'The White Screen circa 1900 – On the Moving Image as Potentiality of Thought

Valiaho, Pasi. 2007. 'The White Screen circa 1900 – On the Moving Image as Potentiality of Thought. Symplokê, 15(1-2), pp. 40-65. ISSN 1069-0697 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Léonce Perret's 1912 film Le mystère des Roches de Kador presents one of the most beautiful shots in the early history of cinema: the female protagonist, Suzanne, shrinks away from a white screen filled with light in front of her and eventually faints (see Figure 1). In the film's story, Suzanne has fallen into an amnesic and catatonic state due to a traumatic experience of a shooting incident taken place at a rough seashore, where Suzanne's cousin who is jealously in love with her has attempted to shoot her fiancé. She is treated by a Professor Williams with a "new cinematographic method in psychotherapy," which consists of restaging and recording the traumatic event and then showing the film to the patient. The scene in question displays the screening of the film, after which Suzanne becomes cured and regains her capacity to speak, recollect, and act. Most importantly, Suzanne recovers her "faculty" of language, a faculty that in the history of Western thought has been approached as that of articulate and meaningful speech essentially characterizing the "living being that has logos" (to zôon logon ekhon) (e.g., Aristotle 2002, De Interpretatione 16a27-29).

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

09 Nov 2015 15:30

Last Modified:

09 Nov 2015 15:30

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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