After completing the relatively short Lopate reading, I got the general point of his argument but I didn’t really understand the need for it. It’s one thing to delineate a specific genre, but why slavishly attempt to recreate the written form? There are always elements that one medium borrows from another, especially as it is establishing its own boundaries and language, but a film is not a written medium. The written medium is not a stage play. It sounds like Lopate’s argument is that he seeks films where the essay is central, and all other elements (images, sound) are in service of it. He gets enjoyment from the ‘working out of a problem’ and following along through an author’s direct thoughts on a particular space. That’s not to say that I think film can’t be a more intentional dialogue like the essay, but why not just read an essay instead?
It reminds me of the current issue of video games trying very desperately to be movies. That trend exists for several reasons: to be flashy and draw in large sales, and indeed games didn’t really have the huge market and draw until they became much more ‘cinematic’, and also to be big budget and cut down on at least some of the development costs (by reducing the testing required for fully interactive environments). You can make a game largely uninteractive and composed of a lot of cinematic set-pieces, but if you go back and play the game again, the illusion is broken and it’s obvious you’re “playing” a poor movie. By trying to be something that it’s not, the interactive elements that are unique to games as opposed to movies are lost or downplayed.
Why should a director spend countless hours and resources doing what could be better done by one person mulling over their thoughts? Why should game developers spend massive resources to create something that will ultimately not require almost any of the interactive depth to appreciate (like in the Starry Night example from class)?
I felt like this was an odd reading in some ways and am curious on other people’s thoughts.