Issue 18_Nothing is more practical than a good theory. Genette goes to the movies / Rien n’est plus pratique qu’une bonne théorie. Genette va au cinéma

Edited by / Sous la direction de Valentina Re

Valentina Re, Introduction. Une approche « relationaliste »

This essay, which presents the special issue of Cinéma&Cie and discusses the reasons that led to it and its main aims, is divided into four parts. Starting from the relevance that Figures III has had in film studies, the first part focuses on its role in providing both a theoretical frame and singular tools to film analysis and discusses the particular nature of theoretical borrowings from Figures III as well as the ambivalence of Genette’s narratology towards cinema. However, even this strong interest in Figures III seems to be exhausted now. This, together with the general indifference of film studies to Genette’s last works (in the fields of narratology, poetics and aesthetics) is linked, in the second part of the essay, to a broader crisis concerning both literary and film theories and the notions of “cinema” and “film culture,” as they have been conceived in the 20th century. In the third part, it is the strict relationship between Genette’s poetics and aesthetics that is taken into account, in order to discuss how Genette’s notions of immanence and transcendence could be useful for understanding the socalled “post-cinema” landscape, as wells as contemporary urgent issues such as media and movie “piracy.” To conclude, the last part of the essay presents the main topics developed in the special issue, together with some other still open questions.

Alain Boillat, Stranger than Fiction: Métalepse  de Genette et quelques univers filmiques contemporains

This article discusses some reflections developed by Gérard Genette with respect to the filmic examples in Métalepse and tries to pursue the study of this figure within the framework of fiction theories by focusing on certain films released in the last decade. The article also shows how the study of metalepsis can be important in order to address contemporary movies presenting complex self-reflexive strategies. Furthermore, it gives account of the particular way in which Genette deals with cinema and suggests some other possible theoretical developments, considering in particular the theories about filmic enunciation. Finally, the paper discusses some problems concerning Genette’s idea of “diegesis” when it is applied to cinema and analyses the transgression of narrative levels in a voice-over film – in this case Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006), which provides a particularly interesting example in order to test some of Genette’s remarks.

Annie van den Oever, Mainstream Complexity. Nolan’s Inception  as a Case for (Amateur) Narratologists

At this point in time, popular media practices (mainstream cinema, television, gaming) provide surprisingly complicated multi-layered narrative structures. They urgently call for a closer analysis. The author revisits Genette’s theoretical work – in particular his reflections on metalepsis – to examine the narrative experiments now presented to viewers of mainstream cinema. What can we learn from Genette to understand these new forms of narration, their functions and the kind of experiences they create? What do they imply for our theories and theorizing on a broader level? Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) will be used as a case study in order to draw out some of the implications of these new developments – i.e., what Jason Mittell described as the production of films and television series for “amateur narratologists.”

Maria Poulaki, Self-reflexivity, Description, and the Boundaries of Narrative Cinema

This article proposes a bridge between an early and a late work of Gérard Genette, namely his article Frontières du récit and his collection of essays Fiction et diction. In Frontières du récit, Genette points at two instances of “anti-narrative” intrusion into narrative. The first is what Emile Benveniste called “discourse,” meaning the self-reflexive comments of the narrator, and the second is description, a mode of utterance that when found in a narrative, temporarily withholds the flow of the story. In the context of the proliferation of these instances in current narrative films and in the light of Genette’s observations in Fiction et diction, I will suggest that these anti-narrative elements provide us with a chance to fundamentally reconsider the notion of narrative and to configure a paradigm shift in narratology, which Genette had already foreseen in his early work.

Jean-Marc Limoges, Perception et cognition dans les gialli:  une autre façon de (sa)voir

This article will explore the concept of focalisation as popularized by Gérard Genette within the field of literature and attempts to apply it to cinematographic studies, more specifically to the 1970s’ popular Italian film genre: giallo. This in order to highlight and clarify certain confusions inherent in Genette’s concept, particularly in relation to seeing and knowing. Wishing to dispel this confusion and in pursuit of a more adequate and operational model, we seek not only to review the different gradations of focalisation (zero, internal and external), but also to look at the notions of perception and cognition. Therefore, we find eight possible configurations, each liable to produce a different “effect” on the audience. Do we perceive more, less or the same as the characters? Do we know more, less or the same as them? And do we understand more, less or the same as them? These are the questions we seek to address, individually and in that order, in an effort to better understand the different effects sought by each of these configurations. We believe that these clarifications will allow for a more grounded model with which to think about cinematic identification.

Cécile Sorin, Play It Again : Palimpsestes  rejoué

Palimpsestes dealt with expectations of the theory of the cinema. However, the new postmodern terminological uses overshadowed the definitions, stemming from the poetics, by opening up these categories of references and by devoting a large part to the affective colour, such as irony or neutrality. The problem is that these affective colours prove subjective and correspond to the particular phenomena of reception. On the contrary, the approach of Genette about parody and pastiche film contributes to a better understanding of these phenomena. In this paper, I suggest that this understanding requires an adaptation to the specificity of the cinematic medium.

André Gaudreault, Cinema, an Art More Photo graphic than Auto graphic

It would be difficult to situate cinema, in the sense of institutional cinema, in a chart whose purpose would be to illustrate the various allographic and autographic aspects (in the sense Goodman and Genette use these terms) of different art forms. Cinema is a complex art in which, like in a rhizome, various expressive means, channels of transmission, systems of notation and modes of execution overlap. The task is even bigger with respect to the body of films known as early cinema, or rather kine-attractography. Early cinema is a hundred times more rhizome-like than institutional cinema, because it involves a number of “performative” gestures (live music or commentary, etc.) whose effect is to multiply the sites of creation or authorship. Kine-attractography involves both allographic recording (because it is purely instrumental) and the autographic performance of a given actor, even though anonymous, in an execution-screening complemented by equally autographic performances by live figures. Hence, the difficulty in identifying the underlying system joining the various instances at work in such situations. Just as photography rhymes with allography, cinema is a photographic art before it is an autographic one.

Claudio Bisoni, Cinema within the Aesthetic Relation: Film Studies and Gérard Genette’s Art Theory

Throughout their histories, film theory and analytical aesthetics have rarely shown points of contact. This paper attempts to overcome this impasse by showing the suitability of Genette’s aesthetics to film studies while tracing a broader reconnaissance of these misconnections. This essay is divided into two parts. First, it identifies the reasons that have hindered the interactions between analytic aesthetics and film studies. Second, it addresses the compatibility of some of the concepts Genette presents in his magnum opus The Aesthetic Relation to contemporary film studies.

Pierluigi Basso Fossali, A nous la philologie. L’implémentation numérique du cinéma et l’identité filmique dans l’horizon théorique de Gérard Genette

The theoretical elaboration offered by Gérard Genette on the modes of artwork transcendence and on the aesthetical relationship is today an explicative platform for understanding the transformation of the DVD viewer into a kind of “philologist,” who accesses different versions, languages and subtitles, and a variety of extras (director’s commentaries, documentaries on the production, interviews, trailers, cut scenes and other paratexts). Moreover, the movie can become a cultural object that is placed in a web of productions in a “crossmedial” project. The problematisation of the cinematographic identity, already created by the transformation of the supports, seems to motivate the urgency perceived by Genette of reactualising the theory of Nelson Goodman. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out the full overcoming of the identification between work and text (following the approach of the aesthetical analysis) or on the contrary, we can underline how such a web of objects of immanency participate to build a corpus of texts that makes philology, to a certain extent, part of the spectatorial language-game.

New Studies

Nicola Dusi, Remaking as a Practice: Some Problems of Transmediality

Projects & Abstracts

Selim Krichane, La caméra imaginaire : les dispositifs vidéoludiques en regard du dispositif cinématographique
(Université de Lausanne / Ph.D. Thesis Project)

Charlotte Rey, Le « film-opera » comme dispositif de vision et d’audition
(Université de Lausanne / Ph.D. Thesis Project)

Kristy Rawson, A Trans-American Dream: Lupe Vélez and the Performance of Transculturation, 1925-1999
(University of Michigan / Ph.D. Thesis Abstract)

Johanna Cappi, Pour une histoire stylistique du journalisme d’investigation : la représentation des conflits contemporains chez les lauréats presse écrite et presse audiovisuelle du Prix Albert Londrès en France : 1964-2008
(Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle / Ph.D. Thesis Abstract)

Reviews / Comptes-rendus

Irmbert Schenk, Margrit Tröhler, Yvonne Zimmermann (Hg./eds.), Film-Kino-Zuschauer: Filmrezeption/Film-Cinema-Spectator: Film Reception [Francesco Pitassio]

Emmanuelle André, Le Choc du sujet, De l’hystérie au cinéma, XIX-XXIèmes siècles [Michéle Lagny]

Thomas Elsaesser, The Persistence of Hollywood [Warren Buckland]

Laurent Véray, Les Images d’archive face à l’histoire. De la conservation à la création [Michéle Lagny]

Download Introduction and Abstracts and Contributors’ bios

Vol. XII, No. 18, Spring 2012

This issue on RivisteWeb

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