What is emotion?• TASK: Compile a list of the various types of emotional response a film might elicit• What exactly is emotion, or emotional response?• A moving of the mind or soul; excitement of the feelings, whether pleasing or painful; disturbance or agitation of mind caused by specific exciting cause and manifested by some sensible effect on the body• The term ‘emotion’ embodies the wide range of feelings that human beings are subjected to whilst under influence from external stimuli• Can we control our emotions? To what extent should emotions be seen to be linked to thought?
What is emotion?• As we watch films we can each experience fear, and pleasure, and desire, and surprise, and shock and a whole array of possible emotions, but we will not all experience these emotions equally at the same moments in a film• What is that determines our individual predisposition to respond in particular emotional ways at certain points in certain films? THINK ABOUT THAT!• Think carefully about this but don’t worry about a right answer, this is the debate. Your job is to recognise that there is an intense interaction with the sounds and images occurring as we watch films, and that film makers are deliberately setting out to engender (give rise to) emotional responses. Through your observation of the use of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound (micro features) and the narrative structure (macro features) you will be able to explore the ways in which emotional responses are created
What do you define emotion as?• Read the sheet on EMOTION• For the most part we’ll be dealing with cognitive responses• The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgement• That which comes to be known as through perception, reasoning or intuition; knowledge
Film Studies and Cultural Studies• Film Studies, influenced by Cultural Studies is increasingly likely to centre on local, small scale and precise groups of people who share, perhaps, some social or political ‘Formation’. Their behaviour both as individuated spectators and as a collective of people forming an audience is likely to be understood if we respect and try to understand the importance of particular life experiences and social; attitudes they bring with them to the viewing situation.• (Patrick Phillips in Introduction to Film Studies)
Spectatorship• A spectator is an individual member of an audience. Spectatorship is an important concept in film theory. Traditional models of audience response (hypodermic needle model) tend to treat viewers, readers or listeners as groups, spectatorship study suggests that the film builds a specific relationship with every individual who experiences it. Rather than being concerned with media effects. Spectatorship study focuses on understanding the ways films produce pleasure in their viewers.
Response• Our response to a film draws on the whole of the self, a self that includes:• A social self who can make meaning in ways not very different from others with a similar ideological formation• A cultural self who makes particular intertextual references (to other films, other kinds of images and sound) based on the bank of material s/he possesses• A private self who carried the memories of her own experiences and who may find person significance in a film in ways very different from others• A desiring self who brings conscious and unconscious energies and intensities to the film event that have little to do with the film’s ‘surface’ content
Film and the creation of ‘shock’• One emotional response that could be on your list of emotional responses to film would be shock. Films, like books, plays, paintings and other forms of cultural production, have always been seen to have the ability to shock an audience. The nature of this shock can cover a wide range of possibilities. The early audiences for films in Paris in 1895 were apparently shocked simply by the sense of realism created by the filmed image of a train moving towards them.• It might shock some people to be shown experimental, avant-garde or alternative film simply because they had never thought of the possibility of there being forms of film other than realist narratives. However, most peoples initial response when considering this issue is to see shock in terms of scenes of a graphic sexual or violent content in more popular mainstream films. These are certainly the areas that receive most media coverage in relation to shocking film.
What’s shocking to you?• List the range of ways in which you see film as being potentially shocking, and try to give an example for each. In order to comply with Film Studies good practice you should try to refer to specific scenes within particular films.• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLaFImyUBS o&feature=related Irréversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002)• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9zhKuV86N A Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1928)
What’s shocking to you?• What exactly is at work in the clips you’ve just seen that brings about the emotional response of shock?
Content and Form• In carrying out the activity above you should have become aware of the way in which shock in film can be talked about in terms of either the content (or subject matter) and the form (or style) of the film under discussion. Clearly the opening eye-slitting subject matter of Un Chien Andalou is itself shocking, but so too is the film construction in terms of the way in which use is made of close-ups and an editing cut from the blank face of the woman with her eye being held open to the actual eyeball-cutting shot.
Content and Form• Compare the way in which the scene from Un Chien Andalou is constructed with the slicing off of the policemans ear in Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1991) which is handled in an altogether different way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLTqecGbdCc• Both scenes will draw a sense of shock from most spectators on a first viewing but perhaps the nature of the shock is different in both instances.• Consider the use of mise-en-scene, performance, cinematography, editing and sound in both cases.• For both scenes consider whether the nature of the shock changes on a second viewing, and if so in what ways.• Are there other emotional responses that you or other spectators have had to either of these scenes? Could you imagine the possibility of further emotional responses that neither you nor anyone you have spoken to has had but which might be possible for other spectators?
• As you discuss or think about films and scenes from films that create an emotional shock, always make sure you are considering both content and film form. Try to decide on the nature of the shock experienced and the intensity of that shock. Is it a physical shock that affects your bodily response in some way?
HOMEWORKAmerican History X - Screening Questions1. Note at least 3 scenes from the film that caused you to have a strong emotional response? Describe the emotional response2. How were these emotional responses caused by the construction of film?3. How were these emotional responses shaped by YOU the spectator?4. How would different spectators react to this film?