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The Reality of FilmTheories of Filmic Reality$
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Richard Rushton

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719082689

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719082689.001.0001

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The imaginary as filmic reality

The imaginary as filmic reality

(p.79) 3 The imaginary as filmic reality
The Reality of Film

Richard Rushton

Manchester University Press

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

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