The conception-day gift package contains some gifts marked Do not open till -- some appropriate date. Language is in such a package along with teeth and breasts. There is a large gap in the genetic code so that the growing child can be imprinted with the particular language of the community s/he grows up in. Language could be considered as a hierarchy of units plus rules for combining units at one level to create meaningful units at the next level. Thus, there are rules of vocabulary to combine phonemes into morphemes; of grammar to combine morphemes into sentences; of logic to combine sentences into discourses.

      My pre-Gervais understanding of film language was a vague awareness that a film can be considered as rules for combining frames into shots, shots into scenes, and scenes into films. That and some simple-minded analogies - transitions as punctuation (fade to black as period, and dissolve as comma). Your unpacking of the boxes in Persona (Pages 93-104) and your frame-by-frame analysis of a scene from The Seventh Seal (Pages 158-193) have provided me with a much more sophisticated sense of film language. Your shift from an emphasis on themes to an emphasis on film language (page 11), that is, from message to medium, is appreciated. Whatever one thinks of McLuhan, one must recognize that the medium is (at least part of, and the most interesting part of) the message.

      I appreciate your footnote on page 155 about the pettiness of Svensk Filmindustri in refusing permission to use stills from the film in the book. Some wonderful heuristic devices - combining text and image - present themselves with multimedia, but can't be used when the owners of rights put profits over prophets. DVDs which have evolved considerably since your book was published are even better for moving frame-by-frame through a film. They are also magnificent for inviting students to explore how a film is created. The two DVDs accompanying Fight Club, for instance, enable you to watch the film four times with voice-over comments by the director, by the authors of the book and the script, by the actors, and by the technical crew.

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