In order to tell a story, the painter has only an instant at his disposal, the instant he is going to
immobilize on the canvas, and he must thus choose it well, assuring it in advance of the
greatest possible yield of meaning and pleasure. Necessarily total, this instant will be
artificial…a hieroglyph in which can be read at a single glance…the present, the past and the
future; that is, the historical meaning of the represented action... the creation of the painter or
the dramatist lies not in the choice of a subject but in the choice of the pregnant moment.
Roland Barthes, “Diderot, Brecht, Eisenstein,” 1973