Week Eleven: Feminist Film Theory

Posted in Uncategorized on January 26th, 2011 by Nahla

Voyeurism is the sexual attraction through looking at another person without their knowledge. Fetishism is a narcissistic identification forbidden desires were repressed and expressed in another form.

Laura Mulvey’s essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” talks about visual pleasure. It is important to the work of feminist film theory. When you think about films these days, one of the main things you will come across is a man staring down a woman. Mulvey says that the “looking relations” surrounds the characters, camera, and audience, identified and controlled by the male. The male always has power in a woman with the way he looks at her. Feminists of course take this offensive. Mulvey’s main arguments are about voyeurism, and narcissism. In voyeurism, we see what we shouldn’t be seeing. In most films we see males looking at the woman. According to Mulvey, voyeurism should produce scopophilia “from pleasure in using another person as an object of sexual stimulation through sight.” In Gilda we see Gilda using her body as a way to speak to men. When men see Gilda they go crazy. The woman is “bearer of meaning, not making of meaning.”

Week Six: Giving The People What They Want

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25th, 2011 by Nahla

Film has been around for as far as mankind can remember. A lot of people turned to films to get through tough times. We may have different genres for films, but within a same genre the story line can be quiet the same. Think about it, the story line of chick flick or a mystery film is always the same. Within minutes after the movie has begun we already know whom the killer is or who is going to end up together. The movies that are from the novels by Nicholas Sparks always have the same story line. I honestly stopped watching some chick flicks because they are cliché. Thomas Schatz defines genre as different cultural aspects. Schatz says, “to discuss the Western genre is to address neither a single Western film nor even all Westerns, but rather a system of conventions which identifies Westerns films as such….If we extend these ideas into genre study, we might think of the film genre as a specific grammar or system of rules of expression and construction and the individual genre film as a manifestation of these rules.” Lawrence J. Quirk said, “It is a question if Mildred Pierce, like Double Indemnity, can truly be classified as film noir. It shares many of the same elements–sleazy men supported by women, too-young women with hot bodies, illicit love affairs, murder in ritzy quarters on a moonlit night–but it lacks one of the most essential ingredients: a hard-boiled anti-hero, unless one counts Veda (Ann Blyth).” As we watched the films in the class I kept thinking the story lines are the same. Schatz’s theory helps us to understand that genre films strengthen social and political beliefs for a society within an educational or historical context.

Week Five: Art For The Artist’s Sake

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25th, 2011 by Nahla

The term “auteur” is defined as a filmmaker whose movies are described by some sort of influence from the filmmaker. Films are like books. The director’s job is to catch the audience’s attention. The film has to be unique. “The first premise of the auteur theory is the technical competence of a director as a criterion of value. The second premise of the auteur theory is the distinguishable personality of the director as a criterion of value. Over a group of films, a director must exhibit certain recurrent characteristics of style, which serve as his signature. The way a film looks and moves should have some relationship to the way a director thinks and feels.” (Cohen, Braudy 562) Andrew Sarris in real meaning produced the vocabulary of “auteur theory” insists that the theory had three principles. According to Sarris, we should view a similar and reliable theme and method that the auteur holds. Camera movements and angles, as well as techniques are likely to be consistent. The movies should also hold a thoughtful meaning and personality that differentiates who the auteur is. To me Tim Burton is a great example of the auteur theory. His style in film always stays the same. He has this dark gothic style to all his films.

Week Four: What Is Real, Anyway?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24th, 2011 by Nahla

Kracauer’s approach to film is that it exists to really show everyone what reality is. His theory is naïve, as apposed to Bazin who is much more thoughtful. Bazin said, “Cinema attains its fullness in being the art of the real.” Kracauer actually defines the meaning of reality. Kracauer had this theory that creating reality within a film is created through the elements used to create it. He believes that not creating it helps bring out the natural realism. He believes that without all this is makes it look not believable. Bazin welcomed the introduction of sound, since it was a step toward practicality, pleasing to the eye, saving, and fulfilling his idealism of realist films. He believed that actors no longer had to overstress acting as much, moving from theatre to film. Citizen Kane for Bazin, was “liberated viewing”, having so much information that the viewer could contribute or interpret the film in various ways, with a fuller picture of reality. Bazin favored Citizen Kane because “it abandoned the usual invisible style of editing in favor of what at times was an elaborate reliance on extremely long held shots with… entire scenes constructed out of a few such shots” (Lehman 338). Bazin said editing in Nanook of the North would have ruined the impact of the seal-hunting scene. Which is ironic because Nanook was a documentary. Bazin said that film was an art form, almost like a work of fiction.

Week Three: Soviet Montage School

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24th, 2011 by Nahla

In Film Theory & Criticism by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen Pudovkin says that original filmmaking comes from putting together shots. Narrative events of the film are told through the director’s understanding of the past. Editing is the source to well-defined truth of the film. The chapter on Pudovkin’s part on editing contains many examples as well as terms on the features of editing in film. Pudovkin talks about different camera angles such as “close-up” and “long shots” that differentiates one scene from another. Pudovkin talks about a situation where he breaks down the steps of editing; “1. The observer looks at the first man. He turns his head. 2. What is he looking at? The observer turns his glance in the same direction and sees the man entering the gate. The latter stops…” In other words, these accurate shots are quick and on the spot, but their meanings go deeper than that.  Such shots as the close-up or long shots are there for a purpose to “direct…the attention of the spectator to that detail which is, at the moment, important to the course of the action…” The editing process is also critical because it puts the pieces together in the end. Editing is an essential part in the creation of film, in that, it allows the audience to make sense of what is going on, otherwise they would just be seeing a series of random moving images. Eisenstein is deeper than Pudovkin. Although they are both connected to one another, Eisenstein was more interested in appealing to people intellectually, while Pudovkin was more of an emotional kind of guy.

Week One: Critiquing Theory

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24th, 2011 by Nahla

Film theory is a point that is trying to be given to its audience. Everyone has their different way of looking at different films. Film theory is an art form. There is a story behind every movie, and everyone has a different way of understanding it. I agree that film has different levels of realization, and reaches us at different points. In David Weddle’s article “Lights, Camera, Action. Marxism, Semiotics, Narratology” Weddle is trying to say that when we watch a movie our mind is at a different level and we don’t even realize it. What I really understood was when Weddle brought up the comparison of film theory to philosophy. Film theory relies on reason than actual fact, and that was the point he was trying to get across. Film theory to me I think is very difficult because you have to really understand the movie to actually interpret it and agree/disagree with points made about it. Weddle also makes a point that the idea of film theory is a lot of pointless information, but it may be needed to understand those technical or original concepts when functioning in the area. Overall it may not go to waste. I agree with this because film theory indeed will never go to waste. It’s a way of the audience to express their thoughts.

Week Two: Arnheim’s Artful Advice

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13th, 2010 by Nahla

Rudolf Arnheim talks about how much of a success silent films have been in Film Theory & Criticism. Arnheim makes a few points on the advantages and disadvantages of silent films. One of the advantages he pointed out was that silent films make the audience pay more attention to the film. It doesn’t have dialogue so the audience really has to keep their eye on the screen to know exactly whats going on. Silent films to Arnheim was a great creation because of the many perspectives it brings. The Gold Rush by Charlie Chaplin presents many examples of the advantages of silent films. The idea of silent films is to combine motion pictures with recorded sound and make a film. No dialogue is allowed in a silent film. Chaplin presents this in The Gold Rush. Arnheim admired the film because Chaplin uses body language and motions to demonstrate a series of actions.

One has to be very smart to make a film only using body movements. I personally wouldn’t watch a silent film only because you really have to pay attention to every detail to actually know what exactly is happening in the film. It takes a lot for even an actor to be in a silent film because the point is to make the audience understand what’s going on without using words. I agree with Arnheim when he writes about how silent films allow the audience to be more open to the idea of looking into a film rather than just listening to dialogue.

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