Film forms & allegories-studios, early cinema,narration
Is Cinema Art?How is cinema different from other forms of art?Can collaborative groups—instead of individuals-- produce art?Can a corporate studio produce art?Whats’ the problem with artists having a profit motive?
Studio Allegory, Corporate Identity• “The Hollywood studio is a business that does its business right there on the screen as the projector rolls…”• 1886 lawsuit Corporations=humans• Corporate art is a tool for corporate strategy —not same as branding; biz is on screen• MGM vs. Warners; ‘good’ stars vs. gangsters• Do corporations have souls? Do they express good will? Are stars a “monopoly on itself”?
Classical Hollywood Cinema 1908-1927• Motion Picture Patents Co. (MPPC), Edison monopoly• Independents in CA by 20s--Famous Players Lasky (Paramount), MGM, Fox, Warner Bros, Universal• Development of continuity system
Film Production-- Making the Movie The ProcessPreproduction Research, Scriptwriting, Storyboards, Shooting Scripts, Funding, Locations, AuditionsProduction Capturing images & sounds; working with actors--lighting, sets, costumes, movement, music, sound effectsPost-production Editing, motion graphics, color correction, sound mix, score, Foley, etcDistribution and Marketing Film festivals, Markets, Theatrical, Online, DIY, Transmedia
Film StyleWays that a film uses filmmaking techniques:• Mise-en-scene• Cinematography• Editing (Montage)• Sound• Narration
Film Movements• Films that are produced within a particular period and/or nation and that share significant traits of style and form. E.g. German Expressionism, Soviet Montage, Italian Neo-realism, etc…• Filmmakers who operate within a common production structure and who share certain assumptions about filmmaking.
Film CriticismFilm criticism is connected to the cultural criticism that developed in the 20th century and relates to the study of photography, art, media, linguistics and criticism.Names we’ll cover:De Saussure, Peirce, Eisenstein, Kracauer, Benjamin, Bazin, Mulvey, Jenkins, etc..
Eadweard Muybridge 1878• Stanford, governor of CA, wanted to see if all four hooves of horse came off the ground at same time. EM set up series of cameras with trip wires across the track.
Women in Motion • Muybridge studied the body (particularly the woman’s body) in motion… Was it science? Was it art? Something else?
Kuleshov Effectplate of soup (hunger); coffin (grief); woman (desire)
Early Cinema Names 1893-1903• Etienne-Jules Marey--camera, projector parts• George Eastman--celluloid• Thomas Edison/Dickson--kinetoscope, Black Maria• Lumiere brothers--Project onto screen• George Melies--magician, first special effects
D.W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation• Crosscutting (last minute rescues)• Close-ups• Directing emotions, more subtly• Appealing to politics
Continuity system•Eyeline Matches•Shot/Reverse shot•Axis-of-action (180 degree rule)•Match on action•Establishing shotsEx: Record a conversation at table
German Expressionism 1919-1926 Emphasis on mise-en- scene--distorted shapes, heavy makeup, exaggerated movements. “The film image must become graphic art.” Hermann Warm, designer of “Caligari” “Film must be drawings brought to life.”
Kracauer--symbolic power• “The revolutionary meaning of the story reveals itself unmistakably at the end, with the disclosure of the psychiatrist as Caligari: reason overpowers unreasonable power, insane authority is symbolically abolished.” Siegfried Kracauer, 1947
Soviet Montage 1924-1930 Vertov, Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Eisenstein “Of all the arts, for us the cinema is the most important.” Lenin 1922 Emphasis on editing and action Eisenstein’s intellectual montage-- juxtaposing images to create a concept--often a revolutionary “collision” between a “collective hero”-- the proletariat--and the enemy--the bourgeoisie
French Impressionism & Surrealism 1918-1930Emphasis on internal psychology, dreams, flashbacks, emotion.Point of view shots, distorted images, new lenses, cameras on roller skates--mobile frames.Surrealist Salvador Dali, LuisBunuel--anti-narrative, anti-rational.(“Un Chien Andalou,” 1928)
Walter BenjaminWork of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936)• “The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning…”—its aura• “Aura” provides a magical foundation for cult-like participation, for ritual..• “L’art pour l’art movement preserved and developed the sense of autonomy and distance native to ancient religious works (224)” Larson
Walter Benjamin Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction• “All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war..”• Man’s “self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic…Through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.”
Walter Benjamin Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction•Film and photography keep audiences at acritical distance from the art object, which(helps) destroy the ritualistic aura.•“Dadaism attempted to create by pictorial--andliterary--means the effects which the publicseeks in the film.” See Duchamp•“Film’s swift juxtapositions and movementsstrike the viewer violently, disruptingcontemplation and easy consumption of theimage (238)--Larson
Film FormThe sum of all the parts of the film, shaped by patterns:• Repetition and Variation• Story Lines• Character Traits
Classical narrative structure--Aristotelian• "A chain of events linked by cause and effect and occurring in time and space.”• Protagonist/Antagonist--conflicting goals and motivations• CHC--Cause/effect structure with closure?
Film Narration• “The process by which the plot presents story information to the spectator.”Forms of narration and terms to know:Restricted; Unrestricted degrees of knowledge; Objectivity/Subjectivity; Omniscient/3rd PersonPoint of view shot; hierarchy of knowledge; character or noncharacter narrators.
Bordwell-- Forms of Cinematic Meaning Story and Plot• Referential--constructed world of film• Explicit--abstract, thematic meaning, stated• Implicit--thematic meaning, not stated overtly• Symptomatic--meaning unknown to filmmakerOther terms to know:• Diegesis; Non/extra-diegesis (Look them up…)
Transmedia“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” Henry Jenkins» Hope is Missing -- a social media driven ARG
Ferdinand de Saussure (1907) Linguistics and Meaning Sign=Signifier + SignifiedRelationship is learned or arbitrary• Signifier--Form that the sign takes• Signified--Concept it representsEx: Stop signSignifier=?Signified=?
C.S. Peirce (1894)-- Semiotics--How signs denote objects• Iconic--Signifier has resemblance to object it represents. E.g. photograph, portrait, sound effects on radio• Indexical--Factual connection to object, indicator. E.g. Smoke indicates fire, shadow indicates presence, film=?.• Symbolic--Abstract relation to signified. E.g. Stop sign, language, burkas