FEA 302

CLASSICAL FILM THEORY
Click to edit Master subtitle style INSTRUCTOR: SARAH TATTING-KINZY

9/24/12

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Béla Balázs

Born in Hungary 1884 Penned opera/ballet scenarios and film reviews before writing first book on film in 1924 -- “The Visible Man” Also screenwriter and director of films, including Somewhere in Footer Text


9/24/12

“Theory of the Film” • Offspring of Arnheim’s “Film as Art” (intentional or not) Considered one of the first and best introductions to film because of its clarity and caution Provided a Text audience with a wide Footer • 9/24/12 • .

etc.) Outlining various possibilities for artistic control. lighting. underscoring the “unnatural” aspects of the medium Footer Text • 9/24/12 . sound. editing. color.Imitations include Formalist books… • Divided by chapter based on the technical variables of film (composition.

Andrew… • Argues against texts that catalogue film effects without a sense of shape and purpose Says we have to dig deeper for the full dimensions of formative film theory Notes how Balázs believed the same – and Footer Text • 9/24/12 • .

asking what makes the artistic aspects of a man’s life so special? Established a system of four categories of Footer every possible human activity functions for Text • • 9/24/12 .second age began in 1960s with rise of film semiotics and theory in classrooms Set out an entire theory of human activity.Russian Formalists • Dates of the movement (1918-30) fit with the first age of formative film theory (1920-1935) -.

like Microbiology for human health SYMBOLIC: objects or actions Footer Text functioning in the place of another   9/24/12 .These categories are…  PRACTICAL: objects or actions which serve an immediate use. like highways and their construction THEORETICAL: objects or actions which function for general and unspecified uses.

Aesthetic objects or actions / Art • Cinema fits perfectly into the aesthetic category Aesthetic objects/activities not always art i. mathematician solving problems ART is the name we give to Footer Text aesthetic objects or activities which • • 9/24/12 .e.

” Fits with Shklovsky’s idea of everyday objects becoming Footer Text unimportant while showing their • 9/24/12 . neglecting “the powerful spectacular effect of the object… the possibility of the fragment.“Ballet Mechanique” Fernand Leger (1924) • French artist said most films waste efforts trying to build a recognizable world.

Defamiliarization • The overall process where technique calls attention to the object 9/24/12 Footer Text .

Literary Formalism • Boris Tomashevsky catalogued various literary techniques and pointed out how each forces art away from the representation of reality Plot (technique) from story (reality) Footer (technique) from general Motivation Text • 9/24/12 • .

Foregrounding • Artistic technique where object or action is emphasized in some way to stand out to the audience Purposely shifted to a position/situation that cannot be avoided Footer Text • 9/24/12 .

like foregrounding • Can be over-used Quantity of use doesn’t make one piece of art more “artful” than another Must be used in relation to a Footer Text specific background – otherwise all • • 9/24/12 .Techniques of deviation.

including Balázs… • Praised the use of deviation AND strove to avoid the reductionism that could occur from overuse 9/24/12 Footer Text .Some Formalists.

Balázs on the film business… • He also realistic in analyzing the economic infrastructure of film (perhaps due to Marxist beliefs) Said that film could grow only when business conditions allowed it to – at the mercy of demand for popular entertainment Footer Text • 9/24/12 • .

For Balázs… • The form-language of what objects and actions were suitable for cinema = a natural product of the economic situation of supply/demand and the ensuing oscillation between subject matter and technical form 9/24/12 Footer Text .

Balázs on Creative Potential of Film… • Very open to new technologies – these things could be used to reach formative potential Adaptations fine as long as the filmmaker tries to reshape it via the form-language of cinema Believed that filmic versions of Footer Text • 9/24/12 • .

Conservative on Distortion… • “Distortion must always be the distortion of something. If that something is no longer present in the picture then the meaning and significance…is also gone” Called for strange angles only when the spectator could still orient himself and differentiate the familiar from the strange Footer Text • 9/24/12 .

filmmakers should find truth in the noise of reality and set theFooter Text truth free so it could speak – • 9/24/12 .and found that both ends intentionally avoided story In documentary.Balázs on the AvantGarde and Abstract • Felt that cinema was bookended by avant-garde on one side and pure documentary on the other -.

Balázs’s opinions here weakened his overall theory… • Shouldn’t avant-garde and documentary filmmakers be free to show their version of “the strange” regardless of the presence of humanly interesting plots? Balázs was a Formalist believing that art results from the conscious Footer Text and consistent transformation of • 9/24/12 .

and how the close-up gives cinema this power of revelation “The CU can show us a quality in a Footer Text gesture of a hand that we never • 9/24/12 .Balázs and Realist/Formalist views on the CU shot • Hinted at the special ability cinema has to being us into accord with nature -.

“Theory of the Film” on the CU shot • Balázs believed as Marx did – “The root of all art is man” The film close-up shows us the face of man and the face of objects in relation man The close-up makes an audience Footer Text • 9/24/12 • .

the CU speaks the inner life of a person with expression alone Footer Text • 9/24/12 .“Theory of the Film” on the CU shot • Compared the CU shot to a silent soliloquy Where soliloquys can be viewed as unnatural.

“Theory of the Film” on the CU shot • The CU shot reveals the world of microphysiognomy which could not otherwise be seen with the naked eye or in everyday life Felt that sound film diminished this a bit Footer Text • 9/24/12 .

The Graduate   Director – Mike Nichols (1967) 7:00 9/24/12 Footer Text .

The Good the Bad and the Ugly   Director – Sergio Leone (1966) 3:30 9/24/12 Footer Text .

Psycho   Director – Alfred Hitchcock (1960) :40 9/24/12 Footer Text .

Balázs in Review • Primary and lifelong goal was the advancement of the art itself Had a profound regard for the cinema of late silent era Asserted that dramatic films perform the function of all great art by bringing us to an awareness of Footer Text • • 9/24/12 .