by Tony McKibbin.
David Bordwell is undeniably one of the great “quantitative” critics in the world, one of those writers who trust strongly in common sense and what is in front of his eyes, and yet to call Bordwell a critic seems like a misnomer.
Though you’ll find plenty examples of Bordwell’s cinematic recommendations, we might wonder exactly what that recommendation would consist of. Is a film great because it has an average shot length of 15 seconds, or because it fits neatly into a system of norms, or because it uses a high number of compass point shots: shots that reverse the angle from one shot to the next to 180 degrees?
Indeed is the idea of a quantitative critic a contradiction in terms, and do we not want from a critic qualitative judgement over quantitative fact? Now this judgement is not at all opinion, and we might be reminded here of Gilles Deleuze’s useful comment in Negotiations where he says “concepts are what stops thought being a mere opinion, a view, an exchange of views, gossip.”
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