A2 Film theory

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Film studies theories, FS4

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A2 Film theory

  1. 1. Film Theory
  2. 2. Feminist Film theory • • • • the representations of the female gender representation of female characters the status of women in the film industry A feminist film focuses upon the female gender and experiences of women, rather than merely has a female lead star
  3. 3. Feminist film theorists • Laura Mulvey - ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1975) • Mulvey discusses the ‘Male Gaze’ - mainstream cinema is constructed around a series of ‘gazes’ for male pleasure. • This includes the characterisation, the camerawork and the narratives. • Females are objectified for the (sexual) pleasure of the male viewer.
  4. 4. • Claire Johnstone (1975) ‘Women’s Cinema as Counter Cinema’. • Argues that through conscious production and in opposition to sexist ideologies, films made by women have the potential to pose as an alternative to traditional mainstream films.
  5. 5. Marxist Film theory • Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1948. • He believed that the history of society was based on class struggles and materialism • He was in opposition to traditional Hollywood narrative structure and was opposed to a singular protagonist • but was in favour of group decision making. Marxist theory films can also encode political views, with a belief that Hollywood promotes capitalism by drawing you into the propaganda/ marketing. For example, a shot reverse shot is devised to make the viewer align with the character/commercial ideology.
  6. 6. Marxist ideas are: • Everyone is equal • Capitalism is an evil and corrupting force • The Government should protect its people, not oppress them.
  7. 7. This can be seen in film as: • The individual can make a difference to the world, a group can change the world • The individual can improve themselves, by being part of a group • Good will triumph and effort will be rewarded • The criminal returns to the scene of the crime and evil will be exposed • Corruption exists in isolated cases • Financial comfort and stable marriage is the best reward/ do not do drugs/ drink/ meddle with things you do not understand.
  8. 8. Films relate to this by: • • • • • Supporting the ideology Attacking the ideology / message Subverting the messages and values Attacking first and then endorsing Looking like they endorse and then show weaknesses in the argument. • French New Wave films are an example of this
  9. 9. Postcolonialism and Race Studies in Film • Post Colonialism = the relationship between nations/ areas that have been ruled / colonised. • Postcolonialism refers to the time after the period of colonialism, (mainly through flashbacks). • It is often controversial and relates to identity politics. • Postcolonial theory addresses identity matters, race, racism, ethnicity and gender. • It deals with resistance, conflict, challenges to western schools of thought (including religion and law, creativity/ capitalism and spirituality).
  10. 10. Psychoanalytic Film Theory • developed in the 1970-80s associated with critical theory which analyses film from a psychoanalytical stand point. • The viewer is identified as the subject of the ‘gaze’ what is constructed by the text. • What is on screen (mise en scene) is the object of the subject’s desire. • Identification is normally through the male protagonist for the subject / viewer. • The theory argues that the film seems to offer a completeness to the subject / viewer, although this is always an illusion (as films are merely constructions of reality).
  11. 11. Psychoanalytic Film Theorists • Jacques Lacan (French - Freudian - Philosopher 1901-1981) • The main idea is that the theory deconstructs both the spectacle of cinema and the elements of film, which are both shaped by the unconscious. • The unconscious has been broken down into four areas: • The Filmmaker’s Unconscious • The Character’s Unconscious • The Audience’s Unconscious • The Unconsciousness of Cinematic Discourse. • It is also worth looking at Freudian theory in relation to this.
  12. 12. Social Realist (British New Wave) Film Theory • representation and exploration of political and social issues. • Social realist films represent true-to-life characters and locations. • The lighting is normally ‘naturalistic’, which means without lenses or soft lighting • Social Realist Film Theorists • Raymond Williams (British Professor, 1921-1988) • Samantha Lay
  13. 13. Common themes of social realism include: • • • • Social injustice Racial injustice Economic hardship Working class as heroes
  14. 14. Structuralist Film Theory • The theory explores, or demystifies, how films create meaning through codes and conventions (or semantics and content) • denotation / connotation • Sign / signified • A shot of someone looking sad, then a shot to a glass of water and back to the person, the audience would understand that the person was thirsty. • the use of editing, a particular shot or lighting technique can all emphasise a meaning, emotion or reaction from the audience.
  15. 15. Formalist film theory • how the different elements create an effect and have a style • film = art and therefore is not a reproduction of reality, it is a constructed illusion. • Auteurs create their own style - for example Quentin Tarantino and his use of dialogue and close ups and how they communicate ideas, themes and an emotive response to their audience / fans.

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