What is Film Theory?

What is Film Theory?

Richard Rushton, Gary Bettinson

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0335234232

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"... authoritative, always engaged, and grounded in the detailed study of well chosen films. This is an exceptionally useful introduction, and good to read."
Professor James Donald, The University of New South Wales, Australia

This engaging and accessible book explores major debates in contemporary film theory, providing a detailed introduction to the central arguments advanced by film theorists since the 1960s.

What is Film Theory? outlines the discipline's key theoretical concepts, perspectives, and traditions, and critically examines the assertions posited by exemplary film theorists and philosophers of film. A step-by-step approach to these issues guides the reader through the central topics of film theory.

Beginning with a discussion of structuralism and semiotics, and moving through debates on psychoanalysis, feminism, Screen theory, and cultural studies, the authors then examine the perspectives of 'post-theory', cognitivism, and historical poetics, as well as recent developments such as audience research and the 'cinema of attractions'.

Analysis of the major theories is supported with detailed and wide-ranging case studies of particular films, including Singin' in the Rain, The Searchers, Tout va bien, Jaws, Do the Right Thing, Brokeback Mountain, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. These case studies are accompanied by a series of illustrative film and production stills.

What is Film Theory? is indispensable reading for all students of Film and Media Studies, as well as for general readers interested in the debates which have defined film theory.

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subjects, such as those whose voices are separated from their bodies, are wrong, improper, and incorrect subjects who are doomed to failure, as indeed is Lina Lamont. Proper subjects, the kinds of transcendental subjects Baudry suggests are central to Hollywood spectatorship, are instead like Don, Cosmo or Kathy: self-sufficient, self-defining, and naturally successful individuals who effortlessly control their situations. Such subjects come up with quite extraordinary solutions to problems: when

crystallize as shooting progresses. (Dog Bite Dog typified this practice; during shooting, Cheang's scriptwriters would be on standby to chip in dialogue and iron out plot wrinkles.) He also eschews storyboards in favour of a more spontaneous shooting method, preferring to figure out camera set-ups by 'instinctively' reacting to the specific features of setting and location. These ways of proceeding are part of what a poetics regards as craft traditions, or practices, and although most Hong Kong

neoformalism are apt to celebrate both the ingenuity of the film-maker and the enduring appeals of particular traditions. Glossary Defamiliarization: The 'making strange' of the habitual and everyday. Defamiliarization pertains to the artwork's capacity to renew perception by affording 'familiar' phenomena unusual prominence. If ordinary perception becomes habitualized through everyday routine, the defamiliarizing artwork refreshes and sharpens perception somehow (e.g., by wrenching familiar

the whole film. Initially she embodies a host of affirmative traits, chiefly affection and compassion, e.g., her maternal stance toward Toby, her apparent sympathy for Todd's withered wife (articulated in the song 'Poor Thing'), and so forth. By the end of the film, personality traits of a far less desirable sort are brought to the fore. Our moral evaluation of Mrs Lovett has changed, but crucially it has not changed in response to shifts in character psychology or morality. Rather, Mrs Lovett's

to be ones with which we engage. Sobchack writes: The direct engagement, then, between spectator and film in the film experience cannot be considered a monologic one between a viewing subject and a viewed object. Rather, it is a dialectical engagement of two viewing subjects who also exist as visible objects... Both film and spectator are capable of viewing and of being viewed, both are embodied in the world as the subject of vision and object for vision. (1992: 23) This might sound a little bit

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