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Moving Away from the Index: Cinema and the Impression of Reality

Moving Away from the Index: Cinema and the Impression of Reality tom gunning Indexical Realism and Film Theory hile cinema has often been described as the most realistic of the arts, cinematic realism has been understood in a variety of ways: from an aspect of a sinister ideological process of psychological regression to infantile states of primal delusion, to providing a basis for evidentiary status for films as historical and even legal documents. Cinematic realism has been praised as a cornerstone of film aesthetics, denounced as a major ploy in ideological indoctrination, and envied as a standard for new media. I believe the time has come to return to this issue without some of the polemics that have previously marked it but with a careful and historically informed discussion of cinema’s uses and definitions of the impression of reality. In film theory over the last decades, realist claims for cinema have often depended on cinema’s status as an index, one of the triad of signs in the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce. Film’s indexical nature has almost always (and usually exclusively) been derived from its photographic aspects. In this essay I want to explore alternative approaches that might ultimately provide new ways of thinking about the realistic aspects of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies Duke University Press

Moving Away from the Index: Cinema and the Impression of Reality

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References (3)

Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2007 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1040-7391
eISSN
1040-7391
DOI
10.1215/10407391-2006-022
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

tom gunning Indexical Realism and Film Theory hile cinema has often been described as the most realistic of the arts, cinematic realism has been understood in a variety of ways: from an aspect of a sinister ideological process of psychological regression to infantile states of primal delusion, to providing a basis for evidentiary status for films as historical and even legal documents. Cinematic realism has been praised as a cornerstone of film aesthetics, denounced as a major ploy in ideological indoctrination, and envied as a standard for new media. I believe the time has come to return to this issue without some of the polemics that have previously marked it but with a careful and historically informed discussion of cinema’s uses and definitions of the impression of reality. In film theory over the last decades, realist claims for cinema have often depended on cinema’s status as an index, one of the triad of signs in the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce. Film’s indexical nature has almost always (and usually exclusively) been derived from its photographic aspects. In this essay I want to explore alternative approaches that might ultimately provide new ways of thinking about the realistic aspects of

Journal

differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2007

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