Why Film Narratives Exist
ABSTRACT In several recent writings, Paul Willemen made the remarkable contention that the cinema provides mechanisms, functioning across cultures, by which the relation between textual and social processes can be clearly understood. In trying to see how these mechanisms work, this essay explores key concepts that Willemen had outlined in his earlier writing, notably those of “inner speech,” “cinephilia” and the “fourth look,” which his later writings (some included in this issue of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies) would refine with new work around indexicality, labour and value. One such ‘mechanism’ is technically explored with the zoom shot, which this essay tries to explicate in comparison with an apparently similar but more narratively embedded mechanism outlined by Madhava Prasad that he had called “fragment-b.” On the way, it takes issue with some of Willemen’s work around identity and the national.
Keywords: Cinephilia, The fourth look, inner speech, apparatus, looking, the avant-garde
Ashish Rajadhyaksha is Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Culture & Society, Bangalore. He is the co-editor of the Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema (2001) with Paul Willemen, and author of Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to the Emergency (2009).