What about Hollywood? Filming, Reception

Sounds great. But what about Hollywood?!

In trying to think about the slipperiness of reception, as both a scholarly topic and a process, I’d suggest that cinema is a particularly interesting area to consider. Ontologically, it has a very mysterious and ambiguous relationship with questions of reception, because in some respects the camera is ‘recieving’ the material actuality it faces; a reception which is in turn recieved by viewers. Traditionally, this ‘prelimenary reception’ was systematically shrouded by Hollywood filmmakers, whose creations worked tirelessly to minimise the gap (or our ability to identify the gap) between action and recording – the greatest works of Classical Hollywood have the atmosphere appearance rather than of recording, in much the same way that great sculptures (Classical or otherwise) seem to have appeared rather than have been sculpted.

This remarkable effect was, I would suggest, achieved in part thanks to the absolute control offered by film-studio confines, and critically broke down with the rise in location shooting. When a film crew cannot light a scene precisely to order, or organize it with absolute spatial harmony, a subtle but definite chasm opens up between the will of the creator(s) and the stubborn resiliance of the material environment; filmmaking is once again less of a creation than it is an act of recording, and thus an act of reception.

Quite where to locate this reception (as the camera’s, or the director’s, or the cinematographer’s, etc…) is a whole other headache / opportunity. But for now, it’s hopefully provocative to enough to suggest that the material conditions of filmmaking practices can have a profound influence on the cycles of reception at play. This is, I hope, a convincing starting point for considering ecocritical resonances within reception theory, and vice-versa.



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