Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Eyes Have It

The Eyes Have It: Cinema and the Reality Effect

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Eyes Have It
    Book Description:

    The Eyes Have Itexplores those rarified screen moments when viewers are confronted by sights that seem at once impossible and present, artificial and stimulating, illusory and definitive.Beginning with a penetrating study of five cornfield sequences-including The Wizard of Oz, Arizona Dream,andSigns-Murray Pomerance journeys through a vast array of cinematic moments, technical methods, and laborious collaborations from the 1930s to the 2000s to show how the viewer's experience of "reality" is put in context, challenged, and willfully engaged.Four meditations deal with "reality effects" from different philosophical and technical angles. "Vivid Rivals" assesses active participation and critical judgment in seeing effects with such works asDefiance, Cloverfield, Knowing,Thelma & Louise, and more. "The Two of Us" considers double placement and doubled experience with such films asThe Prestige, Niagara,andA Stolen Life. "Being There" discusses cinematic performance and the problems of believability, highlighting such films asGran Torino, The Manchurian Candidate,In Harm's Way, and other films. "Fairy Land" explores the art of scenic backing, focusing on the fictional world ofBrigadoon,which borrows from both hard-edged realism and evocative landscape painting.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6060-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  4. Prelude: Corn
    (pp. 1-21)

    “Reality,” no less an expert than Liza Minnelli opined toVanity Fairin November 2010, “is something you rise above.” In saying this, and without being philosophical, she invokes “reality” as a weight, the humdrum oppression of the everyday. Liza imagines herself—and us—striving to reach some almost-imperial artistic plateau resting “above the clouds,” from which perspective the vulgar, quotidian, and workaday world “down there” looks small and banal and impure. Of course this is a very Romantic view. It embodies, perhaps especially, the artist as an isolated and distinguished figure, subject to different laws of gravity, thus able...

  5. 1 Vivid Rivals
    (pp. 23-75)

    When things look real at the movies, one can be so enthralled as to lose a sense of reality in the “reality” of the experience. I sat in an audience far below Times Square to watchStar Warsin the summer of 1977, and at the moment—that glorious and epoch-marking moment—when Han Solo and Chewbacca threw theMillennium Falconinto hyperdrive, the twelve hundred or so captivated souls all leaned back and shouted “Wohhhh!!!” in one single, gargantuan breath. It was an embodied experience of “reality,” not reality, we were having together down in that darkness, as no...

  6. 2 The Two of Us
    (pp. 77-123)

    The leap of mortality, thesalto mortale, an old acrobatic trick and crowd pleaser, goes all the way back to a primitive doubling and replacement ritual in which the priest and his priesthood are simultaneously overcome and renewed through an act of extremity. Nietzsche plays upon it in the Prologue to hisAlso Sprach Zarathustra:

    The tight-rope walker had begun his work: he had emerged from a little door and was proceeding across the rope, which was stretched between two towers and thus hung over the people and the market square. Just as he had reached the middle of his...

  7. 3 Being There
    (pp. 125-179)

    Paul Philidor, who had been projecting moving images of the dead to the astonished eyes of their friends and relatives (having obtained beforehand images that he could have copied in paint onto slides), applied his art by playing to, and with, the properties of light and the imagination,La Feuille Villageoisereported. Thanks to his phantasmagoria, one could enter a dark room, be addressed by a figure of light, and “see” someone who “really” wasn’t there (or who was really “somewhere else”). This was in 1792, a little more than a hundred years before screen acting began to establish a...

  8. 4 A Fairy Tale
    (pp. 181-222)

    Where is it that one can claim to be, while watching the action of a film? In which of two incomparable, undocumented, unresolvable realities? In the world of the theatrical auditorium, with its dimmed lights, its plush seating, its sweeping screen, its modest projection booth, its hidden projector, its paid projectionist, its garlanded box office, all attached to—or at least occupying the same social dimension as—those Mole-Richardson fresnels and barn doors, coated lenses and obedient cranes, dressing trailers and laundered costumes waiting to be fitted and word-processed performers’ contracts waiting to be countersigned by the producer: that world...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 223-233)
  10. Works Cited and Consulted
    (pp. 235-249)
  11. Index
    (pp. 251-268)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)