Art Historian Michael Baxandall on Film Studies (1996)

Michael Baxandall, 1933-2008.
Michael Baxandall, 1933-2008.

For years I’ve been a great admirer of the art historian Michael Baxandall. I’ve read every word he every published, and always wanted to have a conversation with him. Here’s one of the few things he had to say about film studies:

“Yes, I keep looking at film studies, but it seems to me a lot of the strength of film studies doesn’t lie quite in the sort of visual things that interest me most. The strengths are very often in the criticism of narrative, and I have not found much film criticism very relevant to my work. I don’t want to give the impression that I regularly keep up with the literature, I don’t, but what I’ve read doesn’t seem to be doing the things with the film that I’d like to be doing with pictures. My interests are in manipulations of visual attention, and I haven’t come across the film criticism which does this. I’m sure it exists, and I’d love to have references.”

This was in 1996. A shame that conversation never happened.

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