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Film Theory & Movements . FIVE DIFFERENT VIEWS OF REALITY. Naturalist / Empiricists. Non-Christian existentialist Nihilist Rationalist. Idealist/ Romanticist. Idealist Romanticist Mystic Transcendentalist. Phenomenologist Noumenalist Magical realist Realist (Bazin). Marxist.

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Film Theory & Movements

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Film Theory & Movements

FIVE DIFFERENT VIEWS OF REALITY


Naturalist / Empiricists

Non-Christian existentialist

Nihilist

Rationalist


Idealist/ Romanticist

Idealist

Romanticist

Mystic

Transcendentalist

Phenomenologist

Noumenalist

Magical realist

Realist (Bazin)


Marxist

Social realists


Psychoanalytical

Freud

Lacan


Postmodern

Poststructural

Postcolonial

Feminist / queer


Two Overriding Traditions (Aitken)

INTUITIONIST / MODERNIST

  • Rooted in romanticism

  • Phenomenology

  • Irrational & intuitive

  • Symbolism & expressionism

  • Imagery conveys “meaning”

  • Theme of alienation

  • Often ambiguous

REALIST / NATURALIST

  • Documentary style

  • Vehicle for social reform

  • Rational, cognitive analysis of information and issues

  • Carefully controlled images that manipulate audience reaction

  • Utilitarian, often with a political agenda


Two Approaches to Editing

MONTAGE

A + B = C

Apple blossoms + young girls in field = hope

One interpretation (no ambiguity)

Editor (director) manipulates meaning

Not “realistic”

Focus on image (soft background)


Two Approaches to Editing

MONTAGE

A + B = C

Apple blossoms + young girls in field = hope

One interpretation (no ambiguity)

Editor (director) manipulates meaning

Not “realistic”

Focus on image (soft background)


Two Approaches to Editing

MONTAGE

A + B = C

Apple blossoms + young girls in field = hope

One interpretation (no ambiguity)

Editor (director) manipulates meaning

Not “realistic”

Focus on image (soft background)


Two Approaches to Editing

MONTAGE

A + B = C

Apple blossoms + young girls in field = hope

One interpretation (no ambiguity)

Editor (director) manipulates meaning

Not “realistic”

Focus on image (soft background)


Two Approaches to Editing

CINEMATIC REALISM

Long takes

Capture “reality” as it is

Deep focus, depth of field

Less directorial control of what the viewer should focus upon

Ambiguity

More real


Two Approaches to Editing

  • CINEMATIC REALISM

  • SOCIAL REALISM

    • Italian Neorealism

    • New British Cinema

  • METAPHYSICAL “REALISM”

    • Andrei Tarkovsky


Two Approaches to Editing

  • CINEMATIC REALISM

  • SOCIAL REALISM

    • Italian Neorealism

    • New British Cinema

  • METAPHYSICAL “REALISM”

    • Andrei Tarkovsky


Two Approaches to Editing


Two Approaches to Editing


Impact of Hollywood

  • Worldwide dominance of the Hollywood machine: Production-distribution-TV

    • 65-80% of films shown in Europe are US.

    • US: 37,000 screens

    • UK: “Secrets & Lies” -- 20 screens

  • Transnational productions

  • Emigration of directors and actors

  • Commercial producers copy Hollywood

  • Few auteurs took aesthetic stance against Hollywood mis en scene

  • Death of national cinemas/identity?


The Hollywood Aesthetic

  • The aesthetic of pretense

  • Studio system

  • Star-centric

  • Formula approach to narrative

    • Hero - Problem - Overcome- Happy Ending

  • Shot-reverse-shot

    • Camera followed the order of the text

    • Alternate characters speaking


Major Film Theorists

1. John Grierson

2. Siegfried Kracauer

3. Andre Bazin

4. Georg Lucas

5. Christian Metz


Film Theory

Perception

Representation

Signification

Narrative Structure

Adaptation

Evaluation

Identification

Figuration

Interpretation


Intellectual / Historical Context

Gestalt Psychology

Russian Formalism

Neo-Kantianism

Phenomonology

Existentialism

Postmodernism


John Grierson(1889-1972)

MODERN DOCUMENTARY REALISM

  • Father of the documentary film

  • Film as an effective means of communications between individual and the state

  • Purpose is to create social unity and reform

  • Focused on poverty, hunger, unemployment, and other social problems

  • Intuitive/experiential films can enable people to understand social issues better than rational, cognitive analysis

  • Use of realistic and naturalistic images to signify abstract realities


Siefried Kracauer(1889-1966)

CINEMATIC REALISM

  • Critic of “modernity” (Frankfurt School)

  • Human condition characterized by alienation

  • Mass culture/society manipulates individuals

  • Materialistic values have replaced religion, metaphysical, romantic convictions, resulting in disenchantment

  • People live distracted lives

  • Film as a “redemptive” experience that can show man damaged condition of modernity and help him transcend materialism


Siefried Kracauer(1889-1966)

CINEMATIC REALISM

  • Foreshadowed and predicted dehumanizing power of mass media

  • “Mass ornaments”--film, military parades and sporting events

  • “Real” world of the individual desubstantiated by spectacle and empty rituals

  • Film must “reengage” individual with nature and the Kantian real world


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

CINEMATIC REALISM

  • Shared Kracauer’s view of modernity

  • Also saw film as redemptive

  • Kracauer: German classical philosophy

  • Bazin: Catholicism, Bergson, Sartre, French

  • Phenomenological influence

  • Bergson: Flux and flow of existence

  • Modern life and ideologies obscure the “base of life”


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

Bergson’s concept of “creative evolution”

  • Evolution of the “vital spirit” in man

  • Close experiential scrutiny reveals deep structures/meanings behind phenomena

  • Under scrutiny of inquiry [artistic analysis]these deep structures are brought into the light

  • Cinema and photography are media that an artist can utilize to review the deeper meanings behind the phenomena of existence


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

Existentialism

  • I am, therefore I think, feel, perceive, etc.

  • Intuitive understanding, versus rational.

  • Sartre: Absence of inner fulfillment

  • Individual defined him or her self through action, free choice and the very quest for meaning

  • Lacan: I am the search for myself


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

Christian Existentialism

  • Rejected nihilistic strains of existentialism

  • Personalist movement of French intellectuals

  • Marxist, utopian view of society’s potential

  • Tielhard de Chardin: Metaphysical theory of geological formation

    • Noosphere--Consciousness of the earth

    • Close obsveration of natural phenomena could reveal planetary consciousness


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

“Divining the real”

  • Mystical

  • Metaphysical

  • Creative evolution

  • Spiritual renewal

  • Social reform

  • Metaphysical


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

  • Christian view of man as fallen

  • Seeking redemption and atonement

  • The role of cinema is to help man in his search for truth and understanding in an ambiguous and uncertain world

  • Man can transcend alienation and modernity

  • Film can be a religious experience

  • “Love” and “state of grace”


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

  • Film image “embalms” time & wrenches phenomena from the flux of life

  • Symbolic power of cinematic imagery combined with empirical density of cinematic realism

  • The spirit behind the “real” object

  • The “long hard gaze”

  • Disliked over-expressive, over-ornamental, or overuse of montage

    • (More like Tarkovsky than Eisenstein)


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

  • We know that under the image revealed there is another which is truer to reality and under this image still another and yet again still another under this last one, right down to the true image of reality, absolute, mysterious, which no on will ever see.


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

  • Francois Truffaut

  • Erich von Stroheim

  • Roberto Rossellini

  • Vittorio De Sica

  • Robert Bresson

  • Jean Renoir

  • Orson Welles

  • William Wyler


Andre Bazin(1918-1958)

  • Liked films that focused on everyday psychological experience

    • Italian neorealism (The Bicyle Thief)

  • Disliked modernist, expressionistic

  • Disliked films that imposed a political ideology on the viewer

  • Long takes, of surrounding environment

  • Impact of environment on people(French determinism)


Georg Lukacs(1885-1971)

  • Marxist philosopher (Western)

  • History of Class Consciousness

  • Concrete social totality

  • Anti-symbolic irrationalism

  • Anti-naturalism that just showed alienation of individual

  • Film as a dialectic between the individual and the social within a particular

  • Must show man’s place in the web of social and political relationships


Christian Metz(1931-1993)

  • The first academic critic to consider film a language

  • Structuralist, semiotic approach to film analysis

  • A systematic reading of film to reveal meaning through film language

    • Shots, sequencing, mise en scene

  • Grande syntagmatique

    • Seven different systems of shots (syntagms) that told the story of a film

  • Film provides a spectacle of reality which allows the viewer to accomplish a transfer of reality

  • Anti anti-realist, postmodern cinema


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