Furthering Barbara Klinger's claim as to the protean nature of the cinematic object

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Robbins, Papagena


Barbara Klinger’s study of the various lives of popular films, the “aftermarket” effects on these objects, is indeed relevant for our discipline. The suggestion that perhaps we are not taking seriously enough the protean nature of films can and should be extended outward to incorporate a transnational and non-commercial scope.
In terms of the shifting body and presentation of the filmic object when it enters foreign markets, I believe there is much to be said. Not just about the mark of the subtitle text, or dubbing, but how these films might be edited for cultural acceptability, how they might be framed on television, and how they might achieve cult status for whatever reason elsewhere. This goes for “foreign films” here, too.
Non-commercial films have their protean existences in the “aftermarket” too, though I’m less inclined to use this term since I’d prefer to stay away from economic ways of speaking when I don’t have to.  “Orphan films,” and their use, have been a recent hot topic, as have found-footage films been in general. Through film scratching, prudish exhibitioners occasionally modify ethnographic films to give nude subjects a bit of “modesty.” Home movies are transformed into material for biographic films, or auto-documentaries. Agit-prop films of old, short surrealist films, early silent film shorts are modified for transmission on the internet and are often found with different bits cut out to fit within different website’s length limits. Digital transference for Internet sharing in general changes quite a bit about the films that undergo this process.
There are so many different contexts and uses of film that may require alteration of the objects themselves. They may seem to exist as total entities in our minds, but this is merely a comforting illusion worthy of some serious thought. This is a condition of our medium that is less a problem (or pleasure?) for other mediums such as books, paintings, sculpture, etc., which seem to be able to claim their objects as definitive and enduring far more easily.

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