The Photoplay eBook

Hugo Münsterberg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 156 pages of information about The Photoplay.

We might easily trace further the various means by which each particular art overcomes the chaos of the world and renders a part of it in a perfectly isolated form in which all elements are in mutual agreement.  We might develop out of this fundamental demand of art all the special forms which are characteristic in its various fields.  We might also turn to the applied arts, to architecture, to arts and crafts, and so on and see how new rules must arise from the combination of purely artistic demands and those of practical utility.  But this would lead us too far into esthetic theory, while our aim is to push forward toward the problem of the photoplay.  Of painting, of drama, and of music we had to speak because with them the photoplay does share certain important conditions and accordingly certain essential forms of rendering the world.  Each element of the photoplay is a picture, flat like that which the painter creates, and the pictorial character is fundamental for the art of the film.  But surely the photoplay shares many conditions with the drama on the stage.  The presentation of conflicting action among men in dramatic scenes is the content, on the stage as on the screen.  Our chief claim, however, was that we falsify the meaning of the photoplay if we simply subordinate it to the esthetic conditions of the drama.  It is different from mere pictures and it is different from the drama, too, however much relation it has to both.  But we come nearer to the understanding of its true position in the esthetic world, if we think at the same time of that other art upon which we touched, the art of the musical tones.  They have overcome the outer world and the social world entirely, they unfold our inner life, our mental play, with its feelings and emotions, its memories and fancies, in a material which seems exempt from the laws of the world of substance and material, tones which are fluttering and fleeting like our own mental states.  Of course, a photoplay is not a piece of music.  Its material is not sound but light.  But the photoplay is not music in the same sense in which it is not drama and not pictures.  It shares something with all of them.  It stands somewhere among and apart from them and just for this reason it is an art of a particular type which must be understood through its own conditions and for which its own esthetic rules must be traced instead of drawing them simply from the rules of the theater.



We have now reached the point at which we can knot together all our threads, the psychological and the esthetic ones.  If we do so, we come to the true thesis of this whole book.  Our esthetic discussion showed us that it is the aim of art to isolate a significant part of our experience in such a way that it is separate from our practical life and is in complete agreement within itself.  Our esthetic satisfaction results

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The Photoplay from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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