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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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12/14/2004

Comments

Michael

An intriguing post. As a writer of film criticism, a loyalist of the New Wave, and a subscriber to a less extreme form of auteur theory, I've come to believe that the distinctions and similarities between a film adaptation and its source material are not the best way to analyze or judge a film. Movies need to be judged on the basis of their own narrative and aesthetic parameters, and I have yet to hear or read an argument that has persuaded me that a film adaptation must be loyal to its source text. I always ask the apparently simply question, "Why should it?" Judge the film on its merits, not on something outside of it.

I agree with you that film is hardly a lesser form of art. In fact, I can't figure out why some critics want to make the comparison in the first place, given that the two are substantially different in many ways. I also think the description of film as a lesser form of art is incredibly odd, given that film was the preeminent (notice I'm not saying "best") art form of the 20th century, and if one gives any heed to all that Susan Sontag has had to say about film (and I am guilty of this), it's virtually impossible not to place film on a pedestal of equal height as literature or other art.

Finally, as far as the auteur theory is concerned, it's quite true that the theory can be extreme, reductive, narrow, and blind to the many other participants in the film-making process. But as a critical tool, it has its place, and could often be deeply effective, particularly when applied, say, to the films of Godard. If there ever was a case in which the vision of the auteur was paramount, it was in his films.

So I think the idea of ranking the high arts is counter-productive. I can't get from Nabokov what I can get from Godard, and vice versa. It's great being able to enjoy them both equally.

R.A. Rubin

Welles, Magnificent Ambersons, good book, before studio cutting great film.

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