Classical Film TheoryFilm criticism and theory is an essential part of cinematichistoryIt was not until after the First World War that two groups offilm theorists began to emergeThe first of these groups was spearheaded by SergeiEisenstein, whose film-making and theoretical essays in the Segei Eisenstien1920’s established the concept that the role of cinema wasa purely an aesthetic one -The second group was the German surrealist film makersThese groups believed in the manipulation of reality:They used image and cinematography to manipulate realityand disregarded other aspects of cinema
BazinThe ‘Montage’ and ‘Expressionist’ schools remaineddominant until after WWIIIt was not until the 1950’s that any challenges to existingfilm theory emergedIn his essays ‘The Evolution of the Language of Cinema’ &‘The Virtues and limitations of Montage’ Andre Bazin Bazin argued thatoverturned existing conceptions of film and claimed that the camera allowed a “Cinema’s true purpose was the objective representation filmmaker to of reality” capture and duplicate reality;He argued that cinema offered the first chance of a That cultural /completely objective representation of reality for the first personal ideologytime in history did not transfer in to the film itself
Cahier du CinemaAndre Bazin’s theory was short-lived as political upheavaloccurred in France 1968Bazin’s style of film criticism, based on the aestheticfunction of cinema, became outdated and film studies The Wildcat generalbecame indisputably political strike led to a more politicised and“There was no place outside or above politics; all texts, ideological form ofwhatever their claims to neutrality, had their ideological slant” cinema in France Lapsley & Westlake; 1988For the first time filmmakers and critics were forced to consider therelationship between Ideology & Power, and Cinemas role within thisrelationshipThis new politically centred film criticism was developed by two FrenchJournals ‘Cahiers du Cinema’ & ‘Cinethique’ (monthly film journalspublished in France)
Cahier du CinemaThe authors of Cahiers’ Jean-Louis Comollu and Jean Narboniwere heavily influenced by Karl MarxThey saw film as a product that becomes a commodity which is “also an ideological product of the system, which in France means capitalism” Jean-Louis Comollu “The classic film theory of cinema that the camera is an impartial instrument which grasps, or rather is impregnated by, the world in its ‘concrete reality’ is an eminently reactionary one. What the camera is fact registers is the vague, unformulated, un-theorised, un-thought-out world of the dominant ideology. Cinema is one of the language through which the world communicates itself to itself. They constitute its ideology for they reproduce the world as it is Jean experienced when filtered through its ideology” Narboni
CinéthiqueCinéthique took a more hard line view of cinema and stated that“all films were hopeless victims of the ideology of their rulingclass and had to be rejected entirelyWhat do you think cinema is?Do you think it is a mirror of reality?
Sigmund FreudPsycho-analysis is a psychological theory developed by Sigmund Freudin the late 19th centuryHe developed the theories of Psycho analysis as a study of theunconscious mindHe claimed:“In order to function in our lives we actively repressvarious desires, fears, memories, and fantasies. Hence,beneath our conscious, daily social interaction thereexists a dynamic, active realm of forces of desire that isinaccessible to our rational logical selves “ Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 The father ofHe claims our unconscious is active in our dreams, in modernslips of the tongue and forms of artistic activity Psychoanalysis
The Unconscious MindAs in dreams, films also deal with fantasies anddesires and as such they can be consideredanalogous to dreams and qualify as manifestations ofthe unconsciousTheorists argue that a film makers unconscious 1. Comparable in certain respects,desires and fears are implanted within the film typically in a way that makes clearerThey also argue that the unconscious mind of the the nature of theSpectator is manifested on the screen things compared.Psychoanalytical theory allows us to question therelationship between reality and fantasy Can you identify anything we could define as: unconscious desires or fears, within Vertigo?
DreamsHitchcock uses the dream sequence to highlightmany of the subconscious desires, fears andfantasies of ScottieWatch the dream sequence and make notes on thefollowing:What desires / fears / fantasies can you identify?How are they constructed?What do we learn about the character of Scottiefrom this sequence?
Sigmund FreudIn his ‘Structural Model of the Psyche’, Freud identified three parts of thepsychic apparatus that control our conscious and sub-conscious decisions Ego: seeks to please the id’s drive in a way that will bring benefit in theID: a part of our long term. It separates what is realpersonality that and what is not. Its purpose is tocontains our basic find a balance between our basic Super-Ego: aims fordrives – seeking drives (ID) and what is socially perfection and strivespleasure and avoiding acceptable (Super-Ego) to act in a sociallypain. It can be split in acceptable way. It isto two distinct our conscience andcategories: prohibits our drives. It makes us feel guiltThe desire for Sex and etcPleasure Super-ego controlsThe desire for death our sense of right andand aggression wrong and guilt
Oedipus ComplexThe concept begins in early childhood as the Boy developslove for his motherThis bond is tied to the fixation on the mother’s breast,it’s role as a source of nourishment, the mother as thefont of love and caring etc...At the same time the male child begins to identify with hisfather, the figure parallel to him in terms of biological sexAs a result of the father’s appearance, the child gives uphis love / desire for the mother.He represses his feeling for the mother (primalrepression) because he fears the father will punish him(castration)
Oedipus Complex in filmOne of the ways we can identify the Oedipus complex incinema is by considering the following question: What does it mean to become a man?The formation of a ‘male’ identity is constructed throughacting, the micro-elements, and the script etc...We can analyse the male characters and ask the question: How does he channel his sexual desire away from his mother towards his ‘mother substitute’?
Oedipus Complex in film Using your handouts create a list of scenes that you think develop the representation of Scotties masculinity How is the identity of Scotties masculinity constructed in Vertigo?Identify key scenes were Scottie’s male identity isconstructedFor exampleDuring the opening sequence Scotty is constructed asa strong, heroic police officer. Police officers aresymbols of strength and morality – we transfer theseconnotations to the character of Scotty
Gradiva NovelGradiva is a novel written by Wilhelm Jensen, firstpublished in Germany in 1903It was inspired by a Roman bas-relief of the samename and became the basis for Freud’s famous 1907study ‘Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva’Using your handout – read the synopsis of the storyand complete the following task:Link the events from Gradiva to similar events inVertigo
Gradiva NovelFreud identified an Oedipal conflict taking place with thenovel of Gradiva and used it as a basis for his study
Oedipus Complex in VertigoFreud identified an Oedipal conflict taking place withthe novel of Gradiva and used it as a basis for hisstudyAs a result we are able to apply the Oedipus complexto VertigoThere are three key character types associated withthe Oedipus complex – they are :The Father / Guardian FigureThe MotherThe ChildUsing the space on your handout – link the threecharacter role to characters in the film
Gavin Elster’s relationship to Madeline initiallyappears to Scottie to be that of a father/guaridanfigure (as well as husband).Frued claims that women attached to other men /father figures – husband, fiance, friend - often areespecially desirable love-objectsFrom this we can infer special reasons why Madelineappeals to Scottie, and what she means to him.When Scottie finally looses his love, it is due to theintervention of another shadowy mother figure –The NUN!
Concerning an Oedipal syndrome in Vertigo, we may sense how Gavin Elster’srelation to Madeleine/Judy initially appears to Scottie to be that of a (fairlyamenable) father/guardian, as well as that of a husband. On anotheroccasion, Freud would note that in some male fantasies, a woman alreadyattached to another man - husband, fiancé, or friend - is an especiallydesirable love-object.11 Thus we may infer special reasons for whyMadeleine/Judy appeals to Scottie, and what she means to him. But theremay be others. When Scottie finally loses his beloved, it’s due to theintervention of a shadowy mother-figure (about whom I’ll say more below).Freud emphasises how Hanold succeeds for a time in keeping Gradiva/Zöe ata certain distance. By identifying her with a classical setting, as for instance inan early dream when he sees her enter the temple of Apollo, Hanold puts heron a pedestal. But now, at Pompeii, a turning-point is reached. He rests hishand on hers, ostensibly to test her corporeal reality yet clearly with anunderlying erotic motive. You think of how in Vertigo, sitting before the fire inhis apartment, Scottie places his hand on Madeleine’s as if by accident whenhe reaches for her coffee-cup ...
Psychoanalysis & FilmPsychoanalytical film theory developed in the1960’s and 70’s and analyses films from theperspective of PsychoanalysisThe theory states that the film viewer is seen asthe viewing subject (spectator) of a “gaze” that islargely constructed by the film itselfWhat is on screen is the object of the subjectsdesireViewing subjects (spectators) are offered particularidentifications with a character (usually the leadmale character) from which to watch – in the caseof Vertigo – this character is Scottie
LacanThe most prominent Psychoanalytical film theorists isJacques Lacan – he stated that film spectatorship is anidentification process – that is similar to the mirrorstage of Psychology that takes place between the agesof 6 – 18 monthsAt this age human infants become interested in theirreflection and devote a lot of time to exploring theconnection between their bodies and their imagesThe Mirror Stage is when the concept is ‘I’ is firstdeveloped – at a point before a language or symbolicorder is presentThe Mirror Stage establishes what Lacan terms the‘Imaginary Order’
3 Registers of Human Reality SymbolicReality Imaginary Real
The imaginaryA fundamental stage of psychic development by whichthe human subject creates fantasy images of bothhimself and his ideal object of desireThis development is not restricted to childhood, butremains with us for our entire lives