There have been many variations of talking during a movie over the global history of film. The long tradition behind this current wave of interest in the form includes hecklers in theaters, dads in living rooms with their home movies, professional narrators of silent documentaries, the reknowned film-tellers in Europe and Asia, right up to TV shows like Jay Ward's Fractured Flickers in the 1960s and Mystery Science
Theater in the 1990s.
The task of accompanying silent film is usually left to musicians. It becomes the task of writers to silence the talkies and revive the image whose meaning has been controlled and even restricted by the corporate culture of mass entertainment and mass profit. The benshi can take back the cinema, and anyone with a DVD player and a remote can give it a shot.
Perhaps they would have approved of the wit and freedom with which [contemporary] poets have chosen to recast the 20th century’s most powerful and oppressive artistic form.
I continue to explore movietelling as a practice. I spend an equal amount of time in search of instances of live film narration or creative dubbing. Though sometimes treated as a fad, this practice has roots around the globe, and its continued practice has the potential to bring together the cultural nuances and practical techniques behind each. It has also begun to provide a creative space where filmmakers, poets, performance artists, and musicians collaborate and improvise. I don't want to take back the cinema. If it was lost to me, I don't think I'd feel compelled to practice film narration. I want to confront cinema. I want to subvert specifically, rather than demonstrating my capacity to subvert a medium in general.
For more information on movietelling and related subjects, follow the Movieteling label of this post to several previous posts pertaining to the subject(s).