Dickens and the dream of cinema
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An original blending of literary and film studies which seeks to dissolve barriers between the two disciplines. Offers a new reading of Dickens from the perspective of film, technology and visuality. Proposes a new reading of the emergence of film in the light of social and industrial transformations. Suggests that Dickens was one of the forces which contributed to the appearance of film towards the end of the nineteenth century.
for some kind of awful ride'. 36 In other words, as he did so frequently
observation of Paul Virilio's: 'The moment they appeared on the scene, the first optical devices ... profoundly altered the contexts in which mental images were topographically stored and c: Ql Ql "'Cl c: "Qj .0 "0 c: 10 Cl c: "Qj Ql "' ;,; Cl c: .... ~ "0 c: 10 "'Ql .!: ~ v 10 ::?i 19 Ill E G.l c: ·o b E Ill ... G.l "0 G.l .c ..... "0 c: Ill "'c:G.l ~ u 0 20 retrieved, the imperative to re-present oneself. 4 Although Virilio's point is similar to arguments
here: 'Through the production of fiction as film, these modernist writers sought to remove from the scene the omniscient author ... In so doing, they transcribe a ghostly realism, a spectral mimesis, which anticipates Christian Metz's character- isation of the film image as signifying the "presence of an absence"'. 27 Dickens's starting point is a fact real enough for Victorian London, its regular enveloping in near-impenetrable fog, but the act of writing translates this mundane reality into a
coloured texture of life captured by modern cinema. It ought to be widely known, ,--although experience suggests it is not, that such visions of the i past are usually distorted by two technical failings: poor print ality and projection at the number of frames per second required r sound, rather than silent, cinema. Anyone who has experienced ~ e beauty of so-called silent film projected at the correct speed in \ a good print, with the appropriate musical accompaniment, will · , \ understand how
island together. Come night, come darkness, for you cannot come too soon or stay too long, by such a place as this! Come, straggling lights into the windows of the ugly houses; and you who do iniquity therein, do it at least with this dread scene shut out! Come, flame of gas, burning so sullenly above the iron gate, on which the poisoned air deposits its witch-ointment slimy to the touch! It is well that you should call to every passer-by, 'Look here!' With the night, comes a slouching figure