Image And Sound


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Taken from Baudry's Film Theory & Criticism this is a taster for IB Film students on sound/image.

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  • Image And Sound

    1. 1. The Film Medium: Image & Sound Taken from 2nd part of Film Theory & Criticism (6th Ed. by Leo Braudy & Marshall Cohen)
    2. 2. Lessing- Laocoon • 18th Century German dramatist suggested that the visual arts organise their material spatially whilst the poetic arts do so temporally • In this same spirit, critics have sought to define what is (and what is not) cinematic
    3. 3. So what is the film medium? • Physical apparatus- 24fps • Film Language (angles, rhythms, editing etc) • Structural Features (Plot) & historical conventions (genres) • Is it legitimate to pursue only those possibilities which have special affinity to the medium? How do we judge what these affinities are? Must it be only those which it shares with no other art?
    4. 4. Erwin Panofsky (Art Historian) • Uniquely filmic features (Note that both of these are visual and not audio...a clear area of criticism) include: • ‘Dynamization of space’ • ‘Spacialization of time’
    5. 5. Olivier’s Speech in Henry V
    6. 6. Kracauer • Accepts the use of sound only in certain limited ways. He uses the example of Frank Capra and Preston Sturges comedies...the witty dialogue is ‘complimented and compensated for’ (compensated because it violates the visual affinity for cinema mentioned earlier)
    7. 7. Rudolf Arnheim • Suggests that mere mechanical reproduction of physical reality is not an art. • Points out the differences between the filmic image and reality and like the artist who exploits the 2D canvas, suggests film should do likewise with its canvas.
    8. 8. Noel Caroll • One of the first theorists to question the premise upon which the others quoted in this presentation defined cinema e.g. That which is uniquely cinematic. • In many ways Caroll represents the advent of post-modernism which highlights the possibilities and fluidity between art forms.
    9. 9. Gerald Mast • Pointed to the importance of projected light as being uniquely cinematic. • This helps distinguish film from TV, painting and theatre • Stanley Cavell took this further by pointing out that unlike theatre in which the audience is present for the cast, cinema renders the audience absent mechanically and automatically.
    10. 10. Cavell Continued... • Enforced invisibility of audience...does this provide an absence of responsibility that the audience revels in? • In viewing film we view a magically reproduced world whilst remaining invisible to it. Is film essentially voyeuristic and pornographic? (It permits a sexual intimacy with its stars...see FEMINIST theory)
    11. 11. Cavell- Genre & Medium • Suggests that issues of genre and the filmic medium itself is inseparable • Classical Hollywood world consisted of 3 media: • The Military Man- Conquers evil for sake of society (James Stewart, Gary Cooper) • The Dandy- Pursues his own interests, values and self-respect (John Wayne) • The Woman- Attracting men like flames attract moths (Greta Garbo)
    12. 12. Post 1952 • With the collapse of The Hollywood Studio System in 1952, many critics claim that this enabled the art form to be free of its formulaic, restrictive generic structure.
    13. 13. Christian Metz • Suggests that visual qualities are regarded as having primary importance within most cultures whilst aural qualities are considered of secondary significance. • Think back to your TOK lesson on sensory perception. How many of you voted for sight as the most important sense?
    14. 14. Russian Formalists... • Eisenstein & Pudovkin agreed that sound was an important new resource in film but believed it would undermine the achievement of montage. • They suggest the use of only non- synchronous sound (orchestra) rather than naturalistic sound (dialogue).
    15. 15. Mary Ann Doane- Psycholanalysis • Explores the pleasures inherent in the use of sound for cinematic audiences. • She points to the voice-over (a sense of authority) as relates to the documentary form. (Speaks directly to the audience) • But ultimately suggests that the voice, like the image is an instrument of patriarchal order.
    16. 16. Marxism • Marxists theorists tend to suggest that the concealment of the medium (the apparatus of film) in favour of suspending disbelief is ultimately ideological.
    17. 17. John Ellis- Television • However, for TV, sound is the dominant force. Often in TV, the visual image plays only an illustrative role. Think how often you can watch TV whilst doing other things. I can prepare TOK lessons by listening to documentaries whilst typing my lesson plan simultaneously. e.g. Not watching the film • TV is a regime of the glance not the gaze • See also John Fiske’s work on Segmentation and Flow