Episodic sequence

Brief episodes whose meaning lies in their juxtaposition; they function as vthe symbolic summary of one stage in the fairly long evolution condensed by the total sequence'. Metz gives the example of the breakdown of Kane's relationship with his wife in the breakfast sequence, where swish pans separate different moments in a long period of time. Another example might be episodes suggesting a character's Vise to fame'.

encountered when considering the soundtrack, which can overlap between syntagmas, for example, or which, when used diegetically, can turn what might look like an ordinary sequence into something more akin to a scene.

A deeper issue was for many that this kind of system scratches at the surface of any given film. Not only is it too mechanical, imposing a structure on a film which leaves everything to be said, but, more importantly perhaps, it establishes a radical separation between the objectively scientific spectator/analyst and what really matters in the act of watching a film, the way in which we are implicated affectively. However, it remains the only film-specific typology of narrative. Its major advantages are that it can help identify unusual features in a film and, despite its problems, indeed perhaps because of them, forces close attention to detail. It is for this reason that we have included examples of sequence analysis using the Grande Syntagmatique later in this book. The problems of detail in the Grande Syntagmatique were never resolved, because theorists, Metz among them, became less interested in what had dominated film theory since the 1920s, issues of film language, than in what the Grande Syntagmatique, with its pseudo-scientific approach, could not address: the position of the spectator, and the effect of the film on the spectator. The major question to be addressed in the following period was not so much the key question of the first major period of film theory from 1920-1970, 'Does film have a language?', as 'What does a film do to the spectator?', a subject already explored by Morin in the 1956 Le Cinéma ou l'homme imaginaire, but about to become the dominant film theory in France, and even more so in the Anglo-American arena. Before such questions began to be asked in detail, there was a theoretical diversion caused by the Marxist turn in the wake of the events of May 1968.

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