JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

Notes

Acknowledgements: I would like to especially thank the editors of this special section—Beth Capper, Chris Robé, Michael Litwack—as well as Julia Lesage for incisive editorial comments; I believe their comradely challenges strengthened the essay. I would also like to thank Dan Morgan, Jim Chandler, Josh Malitsky, and Isabel Seguí for helpful comments and criticisms on various parts of this essay while it was in-progress

1. See Julianne Burton, “The old and the new: Latin American cinema at the (last) Pesaro Festival,” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media no. 9 (1975); see Zuzana Pick, “Chilean cinema: ten years of exile (1973-83),” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media no. 32 (April 1987); see Victor Wallis, “Battle of Chile: Struggle of a People without Arms,” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media no. 21 (November 1979); see Victor Wallis, “Battle of Chile: Struggle of a People without Arms,” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media no. 52 (summer 2010). [return to page 1]

2. While the phrase “man-on-the-street” interview is the familiar way to refer to an interview with an “ordinary” anonymous person, in the rest of this essay I will use the gender-neutral formulation “person-on-the-street” instead.

3. Even the contemporary literature on The Battle of Chile (in both Spanish and English) is surprisingly sparse for such an important film. The most in-depth treatments of the film that I know of are Lopez's excellent, “The Battle of Chile: Documentary, Political Process, and Representation” in  The Social Documentary in Latin America, edited by Julianne Burton (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990) and Jorge Ruffinelli’s chapter in El cine de Patricio Guzmán: en busca de las imágenes verdaderas (Chile: Uqbar editors, 2008).

4. Maria Luisa Ortega, “La Batalla de Chile/ The Battle of Chile,” in The cinema of Latin America edited by Alberto Elena and Marina Díaz López (London: Wallflower Press, 2003): 158.

5. Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary, Third Edition (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017): 77.

6. Ana Lopez emphasizes the analytic character of the film, but her emphasis is a bit different from mine. See Lopez, “The Battle of Chile: Documentary, Political Process, and Representation.”

7. See Judith Butler’s useful discussion of popular sovereignty in ‘“We the People”—Thoughts on Freedom of Assembly from her book, Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Harvard University Press, 2015). Although Butler here is by no means focused on visual representation, visual representation is taken up briefly when Butler makes the straightforward point that “no picture of the crowd can represent the people” (165). And yet, in media representations, pictures of crowds do routinely stand-in for the notion of “the people.” We might add that the terms of this synecdochic substitution across the history of moving image media bear investigation, not least because the current sense of what resistance to the state looks like is surely a consequence of a media effect. Butler helpfully notes that,

“Access to any public square presupposes access to some media that relays the events outside of that space and time; the public square is now partially established as a media effect, but also as part of the enunciatory apparatus by which a group of people claims to be the people…. This implies the need to radically rethink the public square as always already dispersed through the media representation without which it loses its representative claim” (167).

8. Typage is a kind of practice that reveals a commitment to allegory: actors are chosen for the extent to which—based on their appearance—they represent social types (i.e. the industrial capitalist, the factory worker, the peasant, the military commander, etc.). The films that employ typage, then, are easily read as conflicts between groups (represented diegetically by “typical”-looking individuals. The selection, based on appearance, may represent a case where the selected actor is chosen to play a role that does not correspond to a biographical fact about the actor (i.e. so an industrialist might be played by a non-actor who earns their living working in a factory). See Abe Geil’s “Dynamic Typicality” in Sergei M. Esisenstein: Notes for a General History of Cinema, eds. N. Kleiman and A. Somaini (Amsterdam University Press, 2016) for an excellent account of typage.

9. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London ; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 39.

10. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 40.

11. In this respect, the account troubles the classic view of the state as containing a monopoly on the legitimate right to use force; see  Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, Edited by Talcott Parsons. (New York, N.Y.: Free Press, 1964); Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (London: Routledge, 1991). [return to page 2]

12. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 116.

13. The temporality of this slogan is striking. See Walter Benjamin's notion of now-time in “On the Concept of History.”

14. The representation of the crowd on film has a long filmography as well as an abundant literature that makes important distinctions between the ornamental, fascist crowds of Leni Riefenstahl and Fritz Lang; the unruly mob theorized by Gustave Le Bon and evident in, for example, D.W. Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm (1921); and the loosely organized but not anarchic crowds of leftist films. See Siegfried Kracauer’s “The Mass Ornament” and Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality (Princeton UP, 1960); Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies, Vol. 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History (UMinnesota Press, 1987); Crowds (eds. Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Tiews, Stanford UP, 2006); Stefan Jonsson’s Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism (Columbia UP, 2013).

15. For more on the political conflicts within Popular Unity, see Ian Roxborough, Philip O’Brien, and Jackie Roddick, Chile: The State and Revolution (1977) and Marian Schlotterbeck’s Beyond the Vanguard: Everyday Revolutionaries in Allende’s Chile (2018).

16. While this sector overlaps with what might be considered “the middle class,” it is not identical. Professional organizations and associations (groupings whose members often identify as middle class) cooperated with the Allende government in 1971. Still, some historians point to Popular Unity’s loss of support among the middle layers by 1973 as crucial for the success of the coup. That is surely part of Guzmán’s story here. For more on the historian’s assessment, see Casals, Marcelo. “The Insurrection of the Middle Class: Social Mobilization and Counterrevolution during the Popular Unity Government, Chile, 1970-1973,” in Journal of Social History vol.54, issue 3 (Spring 2021).

17. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 24. Emphasis mine. It must be noted that Marx here seems to analogize the situation of France taken “unawares” by Bonaparte to a woman taken “unawares” by a rapist. The point seems to be that both France and the raped woman were not adequately on guard and that, once caught, did not resist. Moreover, Marx appears to be critical of the unguardedness and quiescence of both France and the raped woman. Although he seems to be characterizing a received wisdom (i.e. “a nation, like a woman, is not forgiven…) using the passive voice, he is not invoking this received wisdom in order to contest it, but rather as a kind of support for what he will say next. The use of the analogy is unfortunate, and for my purposes both confusing and distracting. And although the idea I wish to convey is best conveyed by the first and fourth sentences of the passage, I have included this problematic second sentence so as not to unwittingly “cleanse” Marx’s text.

18. Empty store shelves are a cliché in the media treatments of Cuba after the Revolution, for example.

19. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 19.

20. Although “false consciousness” is often considered an off-limits term, there have been some recent attempts to rehabilitate it including by Steven Lukes, who begins a clear-throated defense with these lines, “I want to defend the answer to a question. The answer is ‘false consciousness.’” Lukes writes,

“I conclude that people can sometimes, even often, be mistaken about their interests and the mistakes they make can be conceptual and cognitive… In particular, they can exhibit what has been given the name false consciousness. As our examples show, they can have systematically distorted beliefs about the social order and their own place in it that work systematically against their interests…and, in general, be unable to see what links ‘public issues’ and policies with ‘private troubles.’ To state these conclusions need not invoke any epistemic privilege, while nonetheless assuming that, in these matters, there is truth to be attained” (28). 

See Steven Lukes, “In Defense of ‘False Consciousness,’” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 2011, Article 3. Moreover, even Terry Eagleton, in his balanced survey of various theories of ideology from 1991 flatly refuses to throw out the notion of false consciousness. He gives a multi-faceted account of false consciousness and the arguments for and against it as a useful notion. Here is a taste of the latter:

“Any ruling ideology which failed altogether to mesh with its subjects’ lived experience would be extremely vulnerable, and its exponents would be well advised to trade it in for another. But none of this contradicts the fact that ideologies quite often contain important propositions which are absolutely false: that Jews are inferior beings, that women are less rational than men, that fornicators will be condemned to perpetual torment. If these views are not instances of false consciousness, then it is difficult to know what is; and those who dismiss the whole notion of false consciousness must be careful not to appear cavalier about the offensiveness of these opinions” (13).

And later:

“For those who hold that thesis [of false consciousness] do not need to deny that certain kinds of illusion can express real needs and desires. All they may be claiming is that it is false to believe that murderers should be executed, or that Archangel Gabriel is preparing to put in an appearance next Tuesday, and that these falsehoods are significantly bound up with the reproduction of a dominant political power. There need be no implication that people do not regard themselves as having good grounds for holding these beliefs; the point may simply be that what they believe is manifestly not the case, and that this is a matter of relevance to political power” (14).

See Terry Eagleton’s Ideology: An Introduction (London: Verso Press, 1991).
[return to page 3]

21. See Fredric Jameson, “Cognitive Mapping,” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1988): 349.

22. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 43.

23. Ruffinelli cites Alain Touriane’s grand claim that whatever the ultimate outcome, “Chile will have supplied the revolutionary movement a unique form: the industrial cordones.” See Ruffinelli, p. 113.

24. For this context, see see Ian Roxborough, Philip O’Brien, and Jackie Roddick, Chile: The State and Revolution (1977).

25. Here we can hear a clear echo of the “revolutionaries’” slogan: “Advance without Compromise.”

26. See Schlotterbeck, Marian. Beyond the Vanguard: Everyday Revolutionaries in Allende’s Chile. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.

27. For more on the “arresting image,” see Klinger, “The Art Film, Affect and the Female Viewer,” in Screen 47:1 (Spring 2006). Ruffinelli takes note of this sequence in a single line, calling it “a magical interlude or powerful instance of visual punctuation”; it is one of the most striking of Part III for him as well. In a footnote, he cites the editor Chaskel describing to him how iconic the scene depicted is and how the team came to include this unusual sequence. See Ruffinelli, o. 114. [Return to page 4]

28. Victor Wallis discuss this shot in his 2010 review of Icarus’ 4-disc DVD release of The Battle of Chile. Wallis writes, “The grit, the love, and the pathos of the people’s struggle are fused in this shot.” See Wallis.

29. Marx, Karl, Mark Cowling, and James Martin. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire: (post)modern Interpretations. London; Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002, 19.

30. See Karl Marx. Capital, Vol. III, chapter XXIII. New York, NY: International Publishers, 1967: 383.

“[A]ll labour in which many individuals co-operate necessarily requires a commanding will to co-ordinate and unify the process, and functions which apply not to partial operations but to the total activity of the workshop, much as that of an orchestra conductor. This is a productive job, which must be performed in every combined mode of production.”

31. Ruffinelli also cites this bit as an example of the “conflicts over language between vertical theory and the horizontality of need.” That is, the theoretical language of the leadership and the common language of the “ordinary” worker. (Another example of this conflict occurs in the CUT meeting I discuss above.) For Ruffinelli, Malbrán’s formulation is not problematic or cringeworthy. On the contrary, “the film needed some broad final analysis, something eloquent, that could integrate in a single figure all its fragmentary elements. That is Malbrán’s function…” (116). Ruffinelli’s description here might be thought of a perfect set-up for a critique of the old left, though Ruffinelli is not interested in mounting such a critique; neither am I, though for other reasons.

32. I have made this point in a short online review of Guzmán’s The Cordillera of Dreams (2019) published in the June 2021 installment of Docalogue: https://docalogue.com/the-cordillera-of-dreams/

33. Jodi Dean, Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging (New York: Verso, 2019): 2.

34. Dean, 16, 19.

35. Dean, 22.

36. Dean, 22 (emphasis mine).

Works cited

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Burton, Julianne. “The Old and the New: Latin Amreican Cinema at the (Last?) Pesaro  Festival.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 9 (1975).

Butler, Judith. Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard University Press, 2015.

Casals, Marcelo. "The Insurrection of the Middle Class: Social Mobilization and  Counterrevolution during the Popular Unity Government, Chile, 1970-1973." Journal of  Social History 54, no. 3 (2021).

Dean, Jodi.Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging. London: Verso Press, 2019. Eagleton, Terry. Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso Press, 1991.

Klinger, Barbara. “The Art Film, Affect and the Female Viewer: The Piano Revisited.” Screen  47, no. 1 (March 20, 2006): 19–41.

Lopez, Ana. “The Battle of Chile: Documentary, Political Process, and Representation.”  In The Social Documentary in Latin America, edited by Julianne Burton. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990.

Lukes, Steven. Power: A Radical View. London ; New York: Macmillan, 1974.

———. “In Defense of ‘False Consciousness,’” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol.2011,  Article 3.

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Marx, Karl. Capital, Vol. III, chapter XXIII. New York, NY: International Publishers, 1967.

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Roxborough, Ian and Philip O’Brien and Jackie Roddick. Chile: The State and Revolution. New  York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1977.

Ruffinelli, Jorge. El cine de Patricio Guzmán: en busca de la imágenes verdadera. Chile: Uqbar Ediciones,  2008.  

Schlotterbeck, Marian. Beyond the Vanguard: Everyday Revolutionaries in Allende’s Chile. Berkeley:  University of California Press,2018.

Skvirsky, Salomé Aguilera. The Cordillera of Dreams. Docalogue, June 2021:  https://docalogue.com/the-cordillera-of-dreams/

Wallis, Victor. “Battle of Chile: Struggle of a People Without Arms.” Jump Cut: A Review of  Contemporary Media 21, no. November (1979).

———. “Battle of Chile: Struggle of a People Without Arms.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary  Media 52, no. Summer (2010).

Weber, Max. “Politics as a Vocation.” In Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited by H.H. Gerth  and C. Wright (Charles Wright) Mills. London: Routledge, 1991.

———. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Edited by Talcott Parsons. New York, N.Y.:  Free Press, 1964.