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Performance in Film and Videogames


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These slides are from a University of Calgary lecture in Performance in Film and Videogames.

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Performance in Film and Videogames

  1. 1. Performance in Film and Videogames Lorene Shyba MFA PhD |
  2. 2. What is this course about? This course explores performance (acting) in movies and videogames from an artistic, historical, and cultural perspective.
  3. 3. Styles/Types of Movies and Corresponding Performance Examples REALISM CLASSICISM FORMALISM Documentary F I C T I O N Expressionism The Boy From Geita Boogie Doodle Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty Claudia Cardinale, 8 ½ Fellini NB. These are not airtight categories and often overlap. Styles Corresponding Types John Wayne, The Searchers
  4. 4. What are Characteristics of Realist Performance? • We rarely notice performance “technique” in a realistic (documentary) film — “Actors” are being entirely themselves. • Directors of realism try to preserve the illusion that their film worlds are objective mirrors of the actual world. However, it’s not always easy to find performers who are natural on camera. • The camera is used as a “recording mechanism,” resulting in (hopefully) an objective appearance, not enhanced with makeup and imaginary costumes etc. • It is a performance style that excels in making us feel the authentic humanity of the performer.
  5. 5. What About the “Classical”Style? • AKA “Hollywood” style, Hollywood performance technique favours of a style of presentation that has a surface believability. • Actors are often well paid – expensive but are the foundation of the act of shaking the money tree. • High premium is placed on entertainment value conforming to popular genre. • Characters often played by “stars” and audience is encouraged to identify with their goals/values.
  6. 6. Characteristics of Formalist Performance • Conveyed by distorting the surface of the material world so colloquially, often “over the top.” • Highly subjective experience of director’s reality. • Characters are often metaphors or stereotypes. • Art is realm of the director, rather than actor.
  7. 7. Put John Wayne into the Pressure Cooker of Cultural Codes for a Semiotic Analysis of Character and Casting.
  8. 8. John Wayne 1907 - 1979 •Birthname, Marion Morrison •The Searchers (Ford, 1956) Story of a Civil War veteran who saves his niece from the “savages.” •Wayne won Academy award in 1969 for True Grit.
  9. 9. Semiotics, some terminology* • Film and hence characters in film are bearer/provokers of meanings and pleasure. • How are meanings produced? Realities are symbols, encoded by technology into representations, showing glimpses of ideology. • Disclaimer: Process of making sense happens through movement up and down through these layers in a natural unity. “Polysemy” multiplicity of meanings has powerful affect on active viewers. • Take some pleasure in making of meaning rather than just on the meanings that are made. Fiske calls this called “semiotic democracy.” * From John Fiske, Television Culture, Methuen 1987.
  10. 10. The Pressure Cooker of Cultural Codes. The Searchers 11:15 John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards Alone Tall in the Saddle Military clothing Tall Calm, doesn’t jiggle Bizarre landforms Empty countryside Protective of family“Native” soundtrack
  11. 11. The Pressure Cooker of Cultural Codes.. True Grit Stagecoach Sagebrush Trail Treasure of the Sierra MadreHigh camera angles. Lots of screen time. Heroic, Important. Triumphs over“savages” Success not dependent on others.
  12. 12. The Pressure Cooker of Cultural Codes.. Individualism. Patriotism. Freedom. Loyalty. Embodiment of American Values of RACISM