FEA 302

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

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FEA 302 Sarah Tatting-

Two major categories of film theory:

 
FORMALISM concerns itself with the multiple technical elements of production, and the emotional and intellectual effects of how all of these elements come together in a film REALISM is a style where physical reality is the source of all raw materials in a film
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FORMALIST filmmakers Deliberately stylize and distort raw materials create desired effect of their film REALIST filmmakers Try to preserve the illusion that their film world is unmanipulated, an objective mirror of the actual world
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These are general terms, not absolutes.

Few films are exclusively formalist, and even fewer are completely realist.

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Lumière brothers are often considered the first realist filmmakers.   George Méliès, another early French filmmaker, is often considered the first formalist filmmaker.
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and hand-painted color  Pioneer FEASci-Fi andTatting. dissolves.George Méliès • Prolific innovator in special effects Discovered the substitution stop trick One of the first to use multiple exposures.genres with in 302 Sarah Horror • • 9/24/12 • . time-lapse photography.

J. Dudley Andrew “Introduction” • Film theory concerned with the general rather than the particular   Not concerned with individual films as much as cinematic capability itself  • 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

The goal of film theory… • Is to formulate a schematic notion of the capacity of film The schematization of an activity allows us to relate it to other aspects of our life FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

Film Theories… • Generally start with a question generated by a film or technique The answer(s) must apply to more than just the film or technique the theorist began with • 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

Formal.Andrew’s Categories of Questions Asked By a Film Theorist: • Adapted from Aristotle’s breakdown of the four “causes” of any natural phenomenon Material. and Final FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 . Efficient.

1. and illusion The medium’s use of time and space FEA 302 Sarah TattingProcesses such as color. sound. The Raw Material  Asked by those who question: The medium’s relation to reality. photography. and • • 9/24/12 • .

2. The Methods and Techniques  Asked by those who question: The creative process. which shapes or treats the raw material Technological developments (like the zoom shot) FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .

3. The Forms and Shapes • Asked by those who question: The kinds of film which have been or could be made Cinema’s ability to adapt other artworks FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .

The Purpose and the Value  Asked by those who question: The larger aspects of life The goal of cinema in man’s universe From standpoint where Raw Material has been shaped by a Process into a given FEA 302 Sarah Tattingsignificant Form • • • 9/24/12 .4.

  Transposition and Interdependence also important…   9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- . You can tell a great deal about a theorist by which category most intrigues them.

    • Transposition A question related to one category that touches others only by implication Example – The implications of sound in film starts with Raw Material relates to other categories      • Interdependence A single question containing a number of dependent questions FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- 9/24/12 .

• 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .By transposing questions and following their branches of interdependence… • We are able to compare the most diverse theorists Even those who begin from different perspectives and ask seemingly different questions.

Andrew “The Formative Tradition: • The first serious film essays sought to carve out a place for it in modern culture First “theories” sounded more like birth announcements than scientific inquiries • 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

like theater or photography Stood up against skeptics like Lumière.Early film theorists… • Worked to free cinema from the other phenomena which supported it and the public naturally associated with it -. who was certain that cinema had no lasting impact beyond the events it could record   Struggled to give cinema the stature of art FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 • .

America • Poet Vachel Lindsay was the first American to publish a theory of film. “The Art of the Moving Picture” in 1916 He showed that cinema enjoyed the same properties of all other arts FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

French theorists not only wanted to see cinema regarded as an art -.France • Cine-clubs and cine-artists compared film to music -concentrating on its ability to shape the flow and look of reality Led first by Ricciotto Canudo and then Louis Delluc.but they also insisted it was an independent art   FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- •  9/24/12 .

• Countless essays of this period (1912-1925) work to differentiate cinema from theater Early filmmakers were economically obliged to record theatrical performances and never looked beyond the theater for its own essence FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

Louis Delluc tried to sum up his conception of the new art in one word…  Photogenie -.that special quality available to cinema alone which can transform both the world and man in a single gesture FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- 9/24/12 .

writers.. designers. Expressionist actors.no extended and function -.but • 9/24/12 .The Establishment film industry in Germany. distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas No real theorist to speak for it. and directors related it to cinematic method FEA 302 Sarah Tatting.. • Created the movement of Expressionism -which presents the world from a subjective perspective.

Pudovkin. With this group.Power shifts to Moscow in 1925… • Russia began its famous State Film School in 1920 and there developed heated and productive discussion   Lev Kuleshov. V. and especially Sergei Eisenstein are associated with this period in Moscow. Dziga Vertov. nearly all questions about FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 • .I.

Talkies… • First commercial screening of movies with fully synchronized sound took place in New York City in April 1923 First feature-length movie originally presented as a talkie was “The Jazz Singer. the talkies were a global phenomenon FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- •  • 9/24/12 .” released in October 1927 By the early 1930s.

FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 . including English magazines Close Up and Experimental Cinema.The End of the Silent Era… • Triggered more important essays More journals devoted to film emerged.

By 1935. yet having this in common with them -. it was taken for granted in educated circles that cinema was… • An Art. independent of all other arts.the process of transformation where dull matter is shaped into meaningful statement   If most of us still hold this general perspective. it is in large part because of film theory between 1915 and 1935 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting-  • 9/24/12 .

Hugo Munsterberg • German Psychologist credited as a founder of modern Psychology who also became the head of Philosophy at Harvard Wouldn’t rest until he explained cinema’s workings to himself and justified its importance to the intellectuals of the time who thought it crude and silly • 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

Hugo Munsterberg • Wrote “The Photoplay: A Psychological Study” in 1916 Did this without precedent and Andrew considers him the first and most direct theorist of film Wasn’t distracted by the din of FEA 302 Sarah Tattingargument. as subsequent theorists • • 9/24/12 .

MATTER AND MEANS • Munsterberg’s study begins with a history of film Cleanly divided between film’s “outer” and “inner” development -between the technological history of the medium and the evolution of society’s uses of that medium FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

Munsterberg… • Praises the narrative capabilities of film and recalls how cinema was at first used to document stage-plays Believes that when film was freed from this. it found its own destiny as a medium of narrative Calls this medium the “Photoplay” FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .

which leads to its true domain The mind of man FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- 1) 1) 9/24/12 1) . such as education and information Evolved a natural affinity for the narrative. according to Munsterberg: 1) The invent of visual gadgetry Served important societal functions.Progression of film.

the artistic wonders of film emerged. FEA 302 Sarah Tatting-  9/24/12 . through it.and. The Photoplay came into being only when the gadgetry of filmmaking worked on the narrative capacity of the MIND -.

and emotions FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .the higher levels depending on the operation of the lower Each level resolves the chaos of undisturbed stimuli in the world by creating our own perception of objects.Munsterberg’s hierarchic notion of the mind… • Comprised of several levels -. events.

Munsterberg’s description of “Phiphenomenon”… • Put him decades ahead of later theorists who would account for the illusion of moving pictures through the “retention of visual stimulus” theory 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

like after we look at the sun Shows that this does not account for the way we bring a series of still photos to life Said the Phi-Phenomenon accounts for this by emphasizing the active powers of the mind which work to make sense out of distinct FEA 302 Sarah Tattingstimuli • • 9/24/12 .Munsterberg… • Recognized that the retina retains visual impressions momentarily after a stimulus has been removed.

For Munsterberg… • This shows that at the most basic level. the mind has its own laws and works its effects on the mind itself The complex machinery producing intermittent still pictures has been developed to work directly on the raw material of the mind FEA 302 The result is Sarah Tattingmotion pictures • 9/24/12 • .

• This basic concept let Munsterberg conceive of the entire cinematic process as a mental process Cinema is the art of the mind --just as music is the art of the ear or painting is of the eye   All inventions and uses for the cinema are developed to shape and create films out of the mind of man FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- •  • 9/24/12 .

not a mere • 9/24/12 • .• Close-ups and camera angles exist not simply because of the lenses and cameras -. which Munsterberg labels “Attention” Not only does the mind live in a moving world.but because of the mind’s distinct way of working. it organizes that world by means of this property of “Attention” FEA 302 picture is The motion Sarah Tatting.

– also mirrors and.• Memory and imagination are the natural resources of editing. creates rhythms. the form of cinema must mirror mental FEA events – 302 Sarah Tatting. which compresses or expands time. in turn •  • 9/24/12 . and renders flashbacks or dream scenes “To picture emotions must be the central aim of the Photoplay”   Since the materials of cinema are the resources of the mind.

these technical developments don’t activate a new level of the mind Believed that the cinema of his time was already FEA 302 to shape the greatest suited Sarah Tatting- • • • 9/24/12 .Munsterberg… • Pays only fleeting attention to documentaries and instructional movies -they can never attain the stature of the photoplay   Didn’t think much of adding sound and color -.

it was #4 The Purpose or Value of cinema that Munsterberg first asked questions about The experience of losing himself in a film story proved to him that film was an art -and his psychology leans toward the aesthetics of film FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .FORM AND FUNCTION • To use Andrew’s system of categories -.

what he calls the “Noumenal realm” This is a realm of objects or events known without the use of the senses -.The second half of Munsterberg’s book… • Goes outside science to philosophy in order to account for the form and function in film -.as opposed to the “Phenomenal realm” where everything is known through the senses FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

Munsterberg followed Immanuel Kant’s philosophy… • That for science to be construed as “true.” we have to believe in the transcendence of certain logical categories that exist in the Noumenal sphere These categories can’t be proven but without them all of our science FEA 302 Sarah Tattingand everyday common sense falls • 9/24/12 .

Noumenal Realm • In addition to logic. Munsterberg also places ethical first principles in this category These serve to justify our normal moral sense. giving us a gauge of right and wrong FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12 .

Kant argued that… • Most of our feelings and judgments are based on the pleasure principle and are explainable within the normal range of psychology But our experience of the truly beautiful puts us momentarily outside of all considerations of personal gain or pleasure We confront anSarah Tatting-experience for FEA 302 object or • 9/24/12 • .

• Kant calls the object of beauty “purposiveness without purpose” The object is cut off from other objects and experiences and we are momentarily cut off from the normal self-interest of our daily lives The object becomes for us the whole context. a terminal value FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .

but we don’t consider film displaced theater With a film.Munsterberg… • Recalls how when we see a photo of a painting. it stirs us to want to see the original -.it is valuable in itself FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 . we are content to perceive it for itself It sustains itself away from the real world and sustains us in a state of “rapt attention” -.

and emotion FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • 9/24/12  . attention.but only in the mind which actualizes it by conferring movement. which are construed in the world for no practical reason Film exists not on celluloid or even on the screen -.• We cultivate aesthetic experience in art objects. memory. imagination.

namely space. These events reach complete isolation from the practical world through the perfect unity of plot and pictorial appearance. and causality -and by adjusting the events of the forms of the inner world -.namely attention.” FEA 302 Sarah Tatting-  9/24/12 . time. memory. and emotion. imagination.Not all films attain the height of becoming aesthetic objects  “The photoplay tells us a human story by overcoming the forms of the outer world -.

even the most violent -as long as it reaches its proper conclusion The absolute unity of the artwork endures that nothing in it will affect our practical lives -.Advanced view of censorship • Munsterberg believed all material is suitable for film -.the experienced is self-contained Just as the space and time of the film are imaginary. the causality of the film doesn’t follow directly into our lives FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .

support that cinema desperately needed during this era. FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- 9/24/12 .While some of Munsterberg’s answers may seem shortsighted… • He provided film with a carefully thought out apology taken from the respected traditions of psychology and philosophy -.

Queen Elizabeth • Directed by Henri Desfontaines and Louis Mercanton in 1912 From stage play in Paris. starring Sandra Bernhardt at Elizabeth • 9/24/12 FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- .

“Rope” • Directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 Based on the British play (1929) by Patrick Hamilton and adapted by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents Hitchcock’s first Technicolor film Notable for taking place in “real time” and being edited as to appear as a single FEA 302 Sarah Tatting- •  • • 9/24/12 .

“The Crowd” • Directed by King Vidor in 1928 Consistently hailed as one of the greatest and most enduring American silent films A remarkably groundbreaking film Released just as the Great Depression and the arrival of sound films combined to radically change FEA 302 filmmaking Sarah Tatting- • • 9/24/12 .