Conference Paper

The Banality of Benevolence: Archival Ambiguities in Pablo Larraín's No

Publication

Author
Jonathan Rozenkrantz

Conference
FilmForum 2017 XV MAGIS Film Studies Spring School 29 March – 2 April, Gorizia

Abstract

Pablo Larraín’s No (2012) is a semi-fictional account of the production process behind the 1988 television campaign that helped defeating Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. An estimated 30% of the film consists of archival footage, while the rest is shot on the obsolete analogue video format U-matic in order to match the archival materials. In her 2014 book The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History, Jamie Baron suggests that the insertion of archival images into films is best understood from the point of view of their effect. Archival documents “exist as ‘archival’ only insofar as the viewer […] perceives certain documents within [a] film as coming from another, previous – and primary – context of use”. It follows that any confusion regarding these temporal relations also condition the archival documents’ historiographic function. Through videographic means, No’s archive effect is almost entirely and intentionally neutralised. Ideally, the audience loses the capacity to distinguish between the two original temporalities, so that “the archive becomes fiction and what is fiction becomes archive” (Larraín). This paper discusses the technological conditions, conceptual implications, and critical reactions to Larraín’s strategy. Drawing on Jean Baudrillard’s critique of historical film, the paper concludes that No’s playful neutralisation of the archive effect finally effects what Baudrillard calls the system’s “nihilism of neutralisation”, that is to say its “power to pour everything, including what denies it, into indifference.”

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Details

  • Type:
    Conference Paper (other academic)
  • Conference:
    Film Forum 2017 Xv Magis Film Studies Spring School 29 March – 2 April, Gorizia
  • Published:
    2017
  • Language:
    English

About the Author

Jonathan Rozenkrantz

Jonathan Rozenkrantz is a PhD candidate at the Department of Media Studies. He holds a BA and an MA in Cinema Studies (Stockholm University). He has been a writer and editor for more than a decade, publishing extensively on film, visual arts, and ... Read more

Reference

Rozenkrantz, J. (2017). The Banality of Benevolence: Archival Ambiguities in Pablo Larraín's No. In: FilmForum 2017 XV MAGIS Film Studies Spring School 29 March – 2 April, Gorizia.