Reality Transformed: Film as Meaning and Technique

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In Reality Transformed Irving Singer offers a new approach to the philosophy of film.

Returning to the classical debate between realists and formalists, he shows how the opposing positions may be harmonized and united. Singer concentrates on questions about appearance and reality, the visual and the literary, and the interplay between communication as a goal and alienation as a hazard in films of every sort. In three exemplary chapters, he provides suggestive readings of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice, and Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. Reality Transformed will interest the general reader as well as students in all fields related to film studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Singer (philosophy, MIT) returns to the classic debate between realist and formalist theories of film to posit that a union of the two is required. To the realist, film is a recording of the reality of the physical world, and finding the best method of capturing reality on film is the ultimate goal. For the formalist, film becomes art through the techniques used to transform reality for aesthetic purposes. But to Singer, techniques matter only for the meanings they generate with the audience; a film audience sees the world and its reality shaped by the technical maneuvers of the filmmaker to convey his conception. Singer illustrates his theory and addresses other ideas about film with discussions of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game, and Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice. This well-argued and well-written essay is recommended for academic collections.--Marianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262692489
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 8/25/2000
  • Series: The Irving Singer Library
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving Singer is Professor of Philosophy at MIT. In addition to his two trilogies,The Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, he is the author of many other books, including the recent Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up,and four books on film aesthetics, Reality Transformed: Film as Meaning and Technique; Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir;Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher: Reflections on His Creativity; andCinematic Mythmaking: Philosophy in Film, all published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Realism vs. Formalism 1
1 Appearance and Reality 15
2 The Purple Rose of Cairo 53
3 The Visual and the Literary 81
4 Death in Venice 103
5 Communication and Alienation 131
6 The Rules of the Game 155
Conclusion: Cinematic Transformation 191
Notes 201
Index 211
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