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Værker af Gilberto Perez

The Material Ghost (1998) 2 eksemplarer
"The Dream Life" 1 eksemplar

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Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror [1922 film] (1922) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver229 eksemplarer

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The Eloquent Screen: A Rhetoric of Film from Gilberto Perez is a tribute to both Perez' illustrious career and the ways in which film works to inform and question its audience.

The introduction to the volume serves to both prepare the reader for how Perez will approach the films he discusses as well as a detailed yet broad overview of his project in this work. I found it beneficial to read it twice. not because it was particularly hard reading but because it is very engaging and I found myself agreeing and disagreeing as well as questioning as I was reading. Usually this is easily done alongside the act of reading but here I found that my questions and levels of agreement became better formed as I read, so I needed the second time through to both better form my opinions and better understand his. It was a very rewarding reread on both counts.

I used to study film, but not to the extent of someone devoted to film studies, so I am somewhere between a casual filmgoer and a true student of film. My work was usually related to area studies and broader work in popular studies. All this is to say that I was familiar with most but certainly not all of the films he talks about, so there is a good chance many other readers will be in the same boat. Don't let your unfamiliarity with some of the films deter you, Perez explains what we need to understand about each well enough to understand his argument. If you start to read a chapter about a film you've been meaning to watch, then maybe put off reading that chapter. If it is focused on a film you have never considered watching, by all means read the chapter and, if you decide you want to then view it I think you'll find it will be a richer viewing even though you may well now know most of the major plot points.

I actually watched several films both before and after reading about them. In one case I watched a film I had never seen before reading his discussion of it. The positive of doing it that way was that the scenes were fresh in my mind. That said, I'm not sure it made that big of a difference from chapters where it had been quite some time since I had watched the film. The reason isn't my memory, the scenes from the movies I watched further in the past were, predictably, hazier in my mind. But Perez set the scenes so well and with an eye toward what he was wanting to say that I did not feel I was missing out by my memory being a bit fuzzy.

I also watched a film I had seen some time ago but right after reading his ideas about it. This worked wonderfully for me, I had a basic familiarity before reading but, as before, a little hazy. I read his analysis and thought about it. Then when I watched the film again I was fully engaged with both the film and, perhaps more to the point of this book, my interaction with it.

I also read about several films I had not and have not yet seen. I felt I understood enough to both enjoy and understand the points he wanted to make about them. If and when I ever watch those, I think I will have a better experience than I would have otherwise.

I realize that I have said little about the ideas Perez puts forth, and I probably won't say very much. But one of the key aspects of the book and its argument is the dynamic between the film (and more specifically how the film tells a story or presents situations and characters) and the audience, so I wanted to emphasize the ways in which I, as a member of the audience, interacted with both the films and the book. Identification, or identifying with someone or something, plays a large role here. It will also be where a reader will have the strongest levels of both agreement and disagreement. When we say "identified with" a specific character, what do we mean? That varies widely, from strong and complete to merely within a scene. Drawing distinctions between what it means, where lines are drawn, and whether identifying always means "pulling for" the character will be one of the more interactive topics between the reader and Perez' ideas.

While film elements are certainly central to how a rhetoric of film works, this is not really a book about those elements in and of themselves. This is about the dynamic between those elements, as used by the director, and the viewer. While generalizations can and should be made there is still the fact that everyone reacts or interacts slightly different to the same rhetorical device, so we will all have various levels of agreement on what and how effective a device is. That is largely the beauty of this book. Perez passionately puts forth his ideas and, while largely very persuasive, the natural differences between all of us keeps this from being a dry presentation of some definitive rhetoric.

I would recommend this to any reader who also loves watching and thinking about film(s). I don't think the book and argument would be diminished if a reader were to skip a few of the chapters if the particular film doesn't appeal or because they want to watch it first. While the book as a whole certainly makes a complete argument these are largely separate essays, some previously published, so skipping one here or there won't cause large gaping holes in any understanding. The only caveat I will add is that he does use a lot of theory, so if you're put off by that this might not be the book for you. I will say that he isn't heavy-handed with it and he explains what he is doing so that a complete prior understanding of a theorist or work of theory isn't necessary. Plus his writing style is engaging which makes the theory seem less abstract and more concrete, which I think was part of his plan.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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pomo58 | Jul 29, 2019 |

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