What is it for a film to be realistic? Of the many answers that have been proposed, I review five: that it is accurate and precise; that is has relatively few prominent formal features; that it is illusionistic; that it is transparent; and that, while plainly a moving picture, it looks to be a photographic recording, not of the actors and sets in fact filmed, but of the events narrated. The number and variety of these options raise a deeper (...) question: what is realism, if these are all to count as species of it? In answer, I articulate a sort of picture we have of realism, not just in film but in representations in general. I then ask how far each of the candidate realisms fares, when compared with that image. (shrink)
Stanley Cavell's writing on film has been an important inspiration for the recent 'philosophical turn' in film theory. But few studies have explored the significance of Cavell's style of writing, how it communicates his distinctive manner of thinking with film. This article explores Cavell's style as a way of doing philosophy, and suggests that his attempt to capture the aesthetic experience of film in evocative prose makes an important contribution to developing new ways of thinking in (...)film-philosophy. (shrink)
Attempts to bestow a musical background upon spoken drama have been deemed widely superfluous; most films, by way of contrast, do employ music. This aesthetic divergence invites an account of film music in terms of lack and compensation. The standard account in such terms, viz. that music has to fill the vacuum of silence, does not explain what it is supposed to explain. Rather, music in cinema can restore in a different way the expression lost as reality is reduced (...) to mere pictures. (shrink)
"ScreenPlay" is the first collection of essays devoted to exploring the relationship between cinema and video games. It attempts to introduce the field of video game studies while also increasing our understanding of the two artforms. Although not all of the essays are models of clear thinking on the subject, the volume will be a valuable resource for those working in film, philosophy, new media, and video game studies. Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska have brought together a diverse collection (...) of essays where the productive approaches stand out clearly. As a result, one of the most important achievements of the volume is that it allows us to compare methodologies in order to see the kinds of research programs that add the most to our understanding of moving pictures. (shrink)
The primary aim of this article is to point up an essential attitude, an anxiety even, that has inflected – and perhaps inhibited - our engagement with film. Film theory has been marked by a ‘refusal to see, a looking away’ (Mulvey & Wollen 1976, 36), and my suggestion is that this has achieved its fullest expression in those strands of film theory heavily influenced by psychoanalysis. These, in turn, have remained within a gendered conceptual framework whereby (...) the discursive or the narrative is associated with the masculine, and the image or spectacle is aligned with the feminine. This is not to reject these applications out of hand but rather to revisit this area with its blind spots in mind and to consider aspects that are perhaps at once obvious but often overlooked. (shrink)
Held on Monday 12th October 2009, 5.30 - 7.00 pm, University of St Andrews, Scotland. Participants Dr Robert Sinnerbrink (Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) Dr John Mullarkey (Philosophy, University of Dundee) Professor Berys Gaut (Philosophy, University of St Andrews) Dr David Martin-Jones (Film Studies, University of St Andrews) Dr William Brown (Film Studies, University of St Andrews)Over the course of at least the last hundred years the intellectual study of cinema has experienced a number of shifts towards and (...) away from theoretical or philosophical attempts to understand the moving image. The twenty-first century sees film-philosophy resurgent, in part due to the interest in cinema that has flourished recently in disciplines like philosophy, and in part due to the interdisciplinary nature of Film Studies. At a time when it is increasingly in vogue to return to theoretical questions previously pushed off the agenda by the dominance of historical approaches to cinema, such as the perennial "What is Cinema?", we are taking this opportunity to ask, "What is Film-Philosophy?" In a context that is witnessing the rise of digital cinema, the global dominance of multi-national media conglomerates, and the worldwide spread of "world cinemas", what role does theory or philosophy play in helping us understand cinema, and indeed, what role can cinema play in transforming philosophy? [The audio recording is of variable quality as we have had to remove a lot of background hiss and static. Please accept our apologies] Thanks to Rachel Brewster at Liverpool John Moores University for extracting the original audio. (shrink)
Proposes a shift in thinking about the connection of Malick's filmmaking and the philosophy of Heidegger. My approach considers Heidegger's philosophy of art in order to develop some outlines of a Heideggerian philosophy of film. I also consider some aspects of Terrence Malick's films viewed as exemplar instances of the philosophical theory of film Heidegger's work can support.
Theory appears to have played the ideological-institutional role of enfranchiser, even if the role was ulti-mately an epiphenomenal one. Furthermore, the expectation of gold in "them thar hills" also encouraged too many university presses to invest in film publications, especially when the arcane peregrinations of Theory facilitated their rationalization of their relaxation of their traditional role as academic gatekeepers. Hence film studies has been flooded with repetitive decoctions of the Theory in search of the same market in much (...) the same way that con-sumers are confronted with so many marginally differentiated shampoos. (shrink)
Provides an account of philosophy adopted from Being and Time and later works of Heidegger in order to respond to key questions in the film-as-philosophy debate. I follow the school of Stanley Cavell, Robert Sinnerbrink, and Stephen Mulhall in the view that philosophy occurs in film in phenomenological ways that transcend mere argumentative discourse and logical analysis. Some of the views I counter include those of Bruce Russell and Paisley Livingston.
This paper discusses the methods of the investigators in film noir. They are different than those employed by the classic detective of mystery and crime fiction, which involve observation, the collection of clues, logical inference, and are generally modeled on the methods of the scientist. I illuminate the methods of the noir investigator by comparing them to those applied by Ludwig Wittgenstein to philosophical problems. Both the noir investigator and Wittgenstein deal with problems that are intractable to the methods (...) of logic and science. Wittgenstein thought that philosophical problems could not be solved using these methods; I show that the problems that typically confront the noir investigator are similarly resistant to them. Wittgenstein and the noir investigator model alternative methods for solving epistemic problems and in doing so remind us of the limits of science and logic. (shrink)
Reading noir and Lacan together can establish a structural corollary between the function of the signifier 'noir' in film criticism and the retroactive function of the point de capiton in Lacan's theory of language. Furthermore, at a narrative level, the function of the point de capiton can also be found in the retroactive constructions of film noir flashbacks. It is therefore possible to say that a retroactive 'noir temporality' is also the temporality of the Symbolic order. This article (...) explores the way in which the signifier 'noir' enables the analysis of a certain type of 1940s Hollywood film, and how a noir film such as Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) is concerned with the retroactive production of knowledge through narrative structure. (shrink)
What is realism in film? Focusing on a test case of HFR high-definition movies, I discuss in this article various types of realism as well as their interrelations. Precision, recessiveness of the medium, transparency, and 'Collapse' are discussed and compared. At the end of the day, I defend the claim that 'less is more' in the sense that more image precision can actually have a negative impact on storytelling.
Media sources brought international attention to dog fighting during the Michael Vick case. Although a significant number of people who watched footage of the abused dogs used in the Vick case may have felt sympathy for them, the characteristics associated with those types of individuals are not known. The current study examined personality and gender as predictors of sympathetic reactions to the mistreatment of a bait dog depicted in a film clip. The results supported the predictions that animal-oriented sympathy, (...) trait sympathy, agreeableness, and gender would predict sympathetic reactions to the bait dog. The analyses showed that trait sympathy could not explain unique variance beyond animal-oriented sympathy, but that agreeableness fully mediated the relation between gender and sympathetic reactions to the bait dog. Unexpectedly, emotional stability was also a unique predictor. Implications and limitations of these results are discussed. (shrink)
Filmmakers use continuity editing to engender a sense of situational continuity or discontinuity at editing boundaries. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of continuity editing on how people perceive the structure of events in a narrative film and to identify brain networks that are associated with the processing of different types of continuity editing boundaries. Participants viewed a commercially produced film and segmented it into meaningful events, while brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic (...) resonance imaging (MRI). We identified three degrees of continuity that can occur at editing locations: edits that are continuous in space, time, and action; edits that are discontinuous in space or time but continuous in action; and edits that are discontinuous in action as well as space or time. Discontinuities in action had the biggest impact on behavioral event segmentation, and discontinuities in space and time had minor effects. Edits were associated with large transient increases in early visual areas. Spatial-temporal changes and action changes produced strikingly different patterns of transient change, and they provided evidence that specialized mechanisms in higher order perceptual processing regions are engaged to maintain continuity of action in the face of spatiotemporal discontinuities. These results suggest that commercial film editing is shaped to support the comprehension of meaningful events that bridge breaks in low-level visual continuity, and even breaks in continuity of spatial and temporal location. (shrink)
This paper explores the idea that popular narrative film can somehow contribute to our philosophical understanding. I identify a number of problems with this 'film as philosophy' thesis and argue that the capacity of film to contribute to philosophy is not as great as many authors think. Specifically, I argue that film can only offer genuinely distinctive insights into philosophical questions *about film* and explore Hitchcock's Rear Window as an example of this.
This paper examines the interplay of semantics and pragmatics within the domain of film. Films are made up of individual shots strung together in sequences over time. Though each shot is disconnected from the next, combinations of shots still convey coherent stories that take place in continuous space and time. How is this possible? The semantic view of film holds that film coherence is achieved in part through a kind of film language, a set of conventions (...) which govern the relationships between shots. In this paper, we develop and defend a new version of the semantic view. We articulate it for a pair of conventions that govern spatial relations between viewpoints. One such rule is already well-known; sometimes called the "180° Rule," we term it the X-Constraint; to this we add a previously unrecorded rule, the T-Constraint. As we show, both have the effect, in different ways, of limiting the way that viewpoint can shift through space from shot to shot over the course of a film sequence. Such constraints, we contend, are analogous to relations of discourse coherence that are widely recognized in the linguistic domain. If film is to have a language, it is a language made up of rules like these. (shrink)
The film The Insider offers an interesting story of leaking inside information by one character and clear whistleblowing by another. In both cases moral considerations are involved on a personal, professional, organizational and public level. As such the film can be used as an inviting cinematic introduction to applied or practical ethics. Three models of practical ethics are introduced. In the film workshop these models are the framework for the film analysis. A set up of the (...) workshop is sketched, including selected scenes, basic questions and a timetable. Also a sketch is given of the results that can be expected. (shrink)
Do cinematic representations of the natural world only put us in further remove from nature? A phenomenological approach shows that nature screened can produce a richer understanding of human–nature relations as these unfold in visual contact. If vision accesses the world in a unique relationship of sight, in which our contact with the world is defined by vision prior to any other interaction, the cinema offers a special setting for a phenomenology that seeks to draw-out the significance of human relations (...) with the world of nature that come before utility or action. A detailed analysis of the opening sequence of Terrence Malick’s The New World demonstrates how the act of viewing positions the viewer in relation to what she sees. This position, prior to action and with the impossibility to act is seen here as an ethical position, a position of responsibility in the Levinasian sense. Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of vision is put here to use alongside the hermeneutic phenomenology of Heidegger and the existential responsibility of Levinas, while subverting Levinas’ anthropocentrism and rejecting Heidegger’s limiting view of technology. The approach taken in this essay, of bringing phenomenology into productive and reflexive interaction with ecology and with film is dubbed an “eco-film-phenomenology.”. (shrink)
Many films are made by a two-tier process: the photographing of events which themselves represent the story the film tells. The latter representation is often illusionistic. I explore two consequences. The first concerns what we see in film. I argue that we sometimes see in such films, not events representing the story told, but simply the events composing that story. The way is thereby opened to a unified aesthetic of film, whether made the two-tier way or not. (...) The second consequence is that, since we see these films as photographic, we sometimes experience them as photographic recordings of the events, possibly fictional, that compose the story told. (shrink)
It is widely held in theories of narrative that all works of literary narrative fiction include a narrator who fictionally tells the story. However, it is also granted that the personal qualities of a narrator may be more or less radically effaced. Recently, philosophers and film theorists have debated whether movies similarly involve implicit audio-visual narrators. Those who answer affirmatively allow that these cinematic narrators will be radically effaced. Their opponents deny that audio-visual narrators figure in the ontology of (...) movies at all, and many have argued that the ‘effaced’ literary narrator is an illusion as well. In this paper, I attempt to sort out the central issues that arise in these debates, defending the existence of effaced narrators in both literature and film. (shrink)
Our aim is to point out some differences between verbal and visual arguments, promoting the rhetorical perspective of argumentation beyond the relevance of logic and pragmatics. In our view, if it is to be rational and successful, film as (visual) argumentation must be addressed to spectators who hold informed beliefs about the theme watched on the screen and the medium’s constraints and conventions. In our reflections to follow, we apply rhetorical analysis to film as a symbolic, human, and (...) communicative act that may sometimes be understood as a visually laid out argument. As a mixture of visual, auditory, and verbal stimuli, film demands active and complex interpretation and (re)construction. Our suggestion is to focus on five different but interrelated elements. The reconstruction and evaluation of the visual argument will be based on those elements, and the whole process will be one of visual argumentation. (shrink)
Idiosyncratic responses as more strictly personal responses to fiction film that vary across individual spectators. In philosophy of film, idiosyncratic responses are often deemed inappropriate, unwarranted and unintended by the film. One type of idiosyncratic response is when empathy with a character triggers the spectator to reflect on his own real life issues. Self-reflection can be triggered by egoistic drift, where the spectator starts imagining himself in the character’s shoes, by re-experiencing memories, or by unfamiliar experiences that (...) draw the spectator’s attention. Film may facilitate self-reflection by slowing down narrative development and making the narrative indeterminate. Such scenes make idiosyncratic responses, such as self-reflection, appropriate and intended. Fiction film is a safe context for the spectator to reflect on personal issues, as it also affords him with distancing techniques if the reflection becomes too painful or unwanted. The fictional context further encourages self-reflection in response to empathy, as the spectator is relieved from real life moral obligations to help the other. (shrink)
Each chapter covers one topic and largely consists of brief summaries of arguments for and against various themes. The topic of the first chapter is whether and on what basis a film can be considered art. Photography is used as an analogy. The arguments range from considering the mechanical form of cinema as an obstacle to arthood to arguments considering cinema’s mechanical nature as essential to its arthood; the former by those who ground art in human agency, the latter (...) by those who ground art in some conception of verisimilitude. Those worried by the former argument, emphasize editing and montage effects as the essential aspects of cinema, the idea being that the less representational veracity a film presented, the more it could be classified as art. On the other hand, for those who equate the art of film with verisimilitude, it is argued that the realism of film is superior to the realism of the other representational arts due to film’s retrieval of images as opposed to merely representing them. (shrink)
Marguerite Clark as Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1918). Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel Vargas in Touch of Evil (1958). Mizuo Peck as Sacagawea in Night at the Museum (2006). From the early days of cinema to its classic-era through to the contemporary Hollywood age, the history of cinema is replete with films in which the racial (or ethnic) background of a principal character does not match the background of the actor or actress portraying that character. I call this actor-character (...) race-mismatching. In this paper, I mainly explore whether a coherent and plausible account can be given of race-matching in terms of purely aesthetic considerations, i.e., an account that absent moral considerations can nevertheless coherently and productively answer the following questions: can race-mismatching itself ever be an aesthetic defect of a film, and if so, under what conditions can race-mismatching be such an aesthetic defect. I claim that once we have in place a precise account of the nature of race-matching, it becomes clear that films for which race-mismatching appears to constitute an aesthetic defect are actually films with which properly engaging requires audiences to satisfy inconsistent epistemic conditions. In such cases, I claim, race mismatching constitutes an aesthetic defect for the film-fiction because—in virtue of the inconsistency underwritten by the race-mismatching—that film-fiction undermines the very uptake it prescribes. I then argue that if what’s defective about race-mismatching aesthetically is predicated on something being defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then if there is nothing in principle defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then so too for mismatching aesthetically (and so too for mismatching morally). From this I conclude that reasons stemming only from race-matching/mismatching itself lack the normative force sufficient to warrant the claim that film-fictions ought not race-mismatch. (shrink)
In spite of their striking differences with real-life perception, films are perceived and understood without effort. Cognitive film theory attributes this to the system of continuity editing, a system of editing guidelines outlining the effect of different cuts and edits on spectators. A major principle in this framework is the 180° rule, a rule recommendation that, to avoid spectators’ attention to the editing, two edited shots of the same event or action should not be filmed from angles differing in (...) a way that expectations of spatial continuity are strongly violated. In the present study, we used high-density EEG to explore the neural underpinnings of this rule. In particular, our analysis shows that cuts and edits in general elicit early ERP component indicating the registration of syntactic violations as known from language, music, and action processing. However, continuity edits and cuts-across the line differ from each other regarding later components likely to be indicating the differences in spatial remapping as well as in the degree of conscious awareness of one's own perception. Interestingly, a time–frequency analysis of the occipital alpha rhythm did not support the hypothesis that such differences in processing routes are mainly linked to visual attention. On the contrary, our study found specific modulations of the central mu rhythm ERD as an indicator of sensorimotor activity, suggesting that sensorimotor networks might play an important role. We think that these findings shed new light on current discussions about the role of attention and embodied perception in film perception and should be considered when explaining spectators’ different experience of different kinds of cuts. (shrink)
The first collection of critical essays on the film work of the philosopher Jacques Ranciere. Jacques Ranciere rose to prominence as a radical egalitarian philosopher, political theorist and historian. Recently he has intervened into the discourses of film theory and film studies, publishing controversial and challenging works on these topics. This book offers an exciting range of responses to and assessments of his contributions to film studies and includes an afterword response to the essays by Ranciere (...) himself. (shrink)
Recent work by Ian Aitken and others has sought to re-establish a "Realist approach" to the documentary film in reaction to the postmodernist, pragmatist approach popular in the 1970s and 80s. The Saussurian/Lacanian orientation o f the semiotics that played a large role in the older film theory is rejected and replaced by an analytic theory of representation based on the work of Mary Hesse, Hilary Putnam and W.V.O. Quine. Although this may seem a setback vis-a-vis semiotics, it (...) actually opens up Realist Film Theory to an application o f the doctrine of signs more closely aligned to traditional realism, that of Pierce and Poinsot. This presentation outlines how Realist Film Theory can be enriched and developed by such an application. In particular, Aitken's model for the processing of the truth-value communicated through a documentary film can be strengthened in this manner. We will look at a short filmic example to illustrate the resulting development of the theory, manifesting how the documentary film is anchored in both reliablyrepresenting reality and creatively organizing and construing it. (shrink)
This article will explore and explain the use of dialectics in Rivette’sfilm criticism through close reading of a number of his most intriguingarticles before going on to see what place these same concepts andstructures have in Rivette’s own debut feature Paris nous appartient,whose lengthy gestation and tortuous production accompanied much of thisfilm writing.
The study of film adaptations, particularly those coming from literature, has been growing at a rapid rate during the last years due to the amount of adaptations coming from both mainstream and independent film industries. The focus of these studies though is generally addressed to best sellers where the literary style is clearly adaptable to the screen; however, there are cases where the adaptive process has resulted in an entirely different outcome. Naked Lunch, written by William Burroughs and (...) adapted to screen by David Cronenberg, represents a bold change if compared with other novels turned into films. The purpose of this article is to descriptively analyse the literary style in order to understand how it has been represented and adapted into Cronenberg’s film. The analysis will be performed helped with computer-based tools to support statements, using the novel itself as corpus and adding theoretical ideas from Leech and Short’s perspectives. The results suggest that the author’s corrosive, sexually-fuelled claustrophobic style has been translated following three patterns in terms of adaptation theory, although Burroughs, in the hands of Cronenberg, becomes an almost new classification of adaptation, not only adding literary features to the film, but also distinguishable core moments of the writer’s life to the final product. The analysis conducted encourages the study of other uncommon adaptations from literary authors in order to understand the adaptive process followed by filmmakers. (shrink)
I argue that Dilworth has not shown the type / token theory of film identity to be non-viable, since there is no reason to think that a single object cannot be a token of two types. Even if we assume a single inheritance view of types, Dilworth's argument runs into other problems. Dilworth does not provide any convincing argument as to why intentions are necessary for identifying film and why production history alone will not suffice for identifying hardly (...) conceivable forgeries. Intention is not necessary for distinguishing between fakes and the real thing, nor is it necessary to differentiate between two artworks with the same token. Moreover, taking the notion of intentions into consideration leads to a splintering problem. I propose that production history, presentation, and non-numerical template identity suffice to identify a film on a multiple inheritance type / token theory. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to show how the critically acclaimed and award winning film Margin Call may be used in business ethics teaching. Set in a fictional investment bank at the dawn of the financial crisis, the film zooms in on the motivations and decision-making of people who had much to lose from the crash of the hitherto very profitable mortgage-backed securities market. The film offers rich material for analysis of behaviours that contributed to the (...) crisis. The article will set out topics for classroom discussion, including the impact of incentives and power structures, contextual factors that distance people from the consequences of their actions, and considerations of how the banking industry may be transformed. (shrink)
Introduction -- An improbable alliance : Peter Wollen's "The auteur theory" -- Visual stylometry : Barry Salt's "Statistical style analysis of motion pictures" -- Between Shakespeare and Sirk : Thomas Elsaesser's "Tales of sound and fury: observations on the family melodrama" -- From iconicity to semiotic articulation : Christian Metz's "cinema: language or language system?" and language and cinema -- Film as a specific signifying practice : Stephen Heath's "On screen, in frame: film and ideology" -- Against theories (...) of reflection : Laura Mulvey's "Visual pleasure and narrative cinema" -- Early cinema spectatorship : Tom Gunning's "The cinema of attraction(s): early film, its spectator, and the avant-garde" -- Another Lacan : "the universal: suture revisited" -- The death of the camera : Edward Branigan's "What is a camera?" -- Conclusion: teaching theory. (shrink)
At the Intersection of High and Mass Culture analyses the contradictions and interaction between high and low art, with particular reference to Hollywood and European cinema. Written in the essayist, speculative tradition of Walter Benjamin and Theodore Adorno, this study also includes analyses of several key films of the 1980s. Tracing the boundaries of such genres as film noir, science fiction and melodrama, it demonstrates how these genres were radically expanded by such filmmakers as Neil Jordan, Chris Merker and (...) Georges Franju. This work also reflects on kitsch, the star system, racial and gender stereotypes, and the nature of audience participation. While defining the conditions under which the symbiotic relationship between high and mass culture can be cross-fertilising, this study stresses their inevitably contradictory characteristics. (shrink)
Philosophy, and in particular continental philosophy, has provided a conceptual underpinning for cinema since its beginnings, especially in the development of cinematic aesthetics. In its turn, film has rethought the abstractions of space and time and the categories of sex and gender and has created new concepts which illuminate phenomenology, metaphysics and epistemology. "Film and Philosophy" brings together leading scholars to provide a detailed overview of the key thinkers who have shaped the field of film philosophy. The (...) thinkers include continental and 'post-continental' philosophers, analytic philosophers, film-makers, film reviewers, sociologists, and cultural theorists.The essays reveal how philosophy can be applied to film analysis and how film can be used to illustrate philosophical problems. But more importantly, the essays explore how film has shaped what philosophy thinks and how philosophy has lead to a reappraisal of film. The book will prove an invaluable reference and guide to readers interested in a deeper understanding of the issues and insights presented by film philosophy." Film and Philosophy" includes essays on: Hugo Munsterberg, Vilem Flusser, Siegfried Kracauer, Theodor Adorno, Antonin Artaud, Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Andre Bazin, Roland Barthes, Serge Daney, Jean-Luc Godard, Stanley Cavell, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Sarah Kofman, Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Fredric Jameson, Felix Guattari, Raymond Bellour, Christian Metz, Julia Kristeva, Laura Mulvey, Homi Bhabha, Slavoj Zizek, Stephen Heath, Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere, Leo Bersani, Giorgio Agamben, and Michel Chion. (shrink)