At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world is beset with problems ranging from the destruction of the environment to terrorism and the ever-present threat of nuclear war. The Hollywood product reflects a culture beset by endless "noise," the commodification of sex, and the constant distractions of junk culture. In such a scenario, the modest and marginalized discipline of film criticism might yet again play an active role.
What would one ask, today, within an increasingly desperate cultural situation, of that mythical figure the Ideal Critic? First, a firm grasp of the critical landmarks merely outlined above, with the ability to draw on all or any according to need. To the critics mentioned must be added, today, the names of Stanley Cavell and William Rothman, intelligent representatives of a new conservatism. As Pier Paolo Pasolini told us at the beginning of his Arabian Nights, ''the truth lies, not in one dream, but in many'': Bazin and Barthes are not incompatible, one does not negate the other, so why should one have to choose? We must feel free to draw on anything that we find helpful, rather then assuming that one new theory negates all previous ones. And in the background we should restore relations with Leavis and ''questions of value,'' but accompanied by a politicization that Leavis would never have accepted (or would he, perhaps, today?). The value of a given film for us, be it classical Hollywood, avant-garde, documentary, silent or sound, black-and-white or color, will reside not only in its aesthetic qualities, its skills, its incidental pleasures, but also in what use we can make of it within the present world situation.
see also Auteur Theory and Authorship; Genre;
Ideology; Journals and Magazines; Postmodernism;
Psychoanalysis; Publicity and Promotion; Queer
Theory; Reception Theory; Semiotics; Spectatorship and Audiences; Structuralism and Poststructuralism further reading
Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Edited and translated by Annette Lavers. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.
--. S/Z: An Essay. Translated by Richard Miller. New York:
Hill and Wang, 1974.
Bazin, Andre. What Is Cinema? Edited and translated by Hugh Gray. 2 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967-1971.
Graham, Peter, ed. The New Wave. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, and London: Secker and Warburg, 1968.
Heath, Stephen. ''Film and System: Terms of Analysis.'' Screen 16, nos. 1-2 (Spring/Summer 1975): 91-113.
Leavis, F. R. The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad. New York: New York University Press, 1963.
Leavis, F. R., and Q. D. Leavis. Dickens, the Novelist. London: Chatto and Windus, 1970.
Metz, Christian. Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema.
Translated by Michael Taylor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Modleski, Tania. The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory. New York and London: Methuen, 1988.
Mulvey, Laura. ''Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.'' Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 6-8. Reprinted in Visual and Other Pleasures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.
Perkins, Victor. Film as Film: Understanding and Judging Movies. Baltimore: Penguin, 1972.
Sarris, Andrew. The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968. New York: Dutton, 1968. Revised ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
--, ed. Interviews with Film Directors. New York: Discus, 1969.
Wollen, Peter. Signs and Meaning in the Cinema, revised ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, and London: British Film Institute, 1972.
Wood, Robin. Hitchcock's Films Revisited. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
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