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What Is Film?

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Julie N. Books

In What Is Film?, Julie N. Books critically evaluates three philosophical doctrines of film realism (transparency, illusionism, and perceptual realism) and defends her view that films are creative works of art. By examining contemporary films, such as computer-animated films and films with computer-generated images, Dr. Books shows how films are creative works of art, thereby undermining the long-held view that films are slavish recordings of reality. This book is ideal for academics and courses on the philosophy of film, film theory, film history, filmmaking, metaphysics, and the philosophy of art.
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I believe that my account of films as creative works of art improves upon the three philosophical doctrines of film realism because it retains their strengths and eliminates their weaknesses. It retains the popular appeal of the transparency doctrine because it allows for the fact that there are photographic aspects involved in film production, so films can indeed show us the way objects looked at the time of filming. But it also shows that films are more than just a series of snapshots that records reality in a mechanical way. Filmmakers can manipulate every element that can appear in a film image or series of film images. They can manipulate the subject matter, composition, type and duration of shots, editing of shots, motions, sounds, textures, and colors of film images. They can also employ animated images, computer-animated images, and computer-generated images that show film viewers things that do not necessarily exist in the real world.

My account also addresses the problem with cognitive illusionism, which is that film viewers typically do not believe that they are in the presence of real events when they watch films. My account explains how film viewers do not experience cognitive illusions when they watch films because they are aware of the artistic and creative elements in film images and the artificial viewing conditions under which they see films, which call attention to the fact that what is being seen ← 137 | 138 → are visual images of fictional events that are being...

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