V. F. Perkins' Functional Credibility and the Problem of Imaginative Resistance

Film and Philosophy 10:85-99 (2006)

Authors
Aaron Smuts
Rhode Island College
Abstract
Echoing Beardsley's trinity of unity, complexity, and intensity, Perkins develops three interrelated criteria on which to base an evaluation of film: credibility, coherence, and significance. I assess whether Perkins criteria of credibility serves as a useful standard for film criticism. Most of the effort will be devoted to charitably reconstructing the notion of credibility by bringing together some of Perkins' particular comments. Then I will briefly examine whether Perkins has successfully achieved his goal of developing standards of judgment by holding credibility up to his own criteria of successful meta-criticism: "The clarification of standards should help to develop the disciplines of criticism without seeking to lay obligations on the film-maker" (p. 59). Although I argue that Perkins fails to achieve his goal, his criterion of credibility remains a useful mechanism for evaluating artistic attempts to achieve a particular end, namely spectator immersion. A limited domain of application for his criteria might seem to leave us with little more than an idiosyncratic expression of his classicist artistic taste, but Film as Film also contains valuable insights relevant to the so called "problem of imaginative resistance.".
Keywords V. F. Perkins  Imaginative Resistance  belief  philosophy of film  paradox of fiction  credibility
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