Jacques Rancière’s La Fable cinématographique was published in Paris in 2001 and translated into English as Film Fables in 2006. It appeared, therefore, in the century after the one that seemed to belong so entirely to cinema. So the time of the question cited in this chapter’s epigraph, cinema’s time and the cinematic century, would appear to be already over. But the question, taken out of context and placed in another, still persists — what is cinema’s time? In this chapter I hope to outline, even further, the temporality of cinema as its most essential, albeit indefinite, feature. For, far from the time of cinema providing us with one more discrete set of properties that might count as an explanation of what cinema is, à la Deleuze’s time-image, the meaning of cinematic time is indefinite or differential: cinema has only an inessential essence, an insubstantial substance, and its processes are revealed through the manner in which the various theories of ‘what film is’ must fail as a result. However, their individual failures do collectively approach something like success by providing an outline of cinema, a moving sketch with no interior volume.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.