Mark D. Roberts mroberts37
Sat Sep 13 21:14:56 EDT 2008


Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I particularly like the the  
idea of Langlois wanting to spread films around the world to safeguard  
them from WW III (i.e., Paris as seen in the opening shots of La Jet?e).

On Sep 14, 2008, at 7:32 AM, Michael Raine wrote:

> I suppose the real question is how much we can expect governments to  
> sponsor the "critical" study of film history when their interests  
> like more in publicity and popularity, and the economic center of  
> gravity has shifted so far toward TV and other media.

A few observations: first, if it's a question of promoting a film  
culture that includes critical study, and if this is to happen outside  
of universities, then the government is the logical sponsor. Here, the  
BFI and the Cinemath?que Fran?aise may be taken as prime examples. Are  
there any privately-sponsored, non-academic institutions of comparable  
scale and ambition? Offhand, I can't think of any. It's clear that the  
Japanese majors are not going to do it. There's a big debate about  
public vs. private models of funding culture, but if the goal is to  
encourage new policies, it would seem more effective and more  
practical to find existing, successful models and use them as  
examples. I'm going to guess that the most visible -- and thus most  
suitable for use as examples -- are the government-sponsored, public  

Next, the current Ministry of culture policies seem lopsided. To  
promote Japanese cinema, but without promoting a culture of criticism  
and research, might give a boost to film fans, but it doesn't  
encourage a deeper, more thoughtful, or more serious relationship with  
cinema. By analogy, when university students are trained to write  
critical essays, they are first trained to become more astute readers  
of culture. Critical writing implies critical reading. Thus, they are  
asked to reflect on history, on ideas, to grapple with the idiom of  
criticism, and to learn how to use it correctly. The writing programs  
that presume students are already critical readers, that focus on ego- 
reinforcement, "expressing the inner you", and so forth, are not about  
developing a critical mind. I think it's possible to say something  
similar about film and other media, about cultivating spectators, or  
giving them the resources to cultivate themselves. So, the government  
can subsidize production, i.e., can encourage filmmakers to "express  
themselves", but there needs to be comparable effort to promote a  
culture of intelligent criticism, of thinking about film,  
understanding it as belonging to a history, and so forth. We've all  
seen the "50 talento tell you their 10 favorite films" sort of  
articles in magazines. Clearly, excellence comes when the bar is  
raised, not lowered.

W.r.t. the shift of interest towards TV and other media, I would see  
no reason why new policies should be limited just to film history.  
Given current technology, it should be possible to include anime, TV,  
and post-network TV.  It's fair to say that the methods of critical  
analysis appropriate for anime and post-network TV are not radically  
different from the methods of analysis used for cinema. Yes, new media  
will demand new forms of criticism, but the shift from film to anime  
does not, for example, mean that the theories of montage and framing  
developed for film are all suddenly irrelevant. To presume otherwise  
is to trivialize the whole project of "serious" study at the outset.  
Thus, there are compelling reasons to combine them, and the main  
issues are budget and, finally, vision. From the documents that Aaron  
has discussed, the latter is what seems to be lacking here.

As for the future, the obvious strategy would be to figure out how and  
when Bunko-ch? reviews the status of the NFC, and lobby to get  
somebody favorable to promoting an expanded mandate for film/media  
research into that meeting, either directly, or by proxy, and to get  
their views represented in any future reports.


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