state of the viewer : reflections on our place in the cinema

What happens when we sit in a movie theater ? How to be a spectator represents a position, a condition or a particular state ?

The carpet in the theater room absorbs the sound of my footsteps. I’m moving to reach my chair, and yet I don’t hear any more. That happened between the moment I walked in the door to double-beating of the dark room and the one where I’m sitting in front of the large screen ? I started to dissolve in my state of the viewer ? The disappearance of my noise it announced my silence, a perfect receptacle for the movement and sound from the show that will unfold in front of me ? Speaking of the space-time in cinema, Gilles Deleuze contrasted the two terms : the image-time and image-movement. Thus, it remains to be seen if a viewer like me, in the state of paradoxical concentration and forgetfulness of himself by his silence and his stillness, embraces better than ever, or, on the contrary, renounces his own abilities of time and movement.


The spectacle of a film making it come to life on the screen, could be seen as the mirror demonstrative of the bankruptcy filing silent, about our capacity and our inclination to action, which lies in our position as spectator. The eyes and the mind open to images which we have consciously chosen to face, we are to be crossed, and moved inwardly by the time that animates these images, and yet we are sitting almost motionless in front of a screen that broadcasts a temporal flow in which we are apparently excluded. Our position is reminiscent of George watching the time pass on the window of a clothing store, without suffering the ravages, in the shelter of his Machine to explore the time.

In a state of arousal extraordinary, without the need to move, the spectator becomes the antithesis of the zombie that he can see on the screen in a film of George A. Romero, represented as a body from walking and dopey, whose slow pace is misleading or the same motor action, and the rise of the voltage. What’s happening, even without appearing to be governed by a consciousness skilful, comes to we terrify, we “sit”, “quiet”, “outside the narrative”. The height would be then to live the same nightmare as Arletty, the star of Messiah of Evil, who sees his cinema room is gradually invaded by a kind of somnambules disturbing, close to the figure horror invented by Romero.


Go to the end of the delirium paranoid, what would we fear if these zombies-somnanbules would come sit in the armchairs that surround us ? To be contaminated by their sleepwalking ? The fright that awaken in us of these creatures, would it not rather indicative of our own altered state of consciousness by the dark room ? In our conception of the world, in our how to invest it and set it by the various territories, both geographical and functional and aesthetic, what place do we to the cinema ? We locked the time of a movie as if we were to seek to be content in a parenthesis, separating our need for fiction of other needs component of our daily lives. The way of the sleepwalker who does not take up in its phase of sleep and seemed to want to prolong the gestures and movements of his day in the middle of the night, we enter in the cinema as in a preserved area from the rest of the time and the space everyday to prolong our lived sensory experience appendix to our practice of the real.

You can go as far as to consider that the cinema gives us access to two space-time bunk, especially when you look at a film shot in an earlier era. To take the example of a classic as It was a time in the West, the story takes place in the far west in the Nineteenth century, is superimposed on the aesthetic codes and narrative of the western Italian of the 1960s. Alexandre Astruc appears the discovers, or rediscovers an old movie, with the opening of a sarcophagus ancient; according to him, the containing body does not preserve the content in an eternity frozen, but serves us, on the contrary, evidence of time passing. The experience can be likened to a elsewhere at the present time, as a dream or a memory, except that it is not a reminiscence of our individual history. It is a dream or a memory prepared by the cinema, as the screen is used as both of consciousness and of language, manages to make us share.


In addition to the memory, the dream or the fantasy, the cinema would be as well to consider it as an annex of the time, a suspended moment out of the life-course, where one can see without being seen. At least, the darkness in which we are immersed in the projection, leads us to believe that we look at without being watched. But can we really imagine that the film is not interested in our gaze, then it is precisely here that its reason for being ? Just as it is difficult to imagine that a tree falling with no one around to hear its fall, emits actually a noise, it cannot establish the absolute fact that a film projected in an empty room would be completely in a movie. Looking for our eyes, the film cares about our presence and de facto gaze on us; however, this look does not only focus on what we were or will be, or what composes our identity in our various states of the day. This look seems to be more and more interested in what we are during the session, through the film.

Of course, it is impossible for us to leave the entirety of our identity at the entrance of the movie theater since it is impossible to divest itself of its memory the time of a session. This explains, moreover, that a viewer may change his opinion and experience a different emotional seeing the same movie twice, in two contexts affective and two different periods of his life. If our encounter with a film is located at a precise moment of our life, therefore, is that the film’s gaze is on us at this time. If this is a good time to interest, surprise and even delight, we found that a second vision of the same movie may cause boredom, disappointment, or even exasperation.

Our course cinéphilique us has, therefore, changes mood and state of spirits, depending on the times of our lives. The rest, if you look at our successive experiences of the viewer in a case-by-case, the films, themselves, seem interested in changing our mood and our state of mind, during the time-frames of their own. In the temporal parenthesis that represents a movie, the movie plays with its two aspects, the simultaneous and paradoxical. On the one hand, the idea of dissociating the experience of the rest of our memory articles may give the impression that time is frozen outside of time. On the other hand, the seventh art has among its interests, the master of the time, and a feature-length film must usually place his narrative in a term of conventional between one hour thirty minutes and three hours. Suvs emotions which succeed each other in us during this time, the look that the film door on us is the result of his desire to place his audience in a subject of study, to make it correspond to the evolution of a story, our metamorphosis sensory and psychological, in a space-time which it sets itself the beginning and the end, as much as the felt and the density.


If we sink in our chairs, if we are silent, if in the dark, we cannot survive more than on the form of simple silhouettes the face of the lights of the majestic on the big screen, it is beautiful and although we are dissolved in the will be dazzling cinema. The observations mentioned in the above paragraphs reflect the individual experiences of the viewer; however, we cannot ignore the collective aspect of the film session. Together in the same dark room, we live simultaneously at the same time that seems to exist only for the show, and the darkness, clipping the movie, forbidden and everything that is not on the screen to affirm a spectacular nature. Our minds converge on the same screen, would be almost a collective consciousness, placing itself at the top of our individualities and our biographical memoirs respective. The image is animating on the screen becomes our only cue spatio-temporal, the only evidence to our minds that the time has take place, as the time runs out. Beyond the ideas and points of view on the world is mediated through the narrative of a film, and which can claim the status of a truth valid in the time, more or less long term, to attend a film makes us aware of the moment. Consciousness of existence, was that the state of a spectator, by an entire room in the space of the same moment.

Having in mind this state of consciousness is at once giddy and buzzing with excitement, understanding this moment of grace and disorder intertwined in Holy Motors, where the intensity of the seventh art is embodied in a panther crossing a cinema all the spectators have their eyes closed and appear to be asleep, no doubt gathered together in the same dream.


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