Update #3 – ‘How’ is ‘What’

I don’t intend for this to become a review blog, there are plenty of them out there already and i’d like this to be a place of original content. However, if I read something I think worth sharing i’ll make a short update post on it. Here’s the first:

I’m reading through V.F.Perkins’ ‘Film as Film’, which i’ll admit was difficult to get into at first, and came to the chapter ‘How’ is ‘What‘, which is when the analysis came into it’s own. These two paragraphs capture the key points for me:

“A movie whose significance is restricted to the message-making level competes in an area where images are markedly less efficient than words. Less efficient because less clear. If we wish to transmit a verbal message it makes little sense to interpose unnecessary coding and de-coding stages between sender and receiver.”


“The hallmark of a great movie is not that it is without strains, but that it absorbs its tensions; they escape notice until we project ourselves into the position of the artist and think through the problems which he confronted in his search for order and meaning. The more each element is not just compatible with, but an active contributor to, the network of significant relationships, the more value we can claim for the synthesis achieved.”

In short: Films can do more than just get a message across, and films that intend to do  that only are probably bad films. The rich texture of a film (sound, composition, colour, pace, performance, editing etc.) can support a more more detailed set of representations for the audience, not just in what they’re telling you, but by adding to that with how they’re telling it. Importantly, this needs to be seamless and make sense within the story.

Any restrictions a director might face are turned into advantages as they think around the problem to present their piece in spite of these difficulties. A film that doesn’t deliberately overcome or make use of the medium’s inherent limitations is probably a bad film.

There’s nuance lost in my translation and understanding, but Perkins expresses his point in a succinct albeit opaque way (on first read at least).

Anyway, the next Magikarp Used Splash story will be up in the next few days. I’m not sure if I explained this, but the point of those stories is to also try my hand at writing different styles (So TV sci-fi and TV sit-com have been tried already), next I’m thinking poetry…



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