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Is Cinema Reinventing Itself- An Archaeology of Visual Spectacles

Is Cinema Reinventing Itself- An Archaeology of Visual Spectacles

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Published by Kat Gnafaki
The rapid growth of technology in film making and the growingpresence of recent Hollywood blockbusters focusing on astonishingspecial effects and stunt work have drawn academic attention of whether the “spectacle” gains ground against the narrative andtherefore returns to an earlier paradigm, the “cinema of attractions”.
The rapid growth of technology in film making and the growingpresence of recent Hollywood blockbusters focusing on astonishingspecial effects and stunt work have drawn academic attention of whether the “spectacle” gains ground against the narrative andtherefore returns to an earlier paradigm, the “cinema of attractions”.

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Published by: Kat Gnafaki on Oct 05, 2011
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03/12/2014

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Katerina Gnafaki3703347New Media ArchaeologyBlock: 32011-2012Imar de VriesNew Media & Digital CultureUniversiteit Utrecht
 
Introduction
he rapid growth of technology in film making and the growingpresence of recent Hollywood blockbusters focusing on astonishingspecial effects and stunt work have drawn academic attention of whether the “spectaclegains ground against the narrative andtherefore returns to an earlier paradigm, the “cinema of attractions”.Recent theorizing in film has clearly shown a concern towards the newspectacles and the experiences produced by those spectacles. In 1990,film historian Tom Gunning reflected on this issue:
 T
Clearly in some sense recent spectacle cinema has reaffirmed itsroots in stimulus and carnival rides, in what might be called theSpielberg-Lucas-Coppola cinema of effects
” 
( 2005, 61) Tom Gunning’s “cinema of attractions” is identified as being dominantand overwhelmingly embraced due to the rapid urbanizing world in thelate- nineteenth-century and the fact that cinema became interwovenwith modernity; a period where “a large portion of the populationseems absorbed in the pursuit of pleasure”
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and attractions (Charneyand Schwartz 1995). In the early days that Gunning focuses on, hedraws an analogy between the spectators that were amazed by thesimple trickeries used to project the image and the special effectsapplied in contemporary Hollywood cinema. As film director, JeanDouchet argued:“[Today,] cinema has given up the purpose and the thinking behindindividual shots [and narrative], in favour of images - rootless,textureless images - designed to violently impress by constantlyinflating their spectacular qualities”
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Contemporary mainstream popular films, in short, are increasinglyidentified with spectacle, the pictorial power of the image to entice theaudience and the audience’s desire for amusement or distraction.While these advanced pictorial representations of the moving imagedemonstrate the ubiquity of media spectacle and the mighty impact onaudiences, their genealogy and the history of their reception alsorequire consideration. As the editors of 
Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life
Charney and Schwarz (1995) argue modern culture was“cinematic” even before the rise of cinema. The authors identified
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Quoted in: Charney, Leo and Vanessa Schwartz, eds. Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life.Berkeley/ Los Angeles: U of California P, 1995
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Jean Douchet quoted in: Buckland, Warren: Between Science Fact and Science Fiction: Spielberg’sDigital Dinosaurs, Possible Worlds, and the New Aesthetic Realism. In: Screen, 40/2, 1999. S. 177-192.
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