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Screen/Play: Derrida and Film Theory

Screen/Play: Derrida and Film Theory

Peter Brunette
David Wills
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Screen/Play: Derrida and Film Theory
    Book Description:

    Peter Brunette and David Wills extend the work of Jacques Derrida into a new realm--with rewarding consequences. Although Derrida has never addressed film theory directly in his writings, Brunette and Wills argue that the ideas he has developed in his critique of the logocentric foundations of Western thought, especially his notion of "Writing," can be usefully applied to film theory and analysis. They maintain that such an application might even begin to shift film from its traditional position within the visual arts to a new place in the media and information sciences. This book also supplies a fascinating introduction to Derrida for the general reader. The authors begin by explaining, in political terms, why film theorists have neglected Derrida's work. Next they offer a Derridean critique of the assumptions of contemporary film studies. Then, drawing on his recently translated The Truth in Painting as well as on other, relatively unknown texts such as Droit de regards, they discuss his ideas in relation to the cinema and present two film analyses--of Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black and of Lynch's Blue Velvet--that attempt to demonstrate the notion of an "anagrammatical," radical reading practice. Finally, they focus on Derrida's neglected book, The Post Card, and situate cinema in terms of a new definition of the technological.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6067-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    P.B. and D.W.
    (pp. 3-32)

    The work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida has already had a profound influence on literary studies in the English-speaking world. It is beginning to have a similar effect on Anglo-American analytical philosophy, and the name, at least, now has a certain currency within literate circles in general. Yet Derrida’s influence on film studies has so far been minimal. It is this state of affairs that we wish to examine in what follows; we would also like to suggest ways in which Derridean thinking and what has come to be known as deconstruction might contribute to our understanding of certain crucial...

    (pp. 33-59)

    Having considered Derrida’s ideas from the more general point of view of politics and, to some extent, psychoanalysis, we now want to look more specifically at the various ways in which a deconstructive perspective on film studies may alter the terrain of that discipline. We shall consider questions directly pertaining to cinematic representation and such obviously cinematic notions as the image and the frame in later chapters, but here we want to take up those assumptions and prior formulations that currently ground film theory and criticism in general. It is not our intention, in what must remain a cursory analysis,...

    (pp. 60-98)

    Throughout the two previous chapters we have occasionally referred to Derridian “concepts,” but strictly speaking this is a misnomer. The words that Derrida throws into a constantly mutating chain of signification, or the words that he revives within that chain, cannot properly be called concepts, nor can they easily be applied to textual systems other than those he discusses, such as literature, painting, or philosophy—for example, a textual system such as cinema. Yet the various domains in which these terms were first employed also may not exercise proprietary claim over them, hence leaving them open to adaptation.

    Derrida himself...

    (pp. 99-138)

    In the absence of anything written by Derrida on the cinema, we would like in this chapter to examine what he says about the image and the frame. But consider first of all what it means to say that Derrida hasnotwritten about the cinema, as opposed to his having written about the image, or philosophy, or literature. Given that everything he writesabouta medium is precisely that, about or around it—in other words, concerned as much with the separation between inside and outside as anything else—what would he have to have written before we could...

    (pp. 139-171)

    In the preceding chapters and in the chapter to follow we have tried, as academic protocol dictates for a collaborative effort, to disguise our individual voices, to offer the illusion of a single, seamless flow of thought that has arisen naturally from our work together and even, perhaps, without great effort. Needless to say, whatever smoothness and seamlessness this book may demonstrate is the product of a great deal of discussion, debate, compromise, revision of each other’s revisions, and so on. In this chapter, in which we attempt to read (on facing pages) François Truffaut’sThe Bride Wore Black(1967)...

    (pp. 172-198)

    It might seem surprising that the book in which Derrida makes the most explicit comments about relations between technology and the media, namelyThe Post Card, is also his book on psychoanalysis. An interesting parallel thus exists between the emphasis of current film theory and the ideas developed by Derrida. However, the perspective from which Derrida approaches the domains of psychoanalysis and the media is quite different from that adopted so far by film theorists. Rather than developing a metapsychology that links psychoanalytic functions with those of spectating, or analyzing diegetic relations according to a Lacanian model, Derrida investigates the...

    (pp. 199-206)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 207-210)