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Y200 Politics and Film, Lecture #20
April 26, 2011

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  1. 1. April 26, 2011
  2. 2. What Makes a Film Political? Depends on what theory of the relationship between films (popular culture) and politics you are using. For some, only explicitly political films are political For others, all films are political In short, you get to decide this for yourself
  3. 3. What Makes a Political Film Good?  Depends on what films you consider political and that in turn depends on your own political beliefs.  However, there are aspects of film-making and film criticism that can be described in purely formal ways.  Some films are more innovative, conservative/subversive, than others.  A good film always tells a story that the audience finds compelling, worth watching.
  4. 4. James Monaco on Film Theory“The job of film theory is truly dialectical. As a fully matured art, film is not longer a separate enterprise but an integrated pattern in the warp and woof of our culture. Cinema is an expansive and far-reaching set of interrelating oppositions between filmmaker and subject, film and observer, establishment and avant garde, conservative purposes and progressive purposes…” (How to Read a Film, p. 424)
  5. 5. Mediated Reality One of the most common themes in discussion of films is the relationship between film and reality. We now understand that film, like all other media, is an interpretation of reality that is partly controlled by the filmmaker and partly by the viewer. Most of us are more dependent on media now than we were in the past. This makes our ability to “read films” and other media much more important.
  6. 6. Film Technology: A Moving Target Film as an art form was originally quite restricted by its inability to portray color, sound, outdoor images, and certain kinds of motion. Film technology developed progressively to reduce the restrictions on the ability of the medium to portray reality. More recent technology allows filmmakers to “enhance” reality in ways that early filmmakers could only dream about.
  7. 7. What Have We Gained and What Have WeLost? We have become more dependent on film and video for entertainment and less capable of entertaining ourselves. As passive consumers of high-quality sound and imagery, we may even be losing our ability to process abstract ideas via text. Are multimedia and the Internet the answer to this problem?
  8. 8. Power to the Producer Cheap cameras, cheap editing, cheap distribution Positive indications:  AtomFilms.com  IFilm.com  Blair Witch Project Negative indication: continued dominance of large conglomerates in media industries
  9. 9. Production Values and PotentialAudience Size Small audience Large audience Lo value Videos of my dog Chris Crocker on YouTube LonelyGirl15 Sanctuary; other TV programs Hi value HD content Movies
  10. 10. Another Quote from Monaco“For more than half a century, first film and then television inculcated that suffocating passivity that so concerned Aldous Huxley and others. But the balance is now shifting. Not because we heeded the warnings of the social critics and took action, but because the image and sound technologies that are now maturing bring the power of production to us.” (p. 515)