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All class notes!

by: Abi Sommers

All class notes! CTCS 473

Abi Sommers

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Here is a collection of notes from all the class lectures to help in writing the midterm!
Film Theories
Jon Wagner
Study Guide
Film, Theory, midterm
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This 15 page Study Guide was uploaded by Abi Sommers on Wednesday October 12, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to CTCS 473 at University of Southern California taught by Jon Wagner in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 116 views.


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Date Created: 10/12/16
8/22 Theory : Set of propositions used to explain the world -- not truth or claims of mastery Theory - theoria; to contemplate - theros; spectator - Problem with theory -> claim to legitimacy w/ suspicion of falsehood -Question and interrogate underlying assumptions -Most impactful when pulls seemingly unquestionable idea into crisis, undermine accepted meanings *Classical cinema theory involves struggling to legitimize cinema, why can film achieve a status of art *Theory often starts out as interrogation of who is serving, what is being argued, has tendency to turn into orthodoxy/ dogmas Film has origins in the modern, modernist Modernist; intensification of what is modern -Modern has origins in renaissance, a period of radical questioning about meaning and legitimacy. -Excited, radical, sometimes violent innovation -Modern carries with it contradiction, liberated from old traditions but sets up for nostalgia and fear -Modern; radical sense of progress with sense of loss -Move into humanness individuality after renaissance -Humanism , a study /affirmation of ways in which humans realize their potential in the world through their own initiative Martin Luther ;95 Theses, Machiavelli ;the Prince The Enlightenment ; the Age of Reason -Increasing reliance on possibilities of human intellect -Rise of supreme value of science, increasing sense that secular state occupied the world as opposed to God -Moved toward conquest of the world's, great age of exploration -Enlightenment 18th C. - Romantic age *Romantic era characterized by Cante, Hagel,.. the idea that access to the world is not direct , encounters are phenomenon filtered through perceptions and regulations Modernism accompanied by crisis created by progress, creates sense that history outstrips ability to know and understand reason, order, truth - Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Niche, Freud, Einstein De-mystifying the world and divinity Industrial Revolution, Scientific Revolution Aporia- enormous sense of opportunity and progress w/ sense of exile and betrayal Gaining everything with abyss of loss “The Quest for Lost Time” Mass yearning for recovery of stability, proto totalitarian for restored mastery Modernist spectacle of tomorrow with fear of inability to handle tomorrow, representations of reality being betrayed and slaughtered --- became true with genocide and empirical collapses come 19th C. Wars represented type of resolve to crisis of reality and extinction “The Final Solution” - idea of coming to final solution through history of overturning *Cinema addresses enormous sense of innovation and overturning, yet restored spectacle, totality and unity. 20th c. opportunity and horror ; Rambo -” The Century of Hell” Cinema arises and develops within historical context of modernism - Cinema as spectacular training device - Cinema arise to address enormous cultural crisis - What is cinema training a mass urban training of? Why so influential? - How to handle enormous information overload and how to process Cinema as shattered image thrown at face and have to put back together and make sense of Vast amounts of shock, stimulus, and information Ability to handle shock, speed and processing means survival “ No one could have driven here today if it weren’t for cinema. You would not have been able to handle it.” *Cinema participates in mass reproduction, where originality of unique object stripped away Aura of authenticity and uniqueness stripped away -Trained in reality of the image and not the thing -Seeing becomes believing, the image is the real -Encountering reality as a stream of images *Cinema as an enabling machine we use to approach reality, turn experience into a spectacle Spectacle: ability to turn disparate parts into totality out of scatteredness -Cinema teaches us how to survive the century of hell -Cinema was born because it had to be -Cinema continuously replaced by new mediums training us in a way to interact with the world Classical Theory vs. Contemporary *All cinema theory is argument about the real. Classical Theory: comprised realism , formalism, classical hollywood cinema, auteurism and art film 2 parts : - Tries to say what cinema should do as powerful training device, mechanism for messing with time and space, what makes cinema rise to its potential and what violates what is supposed to be cinematic/ what is the essence of cinema Specificity Thesis - attempt to ask what is the essence of cinema Heartbreaking urgency about what cinema should do within existential crisis of the times , - can cinema save us? Stop the madness? - Attempts to say cinema is important ! Not beneath our contempt, not a lesser art. Increasingly manifesting of juggernaut of artistic realization/ wants to legitimize and argue why cinema is are -Many different arguments about what makes essence and what makes art -Retrains us in continuity of space and time that we lost -Can act as recovery device, cinema as messiah machine, learn to re-approach reality not set on suicide Formalism: Cinema’s great capacity is to alter time and space and provide certain instruction. Reflecting the world is not art Classical Theory - reality is manipulation, genius of cinema is to say realism is Always manipulated and if done right can become pleasant machine and convince spectator that spectacle more real than reality *Late 60s, cinema has to mean something , Truffaut; cinema is its own reality, a betrayal of cinema is an adaptation of the real, arrival of cinema as declaration of independence Cinema becomes specific to itself and its art unquestionable Contemporary theory: idea that cinema has essence and structure cast away. -Says cinema needs to be understood with other hybrids -Not whether cinema should be real but what allows cinema to be real -Talk about linguistics, psychoanalysis, anthropology, philosophy, ideology - Cinema invaded by all of discourses of the age Contemporary theory- cinema not one expression but meshes many different kinds of hybrids and interpreters Realism ; some ways based on call for cinema to abandon professional actors and set plots, a attempt to redeem sanctity of everyday life. -Kind of ecology, believes in world itself and dignity in clear view of it -Call for film that allows the world expression in its own natural image -To expose what means if lose contact with metaphysical continuity 4 categories of realism - Worldview -- how does is see/see about reality / Immanence, the idea that the world carries meaning in its physical self (Plato and Aristotle), Reality is already meaningful. Our lives depend on seeing clearly and great art teaches us to recognize meaning. Immanence carries with it humanism, world not just important but important for us. Content of the world important, inner truth at heart of physical - Cinema -- where does cinema belong in this worldview? Cinema’s duty to respect the world and what is already meaningful. Sense of revealing. - Techniques - what allows cinema to do this? Realism abandons studio contrivance. The long take-- restores time, deep focus --restores space. - Spectator -- what kind of spectator is it training? “ ambiguity” , can pick and chose meaning for ourselves. Restored to kind of freedom La Quatro Volte - “The 4 times”, Pathorus’ ideas , metempsychosis, migration from one state of being into another, into those which unity the whole world in a sort of meaningful flow, Pass from human, animal, vegetable, mineral, into the universe, Emptying from one state into another. - Small mountain village in Italy, utterly ordinary - Villagers make charcoal, ordinary routine of old sick shephard. As ingests strange medicine made from floor of church, watch him die - Movement to newborn goat, indication of cycle of life, - Film style one of distant observation, kind of respect, realist style - Certain mystery online possible if immersed completely in routine and physical - Diegetic soundtrack, as a witness to observation - Filmed in long takes, anchored in huge establishing shots with large depth of field - Realism has ‘ism’, reality gains its power when has certain stylized quality - Movie has humor, kind of ethnographic documentary and organized as a type of storytelling. Get impression that narrative is not imposed but is the natural flow of the world. - 8 min. Long take of dog trying to get villagers to recognize master died. Dog opens gates to release goats. Sense of realism of great force in overturning of things and radical closure 8/29 Week 2 Cinema trains us in absorbing vast amounts of shock - Addresses a mass audience, which emerged after the great revolutions Cinema changes the way in which we experience reality - Like printing or photography, takes uniqueness away from reality - Reality is then experienced as the image; representation ; spectacle Cinema trains us in how to turn time and space into an experience “ a truthful fiction” *Realism is not an old fashion theory Pillars to define essence and legitimize cinema in Classical Theory : 1 . The Specificity Thesis : an effort to define what the essence of cinema should be - What is the proper way cinema should address us as spectators? - To bring what was initially considered a bastard art/ medium into full fledged artistic appreciation 2 . Legitimization of Cinema as art : appreciation of the enormous growing power of cinema Orthodox Realism : - Cinema as realism is there to call us back home ,as we have exiled ourselves from the real - Cinema can reveal a connection to us to the real, to restore our central place in the world and our humanity , a recover device, messiah machine - Show us how distorted our lives are and how to get back ^ Imminence * Realism: 1) What is its worldview? -- metaphysics - Imminence, the physical reality carries meaning 2) Where is cinema? What is its specific essence? - Cinema gives us the ability to look at the world with a clear gaze - It’s duty is to respect, record , witness and testify the meaning in the world 1 Kracauer - “cinema can save us from suicide” - Film holds up a mirror to nature, void of extractions of our own savaged gaze - Photographic base of cinema allows mirror of the real rather than extortions - Film participates directly in raw material of physical body of the world - Impossible for film to be purely expressionist - Great directors are those to efface themselves from greater spectacle of reality - Privilege and essence of film to record and reveal ( Specificity Thesis ) - Leads to redemption of physical reality - The creative efforts in cinema are legitimate only insofar as they substantiate realities of real world - “ film redeems world from dormant state” Andre Bazin - - Founder of great french cinema critique magazine : Cahier du Cinema - Believes film’s realism is ancient, film participates in something as old as humanity, something we think is eternal in us, to challenge our mortality “ The Mummy Complex” - Cinema the greatest realization of preservation - We are central to the world but our experience is alienation and exile - “Myth of Total Cinema” - kind of aspiration toward recreation of cinema with the world in its own image, curve of cinema and its evolution as it becomes closer to correspondence with the world itself. Bazin speaks on Mise en Scene - what’s in the scene - The arrangement and placement of elements in the scene and camera’s relationship to it - great cinema directors respect mis en scene - Metteurs en scene : people who participate in their artistry, give their allegiance to what is put in the scene - Mis en scene emphasis on content not ordering of content Bazin happy to welcome sound into cinema - allows development of more natural editing than wild editing lack of sound allowed - Sound made editing become subservient to dialogue and sounds in the scene - Long take and depth of field aligned themselves with sound Bazin accuses distortions of soviet montage and german expressionism - Becomes suspicious of Hollywood cinema which is highly manipulated but brilliant for hiding the cut and continuity , calling “decoupage” - Hollywood cinema appears unmanipulated but is most manipulated Bazin’s most significant contribution is elevation of post war cinema and italian neo-realism. La Quatro Volte- -A look into the imminence of cinema and the world -Extreme long takes, infinite depth of field, a kind of spiritual flow -Spiritual best experienced in the physical ● How does the machine that participates in alienating us going to be the one the saves us? Realism is in itself an ideology; critical realism - Not solely scientific or neutral or spiritual - Critical realism says - who is this serving, what are the interests involved in producing this image - Have to bring mis en scene into climate and political image - Carries worldview of dominant class - Impotence of change and evolution is a predominant one ● Cinema making what we see the norm of what is valid ● Cinema is a re-presentation Orthodox realism is attempt to employ cinema as training device, to help regain contact with continuity and bring back to earth , to ability to see clearly and through our own free will and the world, and how we are to occupy it , respect for continuity in time and space, imminence Critical realism says cinema doesn’t just witness and respect the world, doesn’t just redeem, it realizes the world, not just gaping, it is actively engaging in process that brings experience of cinema into realm of realization, an active way in which we mold the world into what we need the world to be , A process that turns its spectacle into what we want to call the real - A recognition about what we call reality - A realization about how constructed and choreographed our reality is - A realization about how actuality is comprised of stylistic, political, ideology, psychological demands which are often highly artificial and irrational - Cinema is never just waiting to bring us home but is a style of the real - Forces us to reflect upon forces that construct our reality ● Reality is an impression and cinema astonishing effective device at reflecting this impression Jean Louis Baudry - cinema as an apparatus brings us into willing disillusion, metapsychological manipulations, “misrecognition” of the image --Disavowal - Cinema assumes distress spectatorship - We are hardwired to view the world cinematically, yearning to unify our experience and bring to totality our own alienated experienced “ We are alone and afraid in a world we never made and cinema makes us god's.” - Wagner - Baudry refers to Plato -- Plato has transcendental idea of universe, the real reality is in an abstract mathematical form or idea, the physical imitations on earth are pathetic - Plato’s cave, spectators come to belief shadows are reality - The shadows , “the dream machine”, escapist entertainment, makes us feel more connected than the real Brian Henderson -- “ The Long Take” - Respect for mise en scene can characterize the realism , it is an attempt to intervene into the scene and make it give up its potential and hidden meanings - Directors give their soul to long take, long take involves more active interplay of long takes and cutting in certain combination , intra sequence cutting, interscience cutting - Not just a long take, a series of cuts as a form of meditation on what elements of mis en scene are capable of saying - Long take style can be characterized by cutting, not just long take, ultimately showing mis en scene reveals its meaning by active intervention - The kind of recognition we receive from the sequence, not just its length - ^ not soviet montage, still dedicated to en scene, but to respect mis en scene is much more critical act of judgement than simply staring at it. The Russian Ark : - A 90 minute long take - More astonished and uncomfortable as long take becomes monstrously excessive - Supreme technique of realism becomes act of formalism - Tons of rehearsals, to create impression of reality mandated tons of artificiality 9/12 (continued conversation on Critical realism) The scene of the real is often constructed to appeal to us . - Many technological advances created not to make the world seem more real but to compete with other studios and technologies - Realism almost always comes after a way of appealing audiences - “ The Empire of the image” , seeing is believing Baudry - Not that we love cinema but that cinema loves us and understands our reality - Cinema brings us back to the mother’s womb, when we were separated from the real Henderson - The long take is a kind of myth - Long takes are dialogues about how the elements of the mis en scene are speaking to us - Long take is an active realisation about how reality is both constructed and revealed ● Critical realism says reality is an active judgement spectators must realize we have the capacity to criticize The Russian Ark : - Yearning to see the time of imperial order as a glorious moment and ability to conquer - Grows with tragic desperation and awareness - Has realist heart, wants cinema to rescue us and rescue history - The protagonist wants to be left alone to dream “go ahead and dream”, is a critical warning, entering into a voluntary hallucination - Reality is a dream, an impression, yet reality itself is a fiction/impression - The film questions whether reality is there or we construct it and impose it - The dream of reality is reality for human beings, how we occupy the world and history --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Formalism Formalism - Cinema finds its essence in the ability to reorder time and space and not to respec it - Soviet Formalism celebrates ability to re-order particularly for propaganda - Germany , cinema used as an accusation of reality’s own corruption 4 categories : 1. What is the worldview? ( that underlies or informs formalism) - The world is neutral, all meaning is artificial - Our relationship to the world is alienated, meaning has to be invented 2. What is cinema’s place/duty in this (^) world ? - The medium is uniquely manipulation - The heart of cinema is its ability to provoke meaning - Cinema is there to actively intervene into time and space 3. What are the techniques that create this ? (i.e realism-long take) - Montage - Montage is the foregrounding of editing - We are watching meaning be formalized 4. What is the kind of spectator ? - The spectator is analytical - Spectator is provoked Historical context: Russian Tzar overthrown march 17 Krowinski responsible for moving cinema along Communist party overthrew Krowinski and re-installed lenin Cinema became an active revolutionary principle What was available after the revolution was put under regulation of education committee - 1st film school in the world established in 1919 - Bastard art receiving recognition during revolutionary time - State film school in soviet union were primarily training students to make newsreels, as “agitational propaganda” Agitprop “Kinoglaz” - The gaze of cinema - Cinema reality transformed into propaganda - Kino pravda - Cinema truth , the truth cinema saw, not the the truth that was there Vertov - The Man with the moving camera - Self-reflexive cinema - For cinema to reflect its own, muscle, operation - Part of larger Marxist doctrine called “Materialism” - Agitprop documentary, reflecting its own making ● Vertov - one of the great fathers of soviet cinema Leb Kuleshov - Given a workshop to work with most radical students ( Eisenstein) - Smuggled in films including D.W Griffith film “intolerance” and eventually “Birth of a nation” - Kuleshov effect , taking one shot and following by another and creating a certain effect for the audience, a synthesis of meaning - The cinematic shot or unity of meaning has two values - Blunt meaning - A synthesized meaning in the eyes of the spectator, initiated by the director and completed by the spectator Pudovkin - Meaning is never not propaganda - Pudovkin highly influenced by Griffin - The ideal spectator's eye - sewing of spectator into identification of characters and narrative more effective than alienating - Film actor has to learn to underplay, emotion will be constructed in editing - Editing is at the heart of cinema, the actor has no say Eisenstein - Theories of montage drawn from vertov and personal studies - Learned to trust traditional ideas of narrative and character, never focus on one character - Favored montage of collision, “shock”, the “dialectic”, the combining of shots that shocks a spectator, history is based on shocks and collisions - Thesis :already has elements within that are destructive - Within every shot there are elements that can bring thesis into “antithesis”, overturning of itself. Forming constant analytical synthesis - Synthesis- immediately tries to set up new thesis and attempt to control opposition within itself, and produce new collision, - Both montage and history - and endless overturning of events - Can create conflict rhythmically, within the shots and between the shots, collage and montage always happening - Tonal montage, can create montage by creating emotional instability - Intellectual montage , two terms of visual metaphor forced together in mind of spectator Week 5 9/16 Formalism Cont’d. - Faces modernism head on and as duty instead of taking away from it as Realism - Exploits potential of unstable reality - Cinema as a medium that corrects, purifies or even accuses reality Reading Review : Rudolph Arnheim - Specific qualities of cinema that make it art are not those which directly mirror life - Simply reflecting the world would be a faded image of life. Aka nothing special - Film should accentuate distortion and perceptions Balazs : - The close - up exists to discover beneath the depiction of reality - Emphasizes poetic sensibility in film - True cinema exists outside of space and time ● Great theories of avant garde steer away from praise of cinema as mere representation of life - Cinema becomes surprisingly power medium of investigation ● French Avant Garde moves toward, abstraction, purification Avante Garde “isms” (forms of formalism) : - Cubism has origins before WWI (1914-1919) - Effort for structural abstraction, the representation of objects - Influenced by exhibitions of African sculpture - Move into realm of mathematical purity - Futurism , life required art and life to increase speed, machinery, war - A commitment to courage and audacity as quality of the artist - Examples of futurism produced by sculpture and painting - shows (what cinema does) image moving through different incarnations - Cinema shows futurism best , cinema as a machinery of speed and tech - Dadaism , the quest for something to mean something , there is no meaning - Randomness, negation, a protest against destruction of WWI - Sustained, deliberate madness as our place in the world - Surrealism , above the real, influenced by Freud and the unconscious - The truth of existence relies somewhere beyond reality - Distortions of discipline and reason - There is a pure, abstract, instinctual reality - Liberating the conscience through altered states of being Return to Reason: - Emphasizes search for meaning - Dadaism, Surrealism - Fleeting images Ballet Mecanique : - a test against reality ● German expressionism adopts mis en scene, cinema of mis en scene - Extraordinarily distorted elements of mis en scene - Reality invaded and set up for manipulation - Spiritually dark accusation of the psychology of reality; a nightmare - Perceptual distortion - UFA ( German film productions), at first dedicated to historical spectacles, tended to present history as in the grip of an individual The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - Most exaggerated idea of German expressionism - Young man who under Dr. Caligari spell is able to tell future, Caligari uses to commit murders and runs insane asylum, has to be locked up in own asylum - Chiaroscuro lighting - Expressive design of disturbed emotional states, realism gone mad ● Expressionism attempts to express interior realities ● German expressionism an enormous success in early 20’s , competing with Hollywood - After Hitler, mass exodus of talent to Hollywood - Spiritual exhaustion in Germany by the end of the decade - Films show this cynicism Western - Struggle of order - Darker than My Darling Clementine Baudry/ Diane reading: Classic Hollywood Cinema - Narrative of suspense, moves from confusion to increasing revelation - Highly motivated characters moving through story centered around achievement, almost always linear - See a cause, looking forward to the effect - Argues against the chaos of artistic freedom - Seamless, transparent, decoupage - No jump cuts - Camera style follows your gaze ( if had omnipotence), dedicated to coverage - Disembowel - full submersion/ entrance into disbelief - Camera, lighting, editing, - > if extreme, has to be motivated - Genius of hollywood structure is to continue in the status quo Apparatus theory - an attempt to explain the kind of procedures we instill in classic hollywood values, asks how is this kind of total dedication/identification achieved? What does Hollywood do to enter us into this voluntary psychosis 2 kinds of identification - primary - a way in which even the calculation of the theater itself - theater as a dark enclosure that sets us up to depend on the visual - rear projection, a calculated placement of the source of the spectacle, as if it is coming from our own eyes - Secondary - characters are our ideal egos, goal oriented - narrative, the idea of flow, story going toward closure ^ freudian, spend our lives trying to escape reality Genres are regularized groupings of theme, plot, character, setting, iconography - Attempt to deal with instability and conflict - Hugely successful, but remain unstable and to not fully confront resolution 10/10 Genre: - Deep fundamental conflicts in being an American continue to happen, only momentarily distracted by genre. - Conflicts and differences of culture are submitted to apparent resolution but conflict renews - Brody reiterates that the genre is massively powerful, not lesser than art cinema - Continuing popularity of genre attest to fact that problems genre continues to tackle are consistently relevant - Over time becomes more difficult for genre to unify national vision Peckinpah (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) - Demythologized the genre and mythologized it - Self reflectively show loss of the western and loss of american spirit - Flat, hard bitten landscape, poverty, not epic grandeur of the classical western - Even classic gunfighting and fist fighting replaced by random and inexplicable violence - An anarchy in play, a celebration in anarchy but deeply traditional, reverential about the west and heartbroken about what has passed, a possibility of grandeur that seems to have been lost How director became essence of cinema - John Ford became so powerful was known as auteur even when studio system made it impossible, maintained individuality during homogenization of studio age - Bazan and Kraquar suspicion of auteur- director needs to be master of mis en scene. Not director’s job to create meaning. - Physical reality is already meaningful and important. Realist director gained respect by recognizing what was already meaningful, bringing spectator back to understanding of the world. - Eisenstein and Pudovkin as (expressionist) directors, director’s vision is all powerful - French Avant Garde, director had same control over film as painter - Interested in critique of representation - Individual is in charge of referring reality to argument that cinema should be representational - Auteur always seen as a threat to studio control and audience reception - New Hollywood, Auteurism - comes into full being and cinema announces itself as the way we inhabit reality. - When cinema declares its independence, serving no art but its own, auteur gains power. - Hollywood cinema - desire is reality ( realism- real is real formalism- vision is real) - Hollywood says cinema should fulfill cinema and desire ( enforced by audience reviews and studios profit countr) cinema is its own cause, director/auteur is the icon of the Declaration of Independence - Truffaut - there are no bad films, only bad directors. There is no such thing as a good adaption, cinema owes nothing to a book or other form, it is purely for its own sake. - cinema’s independence displayed in the way it begins to display a pure power, self reflexivity , it's own genres. Truffaut - “ the politics of the author” demonstrated in self reflexivity and exhibitionism. -by 1959 explosion of new wave filmmaking. - new wave critics borrowed and independently financed films entirely outside support of studios. - 400 Blows wins at Cannes, finally individual vision and high art recognized. New Wave - -new wave films largely shot on location,as way of rejecting the studios and embracing cheap independence. Many similarities with realist shooting but for different purposes. -to have personal control - new wave highly influenced by new developments in camera technology and television. Tv brings with it array of technologies and acting. -new wave doesn't last very long in pure form (1959-1963) experiments in cinema genre , directed toward self reflexive appreciation of cinematic independence. Praise cinema as the highest of all arts. Cinema is its own reality -after war America flooded Europe with American films -new wave sought to create a new wave of audiences. Cinema as an instruction guide to how to be fully aware and passionate, to refine sensibilities through cinema to help live Iives as artists no matter who we are. Spectator became kind of auteur and feature of cinema -cinema a way post war France could move toward more democratic culture. Cinema as a way or renewing national pride. Shoot the piano player - used full range of stylistic possibilities to play with classical genre, a gangster film - An experiment at how the genre can respect personal vision and throw off the shackles of formula. - Changes in mood in film are self reflective.


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