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What Is Description in the Cinema?

Seymour Chatman
Cinema Journal
Vol. 23, No. 4 (Summer, 1984), pp. 4-11
DOI: 10.2307/1225260
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225260
Page Count: 8
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What Is Description in the Cinema?
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Abstract

This essay investigates the way in which a film can be said to describe rather than simply to show an environment as background to action. The problem arises because film, unlike print, operates in the audience's real time, and hence suggests that "story-time" (the time of the fictional events depicted) is always passing, whereas genuine description in novels evokes the sense of a pause in the story. Examples of description from narrative fiction and film (Antonioni) are given by way of demonstration.

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