning, Second Edition, shows us how to answer our questions to coordinate imagination and understanding. Movies are a form of performing art. Prince’s mastery of scope and depth in movies will enable us to answer our questions with continuity in a mesh of “Narrative Structure: Story and Plot.”
Leibniz assures us that this world is “the best of all possible worlds.“ Is it so? Voltaire gave us his negative reply in a fictive caricature of Leibniz in the persona of Dr. Pangloss whose naïve and faithful student Candide learned otherwise. Of course, Leibniz was no fool. Let us use the revealed wit of Stephen Prince to show us a better way through life and art.
Continuity is our core concept. Henri Bergson urged Bertrand Russell to consider cinema as an example of duration, a form of continuity. Let us see how Prince handles continuity in cinema. He says, “Story designates the larger set of events of which the plot is a subset.” Continuity in the plot as a sequence of coherent takes or shots supports continuity in the story line. Editing takes in episodes recorded is conducted with a style seen as “continuity editing.” This editing has “The Principles of Continuity Editing: (1) A Continuous Flow of Action; (2) Matching to the Master Shot; (3) The Eyeline Match; (4) The 180-Degree Rule.” Elements of the movie as shown are a sequence of images, but what the audience perceives has continuity. “What viewers experience, however, is the impression of a smoothly flowing unbroken stream of imagery in which the story and the characters come convincingly to life.”
In life as in the movies as cinematic art we need continuity and freedom. The concepts ‘continuity’ and ‘freedom’ must be coordinated in practice, or in both life and art we end in a “tale told by an idiot.” In his book, Stephen Prince has met a challenge of coherence smartly. In his work meaning is no joke.
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