User:Elleke Hageman/Trimester 2/Reading and Writing/14-01-14 Comparing Essay

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Film Form in the attractional cinema and 24

In this text I will make a comparison between the different film forms of the attractional cinema of the early 1900's and the television show 24 based upon the essay by Joost Broeren “Digital Attractions: Reloading Early Cinema in Online Video Collections” and the chapter “Disingenuous I nformatics” from the book “The interface effect” by Alexander Galloway.

Form in the (mordernday) attractional cinema

In the early 1900's short film slides and moving pictures were just different forms of projection techniques displaying more or less attractional content. The attractional cinema is a cinema which shows a series of views with attractional content. It is, in that sense, not a way of telling a story. The attraction does not really contain a narrative. The cinema of attractions is defined by its mode of address by the way it enters into a relationship with its audience.

According to Heide Schluppman the modern day distinction between fiction and non-fiction is not applicable on the attraction. The fictional and non-fictional film were essentially documentative in this period, as “the early fiction films were fueled by the same interest as the documentary films, and [...] they also represent a kind of documentation, albeit by other means.” This leads her to the claim that (narrative) fiction film in this period was partly a pretext for being able to show scenes of intimate home life, which were taboo in non-fiction film. This centrality of showing intimate scenes in the attraction makes it an exhibitionist cinema.

The attractional film was often shown in a fairground cinema. “The early showmen exhibitors exerted a great deal of control over the shows they presented, actually re-editing the films they had purchased and supplying a series of off-screen supplements, such as sound effects and spoken commentary.” Gunning states that the showman and/or lecturer in fact often had a narrativizing function creating an own narrative by cutting up the purchased films and pasting them together in a different way.

The template for showing of the moderndays attraction, such as youtube films, leads the spectator to numerous linked other films which may or may not have similarities in different fields be it thematically or uploaded by the same user. This leads to a series of views which can be narrativised by the spectator. The modernday attractional cinema adresses it's audience directly through the use of actions which are linked to a general orientation towards the spectator. The gazes and gestures that are directed to the camera and the audience. Inspired by another attractionional film the audience creates new attractional experiences, by watching certain videos in succession of each other meanwhile creating subjective links in between them and thus creating a new narrative experience for themselves. And also by making covers, do-overs, hereby having control over the new content. Because the modernday attraction is aimed at the viewer and possibly made for the viewer the creator of the attraction holds into account what the viewer might want to see and critisism and comments wich are being given can have an effect on the eventual form of the modernday attraction.

Form in 24

24 is a television show which shows a series of events (supposedly) in real time. The content of 24 is seen as essentially propaganda, produced by Fox a right wing television network. In it there is a public vetting of current debates. The interpretation of the show second season 24 is a utilitarian view on moderndays society, where consequentialism is always allowed because in the end breaking the rules is always to achieve better efficiency. The employees in 24 cannot clock out and are chained to their jobs mainly because the labor instates self-worth and in the case of 24 life itself. The work day is extended to an absolute of 24/7. There is no domestic space in the show at all and the normal work environment is the panoptic work environment.

In the depiction of the events there are several formalistic means which reoccur throughout the show. The use of split screen is often implicated to portray phone calls for example. Also the use of visual simultaneity, polyptych editing, which allow several actions to be seen at the same time. Allowing cross talk to take place in between the several actions. The different formalistic means are used as signs or as a structure to tell us that there is a commercial break coming up or another interruption for that matter, such as the end of the show.

One day is supposed to be shown to us in one hour (in fact an episode only last for 42 minutes the rest of the hour is lost to commercials). Each minute counts the most of the lives of the people are important on a minute to minute basis.


As we can see the forms of the different examples in the text vary a great deal from each other. The first, the attractional film is basically used as a sensory and emotive appealing vessel. Used to create an experience rather than tell a story, in which the interaction it has with the audience conveys a great deal of it's meaning. As opposed to 24 in which the form is mainly used in order to illustrate the story in a way to implicate a meaning.

That the attraction is a non-narrative creates room for the viewer to interact with the film and leaves room for the perceptor to create new storylines. The fact that the fairground exhibitor cuts up a purchased piece of film and creates a new series of views is a good example of the creation of a new storyline and literally re-interpreting the footage into a new series. That the attraction literally adresses it's audience is also a good example of importance of the interaction with the audience. The form is the narrative of the attraction in the sense that the editing color and the view all work together to create the non – narrative attractional experience.

The form in 24 is used more as a semiotical and metaphorical support to the story. Which can be seen for example in the fastness of the editing (most shots do not last longer than several seconds). This creates a sensation of time for the viewer which is fast, the fact that the main character is in a hurry and there's a lot at stake is being emphasized in this manner. The fact that the story is in “real-time” emphasizes the importance of time and the polyptych editing tells us that there are several happenings on different locations.