Classical Theories Aristotle And Plato

1909 words - 8 pages

Plato and Aristotle have both documented strong opinions about the influence and social purpose of poetry. Plato, in The Republic, outlines reasons for his `refusal to admit the imitative kind of poetry'(Plato cited in ed. Adams 1992, p. 31). Plato's reference to `poetry' does not apply to the poetry of contemporary society, as it was a performance art and not meant for silent reading and reflection. Julia Annas (1981, p. 94) believes that Plato's concern `was with popular culture, the culture that surrounds children as they grow up; in a present-day setting his concern would be with novels, (TV and movies)'; such as the 2003 movie House of Sand and Fog. Plato is worried that youth within his society would be easily influenced by unwholesome ideas contained within poetry. The Poetics is in part Aristotle's response to Plato's argument that poetry is a representation of appearances and is thus misleading and morally suspect. Aristotle judges poetry on its own terms, not by appealing to ideas of morality. He seeks to not only defend tragedy as a valuable poetic art form, but to also dissect and analyse all areas of this art. With this information about both Aristotle and Plato, it is not difficult to see that they would have conflicting ideas as to whether a movie such as House of Sand and Fog has any cultural or artistic merit.

Plato is constantly intolerant of tragedy. This is due to the moral conflict it contains. Tragedy appeals to the emotions and destroys the moral fibre of the audience. They are affected in a way that they are able to sympathise with characters, and are able to `see why the protagonists come into irreconcilable conflict, or destroy themselves, without being able to reduce the outcome to a moral plus or minus' (Annas 1981, p. 98). Plato discusses censorship of all false stories and immoral stories. His main complaint concerns `whenever an erroneous representation is made of the nature of gods and heroes (Plato cited in ed. Adams 1992).' When analysing House of Sand and Fog, it is easy to see that Plato would have believed the content of this movie to be `objectionable' (Plato cited in ed. Adams 1992).

Plato is concerned with the use of imitation within performance and this is easily recognisable within House of Sand and Fog (2003). Massoud Amir Behrani (Ben Kingsley) is a noble character, a former Iranian Colonel, who has sunk to the ranks of a construction worker in the United States of America. He is constantly praising God and attempts to rise back to the ranks of high status, which he enjoyed in Iran. Even though he is depicted as being a righteous character, he is still only a character, which is only an interpretation of a real person. Ben Kingsley, the actor, is imitating not only an Iranian immigrant, but also a Colonel in the Iranian army. Ben Kingsley does not know what it is like to be either of these because it is impossible for `one man (to) imitate many things as well as he would imitate a single thing.'...

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