The primordial fall from a state of grace indicates that we are perpetually immersed in a condition of moral ambiguity. The artist both addresses the predicament and seeks transcendence through image catharsis.
"Morality" is addressed by the filmmaker not in an absolute end-definition sense, but as an operational consensus.
Perfect representation does not exist and cannot be attained. Images are fundamentally interpretative and subject to ambiguity. This gives the possibility of extension in meaning.
A filmmaker making a film is a first-person singular statement of a point of view.
Every point has a view--every view has a point.
A higher moral order is implicit in aesthetic sensibility and depends for its evolution on the quest, the search for what is within and beyond us.
The term "moral" immediately brings to mind a negative-critical mode of evaluating behavior. There is another sense of the word which comes into existence once the immediate conditions of surviving in a culture have been satisfied: that is, the higher, unstated and remote regions of human awareness which most fundamentally inform what it means to be human. It is in the second sense that the filmmaker addresses himself. Here he stirs the primeval waters.
Robert Fulton was Robert Gardner's friend, cameraman, fellow filmmaker and colleague at Harvard for many years. This comment was written immediately after he read the original version of Gardner's "The Moral Nature of Film" in 1980.
The above article was published in Media Ethics, Spring 2007 (18:2), pp.12,33.