Film Theory: Decontexualization and Recontexulization

Movies tend to come to viewers by a series of detours–of the past and the present.

As viewers, we are inevitably involved in the processes of decontextualization and recontextualization.

Most films that we watch are seldom completely intact or coherent wholes; instead, they are open for and invite us for interpretation and reinterpretation.

Thus, films are always engaged in the process of writing themselves, or quoting themselves (and other films), or remarking on themselves (and other films).

There is always the possibility of any film to be repeated or recycles in a different form or style.

Scholars have stressed the necessary structure of iterability that exists for and within any and every film.

We often watch a remake, such as the 1983 Breathless (American film), before watching the original French film of 1959, Breathless, directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Scholars such as David Wills have suggested that the chronological wires of movies are often crossed.

Viewing involves an art of detachment, and the operations of excisions  and grafting.

In other words, viewing a particular film, made at a particular time, involves both decontextualization and recontextualization.

This is known as the quotation or citation effect, the fact that we sometimes watch old movies decades or years after they were made, with different eyes, or new perspectives, some of which have emerged after the making of the films and thus affect the way that we read and perceive their texts.