Размер шрифта: Фон:

UDC 791.3
DOI: 10.30628/1994-9529-2022-18.1-49-78

State Institute for Art Studies,
125009, Kozitsky, 5, Moscow, Russia
ResearcherID: AAS-2122-2020
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8386-9251
e-mail: k-saln@mail.ru

For citation
Salnikova E.V. (2022). Diegetic Invisible/Vanishing in Silent Cinema and its Origins. The Art and Science of Television, 18 (1), 49–78. https://DOI:

Diegetic Invisible/Vanishing in Silent Cinema and its Origins

Abstract. The article studies the early silent cinema motif of disappearance or invisibility of bodies in a frame. In adventure and adventure-fantasy films, this motif performs a whole set of functions. Using the example of several films, I uncover its rich semantic potential. Further on, the mythological origins of the motif are analyzed, as are the role of theater, circus, attraction and fairy tale in the prehistory of the diegetic disappearing. Attention is paid to the aesthetics of the trick in Georges Méliès’ films, where the condition and location of the vanishing body remain uncertain. Narrative films suggest a more definite interpretation of the character’s disappearance. For instance, the final episode of the British film The Life of Charles Peace (1905) implies the hero’s death by execution. However, the invisibility of the body creates the illusion of a likely open finale. Another example is D. W. Griffith’s The Adventures of Dollie (1908) about a girl locked in a barrel and traveling down the river to be returned to her father in the end. The happy-end gives this melodrama a touch of fantasy, presenting America as a wise natural universe. Working with the motif of the diegetic invisible/disappearing is significant for the cinema aesthetics, regardless of the motivations and meaning of what is happening. The diversity of the diegetic invisible reflects the need of cinema to model the picture of the magical universe.
Keywords: myth, cinema, circus, theater, attraction, diegesis, trick, fairy tale, Georges Méliès, game, adventure film narration, D.W. Griffith