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The Death Drive

For there are films which begin and end, which have a beginning and an ending, which conduct their story from an initial premise until everything has been restored to peace and order, and there have been deaths, a marriage or a revelation; there is Hawks, Hitchcock, Murnau, Ray, Griffith. And there are films quite unlike this, which recede into time like rivers to the sea; and which offer us only the most banal of closing images: rivers flowing, crowds, armies, shadows passing, curtains falling in perpetuity, a girl dancing till the end of time; there is Renoir and Rossellini. The relationship between cinema and narrative has a richness that might suggest the fulfilment of an ancient destiny. The magic lantern and other pre-cinema entertainment had tried, with varying degrees of success, to make stories move. But from the point of view of an imaginary spirit of fiction, the cinema was an extraordinary, transformative gift. Cinema could bring to storytelling much more than the illusion of life.