Film, a latecomer to the realm of artistic media, alludes to, absorbs, and undermines the discourses of the other arts--literature and painting especially--in order to carve out a position for itself among them. Exposing the anxiety in film's relation to its rival arts, Brigitte Peucker analyzes central issues involved in generic boundary crossing as they pertain to film and situates them in a theoretical framework. The figure of the human body takes center stage in Peucker's innovative study, for it is through this figure that the conjunction of literary and painterly discourses persistently articulates itself. It is through the human body, too, that film's consciousness of itself as a hybrid text and as a "machine for simulation" makes itself deeply felt.
In films ranging from Weimar cinema through Griffith, Hitchcock, and Greenaway, Peucker probes issues in aesthetics problematized by Diderot and Kleist, among others. She argues that the introduction of movement into visual representation occasioned by film brings with it an underlying tension suggestive of castration and death. Peucker goes on to demonstrate how the encounter between narrative and image is both gendered and sexualized, rendering film a "monstrous" hybrid. In a final section, she explores in specific cinematic texts the permeable boundary between the real and representation, suggesting how effects such as tableau vivant and trompe l'oeil figure sexuality and death.
Originally published in 1995.
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"Peuker takes her bearings from the writings of Kleist and Diderot for this agile, wide-ranging reflection on film's intrinsic hybridity and its uneasy relation with the body."--Sight & Sound
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