On the possibility of staging subjectivity in cinema (Part 1).

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Introduction

In this short article, I want to put the notions of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, which are commonly used in reference to how the characters are staged, and my own use of ‘staging subjectivity’, into question.

The reason why I want to discuss these notions and their use is because of the following quote from a review of Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django (2007): “Kill Bill was a comic book, yes, but Tarantino allowed his actors room to create characters the audience could care about, while Miike, by having his cast speak awkward English, is perversely trying to keep their characters two-dimensional and keep the audience distant…Ultimately, Sukiyaki Western Django is an exhausting experience. (Sloan, 2007). When reading this quote, having seen both Kill Bill (vol. 1 and vol. 2) and Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) not long before, I instantly had a problem with the notion of two-dimensionality and the implicit implication that Kill Bill featured three-dimensional characters, characters one could, because of this three-dimensionality, care about.

I think the notion of two-dimensionality, without corroborating the critique of Sloan on Miike’s western narrative, isn’t used correctly in this context. In my opinion, he should have used the term one-dimensionality. Kill Bill (vol. 1 and Vol. 2) would then feature two-dimensional characters, characters one could, because of their two-dimensionality, care about. In other words: it’s not because a narrative features complex characters, characters with complex motives, or characters that are well-grounded in the speech they utter, that they are three-dimensional. Concerning my own use of the term “staging of subjectivity or psychic reality” (See for instance Yureru, Minna! Esper dayo, and Forma) – which is to be situated at the level of three dimensionality  – one could ask oneself if I didn’t confound two-dimensionality with subjectivity or the aspect of a complex psychic reality in some instances.

First and foremost, to further elaborate this thesis and these questions, we’ll have to explain each term in respect to cinema and cinematography. In the second part, we’ll explain one-dimensionality, two-dimensionality and three dimensionality, using mostly Japanese cinematographic examples.

References:

Sloan, W. (2007). Toronto Film Festival 2007, Part 4 – “Battle for Haditha” and “Sukiyaki Western Django”. Inside Toronto. Retrieved from: // (note: quote was found on wikipedia and is the only thing available).

 

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