The documentary chronotope

by Michael Chanan

from Jump Cut, no. 43, July 2000, pp. 56-61
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 2000, 2006

What kind of screen world is indicated by calling a film a documentary? Can we substantiate the claim that it has different qualities from fiction or is the difference between them just convention? Or to put the question another way, is documentary a genre, and if so, what kind?

In the view of the Russian literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin, all artistic works belong to one genre or another or they combine the features of different genres. Crucially the genre expresses a certain relation to reality, possesses certain principles of selection, and relies on certain forms of perception and conceptualization. A genre also presupposes a certain audience, certain types of reaction, and certain ideological values. Thus, for example, the difference between the Fordist studio system in Hollywood and auteurist cinema in Europe is not that one is generic and the other not, but rather that the genres have become differently aligned. Finally, genre is characterized by the chronotope, or "time-space." As Tzvetan Todorov explains in his commentary on Bakhtin, the chronotope is the set of distinctive features in the treatment of time and space in the literary genre.[1][open notes in new window] Bakhtin borrowed the term from Einstein's theory of relativity for literary criticism, calling it "almost as a metaphor (almost, but not entirely). What counts for us is the fact that it expresses the inseparability of space and time (time as the fourth dimension of space)."[2]

The concept of the chronotope serves to characterize the distinctive ways in which genres combine the treatment of time and space. It refers to the manner in which "time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible" while "space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history." However, this is not so much a question of grammar, the logic of formal temporal and spatial devices such as close ups (a certain way of organizing space) or flashbacks (a way of organizing time), although this is part of it, but rather the relation of these attributes, and the way they are organized, to the cultural and historical conditions in which they arise.

According to this reading, to take an example, "the Western" does not just indicate a film with a "wild west" setting in the late nineteenth century, a certain cast of characters, typical locations, and a plot following certain conventions. It also inscribes a certain set of morals and mores, which first crystallized into a mythos about the origins of modern U.S. values around the turn of the nineteenth century, and thereby came to constitute an identifiable ethos and ideology. This perception is not new, but approaching it through Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope gives us fresh purchase on it. We may come to see it, for example, as a kind of dramatization of the Turner Thesis on "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," which Frederick Jackson Turner read to the American Historical Association in Chicago in 1893, during the Chicago World Fair, when Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show was also in town.[3]

It is not difficult, I think, to see how this kind of analysis could produce considerable insights about the ideologies contained in the whole range of film genres. But the approach is not without problems. Not least, it raises the awkward question of what kind of genre does documentary constitute? Is it another genre of the same kind as the Western, or does it perhaps belong to a different family? Perhaps it's a different kind of animal altogether, belonging to a different species?

The critical issue is what kind of difference we are looking for. To follow Bakhtin, no essential distinction, in the sense of specific defining characteristics, could mark the difference between fiction and documentary, because — and this is crucial-=he conceives of genre as a dialogical and therefore open form. For Bakhtin, this means that a genre's character does not so much derive from its formal characteristics as from its external orientation, toward both the audience that it addresses and the tradition to which it belongs and from within which it speaks. Bakhtin sees an artistic work as a form of utterance — a complex utterance based on the conventions of generic form. The same considerations therefore apply to novel, play, and film, as apply to individual speech utterances: they are always in dialogue with each other. Dialogue is the natural condition of speech. Bakhtin says,

"Every utterance necessarily elicits a response in one form or another…in the subsequent speech or behavior of the listener…Utterances are not indifferent to one another, and are not selfsufficient; they are aware of and mutually reflect one another."[4]

In short, every film is a link in a chain, which refers, consciously or unconsciously, to other films (novels, plays, etc.) and hence shares in the phenomenon of intertextuality.

If the work of art produces an utterance within a process of cultural dialogue, then a genre's form constantly changes and develops. According to this reading, a genre is not to be defined by any set of fixed categories or conventions which may be deemed to be either necessary or sufficient, but rather it belongs to the realm of what Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations calls family resemblance. For example, a genre like the Western has no single defining characteristic; rather the Western is composed of a cluster of features which are variously shared in different instances. The classic notion of genre gives way here to a broader and more flexible concept.

We are speaking of extended families, with members which marry out, so to speak, to produce crosses between genres usually keep apart — a musical Western, for example. In this construct, films often conjoin features from different genres, even where one genre remains dominant. At the same time, the principle genres each constitute a tradition which has acknowledged masterpieces — models of the genre in question — which we can call its paradigms. Different examples of the genre may follow the same or different features from the same paradigm; however, and in the same way as the children of the same parents, they may not always resemble each other. Here the least we can say is that fiction and documentary are different families, they have different genealogies, but they also tend to intermarry, and as a result, some of their features migrate from one family to the other.

At the same time, the term "documentary" clearly covers a great variety of divergent forms and practices, from observation to compilation, from the testimonial to reconstruction, which again makes it difficult to define "in and of itself," so to speak. There are clusters of conventions but no single defining characteristic or set of attributes which all documentaries satisfy. What is there in common, for instance, between two classic examples like MAMMA DON'T ALLOW, made by Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz in 1955, a cool, Free Cinema observational portrait of a jazz club in London, and a dozen years later, LBJ by the Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez, a biting piece of satirical political propaganda composed entirely of found material? The answer is probably nothing, apart from an absence of commentary and the fact that neither of them are fiction.


Wittgenstein eschews the game of definitions and warns us against being drawn back by notions of "things in themselves" into a philosophically idealist mode of thinking. It is more instructive to look at the problematic area where the two modes, fiction and documentary, which we normally easily tell apart, are brought into play against each other and produce delight — and problems — precisely by transgressing the conventions which normally define them. This trend, which has developed over the last decade or more, I take to be in large part a response to the crisis of objectivity, that is to say, to the accusation that documentary is not objective after all. Such a response goes further than saying, as Frederick Wiseman does, "But I never claimed that; I'm always subjective."[5] Filmmakers respond by in some way emphasizing their subjectivity — for example, through a self-reflexive form or by taking themselves and their quest as the very subject of their endeavor This self referencing gives rise to several characteristic generic variants in recent documentary — ranging from Marcel Ophuls' ironic investigation of recent history in NOVEMBER DAYS, by way of Nick Broomfield's narcissistic reportage in films like THE LEADER, THE DRIVER AND THE DRIVER'S WIFE to autobiographical films like Marilú Malet's JOURNAL INACHEVÉE or Ross McElwee's TIME INDEFINITE.

Consider Nanni Moretti's CARO DIARIO, which clearly shares the elements of both autobiography and documentary as quest. A more complex film than appears at first sight because its three parts (a structure which inevitably evokes the trilogy form of various classic films of Italian neo-realism) each behave differently. The first section, filmed with breathtaking artistry, presents us with the filmmaker-as-author in his native habitat, observing the city he lives in from his scooter. The second part seems to extend this into a video-diary of a trip with a friend, in which both are acting up for the camera. This part becomes an exquisitely shaped, anecdotal narrative, a kind of moral tale. The third part, in which Moretti tries to track down the diagnosis and cure of his own skin ailment, takes a different stance. At the outset Moretti declares that in this section of the film, nothing is invented, and yet much of what we see here looks like re-enactment. What does he mean? Moretti denies that the film is a documentary, even though it presents itself as a model of the autobiographical diary. In most of his other films, Moretti tends to act a character who is an extension of own persona. Here the difference is that he isn't playing a character but himself. I think of Leacock talking about Bob Dylan in DON'T LOOK BACK, saying that sure Dylan was acting for the camera, but he was acting himself and did it very well. This would suggest an important difference from fiction, namely, that in fiction the characters are played by actors, and in documentary they are real people, with their own first and second name (con nombre y apellido as one says in Spanish), who are playing themselves, whether we know their names or not.

However, even if this is the norm, there are also significant exceptions. Consider two films, one English and one Chilean, where the visuals are documentary but the soundtrack employs a fictional character, Patrick Keiller's LONDON (1994) and Ignacio Agüero's SUEÑOS DE HIELO (DREAMS OF ICE, 1992). Are these documentaries or what? For a recent screening of the former on Britain's Channel 4, one newspaper listing called it a "drama documentary," which is not right, at least as long as drama-documentary implies re-enactment. Here there is nothing either enacted or re-enacted, but impeccable observational shooting of London scenes. The soundtrack, however, is a monologue, a first person narrative about the speaker's friend's reflections on the city, delivered by a well-known actor who never appears in the picture (nor does his friend). The Chilean film, which portrays transporting a lump of Antarctic ice to Seville for the World's Fair, has exactly the same form — a fictional narrative told by an unseen voice over observational images, though more stylized. Both films' aesthetic consists in the teasing disparity between image and word, the tension between them, the ambiguous mental space which they map out before our eyes.

The drama-documentary itself is hardly a singular genre anyway. Leave aside the differences between the British and the North American versions of the genre, in which the former is closer to the sobriety of the well-behaved documentary and the latter to the dramatic sheen of Hollywood. Consider instead a film like Michael Verhoeven's feature THE NASTY GIRL, a fictionalized account, in a style of ironic comedy, of the story of Ana Rosmus, filmed in her home town of Passau. It's the tale of what happened when a German schoolgirl won a national essay contest on the subject of "My Hometown During the Third Reich." Here the names of the town and the characters in the film are fictional, but the story is true. (The town in the film is called Pfilzing, from the German verb filzen, which means to be stingy or negative, and the term "Pfilzing Syndrome," according to one reviewer, has now come to stand for feigned ignorance of the Nazi era.[6] The film adopts a quasi-documentary style of exposition, narrated by the heroine, while many of the scenes are enacted in front of back-projection exteriors of the town, which brilliantly translate Brechtian staging to the cinema screen, together with assorted other surreal effects. This Brechtian and non-naturalistic documentary fiction, which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign fiction film, is a film which is both rooted in and exemplifies the nature of documented evidence, its incompleteness, its frequently contradictory character, its repression, and the consequences of its revelation.

While none of these films are either documentary or fiction in a regular sense, they partake of both and constitute a novel kind of screen space which opens up in between. Moreover, the mixture of the two modes, the constant interruption of the one by the other, is not just Brechtian, for this is a chronotope with a special analogical affinity for the postmodern world, with its contradiction, on the one hand, between the pluralistic multiplication of narratives, and on the other, the loss of trust in the authenticity of narrative induced by the replication of endless simulacra.

Whenever I think of the role of the simulacrum in postmodern culture, there comes to my mind the title of one of the earliest films to be made in Cuba, called SIMULACRO DE UN INCENDIO. Since the film itself is lost and the printed description of it is ambiguous,[7] I cannot help wondering what the title means: SIMILACRUM OF A FIRE. But what is a simulated fire? Does it burn?


When Bakhtin speaks of how "space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history," he is advancing a notion which becomes more concrete in Henri Lefebvre's work on representational space. In Lefebvre, a representational space is a system of symbolic representations, constituted by artistic and other media and forms, each with its own material characteristics, comprising a culturally and historically specific system which in some way maps the elements and relations of the physical, the social and the mental worlds. In doing so, the medium incorporates or signifies the physical space of the actually existing world, and makes symbolic use of it. Representational spaces thus tend towards a more or less coherent system of nonverbal symbols and signs. The products of representational spaces (to follow Lefebvre) are symbolic works, in this case, films, either fiction or documentary, or some admixture of the two. Does this also mean we can distinguish different types of representational space which correspond to different modes of filmic utterance? Is documentary perhaps a different screen world from fiction? (And what about animation, and new technologies and media of image (re)presentation?)

To apply Lefebvre to cinema involves critiquing Lefebvre, for he himself criticizes visual media like film for abstracting the lived experience of space, detaching

"the pure form from its impure content — from lived time, everyday time, and from bodies with their opacity and solidity, their warmth, their life and their death."[8]

Here it seems that Lefebvre is visually tone-deaf, so to speak, or has somehow fallen under the sway of the very ideology of passive image consumption which he wants to criticize — although it is true that those films which are expressly designed for such passive consumption do indeed use the medium to turn fiction into historical and social abstraction. In any event, what I am speaking of here is the quality of screen space which does the opposite of what Lefebvre says: it does not detach form from content, or time from experience, but places human affairs and interaction in a representation of actually existing social space, which just as Lefebvre maintains, is imbued with the history that has created it.

I wouldn't want to deny that fiction can do this as well as documentary. And clearly certain fiction films, say LA REGLE DU JEU or SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING, even become documentaries of their times. Does that not mean that screen space is some kind of continuum, where at one extreme documentary is utterly different from fictional narrative, but in the middle, merges almost imperceptibly into it? We ought not to speak of it, of course, as a bipolar continuum but a multidimensional one, which includes not only the classical families of genres, whether fiction or documentary, but also animation and commercials, not to mention abstract film, expanded cinema and video art of various kinds as well.

Behind this suggestion lies a history of cinema which many have dreamed about but which hasn't yet been written. Here we shall find a dialogue between fiction and documentary which has long influenced the development of both, but due to the hegemony of fiction, remains, except for certain well-known moments, largely unexamined. I am thinking, for example, of the case of the English New Wave of the early 60s, in which the three key directors — Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz and Lindsay Anderson — brought their preoccupations and sensibilities as documentarists to the fiction film. Their films were widely recognized as paradigmatic applications of documentary filmmaking methods to realist fiction. But this hardly represents an isolated instance. In fact, this unwritten history takes us right back to cinema's beginnings, before the conventional distinction between documentary and fiction was fully formed. Here we need considerable archaeological work.

For example, consider the almost universal prohibition in fiction (with certain notable exceptions) against actors looking directly at the camera, so as not to be seen by the spectator as staring directly at them. This ban started not as a convention but as a rule (instigated around 1910 by Selig and other U.S. producers). The rule functioned to maintain the illusion of the camera as an unseen observer, always in the right position to show the unfolding action, the appropriate scene; thus transporting the disembodied viewer into the space of the screen world. This ban does not have the same force in documentary, even in the most conventional examples. In documentary, the illusion the camera seeks to maintain is unnecessary. Indeed, it may well go against a stronger imperative — to present a sense of actuality, of testimony, and of the presence of the camera as a witness in the same space as the events unfolding.

It is arguable that the underlying character of documentary as representational space is already present in the earliest precursors of documentary art to be found in the films of the Lumières. These earliest of films, with their visual and photographic beauty and stylistic accomplishment, are far from primitive but rather skillfully composed. But the world they picture does not keep the people who occupy it from acknowledging the camera. On the contrary, in the film of feeding the baby, or the photographers arriving at the convention, the acknowledgment of the camera is not only part of the charm of the film but becomes part of the transparency of the illusion. In other words, here the acknowledgment of the camera serves to reinforce the reality effect, whereas later, in fiction, it will break it. (Indeed to gain the effect of this rupture is one of the reasons why Godard, borrowing from the new documentary of the 60s, introduced into his fictions the device of characters speaking about themselves to camera, thereby reasserting the realism of their world.)

Whenever there is a palpable sense of the historical moment, the imperative of the testimonial overrides decorum. An extreme but indicative example is the element of visual noise often found in reportage (which I take to be a particular form of documentary). One can find innumerable cases where children pull faces behind a reporter speaking to camera who studiously ignores them. These faces are not in fact redundant. They become an essential part of the code which signifies the quality of actuality in the image. This is different from fictional space, where the image contains only things which have been deliberately placed in front of the camera. Fiction is the work of pro-filmic construction, even, one might add, when it is constructed in order to imitate documentary. Documentary, however, even when it imitates fiction, is a form of selection from the actually existing world. Although it runs the gamut from the filmographic interpretation of what is already there, to a constructed or reconstructed rendering of selected elements, the incursion of noise and accident provides evidence that the image is taken from the space of lived experience. Therefore it has a quality or degree of veracity which is not greater than that of fiction, but different. In short, the representational space produced by documentary has different co-ordinates from those of fiction.

There are also different kinds of noise. Take the Zapruder footage, the 8mm film of the Kennedy assassination, which was originally suppressed but which forms the principal visual material evidence of the event and impugns the Warren Commission's findings. Here you get the noise of amateurism. Shaky and poorly framed, the lens jiggles in response to Zapruder's reaction to hearing the shot so that Kennedy's head momentarily drops out of the image. Nowadays available on CD-ROM, everyone can confirm for themselves what it shows: Kennedy is thrown to the rear by a bullet which, according to the Warren Commission, came from behind. At New York University in the early 70s, among filmmakers like Mike Wadleigh and Martin Scorsese, there was talk of "the Zapruder quotient." According to Wadleigh in a television interview,

"If you had a very high quotient of total amateurism in terms of technique, but the content was superb, what you were filming was absolutely riveting, that was 100% on the Zapruder curve."[9]

The U.S. documentarist Errol Morris, speaking in the same TV program, becomes mischievously misleading when he says of this footage that because it cannot tell the absolute truth, the image is therefore a lie. I am relieved to discover, on meeting Morris at a film festival, that the television documentary misrepresented him. His thinking is much more subtle than this, he finds the issue more complicated. He readily agrees in conversation that the documentary image is evidentiary. It contains a veridical aspect, which is filtered through the particular point of view of the observer filming it and through the skill and craft and artfulness with which the camera is operated. It is one thing to recognize a large dose of subjective judgment in the image; it doesn't follow that it is therefore not a true image. To reach this conclusion would be to assume an equation in which the subjective is opposed to the objective, and the objective identified with truth. This is to fall into philosophical error. Objectivity and subjectivity are not opposed in this way but are both present at the same time — as the Zapruder footage, clearly both, vividly shows.

To be sure, accepting the documentary image as veridical partly relies on trust, as Dai Vaughan puts it; in other words, on the viewer's belief in a privileged relation between the camera and the world.[10] This relation between viewer and image is different from that of fiction. If documentary depends on a disposition to believe, then fiction evokes what is traditionally spoken of as "the suspension of disbelief" Thus, if viewers watching what is supposed to be a Western, say, believe the horse or actor has really been injured, they become deeply upset. The Zapruder footage has its effect because this is President Kennedy being killed, it is not a simulation, it is the testimony of the camera as witness.


Umberto Barbaro defined montage as "the idealization of space and time." We owe to Soviet film theory of the 20s the discovery of what we might call the general theory of montage, a kind of filmic general theory of relativity. And in that case, classical narrative would correspond to a special instance of this theory. The general theory, which concerns the inherent properties of montage, says that screen space is, in post-modern parlance, heterotopic: a space capable of juxtaposing several different spaces belonging to different orders which are in themselves incommensurable or incompatible. Here, fiction and documentary behave differently.

Fictional screen space, as we know, is built on the grammar of continuity. It produces a series of unified spaces, which are conventionally called scenes. In its most rule-governed form in the Fordist studio system of Hollywood, the result is the realism effect of classical narrative, but it needn't be. In other words, no matter what generic conventions are used, to write a screenplay means to construct a plot, that is, to articulate sequences of scenes in which actions and events take place. Hence the conceptual significance of the French term metteur-en-scène, which indicates the job of the fiction director. This description does not as much apply to the documentary director, more likely to be called a réalisateur. Here, professional language acknowledges that documentary works differently and is not so much scripted as written with images.

This is not to say that fiction necessarily uses scripts and documentaries never; nor to deny that fiction is also written with images. Plainly these notions are false and even absurd. However, simple inspection reveals that documentary images are frequently and commonly interrelated in a manner which demotes the scene from the structural role it possesses in fictional narrative. Take a classic example from the 30s like COALFACE, an experimental film from the GPO Film Unit produced by Grierson, with poetry and music by Auden and Britten, and directed by Cavalcanti, who incorporated footage shot by several different directors including Flaherty and the young Humphrey Jennings. Here the construction of time-space differs completely from the forms of fictional narrative cinema. Spacio-temporal continuity in COALFACE is absolutely minimal.

The film is organized not around a story and a plot but around an argument and a commentary; the mode of address is what ancient philosophers called rhetorical. A rhetorical style links the images by principles like association and connotation rather than narrative logic. In short, when every new shot brings a new space rather than a changing view within the same scene, then the conceptual value of the idea of the scene loses its point. The form of film language changes. Whole sequences and even whole films may be composed of shots with no visual continuity, whose unity and coherence come from other factors, which range from poetic connotation to the discursive content of the commentary. In short, there is a rather different kind of representational space at work here.

The space of documentary is not created primarily by mise-en-scène, but by montage, the logic of difference in the succession of shots. A documentary shot is not so much a discrete strip of film or tape but the outcome of a process: the result of discovering, capturing, selecting and arranging appropriate elements to be found within actually existing social-historical space. In this process the documentarist discovers that representational space is highly malleable, for it includes people, places, events, the results of the provocations of the camera, and already existing images of every sort. There is, of course, a mode of documentary that applies itself exclusively to the immediate pro-filmic space of the activity which it follows, such as the para-fictional, direct observation of a director like Wiseman. It is perfectly possible to combine this observational shooting with the simulation of narrative continuity by means of judicious editing, just as another style might incorporate reconstruction without ceasing to be documentary. But if documentary frequently makes use of the techniques of spatial continuity, it can also dispense with them in favor of a quite different mode of exposition and articulation, closer to poetry than to the prose of fiction; such a style would rely on the dialectic between successive images. This, in fact, is the difference between the first two examples I mentioned. MOMMA DON'T ALLOW constructs its observation through simple narrative continuities, and LBJ has no spatial continuity at all.

In short, although documentary may borrow the garb of narrative continuity, documentary space has a different syntax. In documentary, two different pieces of space may be joined in a continuous argument that links together quite disparate elements of the historical world in a kind of analogical affinity that generates signification. This, of course, is another way of describing what Eisenstein called intellectual montage. In the documentary mode, the visual and geographical leap is bridged by a logic of implication, where the organizing principle does not rely on plot and story but rhetoric, argument, or poetry. This is a very important insight: narrative does not provide the only possible form of representational space on the screen.


Fictional screen space creates the unities of the scene and the plot. Through the ubiquitous camera and altering frame, the spectator becomes a vicarious unseen observer, transported into an imaginary space which is very similar to real space but behaves according to its own generic rules. These rules are different in the case of documentary from those of fiction. Where the space of the fictional narrative produces continuity, documentary space is composed of discontinuities, both spatial and temporal, produced by dialectical (and dialogical) associations across time and space. Neither of these modes of articulation is absolute or totalizing, but fictional screen space, ever since the ban was first raised against the actor gazing at the camera, has an ineluctable tendency towards closure and abstraction from lived experience. In contrast, in the space of documentary the represented world is not separated from the viewer by reason of narrative principle. On the contrary, the social reality portrayed here is one in which a viewer could in principle find themselves present, putatively, or as a potential historical subject, and sometimes palpably. It is a world, in other words, which is continuous with the space in which the viewer lives their own life, not separate from it.

I cannot write about Keiller's LONDON, for example, except as a Londoner, who enters the cinema with the secret hope of seeing his own city on the screen. I am reminded of this sense of continuity between the screen and my own physical and cultural world by seeing William Raban's THAMES FILM at a viewing in my home city while writing this.

I myself live near the river, I cross it every day, I am always aware of its presence, the state of the tide, the changing qualities of the seasonal and diurnal light, all of which are beautifully evoked here. The tone of the film takes its cue from the voice of T.S. Eliot on the soundtrack reading the lines from Four Quartets about the river as a strong brown god. The film's dominant paradigmatic structure lies in its inserting into contemporary views of the Thames shot from a boat making its way downriver, historical images of the same sites taken from engravings, old photos and archive film footage. The second time we hear Eliot's voice, he pronounces the famous lines about present, past and future:

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in the time past
… … …
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present."

We are looking at the 18th century brick warehouse at Free Trade Wharf (which is now demolished), the picture cuts to photos of the warehouse from the late 30s and children playing cricket on the foreshore below it, and then to a clip from the archives, taken from a documentary of the 30s about the history of the Port of London. Toward the end of the film, the commentary sums up:

"The river journey unwinds a distant memory, each moment has a particular meaning and relation to the past…On this journey time is exposed: the past and present form one continuous pattern of unfolding experience."

The words crystallize both the method of the film's exposition and also, I believe, the quality of the type of representational space of which this film is an exemplar.


This essay is a revised version of a paper delivered at the Visible Evidence Conference, Chicago, 4-7 September 1997.

1. Tzvetan Todorov, Mikhail Bakhtin (Manchester Manchester University Press, 1984), p. 83

2. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogical Imagination (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982), p. 84

3. See William Cronon, et al., eds., Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America's Western Past (New York: Norton, 1992).

4. Bakhtin, op. cit.

5. I cannot source this, but heard Wiscman say something very like it in a fairly recent interview on British television.

6. "THE NASTY GIRL," by Desson Howe, located on the Internet Movie Database. <www.imdb.com>

7. See Arturo Agramonte, Cronología del Cine Cubano (Havana: Ediciones ICAIC, 1966), p. 18. The film was shot by the Lumière agent, Gabriel Veyre.

8. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (London: Blackwell, 1991), p. 97.

9. Late Show Special, dir. Tim Kirby. BBC2, November 22, 1993.

10. Dai Vaughan, "Me Broken Trust of the Image," Vertigo 4, 1994/5, pp. 16-20.


CARO DIARIO (DEAR DIARY), dir. Nanni Moretti, Italy, 1994

COALFACE, dir. Albcrto Cavalcanti, UK, 1936


LBJ, dir. Santiago Alvarez, Cuba, 1968

LONDON, dir. Patrick Keiler, UK, 1994

MOMMA DON'T ALLOW, dir. Karel Reisz, UK, 1955

NOVEMBER DAYS, dir. Marcel Ophuls, UK, 1990

SUEÑOS DE HIELO (DREAMS OF ICE), dir. Ignacio Agüero, Chile, 1992

THAMES FILM, dir, William Raban, UK. 1986