Seeing Fictions in Film The Epistemology of Movies

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-12-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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In works of literary fiction, it is a part of the fiction that the words of the text are being recounted by some work-internal "voice": the literary narrator. One can ask similarly whether the story in movies is told in sights and sounds by a work-internal subjectivity that orchestrates them: a cinematic narrator. George M. Wilson argues that movies do involve a fictional recounting (an audio-visual narration) in terms of the movie's sound and image track. Viewers are usually prompted to imagine seeing the items and events in the movie's fictional world and to imagine hearing the associated fictional sounds. However, it is much less clear that the cinematic narration must be imagined as the product of some kind of "narrator" -- of a work-internal agent of the narration. Wilson goes on to examine the further question whether viewers imagine seeing the fictional world face-to-face or whether they imagine seeing it through some kind of work-internal mediation. It is a key contention of this book that only the second of these alternatives allows one to give a coherent account of what we do and do not imagine about what we are seeing on the screen. Having provided a partial account of the foundations of film narration, the final chapters explore the ways in which certain complex strategies of cinematic narration are executed in three exemplary films: David Fincher's Fight Club, von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress, and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There.

Author Biography

George M. Wilson was born and raised in Oregon. He received his AB from the University of Kansas and his PhD from Cornell. He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, the University of California at Davis, and he is currently a professor of philosophy and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California. He has visited at Harvard and Princeton and was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center. Besides film aesthetics, he has worked and published in the fields of philosophy of language, the theory of action, and on the philosophy of Wittgenstein.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Part I. Introductory Chapters
General Introduction
1. Narrative and Narration: Some Rudiments
Part II. Narrative and Narration
2. Le Grand Imagier Steps Out: On the Primitive Basis of Film Narration
3. The Imagined Seeing Thesis
4. Le Grand Imagier in Review
Part III. Narrators: In Literature and Film
5. Elusive Narrators in Literature
6. Elusive Narrators in Film
Part IV. Some Strategies of Film Narration: Point of View
7. Transparency and Twist in Narrative Fiction Film
8. Transfiguration and Self-Conscious Narration: On Von Sternberg's Last Films with Dietrich
9. Love and Bullshit in Santa Rosa: Pastiche in The Man Who Wasn't There

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