Engaging the Moving Image
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Noel Carroll, film philosopher, has gathered in this book 18 of his most recent essays on cinema and television - what Carroll calls moving images. The essays discuss topics in philosophy, film theory, and film criticism. Drawing on concepts from cognitive psychology and analytic philosophy, Carroll examines a wide range of topics. These include film attention, the emotional address of the moving image, film and racism, the nature and epistemology of documentary film, the moral status of television, the concept of film style, the foundations of film evaluation, the film theory of Siegfried Kracauer, the ideology of the professional western, and films by Sergei Eisenstein and Yvonne Rainer. Carroll also assesses the state of contemporary film theory and speculates on its prospects. The book continues many of the themes of Carroll's earlier work, Theorizing the Moving Image, and develops them in new directions. A general introduction by George Wilson situates Carroll's essays in relation to his view of moving-image studies.
Communication The right standpoint on the action is delivered automatically to the viewer in film. That is why, I submit, film viewing seems to involve less effort than theater viewing. It is also why films may strike viewers with little experience of live theater as more readily intelligible than theater, inasmuch as each cinematic moment is such that it shows in bold relief what is necessary to see in order to follow the story. In one of the earliest treatises on the cinema—The Film: A
outcomes one would, in a certain sense, prefer to obtain in the world of the fiction versus those she would prefer not to obtain. In some cases, the preferred course of events correlates with the express goals and plans of the protagonists of the story; what they want to happen—say, delivering lifesaving medical supplies—is what the audience wants to happen. However, in a great many other cases, the film may proffer preferred outcomes independently of the express goals and plans of any of the
evident. If melodramatic tearjerkers can be said uncontroversially to be aimed at eliciting pity from spectators, little argument seems required to establish that horror films are designed to provoke fear. Harmfulness, of course, is the criterion for fear. Thus, the depictions and descriptions in horror films are criterially prefocused to make the prospects for harm salient in the world of the fiction. The relevant harms here take the form of threats—generally lethal threats—to the protagonists
verbal jokes identifying blacks with simians of various sorts, including a parodic “definition” that states outright that blacks are apes. In addition, the Web site includes a cartoon that shows a black man with wild hair all over his face and arms, a simian facial structure (most notably around his mouth), and his left hand bent backward like a monkey’s.32 The text that accompanies this caricature begins “Coon, coon/Black Baboon,” leaving no doubt as to how we are to interpret the distortions
competing categorizations. Where does this leave us? First, it lends support to our conviction that there are objective grounds for categorizing films one way rather than another. Thus, if the objective evaluation of films depends upon our ability to categorize films correctly, then we have shown that this requirement can be met sometimes, if not often. Moreover, if we possess the wherewithal to categorize films correctly—and to defend certain categorizations over others—then we have the means to