Re: experimental film vs narrative film

From: Ken Bawcom (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Apr 07 2006 - 23:17:54 PDT

Yeah, narrative vs experimental is often the shorthand you describe.
But, to me narrative and experimental aren't exclusive terms. As others
have mentioned, many exp film makers make narrative films. To me, a
narrative film tells a fictional story. A documentary film tells an
ostensibly true story. There are experimental films that have no story
content what so ever. There are also lots of experimental narrative,
and experimental documentary films. There are even a few mainstream
(more or less) experimental narrative films. As far as I am concerned,
Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" is clearly such a film. But, I
find the definition of "experimental" to be elusive. I guess I feel
about experimental film like US Supreme Court judge Potter Stewart felt
about pornography. I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.

Ken B.

Quoting Michael Betancourt <email suppressed>:

> Hi Freya,
> Both "Brakhages' Theorem" that all film is narrative, and Frampton's essay
> "A Pentagram for Conjuring the Narrative" spring to mind from your comments.
> It's not that experimental films aren't narrative, but that all commercially
> produced Hollywood-studio-type productions inevitably are narrative, so much
> of the time "narrative vs. experimental" is just a short hand for saying the
> difference between the commercial cinema, it's language, forms, ideologies,
> etc. as opposed to the independent, artisanal, personal/individual, etc.
> "experimental" film. [We could make the same objections about the
> "experimental" label too.]
> Michael Betancourt
> Des Moines, IA USA
> the avant-garde film & video blog
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