Dissertation Abstract



Cinema, Language, Reality:

Digitization And The Challenge To Film Theory


Mark Furstenau


Degree:           Ph.D.

Year:             2004

Pages:            00323

Institution:      McGill University (Canada); 0781

Advisor:          Adviser William Straw


Source:           DAI, 66, no. 01A (2004): p. 8

Standard No:      ISBN:             0-612-98256-4


Digital cinema has provoked a strong response over the last decade, not only from the movie-going public, but also from film theorists. It has re-opened basic theoretical questions about cinematic representations of and reference to reality.

          This thesis begins with a critical review of the vast theoretical literature dealing with the digitization of the cinema. Most theorists have come to the conclusion that the cinema is dead because digitization has severed the ties between what we see on the screen and real life. At root, this conclusion is derived from a structuralist, nominalist position prevalent in contemporary film theory.

          I argue, instead, that film theory needs to re-address the complex issue of the relationship between image and reality, rather than simply accepting the traditional view. In so doing, I follow Stanley Cavell's call for a more thorough consideration of realist traditions in film theory, the premise of which is an unquestioned relationship between representation and reality.

          The complexity and subtlety of that relationship has been addressed most systematically and fruitfully by Charles Saunders Peirce. Indeed, many structuralist theorists have made reference to Peirce in response to the shortcomings of a semiologically inflected film theory. In the second step of my argument, however, I show that structuralist theory has produced misleading conclusions, since a Peircian semiotics is incommensurable with the structuralist position. In fact, this implicit conflict has led theorists to doubt the real in the digital cinema, rather than investigating the logically necessary continuity of reality and representation, regardless of its technological kind.



Descriptor:       CINEMA

Accession No:     AAINQ98256

Provider:        OCLC

Database:         Dissertations