Sunday, September 25, 2005

The author is not dead, just tired.

In last weeks lecture there was much exploration of extra-texts on DVDs. I find it puzzling that these tend to be explanations of what is happening in the movie in terms of both plot and SFX. In vaudeville where movies were first shown (as described in the lecture) the stage magician was the SFX master of the time. While he might explain some of his tricks in books the big magics were kept as a mystery. Understandable as his living depended on them.
I know that I used to love stage magicians and wanted to understand their tricks but I always felt really disappointed when I found out how the trick worked, maybe that's another reason why they never explained them.

On the other hand, for some reason, understanding the magic of the cinema has never disappointed. Knowing how it worked just seemed to add to the awe I felt when finding out what happened behind the curtain. That the Wizards of Oz wanted to be applauded for their cleverness is relevant even more today as their job is more and more to make magical worlds transparently realistic.

But it may be more than this. They do not want to be misunderstood? Perhaps they fear what used to happen to witches in the 17th century (or possibly in fundamentalist America today) and want to be really clear that it is not magic. As I understand it from the lecture is ia as much that they just want to provide their own deep structure for what is happening in the movie. This seems to be a defence against what is I think the post-modernist belief that there are many equally valid interpretations for a text. They are trying to wrest back control of their creations. “The author is not dead” is their cry.


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