chapter  1
29 Pages

Across the Abyss: Tiefland on Stage

In one of the most influential early theoretical engagements with cinema, Rudolf Arnheim confronts one of the long-standing charges against cinema: that, like photography, it is a mere mechanical reproduction of reality. According to Jacques Rancire, there is, however, a dialectical quality to the insistence on media specificity. The claim to inwardness and purity of the medium, he argues, is simultaneously outward looking, always presupposing and encountering other media. The medium, Rancire is not autonomous at all: It is a surface of conversion: a surface of equivalence between the different arts' ways of making. Saturated by the conventions of musical nature representation and indebted to program music and opera for its evocation of mood and place, Hindemith's music makes liberal use of a tried and tested vocabulary: a pompous modal chorale in unison for the opening and closing vistas of the mountains; rapid scales for a storm scene; martial music to accompany trekking.