By Zander Brietzke
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Additional info for American Drama in the Age of Film
The authorities fear that laughter, the goal of comedy, frees humankind from the fear of God and undermines the authority of the treatise on tragedy. Eco, the Italian semiotician and author of such academic works as The Open Work, which advocated ambiguity as a virtue of texts, wrote a novel about the dangers of curtailing knowledge and the threat of univocal authority. At the same time, the novel functions as a murder mystery and reveals the discovery of Aristotle on comedy near the very end! Thus, Eco’s book adheres faithfully to Aristotelian plotting!
It must be hard to duplicate real life, such applause seems to suggest. In ﬁlm, that which looks lifelike receives no approbation. Instead, viewers check to see whether or not they have been there! The worldly spectator proudly announces—sometimes impressively, but more often obnoxiously—the exact location of a particular shot. Film takes place in the world; theater is of the world. I saw Three Days of the Condor again recently on cable TV late at night and bolted upright when I discovered that the CIA ofﬁce in the movie is located high in the World Trade Center.
My chief complaint against theater arises when it tries to present subject matter in the same way as the other media and can’t do it as well. 10 / Chapter 1 “For the theater to survive the 21st century,” lamented critic Clive Barnes of the New York Post, “it will have to do what it singularly failed to do in the 20th century: take note of its competitors, and not attempt to do badly what they can do better” (“Theater Must Do”). Film and television are more “worldly” media than theater and are therefore better equipped to present realistic portrayals of human lives and events.
American Drama in the Age of Film by Zander Brietzke