Are literary texts verbal, while films are visual?
Hmm…I ask this question, because from the beginning of the semester I’ve heard comments from classmates making this distinction. It seemed plausible at the time of hearing, but I always felt unsure about the plausibility of this assertion.
Leitch, in a very simple turn, says this isn’t true. In a general sense he seems to primarily be arguing against the essentialism produced from fallacies such as literary texts are verbal and films visual or novels are better than film. Hmmm…literary texts are verbal, but I’ve never thought they were ever just verbal — or maybe not ever verbal at all. When reading, most people don’t read aloud, which is what I would consider verbal, instead they read in their minds. Is that still verbal? I would says no. Hmmm…But isn’t reading also visual? In that, instead of the images being given to us via a film, we produce our own images from the words we read in our own mind. But even for film — we can say that we are given an image — but even that image is individualized. No? Is it possible that each audience member sees something slightly different, even if they have a general consensus about the film.
Leitch says that films since the silent movie era are not visual. Because of the simple explanation that they are audio-visual, depending on both the audio and visual to engage the audience. To take a step back: aren’t silent movies both visual and literary? The audience has to read and there are images and then they connect those images — the images with the words. What about films with subtitles? Do they function the same way as silent films, except with the added audio component? You have images, sound, but you still have to read? But because of the reading, you don’t get all of the images. The primary mode of understanding comes from text and music.
Leitch points out that even contemporary films have a certain element of literature. When we watch a movie based on a play we wait for the scene with the speeches which are iconic.