Hyun Kang Kim

The Real in Film: The Historical Real, the Optical Real, and the Material Real

Eine Metrostation in goldenes Licht getaucht

My presentation is based on the proposition that every film, whether documentary or feature film, is based on the mutual relationship between the found and the invented, the material and the fiction, the real and the symbolic. In addition, as opposed to the closed form of the feature film, the open form of the documentary film can make the interplay between the real and the symbolic, the recorded material and the narrative, more visible. Hence, the documentary film is not a reproduction of reality, but a creative approach to the real, which is directly connected to the everlasting search for the answer to the question: what is the real?

What, then, is the real? The real is not the objective fact of reality, but something that is always perceived by a distorted view. Thus, in the real, the distorted subjective view is always included. However, if one accepts that the documentary material is always framed by an interpretation and subjective perspective, this nevertheless means that the real is the construct of a perspectivism, because there is the actual existence and effect of the real. Nevertheless, this is always in a reciprocal relationship between the observer and the observed.

What is the real in film? In film, at least three kinds of „the real“ can be ascertained. They are the historical real, the optical real, and the material real. My presentation deals with these three kinds of the real based on the film theories of Benjamin, Moholy-Nagy, and Vertov.