Volume 11/12, 2009/2010
Victor Gerardo Rivas López
On Why Cinema Is Not Reducible to the Sheer Image
This paper will unfold the theoretical object mentioned in the title thereof without solution of continuity, but it will be convenient to take into account some points before beginning: firstly, we shall throughout uphold the difference existing between visual and narrative cinema, that is to say, on the one hand, a cinema whose utmost aim is to dazzle the spectator and fill his sight with images of the most variegated kind no matter how much the anecdotic content of the picture is feeble or plainly absurd and that can at least in principle dispense utterly with whatever narrative thread and, on the other hand, a cinema that tells a story or shows a situation with a certain dramatic coherence, which can of course be even more absurd than the products of the visual cmema but that at any rate founds its absurdity on a story whether symbolically or not and not on the sole strength of visual images (Isaacs 4). Secondly, we shall not deal with visual cinema since, according to a slant that will be explicit hereinbelow, it has played a secondary part in the amazing cultural transcendence of cinema as a whole, which in our opinion lies in having shaped all the world over a certain framework of existence beyond the weight of the particular traditions and also in havmg provided the average spectator with a sui generis experience of his own subjectivity, which has above all been the work of the narrative cinema, for the visual one has as such just started to develop together with a digital conception of image and with a cybemetic conception of communication (Manovich 20). Thirdly, the difference at issue does not implicate any appraisal of the two species of cinema whereto we have alluded. Fourthly, there is a distmction between "narrative" or "story" (that is to say, the imaginative bond of subjectivity and action or subjectivity and occurrence) and "literature" or "reflective story" (namely, the ideal identity or the symbolical action that are above all set out in a novel or in a short story), whereon we shall briefly dwell at the end of the paper. Finally, what follows is more a personal reflection than the outcome of a comparison with someone's standpoints or theories, for we consider that the best way to show something is to focus it through the own experience, above all when the matter in question is within everyone's reach; in other words, we shall play the part of an average spectator, not of the critic's that focuses the phenomenon theoretically.