Reel Photos: Balancing Art and Truth in Contemporary Film


Reel Photos: Balancing Art and Truth in Contemporary Film


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Even in an age when the photograph has changed from a physical object into a data file that can be easily manipulated, we tend to believe what we see. But photographs can and do lie. As an object in a film, a photograph’s meaning and function can be even more malleable and deceiving, as new developments in technology are altering how we perceive reality.

In Reel Photos: Balancing Art and Truth in Contemporary Film, Wendy Sterba examines the use of photographs in cinema to explore issues of objectivity, subjectivity, fabrication, and fact. This study first looks at the traditional use of the photograph in films such as Blow-Up and then considers similar issues as they relate to the search for truth in detective films like Along Came a Spider, The Bone Collector, and Forgotten. Subsequent chapters explore ambivalence and photographic objectification in films about art photography, including The Governess, Fur, and Closer. Other movies discussed include Inception, Paparazzi, Under Fire, and Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture.

By examining the function of the photograph in movies rather than the role of film photography as art, Sterba provides an innovative approach to cinema studies. Utilizing theory in an intelligent but easily understandable way, this book allows readers to re-examine the role of authorship and the value of authentic art. Reel Photos will appeal to students and scholars of cinema, as well as anyone interested in the aesthetics of art and truth in film.

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Rowman & Littlefield



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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


Lanham, MD


American Film Studies | Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies | Other Film and Media Studies | Photography | Visual Studies

Reel Photos: Balancing Art and Truth in Contemporary Film