The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals

The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals: Media Fantasy Films from Radio to the Internet

Paul Young
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv91v
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  • Book Info
    The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals
    Book Description:

    Paul Young looks at the American cinema's imaginative constructions of three electronic media—radio, television, and the Internet—at the times when these media seemed to hold limitless possibilities. The Cinema Dreams Its Rivals demonstrates that Hollywood is marked by the advent of each new medium, but conversely, the identities of the media are themselves changed as Hollywood turns them to its own purposes._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9168-5
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: The Perpetual Reinvention of Film
    (pp. ix-xxxvi)

    In 1992, New Line Cinema released Brett Leonard’sThe Lawnmower Man, a spectacular fantasy about the digital universe of cyberspace that is also a warning against realizing that fantasy. After rehearsing options that range from computer-generated puzzles and first-person shooter video games to CD-ROM interactive education, Leonard’s film presents virtual reality (VR) as the ultimate payoff of digital media progress: a 3-D game one climbs inside, represented on the movie screen by computer generated animation that puts 1982’s trapped-in-the-mainframe fantasyTronto shame. Despite its fascination with VR, however,The Lawnmower Manshows the medium perverting the sweet nature of...

  4. chapter 1 Rubes, Camera Fiends, Filmmakers, and Other Amateurs: The Intermedia Imagination of Early Films
    (pp. 1-48)

    Let me begin my examination of the cinema when old media were new with a blunt claim: Classical cinema is not a stage or a phase in the historical life of film. Nor is it a technological or even a technical trait intrinsic to, or “waiting” to be extracted from, the medium of film. Rather, it is a definition of the medium imposed upon it by an institutional process.¹ The major influences within this process include filmmaking practices (screenwriting formats, framing and editing strategies, acting styles, characterizations, modes of mass production), publicity and distribution practices (what advertising and planted “news”...

  5. chapter 2 A Cinema without Wires
    (pp. 49-72)

    Michel Chion describes the invisible voice in sound film as singularly uncanny. For Chion, the cinematic voice-over, which he dubs theacousmêtre,is a sonic ghost that, merely by speaking, performs its absence from the image track.¹ Like the spectral-technological voice of the titular villain in Fritz Lang’sThe Testament of Dr.Mabuse(1933), the voice of the acousmêtre can arise anywhere at any time, thwarting the controlling gaze of the spectator by wielding its own unlocatable influence. Its powers include “ubiquity, panopticism, omniscience, and omnipotence,” and films regularly exploit the radio as one of the “vehicles... of [that] ubiquity.” Chion...

  6. chapter 3 Eating the Other Medium: Sound Film in the Age of Broadcasting
    (pp. 73-136)

    By 1918, continuous-wave transmission entered the serious testing phase, and it was clear that the spark-burst wireless set would soon give way to radiotelephony—the transmission and reception of articulate sounds. Sound radio had been under development at least since Marconi’s first public demonstration of wireless telegraphy in 1899. But the utopianism surrounding the amateur movement had subsided, due in no small part to news reports and published “expert” opinions. As early as the sinking of theTitanic,the press “unanimously denounced the amateurs . . . for interfering with ‘legitimate’ message handling”¹ and argued that the ether needed to...

  7. chapter 4 The Glass Web: Unraveling the Videophobia of Postwar Hollywood Cinema
    (pp. 137-192)

    Only MGM had an official mascot, but by the 1950s all the major studios had adopted television as a scapegoat for their economic misfortunes. So strong was television’s power as an icon in the corporate imagination that Harry Warner issued a short-lived but passionate edict that TV must never appear in a Warner Bros, film.¹ TV fantasy films of the fifties portray television as an electrical alchemist that transmutes objective reality into lies. Sometimes the lies are little and white, as in Billy Wilder’sThe Apartment(1960), where lonely C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) waits eagerly with his TV dinner...

  8. chapter 5 The Negative Reinvention of Cinema: Late Hollywood in the Early Digital Age
    (pp. 193-248)

    This is where I come in. I lived through the emergent era of the Internet, (fortuitously) while in graduate school, and it was my first screening ofThe Lawnmower Manthat alerted me to the possibility that interactive media were putting pressure on Hollywood to defend and revise the identity of film. The Internet’s emergence may be fading now, but its movie legacy, a newly refined version of the cinema as an interactive experience, is apparent wherever we look. I drove to Lawrenceville, Georgia, one Saturday evening to seeThe Truman Show(Peter Weir, 1998) at a third-run decaplex housed...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 249-254)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 255-284)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 285-288)
  12. Index
    (pp. 289-312)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-313)