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Study guide expanded

by: Alexandra Graham

Study guide expanded Film 4750

Alexandra Graham
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Film Theory and Criticism
Arzu Karaduman
Class Notes




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alexandra Graham on Wednesday October 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Film 4750 at Georgia State University taught by Arzu Karaduman in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Film Theory and Criticism in Film and video at Georgia State University.

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Date Created: 10/05/16
Terms for the midterm:  Write a precise definition/explanation of the terms listed below by making reference to at least one  theorist and one clip from a film seen in class or given as a screening assignment. Make sure to refer to  clips from two of the three films assigned on the syllabus so far at least once. Pick in class & on syllabus  screenings for the 3 of the clip examples, and 2 can be outside class. And make sure you describe how the term applies in that clip example: i.e. writing “the opening of Memento” only is not an acceptable  reference.  Narration (definition + characteristics)  Bordwell  Narration= the process whereby syuzhet and style function in the course of cuing and channeling  the spectator’s construction of the fabula  Fabula: raw material of a story, the action in chronological order, built through inferences based  on schemata (schema= our own idea about how something should look or play out)—can only be  guessed at, is never totally given  Syuzhet: actual arrangement and presentation of fabula, what of the story is shown o Controls 1) quantity of info we have access to, 2) how important we decide the info to be, and 3) “the formal correspondence b/n syuzhet presentation and fabula data” FOR EXAMPLE: Fabula is Citizen Kane’s life as it really happened, syuzhet is the telling of his life  through flashback Another way to think about it: Fabula= assume characters have motivations Syuzhet= assume we will encounter exposition PRINCIPLES OF SYUZHET/FABULA RELATIONSHIP: 1) Narrative “logic” 2) Space 3) Time REMEMBER: style is not wholly a vehicle for syuzhet, it is also concerned with the viewer’s  reactions/emotional response to the stylistic elements Gaps and motivations in narration  Bordwell GAPS  Temporary gap: eventually closed, quickly or after a long time (ie, the mystery in a noir)  Permanent gaps: we never get the answer  Diffused gaps: general assumptions close it; we assume what happened  Focused gaps: need a clear­cut answer that only the film can answer to close the gap  Flaunted gaps: we are aware we are lacking info  Suppressed gap: not evident that we missed something MOTIVATIONS (The viewer interprets each gap as having a motivation)  Compositional motivation: advancing the syuzhet [plot]  Realistic motivation: the way it happens in reality  Artistic motivation calling attention to itself as a distinct device (residual category)  Transtextual motivation: reference to the category of texts to which this one belongs (e.g.  genre conventions) PLUS  Concentrated exposition: lump of info at once  Distributed exposition: information woven throughout  Retardation: Arouse anticipation, curiosity, suspense, and surprise  Redundancy: the syuzhet repeats itself to reinforce assumptions and inferences  Self­consciousness: the extent to which a film acknowledges it is being played to an audience  Communicativeness: how much info the narration has access to but will share with us (the movie  may know a lot but purposely hide it from us) Realism  Bazin  Cinema occupies a unique middle position between the sprawl of raw life and the artificially re­ created worlds of the traditional arts  Medium specificity: what makes cinema different from other mediums (writing, painting, etc)  Cinema captures the essence of realism that no other medium had been able to beforehand  Ontology: the study of knowledge, of what we know  Photography/cinema captured by a machine; lack of human intervention (theoretically we  can just point and press the button; no necessary human meddling with the image beyond that  Verisimilitude: the appearance of being real or true  Photography/cinema: more verisimilitude than painting because it is a direct impression of a thing ; we HAVE to believe that the thing in the picture is there, whereas a painting can be completely  made up  Preservation of life by a representation of life: like insects preserved in amber, photography prese rves people/things in time (notably Bazin suffered from health problems his whole life so the idea  of preserving life in film makes sense for him)   Neorealism provides a sense of the ambiguity of reality  No montage, stick with long takes and deep focus (forces the viewer to take an active role  and brings viewer into the world of the image) Ontology of the Photographic Image Formalism & montage  Eisenstein!   Montage: shot is a cell (microorganism in an embryo) o A living thing but part of the function of a greater thing  Conflict and collision o Dialectics: thesis + antithesis= synthesis o Each image is somehow in conflict with each other, and when they come   together they collide, forming something new (a times b = c); new meaning created by 2   images o Example: Kuleshov effect  Audiences put together the two images and make the connection/ link/ meaning  Methods o Montage of attractions: audience moved by “emotionally, politically, and  psychically” through aggressive movement; use the images that you know make the audi ence feel a certain way o Metric: editing by a certain number of frames, no attention paid to what’s  happening at the moment of edit; “absolute length of shots” o Rhythmic: create visual continuity o Tonal: responses based on emotional meaning of shots (ie sleeping  baby= calmness) o Overtonal:  metric + rhythmic + tonal o Intellectual montage: uses shots that, when combined, lead the audience   to some intellectual meaning (cultural and political meanings); present things not as they   are, but how they function in society o Control exerted over montage by breaking it into parts and feeding the audience the   pieces that you like, thereby control how they feel/react to the movie Cinema as door  Cinema functions as a threshold into the diegetic world of the film  Screen can protect/ shelter you but also brings you closer to the world inside  Paratext (title, trailer, movie posters) serves as a preentrance  2 ideas o Neoformalist: film constructs a door that forces the viewer to understand   the film a certain way and suggests what the film will contain/what it will be like/ what it  will care about o Poststructuralist: questions the authority of “meaning”; if meaning is   inherently unstable, film’s CAN’T construct a door that will make you feel a certain way  because people will have different feelings about the movie Cinema as window  Best example from class: “Rear Window”  Open cinema  Considered part of the style of “classical” cinema  “special, ocular access to an event”—rectangular view in which we see stuff  Two­dimensional screen seems to open up into a 3­d world beyond it  Events are happening beyond the window so we can see but are safe, distant from action  “one looks through a window”—the world of the film (outside the window) is perceived as a real  place you could theoretically go to  Audience’s goal is to make meaning of the stuff we see through the window, not the window  itself (aka: thinking about the movie, not how the movie was made or its meta­ and para­texts)  The frame exists but you don’t think about it; suggests realism/verisimilitude  Associated with realism (so it’s Bazin’s baby); “its ability to record and reproduce reality” Cinema as frame  Closed cinema  Shares similarities with “window”: o “special ocular access”  o Two­dimensional screen and 3­d world inside o Separated from event so we are safe o Audience focuses on movie over production and paratext o Considered part of the style of “classical” cinema  HOWEVER, one looks AT a frame, not through it  Viewer is aware of the frame and therefore the constructed nature of the movie o Alerts you to the fact that somebody made the movie with a specific worldview in mind  Associated with constructivist/formalist theories (Eisenstein, bitches); “focuses on the alteration  and manipulation of filmic perception” Open vs. closed cinema  Closed  World of film is all that exists, closed and self­sufficient in meaning  Everything is designed and has formal function  Director constructs world and frame defines world  Audience is pulled or lured into movie  Usually teaches morality tales, teaches us about ourselves Open  World is a momentary frame in ongoing reality  Things have existence/meaning outside of film function  Frame is a window, shows us one view of the world but theoretically there are others  Character over architecture  Camera not identified with any one character  Audience invited into the film  Teaches us about the rest of the world  Endings are often ambiguous Genre (film genre / genre film and life cycles or order vs integration)  Genre evolution: o Experimental: conventions and field of reference established o Classical: conventions are firmly established and considered normal, unquestioned o Refinement: questioning of styles and conventions, calling attention to  genre tropes o Baroque: subverts values of genre and makes fun of them, selfaware  Static system: similar themes across genre, dynamic system: evolving cultures (romcom  will have romance, but “romance” changes through generations)  Social integration: characters acclimate to society in order to reinforce it (rom coms); social order : character at odds with society (westerns, film noir), characters never integrate and stay alone Apparatus   It’s Baudry, bitch  Cinema provides impression of reality (Plato’s cave)  Threshold as in­between: o Always facing two ways (liminality: existing both “here” and “there”) o Spectator projects onto film and identifies with character o Character as doppelgänger/stand in for spectator o Uncanny (familiar but also strange; ghostly)  Screen: o Material border o Shield and divider (protects us) o Protective filter or coating o Semi­permeable sieve or filter  Movie experience: darkness, immobility, womb­like, projecting a shadow of reality  HOWEVER, the cinema screen MAKES VISIBLE instead of shielding us, brings us closer  instead of separating us o It does protect but mostly invites us in  The set­up is important: o Projector, audience, screen  Dispositif: specific alignment of projector/audience/screen and how that set­up operates  HOW DOES FREUD COME INTO THIS? o The unconscious/ dreams o Nursing baby’s dreamscreen is mother’s breast o Dreams: “more than real”—you can’t tell you’re in a dream o Cinema reproduces the dream state through the apparatus o Unconscious, pre­conscious, and conscious  Conscious: you’re aware of what you’re thinking and feeling  Unconscious: all the stuff you repress (too bad or too great to handle)  Pre­conscious: filter, decides whether things go to UCS or CS o When you’re sleeping, doors between UCS and PCS are open and info travels


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