Film as Film in the twenty-first century: the function and evaluation of diegesis and disruption

Dominic Lash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
206 Downloads (Pure)


This article argues that much of the lasting value of Film as Film, V.F. Perkins’ seminal book of film criticism, resides in the critical methodology it proposes, but that the book itself does not always follow its own recommendations. Its central critical claim is that judgement of value must follow identification of function. Perkins also makes the admirable stipulation that the critic should not demand that a film fit their own definitions, but should be led by the film to find the most appropriate language for the situation. I demonstrate how the concepts of coherence and consistency make for a very delicate situation where this advice might easily be inadvertently ignored. The article’s main claim is that some specific filmic moments which are criticised by Perkins can in fact be defended using arguments that follow his methodology. I support this in particular by examining the relationship between diegesis, artifice and directorial decision-making in William Wyler’s The Children’s Hour, which leads to a more general discussion of the ways one might defend the kind of disruptive effects that Perkins disparages. I also argue briefly that the book’s methodology has, in fact, a wider applicability than Perkins himself claimed. Combining these two claims, I propose that, as paradoxical as it may seem, some of the book’s limitations can be seen to demonstrate the continuing relevance of its fundamental critical propositions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-179
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


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