The Promotion of The Blair Witch Project Part two

This film challenges our relationship to the cinema and the technological world in general. Its three protagonists eventually prove ill-equipped for dealing with a natural and transformative world as their map and compass prove useless and their cameras and sound equipment, designed to record real life events, offer no insulation against a mysterious and supernatural realm. By channelling our relationship to the natural world through technology, the narrative evokes our own personal sense of feeling lost in this mediated contemporary world.


In describing the success of The Blair Witch Project, Libby Gelman-Waxner has attributed this achievement to the film’s technological approach and its successful web based promotion. As she comments, its success must be “partially attributed to the heavy promotion of the movie on the Internet, and that makes sense: It’s a movie for men and women . . . who prefer to see the world entirely through technology—it’s nature downloaded.”[1]  The films presents us with a kind of primitive human experience framed by technology, a technology that allows us a safe, almost aesthetic distance on events. That distance has a carefully established context and does seem a key component of its success. While that sense of distance enhances the film’s packaging for Internet consumption, it also opens onto the film’s own critique of a mediated environment, particularly of the cinema, essential to its context of difference. Today’s moviegoers are situated within a pervasive multimedia environment and experience the cinematic text differently than previous generations of moviegoers as can be seen in the success of the Scream films. With The Blair Witch Project’s project, we see mechanisms that are changing both the movies and our experience of them. Paul Virilio has described the postmodern experience as one of ‘living in “the shadow of the Tower of Babel,” not simply as a result of the many and different voices with which the multimedia environment offers us but also because of a certain dislocation that accompanies those various voices’. [2] For this electronic experience which unite us within what he terms “globalization,” also leaves us essentially without belonging to a real place, in essence we are decentred and lost.[3] The Blair Witch Project, seems to have effectively captured, and capitalised on, this sensibility. It recalls the nature of the typical electronic document, the hypertext, which is ‘a text of many fragments but no whole, no master text’.[4]


This research investigates the relationship between film and Websites, the product and its marketing, and the contemporary film industry. In today’s wide-open media marketplace, the small, virtually unknown filmmaker often seems to function as successfully as the big studio in finding a venue for his or her work.  With the proliferation of independent film festivals, the small budget, independently produced, and non-celebrity movie does have a realistic chance of been seen, picked up by a national distributor and then offered to a broad audience base. Yet reaching that wide audience remains a troublesome project, one with which the power structure of the industry is growing familiar, and for which it is constantly developing new strategies. These strategies then must take into account the changing nature of the entertainment form itself, particularly the increasingly substantial role of the computer and the Internet which offers its own pleasures to a young audience whom have grown up with electronic narratives. As Janet Murray reminds us, “The computer is chameleonic. It can be seen as a theater, a town hall, an unravelling book, an animated wonderland, a sports arena, and even a potential life form. But it is first and foremost a representational medium, a means for modelling the world that added its own potent properties to the traditional media it has assimilated so quickly.”[5] It is a medium that, through the Internet and much as film has traditionally done, has begun to assert its own model for the world. It powerfully affirms its own authority, its own truth, and its own priority at affording access to the world.

[1] Gelman- Waxner, Libby, “‘Witch’ and Famous,” Premiere 13.3, 1999, pp. 80-81.  

[2] Virilio, Paul, Open Sky, trans. Julie Rose, London, Verso, 1997, P.145.

[3] Ibid., p. 144.

[4] Ibid.

[5]Murray, Janet, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997, P. 284.


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