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TitleMaking Meaning: Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema
PublisherHarvard University Press
ISBN 139780674543362
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size18.6 MB
Total Pages348
Table of Contents
                            Contents
Preface
1. Making Films Mean
	Interpretation as Construction
	Meaning Made
	Interpretive Doctrines
2. Routines and Practices
	Interpretation, Inc.
	The Logic of Discovery, or, Problem-Solving
	The Logic of Justification, or, Rhetoric
	An Anatomy of Interpretation
3. Interpretation as Explication
	The French Connection
	Explication Academicized
	Picture Planes
	Meaning and Unity
4. Symptomatic Interpretation
	Culture, Dream, and Lauren Bacall
	Myth as Antinomy
	Système à la Mode
	The Contradictory Text
	Symptoms and Explications
5. Semantic Fields
	Meanings in Structures
	Structures of Meaning
	The Role of Semantic Fields
6. Schemata and Heuristics
	Mapping as Making
	Knowledge Structures and Routines
	Mapping as Modeling
7. Two Basic Schemata
	Is There a Class for This Text?
	Making Films Personal
8. Text Schemata
	A Butt’s-Eye Schema
	Meaning, Inside Out and Outside In
	Textual Trajectories
	Doctrines into Diachronies
9. Interpretation as Rhetoric
	Sample Strategies
	Theory Talk
10. Rhetoric in Action: Seven Models of Psycho
	Jean Douchet, “Hitch and His Public” (1960)
	Robin Wood, “Psycho,” Hitchcock’s Films (1965)
	Raymond Durgnat, “Inside Norman Bates,” Films and Feelings (1967)
	V. F. Perkins, “The World and Its Image,” Film as Film (1972)
	Raymond Bellour, “Psychosis, Neurosis,Perversion” (1979)
	Barbara Klinger, “Psycho: The Institutionalization of Female Sexuality” (1982)
	Leland Poague, “Links in a Chain: Psycho and Film Classicism” (1986)
11. Why Not to Read a Film
	The Ends of Interpretation
	The End of Interpretation?
	Prospects for a Poetics
Notes
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Making Meaning

Harvard Film Studies

Page 174

Two Basic Schemata 159

points. The task is easiest when the filmmaker is explicitly present, in
the frame or as a voice-over. Then the critic can, for instance,. refer to
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's Amy! as offering "a psychoanalytic
reading of what is happening to Amy through the device of Mulvey's
words, spoken in her authorial persona role."54 Usually, however, the
critic infers the filmmaker-as-agent from the film text.. One essay on
Leslie Thornton's Adynata asserts that the filmmaker investigates the
representation of the Orient, aligns it with femininity, shows interest in
the traces of sexual difference on the soundtrack, displays an obsession
with found footage, mimics scientific genres, cuts language apart, chooses
sounds and images, and seeks to explore overly familiar language. The
critic also quotes the filmmaker to exhibit the latters awareness of
controlling meaning.55 Assumptions about origin-of-the-text author-
ship are hard to avoid, even for critics who are-in theory-aware
that since medieval exegesis, the string of terms auctor, auctoritasJ
authenticus inevitably linked author, authority, and authenticity. 56

Someone might retort that much of this directorial personification
is mere phrasing, that one could rewrite such claims as statements
about what the film does. I shall argue in· more detail in Chapter 9
that wording actually matters quite a lot. But even when the film, not
the filmmaker, is the subject of the sentence, the rational-calculator
personification can be implied. The film can be made analogous to a
deliberate act-an "essay" (High Noon as "a very beautiful essay on
solitude"57), a "commentary," an analysis, an experiment, a reflection.58

Avant-garde criticism that calls on phenomenological reflexivity often
characterizes the film as "demonstrating" the flatness of the screen or
the illusionistic aspects of perspective-the verb being in keeping with
the didactic purposes which other traditions impute to the filmmaker.

To the filmmaker as rational calculator we can counterpose the idea
of the filmmaker expressing himself or herself. Now the film becomes
analogous to a confession, a lyric, a journal, a diary, an intimate
revelation, even a dream. As I indicated in Chapter 3, the rise of the
art cinema, with its emphasis on personal expression and marketable
directorial differences, encouraged critics to rake films for implicit
meanings of this sort. Godard's later films, according to a critic, are
"profoundly personal endeavors" arising from "real existential pain."59
For .Colin MacCabe, the "dissatisfaction" at the center of Sauve qui
peut (la vie) expresses the director's attitude to filmmaking, a mood
that became evident "on the occasions that I visited Godard last
year."60 The salient schematic features here are the person's emotions

Page 175

160 Two Basic Schemata

and memories, the'latter because autobiography tends to accompany
this personification. A King in New York can be said to be about
Chaplin's travails in America.61 The projection scene of Muriel can
reflexively represent the director's nostalgia and despair over the po-
litical film that could not be made.62

Classic auteur criticism, while not at all averse to autobiography,
made use of a milder version of the "self-expression" heuristic. Just as
the critic builds a character's personality out of bits of comportment
and repeated actions, so he can infer the director's personality on the
basis of aspects of the single film and repeated elements from film to
film. From Bazin's monograph on Welles to the end of the 1960s, the
thrust of the Cahiers-Sarris-Movie tradition was to show how the
director's work embodied what Jean Domarchi in 1954 called "a
personal conception of the world."63 In particular, the artist's person-
ality is assumed to be revealed in film style. "The way a film looks and
moves should have some relationship to the way a director thinks and
feels."64 Cahiers applauds Sirk for not subordinating his personality to
Faulkner's in filming Tarnished Angels; Sirk's pointless camera move-
ments reveal only his enjoyment of technique; his excessive artificiality
is more sincere because more authentic.65

The self-expressive conception of the filmmaker is particularly prom-
inent in interpretation of the American avant-garde. After linking Stan
Brakhage to abstract expressionism, Sitney treats the lyrical films as
finding a form "in which the filmmaker could compress his thoughts
and feelings while recording his direct confrontation with intense
experiences of birth, death, sexuality, and the terror of nature."66 The
symptomatic critic can also stray into this region, as when the film-
maker is personified as a gendered body. Patricia Erens finds that one
amateur moviemaker unwittingly expresses cultural differences by
framing shots of women against foliage and sunlight, while shots of
males are set against tree trunks and other verticals.67 Dorothy Arzner's
films are often taken as marked by feminine, even feminist, qualities,
while, say, Ophuls and Lang involuntarily present contradictory texts
partly because of their gender identity. "For any 'man-subject behind
the camera' the steady gaze at the female figure effectively constitutes
an absence of narrative."68

Whether conceived as a rational calculator of effects or a self-ex-
pressive individual, the filmmaker-as-person can occasionally borrow
a body. As early as '1953, Rivette was suggesting that the detective in
I Confess incarnates Hitchcock, 'who also tracks down unfortunate

Page 347

representativeness heuristic, 138, 141, 142,
154, 324nl

reviewing as journalistic practice, 35-40
rhetoric in film interpretation, 34-40, 41,

144,205-248,250 .
Richards,!. A., 26, 66, 68, 138
Riddles ofthe Sphinx, 201, 209, 210,

317nll
Riesman, David, 74, 98
Rivette, Jacques, 29, 47, 65, 69, 117, 154,

160,206, 302nl00, 321n44
Rohilie,S~,87, 167,322n60
Rohmer, Eric, 47, 108, 162, 187, 301n63,

302n89
Rothman, William, 161, 239, 243, 244,

321n37, 323nll
rules in interpretation, 6-7, 33, 278n16,

304n17
Rules of the Game, 112, 113, 114, 143,

156, 161, 174, 177, 245

s~e-fr~e heuristic, 178-179, 251
Sarris, Andrew, 44, 48-52, 54, 61, 64, 66,

68, 69, 78, 79, 99, 107, 116, 117, 139,
160,164,176, 178,264,301n64,
310n64

schemata, 34, 135-138, 145, 146-204
Schleiermacher, F. D. E., 15, 169, 210
schools of interpretation, 19-20, 23, 25,

219-220,246-247,250,253, 298n150
S~een, 19,21,87,91,93,141,209,219,

220,221,236,271
semantic fields, 41, 105-128, 129-135,

142, 145, 154, 171, 201, 213, 226,
242,245,250,257-258,306n40

Sharits, Paul, 67, 271
Shklovsky, Viktor, 57, 264, 274
Sight and Sound, 11, 12, 21, 50, 52
Silverman, Kaja, 95, 186, 197, 239
Simon, William, 121
Sirk, Douglas, 25, 29, 100, 112, 149, 158,

160,164,183,184,194,209,211
Sitney, P. Adams, 54, 55, 58, 60-62, 67,

115, 160, 167, 315n47
Snow, Michael, 46, 54, 58-60, 63, 67,

167,210
Society for Cinema Stuilies, 21
Sontag, Susan, 40, 170,258,259,264
spectator, 165-168, 189, 207-208, 225,

230,231-232,255
Spinoza, Baruch, 15, 66, 169
Spoto, Donald, 139, 178, 310n70

Index 333

St~, Robert, 151, 279n28
Stoics, 13, 139, 212
structuralism, 17, 78-87, III
struggle schema, 191-192, 195
style in cinema, 161-165, 170-181, 261
symbols, 173-174, 180
symptomatic interpretation, 71-104, 109-

110, 112, 115, 150, 156, 158, 173,
177, 178, 179, 182-183, 185, 191,
194-195,201,207,239,246,251,
261,263,268,269,270

symptomatic meaning, 9-18, 41

teaching film, 22-23, 25-26, 28-29
Tel quel, 83, 89, 93, 101, 293n69
textual analysis, 84, 86-87, 267
thematic continuum, 123. See also graded

series
themes, 9, 64, 106, 115-116
theory, role of, 4-6, 26-28, 96-98, 102,

103-104, 117, 141-142, 144, 156-
157,163,202-204,209,211-212,
217-223,236-23~247,250-253,

261,273, 324nl
Thompson, Kristin, 266, 267, 271
Thriller, 101, 149, 183, 200, 267
Todorov, Tzvetan, 93, 260
topoi in critical argument, 37, 39, 209-

212,223,236,237,239,246
Touch ofEvil, 93-94, 102, 149, 150, 194,

197
trajectory schema, 188-195
Tyler, Parker, 21, 44, 55, 73, 74, 76-78,

98, Ill, 114, 123, 163, 182, 215, 260,
261,264

unity hypothesis, 41, 68-69, 126, 133-
134,144,169,187,203

Vernet, Marc, 192
vividness heuristic, 33, 138, 141, 142,

324nl

Warhol, Andy, 55-59, 60, 61, 62, 66,
Ill, 113, 156, 164

Warren, Robert Penn, 108, 115, 123, 170
Warshow, Robert, 74, 76, 77, 98
VVavden~h,58,59,63,67, 113
Welles, Orson, 25, 45, 46, 54, 149, 160,

161, 162, 181, 260
Willemen, Paul, 95, 102, 141, 158,

322n46

Page 348

334 Index

Williams, Linda, 294n88, 304n16,
321n40, 321n46

Wolfenstein, Martha, 73, 75, 76, 77, 98,
121, 123, 155

Wollen, Peter, 25, 44, 79, 80, 82, 88, 91,
100,119,159,184,198,209,210,
267, 317nll

Wood, Robin, 25, 51, 52, 64, 82, 100,
101, 122, 12~ 150, 154, 184,222,

226-229,230,231,232,234,244,
246,247

Young Mr. Lincoln, 25, 60, 62, 63, 84-87,
90, 91, 95, 99, 121, 150, 153, 155,
189,190,194,219,241

Zorns Lemma, 60, 62, 63, 121, 189, 190

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