Appendix 9: Lena Israel and the Epic Cinema
In a central chapter in her book Lena Israel draws philosophical distinctions between two separate filmic processes - the Anglo-Saxon narrative, with its relationship to the Cartesian way of seeing the world, and the 'Epic-lyrical', with its direct relationship to Hegel.
Lena outlines Descartes' presentation of the dualism between body and mind - his claim that the relationship between subject and object is disconnected. Descartes ignores the individual's interaction with the surrounding world, and believes that his or her "truth" is determined in advance by the structure of the world of objects. Conversely, Hegel tries to overcome this dualism - by giving the individual an active role in the knowledge-creating process.
Lena Israel illustrates that - using conflict, climax and resolution - Anglo-Saxon dramaturgy follows the credo of Descartes, by moving the spectator forward as a passive element to whom things happen. The "truth" is given in advance, and there is to be only one interpretation. There is no dialogue with the spectator, who remains just that - an 'onlooker' - merely slotted into the very power-structure of the film or TV programme.
By contrast, says Lena, we see that the non-linear possibilities of the 'epic-lyrical' film, with its several parallel lines of action, shifting time chronologies, rich nuances and ambiguity of interpretation, place the spectator in a completely different position in relation to the experience. Here, he/she is in a state of dialogue with the film - there is a complexity of possible decisions - which is out of the question when the Monoform is being used.