- repetition + cinema
- ---- by Constantine VerevisDeleuze's books on cinema - Cinema 1: The movement-image and Cinema 2: The time-image - are about the possibility of 'repeating' a film (or films) within the institution of cinema studies. As in Roland Barthes' account of re-reading, this repetition would not be the re-presentation of identity (a re-discovery of the same), but the re-production - the creation and the exhibition - of the difference that lies at the heart of repetition (B 1974). For film studies, Deleuze's Cinema books can be seen as an attempt to negotiate the tension between (film) theory and history via a non-totalising concept of difference, one which can attend to the heterogeneity - the local and specific repetitions - of historical material.In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze puts forward two alternative theories of repetition. The first, a 'Platonic' theory of repetition, posits a world of difference based upon some pre-established similitude or identity; it defines a world of copies (representations). The second, a 'Nietzschean' theory of repetition suggests that similitude and identity is the product of some fundamental disparity or difference; it defines a world of simulacra (phantasms). Taking these formulations as distinct interpretations of the world, Deleuze describes simulacra as intensive systems constituted by the placing together of disparate elements. Within these differential series, a third virtual object (dark precursor, eternal return, abstract machine) plays the role of differenciator, the in-itself of difference which relates different to different, and allows divergent series to return as diversity and its re-production. As systems that include within themselves this differential point of view, simulacra evade the limit of representation (the model of recognition) to effect the intensity of an encounter with difference and its repetition, a pure becoming-in-the-world.The idea of the intensive system, and its frustration of any attempt to establish an order of succession, a hierarchy of identity and resemblance between original and copy, is nowhere more evident than in the serial repetition of new Hollywood cinema, especially the film remake. The majority of critical accounts of cinematic remaking understand it as a one-way process: a movement from authenticity to imitation, from the superior selfidentity of the original to the debased resemblance of the remake. For instance, much of the discussion around the 1998 release of Gus Van Sant's close remake ('replica') of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) was an expression of outrage and confusion at the defilement of a revered classic. Reviewers and 'Hitchcockians' agreed that Van Sant made two fundamental mistakes: the first, to have undertaken to remake a landmark of cinematic history; and the second, to have followed the Hitchcock original (almost) shot by shot, line by line. Even for those who noted that the remake differed in its detail from the Hitchcock film, the revisions added nothing to what remained an intact and undeniable classic, a semantic fixity (identity) against which the new version was evaluated and dismissed as a degraded copy.Rather than follow these essentialist trajectories, Deleuze's account of repetition suggests that cinematic remaking in its most general application might - more productively - be regarded as a specific aspect of a broader and more open-ended intertextuality. A modern classic, Psycho has been retrospectively coded as the forerunner to a cycle of slasher movies initiated by Halloween (1978) and celebrated in the sequels and series that followed. More particularly, the 1970s interest in the slasher movie subgenre saw the character of Norman Bates revived for a number of Psycho sequels (II-IV), and the Hitchcock original quoted in a host of homages, notably the films of Brian De Palma. Each of these repetitions can be understood as a limited form of remaking, suggesting that the precursor text is never singular, and that Van Sant's Psycho remake differs textually from these other examples not in kind, but only in degree.While the above approach establishes a large circuit between Psycho-60 and Psycho-98, there is another position: namely, that Van Sant's Psycho is not close enough to the Hitchcock version. This suggestion - that an irreducible difference plays simultaneously between the most mechanical of repetitions - is best demonstrated by an earlier remake of Psycho, Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho (1993). So named because it takes twenty-four hours to run its course, Gordon's version is a video installation that re-runs Psycho-60 at approximately two frames per second, just fast enough for each image to be pulled forward into the next. Gordon's strategy demonstrates that each and every film is remade - dispersed and transformed - in its every new context or configuration. Gordon does not set out to imitate Psycho but to repeat it - to change nothing, but at the same time allow an absolute difference to emerge. Understood in this way, Psycho-98 is not a perversion of an original identity, but the production of a new event, one that adds to (rather than corrupts) the seriality of the former version.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.