The imaginary as filmic reality

Richard Rushton

in The Reality of Film

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780719082689
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702994 | DOI:
The imaginary as filmic reality

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This chapter brings forth Christian Metz's conception of cinema. On the one hand, he has been discredited with trying to reduce cinematic expression to linguistic terms while on the other hand he has been further criticised for being an advocate of ‘apparatus theory’. Metz's notion of the ‘imaginary signifier’ has been criticized because critics argue that his theorization of the imaginariness of the cinema signifier places an emphasis on cinematic illusion instead of endorsing cinematic reality. The chapter argues that imaginary signifier in no way signals the failure of cinema but instead accurately characterizes its triumph. The cinema signifier is not symbolic and nor does it evoke the real world directly. Rather, the cinema signifier is imaginary as it offers a reverie that gives people the possibility of re-imagining their relationship to the world. Filmic reality, by passing through the imaginary, allows imagining new orders of reality.

Keywords: Christian Metz; appratus theory; imaginary signifier; cinematic illusion; filmic reality

Chapter.  11874 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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