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Abstract

There are many ways in which filmgoing is like dreaming. The space and time of the film experience are distorted and illusory. For instance, one has the sense of being spatially present on the filmed scene. However, if we really accepted a change in the camera viewpoint as a change in our own position, rapid intercutting between different viewpoints would be intolerable. This suggests that in film our sense of space is somehow bracketed or held in suspense. Likewise, we take what we see in the film to be happening in the present, yet we tolerate jumps backward and forward in time. On reflection, these peculiarities of the film experience are extremely odd. Our ability to enjoy them testifies to the mind’s tendency to smooth things over, interpreting whatever confronts it in terms of the simplest pattern.

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