Singer concentrates on questions about appearance and reality, the visual and the literary, and the interplay between communication as a goal and alienation as a hazard in films of every sort.
Singer (philosophy, MIT) returns to the classic debate between realist and formalist theories of film to posit that a union of the two is required. To the realist, film is a recording of the reality of the physical world, and finding the best method of capturing reality on film is the ultimate goal. For the formalist, film becomes art through the techniques used to transform reality for aesthetic purposes. But to Singer, techniques matter only for the meanings they generate with the audience; a film audience sees the world and its reality shaped by the technical maneuvers of the filmmaker to convey his conception. Singer illustrates his theory and addresses other ideas about film with discussions of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game, and Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice. This well-argued and well-written essay is recommended for academic collections.--Marianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC