A2 Film Studies • Unit 4 // FM4
FM4: VARIETIES OF FILM EXPERIENCE – ISSUES AND DEBATES • Focus of the unit • This unit contributes to synoptic assessment. Understanding will be fostered through: • Studying complex films from different contexts, extending knowledge of the Diversity of film and its effects • Exploring spectatorship issues in relation to a particular type of film • Applying key concepts and critical approaches gained throughout the course to explore one film in a synoptic manner.
FM4 Varieties of Film Experience: Issues and Debates • Three questions, one from each section: • Section A: World Cinema topics (35) • Section B: Spectatorship topics (35) • Section C: Single Film - Critical Study (30)
FM4 Section B: Spectatorship topics (35) • Exam is 2 hours 45 mins. • Total of 100 marks available. • Spectatorship (Section B) is worth of 35 marks.
FM4 Section B: Spectatorship topics (35) • This section is broken down to a further 4 areas: • A Spectatorship and Early Cinema before 1917or • B Spectatorship and Documentaryor • C Spectatorship: Experimental and Expanded Film/Video or • D Spectatorship: Popular Film and Emotional Response
FM4 Section B // Sub-section D • This study is concerned with the ways in which popular film (whether deriving from Hollywood or elsewhere) produces powerful sensory and emotional responses in the spectator. It is possible to focus on a particular genre – such as horror and consider shock effects – or the melodrama as 'weepie'. Alternatively, the focus may be on spectacle, whether relating to the body of the star or to the staging/choreography of action. This topic is not concerned specifically with either issues of representation or value judgements but rather with developing understanding about how films create the emotional responses they do. It is expected that a minimum of two feature-length films will be studied for this topic.
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • TASK: • Compile a list of the various types of emotional response a film might elicit
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • TASK: • How would you define emotion, or an emotional response?
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • Write this down: • What exactly is emotion, or emotional response? • A moving of the mind or soul; excitement of the feelings, whether pleasing or painful; disturbance or agitation of mind caused by specific exciting cause and manifested by some sensible effect on the body
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • Can we control our emotions? • To what extent should emotions be seen to be linked to thought?
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • As we watch films we can each experience fear, and pleasure, and desire, and surprise, and shock and a whole array of possible emotions, but we will not all experience these emotions equally at the same moments in a film • TASK: • What is that determines our individual predisposition to respond in particular emotional ways at certain points in certain films? • Think carefully about this but don’t worry about a right answer, this is the debate. • Your job is to recognise that there is an intense interaction with the sounds and images occurring as we watch films, and that film makers are deliberately setting out to create emotional responses.
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • As we watch films we can each experience fear, and pleasure, and desire, and surprise, and shock and a whole array of possible emotions, but we will not all experience these emotions equally at the same moments in a film • TASK: • What technical elements can a film maker use to create and develop the reaction in an audience? • Extension: Think back to a scene that you had an emotional reaction to. • What was the scene? What was your reaction? Why do you think you acted in that way?
Lesson 1: What is emotion? • TASK: • What technical elements can a film maker use to create and develop the reaction in an audience?
Ghost • The emotional response that some audiences would have had to ghost are drastically different to ours. Why is that? • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=895PZQJK5TM
Emotion response • What do you define emotion as now? • For the most part we’ll be dealing with cognitive responses. • Can our emotional response be different to someone else’s if we watch the same film film? Why? • The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgement, that which comes to be known as through perception, reasoning or intuition; knowledge.
Why people share emotional responses • Film Studies and Cultural Studies Film Studies, influenced by Cultural Studies is increasingly likely to centre on local, small scale and precise groups of people who share, perhaps, some social or political ‘Formation’. Their behaviour both as individuated spectators and as a collective of people forming an audience is likely to be understood if we respect and try to understand the importance of particular life experiences and social; attitudes they bring with them to the viewing situation. • What does this mean?! • In your own words, try to explain how we can be sure that people share emotional responses.
Why people share emotional responses • Groups of people may share a social or political group/formation. • You can be an individual with a specific and unique response, but you can still ‘belong’ to a group of similar people as an audience. • We need to be able to understand and appreciate both. • You = cry at people who don’t win on quiz shows. • Audience = doesn’t cry. Still aligned as an audience because of your appreciation for that quiz show.
Hypodermic Needle Theory • This Theory is a suggestion that the Media (in this case, Film) has a direct and powerful affect on its audience. • The HNT states that the Media can invoke change on those who are exposed to it. • The use of advertising suggests that this theory is true-that by using the Media to tell someone something, they will go along with it. An example of this would be Hitler’s use of the Media in promoting Nazi propaganda. • The title, Hypodermic Needle Theory, refers to the idea of directly injecting the audience with an idea to create a response.
Hypodermic Needle Theory Here you can see how we, as individuals, are treated as one audience. The film (mass media product) treats us as one person, directly trying to influence us at once.
Creating a ‘message’ for the audience. The HNT suggests that this decoding is not really needed. We are ‘forced’ the message.
Hypodermic Needle Theory • This classic example of The Hypodermic Needle Theory occurred on October 30th 1938 when Orson Welles broadcast a version of the H.G Wells novel War of the Worlds. • As a radio program with music started, it was then ‘interrupted’ by an ‘emergency broadcast’ by an apparent news bulletin. The bulletin told the audience that Martians had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, America. • This became known as the “Panic Broadcast”and changed broadcast history, social psychology, civil defense and set a standard in provocative entertainment. (Found footage?!) Around 1 million people in the US heard the broadcast and approximately 1 million of those apparently believed that a serious alien invasion was underway.
Criticisms of the Hypodermic Needle Theory • The theory was deterministic and this did not allow for freedom of choice. The audience were ‘injected’ with a one way propaganda. From this light, one can confidently say that the theory undermines the right of individuals to freely choose what media material they consume. The theory is also noted for its passitivity and evidenced by the fact that audience were not allowed to contribute. This undermines the core aim of media studies which is the audience. From the latter, one can argue that the audience could not use their experience, intelligence and opinion to analyse messages. It will be very difficult to operate this theory in this new world where the audience have become sophisticated. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt5MjBlvGcY <-------- Handy video for revision!
Summary of Hypodermic Needle Theory • Name of theory: • General theory: • Positives (with example/s): • Criticisms:
Spectatorship • One of the reasons why the Hypodermic Needle theory was discredited is because it undermines the role of the individual spectator. • A spectator is an individual member of an audience. Spectatorship is an important concept in film theory. Traditional models of audience response tend to treat viewers, readers or listeners as groups, spectatorship study suggests that the film builds a specific relationship with every individual who experiences it. Rather than being concerned with media effects, spectatorship study focuses on understanding the ways films produce pleasure in their viewers.
Responses • Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes: • A social self who can make meaning in ways not very different from other with a similar ideological formation • A cultural self who makes particular intertextual references (to other films, other kinds of images and sound) based on the bank of material s/he possesses • A private self who carried the memories of his/her own experiences and who may find person significance in a film in ways very different from others • A desiring self who brings conscious and unconscious energies and intensities to the film event that have little to do with the film’s ‘surface’ content
Responses • A cultural self who makes particular intertextual references (to other films, other kinds of images and sound) based on the bank of material s/he possesses • Use of celebrities and the jokes about them in Family Guy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNF_g9Uz3tA • http://moviesimpsons.tumblr.com/ • Tarantino references • http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6860507/every-pop-culture-reference-from-tarantino-movies
Responses • Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes: • A social self who can make meaning in ways not very different from others with a similar ideological formation. • Lion King • American History X Write down your responses to these clips. Emotions, reactions, thoughts, opinions. Do we share any?
Responses • A private self who carried the memories of his/her own experiences and who may find person significance in a film in ways very different from others • Films which are especially brash, obvious or shallow in theme are unlikely to provoke a strong personal response. Action films, for example, are not usually something which someone could find a significant response in. (By significant we mean anything other than the ‘basic’ instant emotions of gratification.) • Films which are more subtle, dealing in themes, often universal ones but on a micro level, are more likely to provoke a personal response because they allow for a degree of interpretation or interaction. A specific response may be triggered by something specific in, or suggested by, the film, but this is entirely down to the spectator. Can you think of any specific personal examples that you’d care to share? If not, think of an example or two and make a note to help you recall this idea at a later stage.
Responses • A desiring self who brings conscious and unconscious energies and intensities to the film event that have little to do with the film’s ‘surface’ content. Your turn. What do you think this means? Can you rephrase it? Can you think of any examples in films that you’d be willing to share?
Responses The opening scenes to V for Vendetta. How do we respond? Make a note of these whilst watching. Then, can you explain what type of response it is? What self/selves has(have) helped to create that response? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCiGyaSPRhI Feel free to not share any difficult personal responses, but certainly make a note of them.
Responses How are these responses created by the film makers? Combine your understanding of response with that of film-making and criticism. Prepare to answer an essay question on this…
Emotional response and pleasure • Filmmakers have always attempted to gain some sort of emotional response from spectators, and for their part spectators have always responded emotionally to film. • More than that, spectators have always attended the cinema in order to have their emotions aroused and with the expectation that this will take place. This is, after all, a basic function of storytelling. • Stories gain emotional responses from listeners, readers or viewers. Effective storytelling encourages us to feel human emotions by allowing us to sympathise, empathise or even identify with characters and their narrative experiences. • As spectators (and as readers) we presumably find this process to be pleasurable or we would not return time after time to films (and stories), but in what ways is it pleasurable?
In what ways is it pleasurable? • In groups, think of ways in which a spectator could find a film pleasurable. • (You may want to think of different genres of films to give you ideas here) Mystery Justice Lust Emotional challenge Happy ending Nostalgia Adrenaline True stories Intrigue Twists Desirability Challenge your intelligence Inspirational Laughter/escapism Ambiguity
The opening to Psycho • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nf3D0AGZkU
The opening to Psycho • Psycho would seem to encourage the notion of film as voyeuristically pleasurable but what is the connection between voyeurism and emotional response? • What sorts of emotional response does voyeurism bring about? • Are we being permitted to give rein to a type of human interest in others that might more normally be considered socially unacceptable? • If so, what sorts of emotion do we experience at this point?
Responses The opening scenes to Psycho How do we respond? Make a note of these whilst watching. Then, can you explain what type of response it is? What self/selves has(have) helped to create that response? In what ways is this a pleasurable opening for an audience? How? Feel free to not share any difficult personal responses, but certainly make a note of them.
What emotions are engendered here? • Reservoir Dogs (1992) (Please note: pretty grim!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye7x3jbi_TE Do these emotions involve pleasure of some sort? • If so, what is the nature of this pleasure? • If it is not pleasurable, why do spectators watch these sorts of scenes, deliberately exposing themselves to a certain type of emotional response?
Responses The ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs Why is this scene ‘pleasurable’? How do we respond? Make a note of these whilst watching. Then, can you explain what type of response it is? What self/selves has(have) helped to create that response? In what ways is this a pleasurable opening for an audience? How? Use these notes to write a mini-essay as an explanation. Make sure that this is neat as others in the class will be reading your work.
What’s shocking to you? •List the range of ways in which you see film as being potentially 'shocking', and try to give an example for each. In order to comply with Film Studies good practice you should try to refer to specific scenes within particular films.
What is shocking to the viewer here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJZ-fmjDQRw&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DjJZ-fmjDQRw&has_verified=1 • What specifically is it here that is working to create shock? • Refer specifically to micro features and then bring in a more detailed response from the work we did before Easter.
Un Chien Andalou (1929) •In carrying out the act of analysing this clip, you should now be aware of the way in which 'shock’ in film can be talked about in terms of either the content (or subject matter) and the form (or style) of the film under discussion. Clearly the opening eye-slitting subject matter of Un Chien Andalou is itself shocking, but so too is the film construction in terms of the way in which use is made of close-ups and an editing cut from the blank face of the woman with her eye being held open to the actual eyeball-cutting shot.
Un Chien Andalou vs. Reservoir Dogs • Compare the way in which the scene from Un Chien Andalou is constructed with the slicing off of the policemans ear in Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1991) which is handled in an altogether different way. • Both scenes will draw a sense of shock from most spectators on a first viewing but perhaps the nature of the shock is different in both instances. Make notes on: The use of mise-en-scene, performance, cinematography, editing and sound in both cases. • For both scenes consider whether the nature of the shock changes on a second viewing, and if so in what ways. • Are there other emotional responses that you or other spectators have had to either of these scenes? Could you imagine the possibility of further emotional responses that neither you nor anyone you have spoken to has had but which might be possible for other spectators?
Emotional response • Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes:
Learning Outcomes • Deep study of Amorres Perros • Exam deconstruction • Begin to evaluate emotional response in reference to films
Next session Next lesson we will be screening American History X In preparation for next session I want you to find out the following information: What is shock cinema? The producer/director and cast of AHX A brief history of American History X
Coursework • First half of the session is a workshop
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest • Complete hand out
Shock and the ‘shocking’ • As you discuss or think about films and scenes from films that create an emotional shock, always make sure you are considering both content and film form. • Try to decide on the nature of the shock experienced and the intensity of that shock. Is it a physical shock that affects your bodily response in some way?
Shock and the ‘shocking’ • ‘ Shock’ as sudden and unexpected, or long-drawn out. • ‘ Shock’ in film usually occurs as something sudden and unexpected so that the viewer is as it were caught unawares. • But it is worth bearing in mind that this is not always the case; sometimes the shock effect is achieved in a rather more long-drawn-out fashion. • Can you think of any examples of scenes that are shocking or that create shock because something is more drawn-out or longer than a sudden jump? Why are these examples shocking?