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Film and the Imagined Image$
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Sarah Cooper

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474452786

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474452786.001.0001

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(p.134) Chapter 7 Erasing
Film and the Imagined Image

Sarah Cooper

Edinburgh University Press

The focus of this chapter is on mental images that spectators are prompted to build and then to erase, either by conjuring a disappearance within them or by dismantling them fully as part of the activity of imagining. This iconoclastic mental activity is the corollary of the onscreen relation to the image in the work of the two contrasting directors discussed in this final chapter. The reshaping of the previous chapter necessitated adding something to the onscreen image. The work of erasure explored in this current chapter involves both subtracting something from the mental image that has been formed on the basis of verbal instruction and destroying it in its entirety: the former process is one traced as a recurrent element of Guy Debord’s first film Howls for Sade (1952). The latter process is one traced through a series of late films by Marguerite Duras, from The Lorry (1977) and The Ship Night (1979) to two shorts, Negative Hands (1979) and Caesarea (1979). Negative Hands also prompts instances of what Elaine Scarry terms ‘re-picturing’, which involves the forming and re-forming of mental images even as this too, in Duras’s case, serves an ultimate process of annihilation.

Keywords:   Erasing, Perception, Imagination, Guy Debord, Marguerite Duras, Re-picturing

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