The postclassical reading theory

Given that the narrative of Die Hard seems so perfectly readable in terms of the classical model, is there even a need to move to another level and invoke the contested distinction classical/post-classical? What is it in the film that demands additional explanation? The questions bring us back to one of the terms we started with, namely spectacle (which we initially excluded in favour of a discussion of narrative) in order to consider the implicit polemical charge that spectacle and narrative exclude each other. What we hope to have established - and maybe even excessively so - is that if one defines the post-

classical as the priority of spectacle over narrative, then either the label as such is unconvincing or this particular definition of it will not hold. On the basis of our analysis, whether Aristotelian (the linear logic of the screenplay) or structuralist (the Oedipal logic of the narrative), we can conclude that the opposition drawn by the reviews is false: even assuming there is a new kind of emphasis on spectacle in contemporary Hollywood, then judging from Die Hard, it does not seem to be at the expense of the screenplay, the craftsmanship of the plotting, or indeed to the detriment of the deep-structural 'work' which classical narrative is said to accomplish on behalf of the dominant ideology.

Thus, the difference between classical and post-classical cannot be established on the basis of a binary opposition such as spectacle vs narrative, nor, we suspect, any other 'either/or' construction of difference. One suggestion was that we may have to look for a definition of the post-classical more along the lines of an excessive classicism, rather than as a rejection or absence of classicism. Applied to Die Hard, this would involve, on the one hand, a reconsideration of the (narrative, deep-structural) function of the spectacular scenes, as already hinted at several times above, and on the other, a deconstruction of both 'narrative' and 'spectacle', and with it a reconsideration of those elements that we have, up to now, so confidently assigned to the binary pairs of our respective semiotic squares.

Before doing so, however, let us briefly review once more the other definitions on offer for identifying the post-classical as a distinct mode: not only of representation and style, but also of production and reception.

0 0

Post a comment