Friday, September 12, 2008

Thomas Hardy: A Progenitor of Cinematography Part 1

Cinema blossomed into an individual entity during the Griffithian period just as the novel came into its own during the Victorian period. Both Griffith and the Victorian novelists were faced with the problem of how to represent the human body as a visual icon and how to fold in the identifications and references into the moving chain of events, of motions and enigmas that sweep towards a conclusion. The only way out of this imbroglio was for both arts "to reduce the reality to a particular phase of perception and translate the veracity of experience into a more-or-less homogenous formal language".

It is perhaps this "homogenous and formal language" that pulled together inextricably the strands of both Victorian fiction as well as cinema and put paid to Virginia Woolf's statement that " that which is accessible to words and words alone the cinema must avoid' If the comparison is carried slightly further it would not be far wrong to say that the Victorian fiction with its cinematic predispositions and the Griffithian cinematography have a similiar concern with a temporally and spatially fragmentary exposition, a particularization of images and their compositions , with the interjection of movement and finally with the externalization of memory into tangible and visible experience . A look at Dicken's Victorian narrative confirms this enmeshing :

It was beautifully clean inside ,
and as tidy as possible. There was
a table and a Dutch clock and
a chest of drawers and on the
chest of the drawers there was
a tea-tray with a painting on
it of a lady with a parasol
taking a walk with a military
looking child who was trundling
a hoop...
On the walls there were some
common coloured paintings,
framed and glazed, of scripture
subjects...Abraham in red
going to sacrifice Isaac in blue,
and Daniel in yellow cast into a
den of green lions...

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