( continued )
In order to substantiate the metaphor of Framework as a kind of a bridge, a brief sketch of the constellation from which it emerged may be helpful.
In broad terms, the constellation that presided over the emergence of Framework was 'the national' British sector within the context of cultural-philosophical Marxism's dynamics in Western Europe since the end of World War 2. The specific role and production of the intelligentsia in Britain as the cement of the social fabric was described in The Breakup of Britain by Tom Nairn, who outlined elsewhere both the function of and the reasons for the massive dominance of an English Ideology (Eng. Lit. and its Crit.) within that particular social group. Francis Mulhern's The Moment of Scrutiny provides an invaluable account of the contradictions and struggles within the literary ideology at the core of the English Ideology: its oppositional aspects and the solid victory of Leavisism as the ruling set of discourses in academia since the fifties.
The crisis of modernisation and economic restructuring which characterised the post-War period in Europe from the fifties until the eventual triumph of capitalism as a globally hegemonic system in the early nineties, also witnessed the shift within the ruling bloc away from industrial capitalism's leading role, and its attendant preoccupations with class, employment, unions and so on, to the installation of finance capital as the dominant faction, duly accompanied by its attendant cultural forms: a development that came to be called post-modernism, characterised by quick successions of fashions mirroring the accelarated rhythms of speculative capital flows, an emphasis on electronic information technology, the fragmenting of 'the market' into niches marked by lifestyle and 'cultural identities', and the cultural equivalent of asset stripping which went under the name of 'cultural renewal' and which consisted of re-staffing institutions with 'young' people who had no experience and no memory of cultural opposition, making them easy prey for the Saatchification of the cultural sectors, with spiv culture gradually consolidating its hold over the various market-identity niches and the institutions ranging from Channel 4 to the British Film Institute and eventually, in the late nineties, to the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
This degenerative process in which the political-critical tendency of avant gardes in all sectors of cultural endeavour were gradually defeated or marginalised while a ruinously outdated 'entrepreneurial' ethos was imposed upon the universities and all associated cultural ventures, gradually transformed cultural practice into an amnesiac and hype-ridden 'tradition' of novelty where critique became the pursuit of brand-differentiation in a market governed by the iron rule of the box office, barely disguised under a populist rhetoric. This was the thirty-year time frame within which, among other cultural platforms, film journals conducted their arguments and campaigns, film festivals formulated and adapted their policies, organisational campaigns on behalf of independent film and video sought to carve out a space for survival, and so on.
In terms of the history of film journals, the story starts with Movie, founded in 1962, barely two years after the New Left Review, both energised by students emanating from Oxford University. Movie elaborated an oppositional position within and but against dominant film-journalism by posing the question of critical method in relation to a signifying practice that was not considered to have any artistic value: Hollywood cinema. Its position consisted, on the one hand, of Leavisite literary criticism, which, although dominant in departments of literature, became oppositional when mobilised in relation to something it had never been designed for, namely cinema; and, on the other hand, an adaptation of Cahiers du cinéma's formulations of the politique des auteurs, the only precedent for a systematic oppositional polemic in favour of a 'popular' cinema. To use a critical shorthand, Movie offered a form of Bazinian Leavisism, while later on in the sixties the New Left Review introduced a discussion of cinema which re-posed Movie's questions, but in more directly theoretical terms. Movie was associated with auteurism, while it was the New Left Review and its periphery, especially Peter Wollen, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Sam Rohdie, which formulated auteur-theory and introduced the 'continental' concern with critical methodology: structuralism, leading to the transformation of a professional educational journal, Screen, into the main platform for a critical discourse which aimed at nothing less than the elaboration of a general theory of cultural functioning. For the reasons suggested by Anderson and Nairn, Screen posed the question of the unity of theory and practice from the position of the intellectual working within an educational context in relation to artistic practices, where the oppositional forces resided primarily in the promotion of signifying practices previously not recognised, or defined as non-art, by the dominant discourses and institutions. Following on from The New Left Review and just before the new version of Screen took off, the Edinburgh Film Festival had initiated in 1969, under the guidance of David Will and Lynda Myles, a series of retrospectives accompanied by books which provided ways of linking the new critical-theoretical mode of discourse with interventions in film exhibition. Although many of the same names were associated with both Screen and the Edinburgh Festival at the time (Peter Wollen, Claire Johnston, Jon Halliday, Laura Mulvey, Paul Willemen), hindsight allows us to discern that, in fact, two somewhat different strategies had been opened up which thereafter continued to coexist productively but with some tensions which later in the seventies caused some restructuring of the field: Screen turned directly towards the educational sector while the interface between the rest of film culture and critical discourse became dispersed across a number of different sites: Framework, the various versions of the campaign for independent film making and, fitfully, a number of festivals (Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol).
It is fair to say that Screen dominated the critical scene throughout the seventies, providing a welcome haven for intellectuals who could not pursue their theoretical interests within the literary departments of established academies. By detouring their interests through an address of cinematic narrative, literary dissidents such as Stephen Heath and subsequently art-historical dissidents (who eventually published the journal Block), contributed powerfully to the critical agenda and helped cinema to become the primary focus for theoretical work in the cultural arena. The link term which bore the brunt of this ambiguous overlap between the interests of cinephiles and literary theorists, soon joined by feminist intellectuals and film makers, was 'narrative'. In the late sixties, film-theory was a theory of narrative cinema and was argued in relation to the productivity of a structuralist approach to the work of authors and to genres. Extending positions elaborated in the pages of the New Left Review and in Peter Wollen's Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (1968), Screen summarised the various debates of the sixties, systematising them into coherent theoretical formulations, and aimed the thrust of the oppositional force in that work squarely at educational institutions, outlining why cinema required systematic study rather than mere appreciation. Discussion of the theory—practice relation, the crucial issue for a Marxist intelligentsia, even though many participants in these debates would not have been very comfortable with that appellation, also nudged the argument onto the terrain of education where the only organised and 'mass oriented' but non-party political practice was possible after the collapse of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and in the context of the massive expansion of the higher education sectors. Moreover, in the light of the peculiar role of English literature in the formation of the British ruling elite where departments of literature were the crucial site for the generation and the reproduction of its particular forms of dominant ideologies, generically designated as 'the English Ideology', the theory of cinema, through which the blocked oppositional intelligentsia now routed their energies, found itself locked in dialogue with the prevailing literary ideologies and debates, represented in this instance by Movie's Leavisite discourse. The second current of the seventies, associated more directly with 'intervention' in a broader conception of film culture not limited to the academy, represented by the Edinburgh Film Festival's activities and its reverberations, was less fixated on the literary and was the first to open out theoretical work towards questions of looking (Mulvey and Willemen), towards the cinematic avant gardes (Wollen) and towards issues of gender both in film making and in film theory (Mulvey, Johnston).
By the late seventies, Screen, which hurried along its way into the deep space of academia, tried to retrieve the situation by reorienting itself, but the Saatchification tendencies and the onslaught of spiv culture conducted by the Conservative government throughout the eighties made this a doomed enterprise and Screen, never a magazine where the murkier and more sustaining aspects of cinephilia had been particularly appreciated, eventually became a journal for academics only.
Mercifully, this rather dispiriting story tends to oversimplify events. If we look a little closer at the details within this broad frame, a number of other features emerge, and particularly a current of constantly renewed attempts by those oriented more towards the broader film culture to remedy the negative energies of the Screen-story comes into view.
The first detail that needs to be recalled is that the relatively high profile debates between New Left Review - Screen and Movie criticism eclipsed a 'third stream' in British film culture. This third stream, itself caught in a polarised forcefield between, on the one hand, modernist and avant garde film represented by journals such as (briefly) Cinema Rising and Afterimage, and, on the other hand, a (literary) critical but nevertheless distictly cinephiliac engagement with the dominant narrative cinema was represented by journals such as The Brighton Film Review. The latter magazine's twenty one issues were published by the Sussex Film Society, based in Sussex University, from 1968 until 1970 and featured writers such as Phil Hardie, Thomas Elsaesser, Charles Barr and Alan Lovell. From 1971 onwards, Monogram, under the editorship of Thomas Elsaesser, again with contributors associated with Movie as well as with Screen, continued where The Brighton Film Review had left off, until its sixth and final issue in 1975. Another university-based journal, out of Cambridge and with the active blessing of Raymond Williams, was Cinema (nine issues between December 1968 and 1971) with writers such as Stephen Crofts, Noel Purdon, Pamela Church, David Curtis, Peter Wollen, Raymond Durgnat, Tony Rayns, Colin McArthur, Sam Rohdie, Claire Johnston, Mike Wallington and Simon Hartog, in other words, critics associated with Screen as well as with Movie, Cinema Rising and Afterimage and the Edinburgh Film Festival's work in the early seventies. Screen itself changed from a relatively sporadic, mainly educational journal to a leading cultural quarterly in 1971 under the editorial guidance of Sam Rohdie, backed by the British Film Institute's Education Department under the leadership of Paddy Whannel, who had co-authored the pathbreaking book The Popular Arts (1964) with Stuart Hall of the New Left Review.
In 1974, Framework emerged from Warwick University, where Robin Wood, the leading Movie critic, had begun to teach a film course.
The first issue was put together by a group of students (not all were film students, nor did all contributors regard Robin Wood as their main point of reference), with Donald Ranvaud and Sheila Whitaker quickly emerging as the main dynamo, Ranvaud assuming the editorship shortly afterwards. His special interest in Italian cinema and film theory was represented in that first issue by an essay introducing the work of Gianfranco Bettetini. Subsequent issues devoted much space to other Italian theorists (such as Francesco Casetti) and film makers (such as Pasolini and Bertolucci). The amateurish and chaotic conditions in which the magazine was produced were vividly described in the editorial of issue 7/8 (1978).
With issue 11 in 1979, the journal's base shifted, with Donald Ranvaud, to the University of East Anglia in Norwich, although that connection became increasingly tenuous over the following years as the journal was edited in London from The Other Cinema's offices, a radical distribution and exhibition group, by Ranvaud and a team of dedicated collaborators including Jo Imeson, Ben Gibson and Richard Allen. The link with Norwich had become purely nominal by issue 14 (1980) but it was not officially severed until issue 24 (1984), when the publishing house Comedia took over as parent organisation and the British Film Institute consolidated its support with a small grant towards the print costs.
My own involvement with Framework dates from issue 4 (1976) and grew more intense as my unease with Screen's factional divisions and progressive severance from the broader sectors of film culture increased, but I did not fully take over editorial responsibilities until issue 18 (1982), leaving Donald Ranvaud's name on the masthead partly as a tribute to his work in setting up the journal. With issue 32/33 (1986), editorship was ceded to Jim Pines, who actually took over the journal with issue 36 (1989) and continued editing it, with guest editors such as John Akomfrah, Pervaiz Khan and Robert Crusz, from the premisses of the independent film group Sankofa in London, until the last issue, 38/39 (1992).
The main thrust of Framework, from the outset, had been to broaden the scope of British film culture's engagement with all aspects of cinema, extending the initiatives pioneered both in Edinburgh and in Screen, but seeking to combine them into one single platform. As other magazines fell by the wayside or became increasingly sporadic for a wide variety of reasons and as Screen increasingly devoted itself to the elaboration of a general theory of cinema, Framework carved out a space for itself by providing, in the words of its editorial in issue 5 (1976/77): 'an open forum for the most diverse current trends in film theory' seeking to engage with the equally diverse aspects of film culture, from reviews of festivals to collective explorations of individual films, from analyses of contemporary box office hits (in a section called 'Hollywood Corner' ) to interviews with African and Latin American film makers. The magazine saw itself as providing information about as well as analyses of cinemas which no other British and very few American film journals addressed at the time. In addition, the journal involved itself with exhibition, seeking to organise retrospectives, conferences and special film programmes in a variety of venues.
The magazine's heterodoxy in the theoretical area, stated as an animating principle, was in fact the inevitable consequence of its decision to engage with all aspects of film culture from a cinephile perspective. Prior to Framework, journals had a narrow focus defined by the specific interests of small groups of intellectuals: Hollywood and British cinemas (Movie, The Brighton Film Review, Monogram, Cinema), the avant gardes (Cinema Rising, Afterimage), cultural theory (Screen). Even though each of these journals would be able to cite significant essays about areas of cinema outside of their focal area, the magnetic pole organising their criteria of relevance and the weighting within any given issue reflected a particular theoretical perspective in relation to an equally particular area of interest. Framework set out to break that mold and, consequently, saw itself forced to draw on contributors writing from a variety of perspectives. As Screen became more intellectually—and deservedly—dominant as a film journal, and as other journals fell by the wayside, witers associated with film journals but not content to restrict their energies to the elaboration of a general theory of signification and cultural dynamics, tended to turn increasingly to Framework as the most appropriate platform.
In retrospect, four main currents running through the journal almost throughout its existence can be isolated as exemplifying the magazine's unique place and function within British film culture. Perhaps the most telling symptom of Framework's intervention was its consistent engagement with festival culture. From its second issue onwards (1975), the magazine devoted space to reviewing film festivals, as indeed did the mainstream, backward-looking journals such as Sight and Sound (intellectually stuck in the mid-fifties until its transformation into a journal fit for the waiting rooms of Manhattan's dentists in 1991) and the consumer guidance magazine Films and Filming (which later mutated into Premiere and other glossy fanzines), except that Framework eventually refused to provide trailers for imminent arthouse releases, concentrating instead on emergent currents in the more challenging and innovative sectors of world cinema, talking about films, collecting interviews and, above all, commenting on the cultural policies represented by the different types of film festivals. The festivals which became emblematic for Framework were Pesaro, Rotterdam and Edinburgh (until 1986) rather than Cannes or Venice. The most characteristic moment in this respect was a triple issue published in 1981, providing extensive documentation about Portuguese cinema to accompany a group of films screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival while simultaneously initiating a discussion, which quickly became controversial and triggered some acrimonious exchanges, about the cultural policies implied by film festivals. The discussion opened with an aggressive statement: 'So little work has been published on the role of film festivals in film culture that no knowledge whatsoever of the basic criteria with which to assess festivals can be taken for granted. Not even among readers of specalised film journals.' (p. 96). Unfortunately, except for the debate triggered by that issue and a review of the Rotterdam festival in issue 20 (1983), the challenge of 'reading' film festivals was not taken up and did not bear fruit, partly, no doubt, because festivals themselves increasingly settled into one of three set patterns: promoting a city, an industrial marketplace dedicated to the profit motive or a shop window for other festivals (inadvertently giving rise to a new genre: the festival film which does the rounds of a number of festivals before being laid to rest on television or being condemned to the twilight existence of films which found neither a television buyer nor a theatrical release and can be seen only at festival or archival retropsectives). Framework's engagement with festivals remains one of the journal's uncompleted agendas.
A second characteristic of Framework was its unstinting hostility towards the available forms of television (rather than to television as a medium: see the substantial engagement with television represented in this anthology, not to mention the major essays by Gillian Swanson on Dallas for which no space could be found here, and the comments in Issue 11 devoted for a large part to discussions of television) and their increasingly baleful influence on cinema. In issue 5 (1976/77, p. 40), this took the form of a series of sour remarks about 'radical' German films screened at the Berlin Festival's Young Film Forum which adopted 'ethico-aesthetic devices' familiar to British readers from television programmes such as World in Action, Man Alive or Panorama. At the same time, the review positively recommended that attention be paid to the work of mainly feminist filmmakers in Germany such as Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sanders who, the review ruefully noted, appeared to be mostly out of work. The writing on the wall, formulated in a rather over-politicised language typical of the period, was nevertheless clearly registered: 'Even the social-democrats-with-a-conscience at present dominating "left" film making will have to choose between unemployment or unquestioning support of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The legal measures to enforce this obedience have already been taken but have not yet been implemented on a massive scale' (pp. 40-41). The relevant measures were implemented, on a massive scale, a few years later and, from the mid-eighties onwards, devastated European cinema, turning it into a subsidiary of the far more rigorously policed television industry. The rest, with 'British talent' in the lead, desperately tried to shinny up the trouser legs of Hollywood executives or turned to exploitation films for the video market. In this respect, Framework's track record was and remains an honourable example of a journal refusing to accommodate itself to the spread of spiv culture, arguing consistently for a cinema that explores to full range of its signifying potential and for a non-debilitating television which, though theoretically possible, continues to recede into the future. In this context, it is worth pointing out, since it is not made clear anywhere else, that the piece in this anthology conveying some of Lyotard's views on television is a translated transcript from a television programme broadcast on FR3 on 27 March 1978 featuring the French philosopher.
The third current exemplified by Framework is its unrelenting attention to and support for 'independent' cinemas, meaning films which receive little or no exposure in the Euro-American mainstream: from independent American or British films to Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Latin-American or Australian films which often appear to be as marginal or 'challenging' in their own national contexts as they are in ours. A second volume of this Framework anthology containing essays, interviews and discussions addressing this sector of cinema will be published in the near future providing an opportunity to put this work in its proper context.
Finally, Framework also pioneered a special feature entitled 'Archaeology of Film Theory' which sought to provide a much needed historical perspective to the kind of film theory practised in journals such as Screen. The section started in issue 13 (1980) with a translation of Ricciotto Canudo's essay, 'The Birth of the Sixth Art' originally published in 1911, and continued in the next issue with the rather inadequately introduced essay by Georg Lukacs: 'Thoughts on an Aesthetic for the Cinema' dating from 1913. Further issues (re)introduced the work of Vaclav Tille and discussed the film writings of Mayakovski, Germaine Dulac, Dorothy Richardson, Robert Florey, Edwin Porter and Andre Antoine.
Framework's broad-ranging engagement with all aspects of film culture, including with the work of film journals in the USA (especially Jump Cut and Cineaste), nevertheless remained proudly perverse: over the years, the journal devoted most of its space to films which most British film viewers were unlikely to see except, perhaps, on rare instances at festivals or at the National Film Theatre in London. The reasoning behind this fairly deliberate strategy was that a film journal, if it was to avoid simply following the agenda set by the industry or to become a relatively unimportant publicity agent on behalf of the few challengingly different films that occasionally did reach British screens, needed to alert readers to what was really being done in the cinema's innovative areas and to elicit curiosity for them. This meant writing about films and film makers unfamiliar to the journal's readership, but to address these films in such a way that the approach could be translated to the more readily available films. This double thrust, one directing attention to films, the other to the way one argues about films, gave the writing, even if at times only implicitly, a comparative dimension capable of bringing into focus the very dynamics animating British film culture.
An anthology of materials published over a relatively long period of time can never provide an adequate picture of the full range of arguments deployed in a journal. The selection offered in this first of two planned volumes was determined by two main sets of criteria. The first and most obvious consideration was the reservation of materials relating to 'third world' and other non-Euro-American cinemas for the second volume, largely because those writings have a coherence as well as a potential constituency of their own, given the current tendency for film studies to fragment into broadly continental specialisms. The second and more argumentative criteria concern the selection of essays which can be seen as still particularly or potentially productive in the present context of the late nineties. Inevitably, this involves eminently fallible judgements, and readers will recall their own favourites which unfortunately are missing from this collection. The main reason for limiting the selection to the essays reprinted here is an economic one: to include more essays would have put the production costs beyond the publisher's reach. It is particularly distressing to have to omit the pathbreaking work by Nancy Condee and Vladimir Padunov about Soviet and Russian cinema in its period of transition (perestroika), the essays about Australian film culture, the scripts of the independent films featured in the journal, Kaja Silverman's long but fascinating work on masochism and subjectivity, David Will's analysis of Stranger's Kiss, Roswita Mueller's discussion of Brechtian cinema, the many critical accounts of the independent film makers' campaigns and many other essays which have lost none of their critical value over the years.
Finally, some of the essays reprinted in this anthology were, when first published, preceded by introductory remarks. The 'Archaeology of Film Theory' rubric started with a presentation of Canudo's work, pointing out that he is frequently cited as 'the first theoretician / aesthetician of the cinema. Whether or not he was the first person to write about the cinema in this way, he certainly gave early aesthetic debates a system and a structure. His term "the seventh art" proved lasting, while others such as "cinegraphie" sparked off the debates which provoked other French intellectuals—and especially Louis Delluc, who was for some time very close to Canudo—into providing new terms of reference such as "photogenie" and "cineaste". ... The better-known manifesto for the seventh art went through a number of drafts, all published in Italy or France. According to Sadoul, it was a lecture given at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes presenting an Italian film of Dante. ... Abel Gance in Qu'est-ce que le cinematographe? identifies it as being an article from Cine Journal published in March 1912 (this is confirmed by Matei Rusu in "Sur la crise du theatre Francais' in La Vie, 14 June 1943, and Andre Fescourt in his book La foi et les montagnes, published in paris in 1959. ... The Italian journal Filmcritica (n. 278, November 1977) reprinted "Trionfo del cinema", an article from Nuovo Giornale (25 November 1908) which has remarkable similarities to the version printed here, taken from Les entretiens idealistes of 25 October 1911. For the sake of accuracy, this translation has been made from the original French AND the excellent Italian translation by Anna Paola Mossetto Campra, with particular attention given to the 1908 article. For a brief explanation of the difference between the manifestos of the sixth and the seventh arts, see the article River of no Return in Framework n. 5.' The Canudo essay was translated by Ben Gibson, Don Ranvaud, Sergio Sokota and Deborah Young.
In issues 26/27, David Will interviewed the extraordinary but sadly underemployed Irish film maker Pat Murphy at the Edinburgh Film Festival's screening of Anne Devlin. David Will's consistently stimulating and prvocative contributions to Framework testify to the journal's continuation of the Edinburgh Festival's work of the 1969-76 period. In Issue 30/31, Luke Gibbons extended the journal's interest in Pat Murphy's work with this essay which first appeared in the Irish journal Portfolio in a slightly different version. Luke Gibbons's essay was prefaced by some remarks which stress an aspect of film writing to which Framework drew attention, to my knowledge the only cultural journal to do so explicitly: '[A] piece written for an Irish readership, drawing on the resonances of popular memory as it affects figures such as Anne Devlin, Emmet, Patrick Pearse, "the rising", etc. ... By printing criticism which consciously works with "what readers are supposed to know", Framework hopes to extend its critical engagement with questions of address. In the main, discussions of modes of address have been concerned with assumptions about gender and knowledge / ignorance of particular conceptual apparatuses. By drawing readers' attention to the fact that our thinking about films is as culture-bound and historically specific as the films themselves, we hope to diminish somewhat the mindnumbing din made by the sound of knowing enough that emanates from the vast majority of critical and journalistic writing about cinema (and TV).'
This dimension of the magazine's approach to cultural difference, implying that it is precisely by activating the frictions between the world from/to which a writer speaks and in which the reader's frame of reference operates that differences can be made intellectually productive, underpinned its predilection for printing material generated by and for other cultural formations, from the archaeology of film theory to a Vietnamese review of Apocalypse Now and a special issue on Australian film culture written primarily by Australians who did not 'explain' matters Australian to British readers, instead expecting readers to be interested in the way Australian critics perform criticism. Whenever possible, discussions of aspects of some national film culture would be commissioned from writers particularly interested in, indeed immersed in, the cultural formation concerned (as in, for instance, the special issue on Brazilian cinema or P.A. Paranagua's frequent reports on Latin American cinemas) on the grounds that they would insist on the relevance of 'their' specific way(s) of reading texts and cultural problems grounded in 'their' socio-cultural formation. This aspect of the journal was part of an increasingly anti-universalist argument stressing that films are and must be understood as thoroughly grounded in particular histories which reverberate in their very texture. The implied polemic was and still is against the by now discredited but still overwhelmingly dominant 'touristic' approach to films at, for instance, festivals or in film magazines: an approach which regards the prevailing industrial, Euro-American way of seeing and assessing films as the only permissible or practicable frame of reference. Shortly after Framework ceased publication (temporarily), an especially despicable example of the Anglocentrism besetting English discussions of cinema was printed in the 'new' Sight and Sound, backed by the authority as wel as the finances of the British Film Institute, which claimed that David Lean was the first film maker to put India on the screen, ignoring the many Indian or Pakistani films and videos which form the staple viewing diet of a substantial part of the British population. Framework's pioneering efforts to counter this anxiously small-minded, not to say racist aspect of British film also remains an uncompleted agenda extending its resonances into contemporary film cultures, although the discussions of this agenda, mercifully, have moved on since Framework's initial explorations of the issues which led to the last major Edinburgh Festival Conference organised by Jim Pines and myself in 1986, the results of which were published in the book Questions of Third Cinema (BFI, 1989).
Framework's engagement with issues of cultural difference, perhaps its most telling and lasting legacy, was both tentative and aggressive. Aggressive in the affimation of a conviction that any variety of 'centric' (ethnocentric, Eurocentric) or 'essentialist' critical frames of reference were to be rejected. Tentative in its formulation of what a non-essentialist notion of the 'nationally specific' might be. This hesitation, which I addressed elsewhere in a discussion of 'the national' as best approached as a matter of address rather than origin , was summarised by Chris Berry in a still diplomatically pluralist manner: 'It is now necessary to develop transnational perspectives in addition to existing approaches.' Later on in the same essay, Berry corrects the liberal pluralist implications of his formulation which leaves 'existing' approaches undisturbed: 'In the case of the examination of the bulk of cultural phenomena originating outside Western cultures, it is all too easy to attend to the theoretical reworking required to comprehend them, without considering how they might also require us to change our examination of Western cultures, too.' Even though Berry's warning was foreshadowed in Ashish Rajadhyaksha's contribution to Framework n. 32/33 , the journal never managed adequately to put into practice the realisation that transnational approaches could not possibly leave the 'existing' ones undisturbed. Berry's essay published in 1994 is one of the first essays to demonstrate with a measure of success what this Bakhtinian approach to questions of dialogic relations between cultures actually means in terms of practical criticism of films caught in, as Berry put it in the same essay: 'The general shift away from the one-way, centre to periphery flows of colonialism and neocolonialism to the multidirectonal flows that characterise globalisation,' provided, of course, that we refuse to use terms such as globalisation in the abstract as if there were no difference between economic and cultural globalisation, or as if either type of globalisation operates in the same way in all places. If I were to claim one single main achievement for Framework, it would be this: the journal was among the quickest to recognise the need, and to argue, for the elaboration of a transnational critical-theoretical discourse which would leave no 'existing' frame of reference undisturbed.
Introduction, The Essential Framework, London: Epigram, 1997.
as the notes below will explain. However, it is a great deal harder to find out whether the bridge was ever finished and, if so, into what landscape it discharged its travelers. My suspicion, as the journal's main editor for most of its period of publication, is that the bridge was never quite completed and that there is a gap between its endpoint and the warren of roads on the other side of the eighties with which it might have connected. This is not a matter of regret, although it certainly did generate a feeling of frustration at the time. The lack of completion is probably the main reason why the journal, which ceased publication in 1992, has managed to resist becoming an archival relic. Similarly, its incompletion means that the journal can still be seen as potentially opening onto a number of different avenues, extending its productivity into a range of subsequent though not directly connected discursive currents and institutions in the late nineties. The worst fate the journal did avoid is that of the film magazine which, one issue relentlessly following another regardless of its ability to engage critically with constantly shifting cultural constellations, condemns itself to eternal repetition, a process euphemistically known as 'professionalisation'.