Thursday, 12 May 2005

He Most Resembles A Dog

In his book Something Like An Autobiography Akira Kurosawa tells the following story:

Long ago the Japanese novelist Shiga Noya presented an essay written by his grandchild as one of the most remarkable prose pieces of his time. He had it published in a literary magazine. It was entitled “My Dog” and ran as follows: "My dog resembles a bear; he also resembles a badger; he also resembles a fox…." It proceeded to enumerate the dog’s special characteristics, comparing each one to yet another animal, developing into a full list of the animal kingdom. However, the essay closed with, "But since he’s a dog, he most resembles a dog." I remember bursting out laughing when I read this essay, but it makes a serious point. Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and music elements. But cinema is, in the final analysis, cinema.

I had cause to remember this the other day when I was teaching a lesson that touched on web design and one slide said "A website is not a brochure". Well, it's not, but in some ways it does resemble one. As Kurosawa says the story does have a serious point and by changing one or two of his words you could make the point about the Internet or computer games. As they both resemble a lot of things but in the end they are something different and have to be treated as such.

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