Friday, August 2

Four Views of Cinema - Part Four: Searching for Ways of Experiencing Films by Charles Rees


In this article Charles Rees offers his personal insights about how image and sound can be re-‘read’ in such a way as to transcend current narrative constraints. He offers examples of films which have influenced and impressed him, and extrapolates on ways in which cinema might develop in the future.

My four views stretch over a long period.
Each individual sees differently.
The Camera Image sees differently from humans.

Fourth View: The Director's Voice

The last view is in my mind’s eye. One day, I imagine, the image in time will be just that. I mean the image itself will be in motion. It shall no longer be achieved by an illusion of movement, the projection of a series of static images in rapid succession. We shall have captured time. However, until then we still have to deal with the flickering frame’s adverse effect on our visual apprehension. The flickering puts us into a mild hypnotic trance.

Compare the way you look at anything in your room with the way you look at the flickering image. Flickering screens make us see differently. Mesmerized, our sensibility shifts. We become more susceptible emotionally and less sensitive rationally and spiritually. Our viewing is made systematically unbalanced.

     This was not the case in the seventeenth century when Dutch painters, such as Johannes Vermeer, gazed at the image in time at their camera obscuras. The painters saw nature’s image in its essential state on large ground-glass screens. They were not encumbered by the effect of mechanical and chemical means of capturing it: the whirring cameras and photographic or digital reproduction. The painters fixed the image by paint. The image in their camera obscura was extraordinarily calm – calmer than looking at the subject with their own eyes. It encouraged contemplation. We, on the other hand, have had to make do with an image that makes us enervated and more emotional.