Thursday, May 17, 2012
Plain Talk: Kevin Brownlow
"As soon as scholars discovered cinema as an "academic" subject, they imposed their own private language upon it. Perhaps because the motion picture is, in reality, a cheap entertainment, they have set out to make it more "respectable" with language borrowed from different areas of study, like psychoanalysis. It's heartbreaking. I have been approached by many students who have been so put off by this that they have left cinema studies. Why do we need to learn another language in order to study something that has its own universal language? Teaching is supposed to mean communication, not alienation. Academics were so busy with theory that they let the first and second generation of filmmakers die without getting any information from them. Had they got the facts, the theorizing might have been based upon a solid foundation. As it is, it has nothing to do with filmmaking. Filmmakers can't understand it—but perhaps that's the point. If we could understand, it would be revealed as gossamer."
Kevin Brownlow, interviewed in John C. Tibbetts James M. Welsh, "Life to Those Shadows: Kevin Brownlow Talks About a Career in Films." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 14.1 (Fall 1999), pp. 79-95.