Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen & Leo Braudy - Film Theory and Criticism ~ Introductory Readings (Fourth Ed.) - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or view. Film theory and criticism: introductory readings / edited by Leo Braudy, Marshall Cohen. th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Title: Film theory and criticism: introductory readings / edited by Leo DUDLEY ANDREW Concepts in Film Theory by Andrew () from "Adapta-.
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MACS // Film Theory and Criticism Dr. Alicia Kozma // [email protected] Fall // Wednesday pm – pm // Armory COURSE DESCRIPTON . Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. 6th edition. All other readings listed below will be available as Portable Document Format (PDF) files via. Download the Book:Film Theory And Criticism PDF For Free, Preface: Since publication of the first edition in , Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen's Fi.
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If you or someone you know have been a victim of discrimination or harassment, contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access [ You are allowed two 2 unexcused absences. If you miss attendance at the beginning of class it is your responsibility to let me know at the break or at the end of class that you are, indeed, present.
I do not provide notes for any class sessions you may have missed. It is your responsibility to get them from another student in the class. It is also your responsibility to make-up any missed screenings. All readings on the syllabus are required. All readings are subject to change. If any reading is changed I will let you know in advance. In a class on film theory, a particularly strong emphasis will be placed on discussing the readings.
You must come to class prepared to discuss the readings. If it is clear that students are not completing the readings, then we will have weekly reading quizzes to ensure that is the case. I consider audio-visual material no different than information from readings and lectures.
If you use technology during any screening, you will be asked to leave class and counted as absent for the day. If you are unable to stay awake during screenings you will be asked to leave class and counted as absent for the day. You may eat snacks etc. Missed Screenings: Screenings missed for any reason must be made up. Every screening that is not made up reduces your final grade by 5 points. A screening can only be made up by first by seeing the film s on course reserve at the undergraduate library and second, by writing three 3 pages, on a topic I provide you for EACH film missed.
Make up papers are due via email to me by the start of the next class meeting. There are no exceptions to this policy outside of a note from the emergency dean or a doctor specifying the exact date being excused.
Assignments: Your course grade is based out of points. To fully earn those points, you must satisfactorily complete the assignments on time. I do not accept late assignments.
I do not accept any assignment by email unless explicitly approved by me ahead of time. All assignments are due on the assigned dates and times unless otherwise stated by me. If you fail to turn in any assignment on time, you will receive a zero for that assignment grade. They may also include religious themes.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, These disruptions are what Bellour refers to as 'Centre A' and 'Centre B', while a third disruption occurs at the end of the scene. What does Bellour discover as a result of these disruptions?
During the period of the scene which Bellour calls 'Centre A', Melanie enters Mitch's house - without Mitch seeing this - to secretly deliver the lovebirds. The most effective shot in Centre A is shot 33 Figure 1.
Why is this? There are three reasons. Shot 33 is significant first of all because it disrupts the rhythm of parallel montage; it occurs where we would expect to see a shot of 'what Melanie sees', but it is not a shot of what Melanie sees. Second, the shot is disruptive because it is a close-up shot, so that where we would typically expect a distant shot of 'what Melanie sees' we are instead confronted with a close-up.
Finally, the shot also introduces, in close-up, Melanie's gloves, a factor that will become more significant at the end of the sequence. Bellour identifies another significant moment during what he calls 'Centre B'. As Melanie now, once again in the boat, makes her way back away from Mitch's house, the alternation of 'Melanie seeing' and 'what Melanie sees' resumes. However, this is again disrupted when Mitch notices her. The most disruptive shot is shot 57 Figure 1. Again, the shot is significant for being a close-up which breaks the binary scheme of 'Melanie seeing' close shot and 'what Melanie sees' distant shot.
It is a shot of what Melanie sees, but it also a shot of Mitch seeing. Now that Mitch has recognized her, he is determined to get to the other side of the bay in order to catch Melanie. He jumps into a car and speeds around the edge of the bay in order to greet her as she arrives back at the pier. What follows is another series of alternating shots, 'Melanie seeing' and 'what Melanie sees' - and what Melanie sees is Mitch's car racing around the bay - as both protagonists make their ways back to the pier.
At the end of the sequence Melanie is attacked by a seagull and Bellour pays very particular attention to the way in which this event disrupts the alternating pattern of editing.
In shot 77 Figure 1. This does not so much disrupt the pattern of editing as it replaces Mitch with a seagull. The following shot 78; Figure 1. The inference Bellour makes is that, insofar as Mitch has been replaced by the seagull, we can presume that, within the logic of the film, the seagull represents Mitch attacking Melanie. Finally, shot 82 Figure 1.
Now Melanie's looking is not at someone or somewhere else, but is instead her looking at herself: she has become the object of the look - both her look and Mitch's look. Bellour notes that 'she sees herself; and if she does not see Mitch, preoccupied as she is with her wound, she knows that she is seen' Bellour a: The point Bellour wants to argue from this is that Melanie is punished for her looking, and for her forwardness in approaching Mitch.
At the same time, his decision to base his analysis on such an intricate picking apart of a series of shots also makes his argument remarkably convincing. Bellour's analysis remains a stark reminder of the potential complexities of meaning that can be discovered in films.
One cannot doubt that he uncovers a quite stunning system of 'story pictures' in this scene. Today, however, many scholars - Bellour included see Bellour ; b - are sceptical that a shot-by-shot analysis can account for the ways in which viewers typically respond to and make sense of films.
Films are, after all, images that move, and draining the movement from cinema cancels out much of what is important to the experience of movie-going. However, with recent technologies such as video and DVD, the ability for film scholars to analyse films in great detail is now a widespread availability and present-day scholars could certainly gain immensely from the detailed methods used by Bellour in his classic analyses.
His analysis of a small fragment of The Birds represents a methodical utilization of structuralist methodologies applied to a cinematic example. Lincoln' Published in Cahiers du cinema, ; translation printed in B.
Nichols ed. All references to the text refer to the latter translation. John Ford's film, Young Mr. Lincoln , was a relatively unsuccessful film upon its initial release, yet the editors of the highly regarded French journal, Cahiers du cinema, in felt the film important enough to devote a long, intricate and very influential article to it.
In the wake of the events of May student protests and a general strike in France which nearly brought down the government , Cahiers du cinema had become earnestly Marxist and believed its task was to discover the ways that films which support capitalism - implicitly or explicitly - could be distinguished from those which undermine it - again, whether such undermining was implicit or explicit see Comolli and Narboni For these authors, Young Mr.
Lincoln is an example of a film which appears on the surface to support capitalism and other conservative points of view, yet which, on closer inspection, reveals the limitations and problems of that system.
But what constitutive faults does the Lincoln myth cover over? It hides, according to the Cahiers authors, the fact that young Lincoln founds his power and derives his success by renouncing love and pleasure. In doing so, the authors argue, Young Mr.
Lincoln points as much to a critique of the capitalist system as it does to a condonation of it. Like Bellour's 'System of a Fragment', the Cahiers article is long, detailed, exhausting and to some extent exhaustive. They begin with a series of hasty historical determinants: Young Mr. Lincoln is released in , at a time when a Democrat has been President of the United States since The film therefore should, the authors infer, be committed to supporting the Republican cause against the Democratic Party, for Hollywood is big business, and the Republicans in simple terms by this time had become the supporters of big business in opposition to the Democratic Party's defence of big government.
The Cahiers authors write that 'As a product of the capitalist system and of its ideology, [Hollywood cinema's] role is in turn to produce the one and thereby to help the survival of the other' And furthermore, Lincoln, of course, was a Republican.
Braudy Leo, Cohen Marshall. Film Theory and Criticism
The authors define another historical level: Young Mr. Lincoln is released at a specific historical juncture - - but it is also about a specific and very well-known historical figure: Abraham Lincoln. With this in mind, they determine that the topic of the film is 'the reformulation of the Lincoln myth on the level of myth and the eternal' Therefore, this film should be trying to depict Lincoln as mythical, as the carrier of an eternal myth of the greatness of Republican policies.
Unlike Bellour, who analyses only a short scene in his discussion of The Birds, the Cahiers editors try to account for the whole of Young Mr. In accordance with the principles of structuralism, they try to account for the meanings of specific scenes and episodes in terms of how they relate to other scenes and episodes in the film.
In doing so, they discover what they believe is the underlying structure of the film. Precisely what they discover is fleshed out in three distinct ways: 1. A series of oppositions which Lincoln resolves. The renunciation of desire; in the end, the Cahiers editors find Lincoln himself to be lacking in power; instead he is merely the channel for a form of power greater than he.
We shall examine these points one at a time. Such capacities for the resolution of conflict - of knowing the correct answer - are demonstrated in the film's very first scene: the poem which opens the film. This poem, adopting the voice of Lincoln's deceased mother, asks what became of her son, Abe.
Did he grow tall? Did he get to town? The poem thus directs questions towards the viewer - what will become of Abe? Thus the film enacts, from its very outset, what the authors call a feigned indecisiveness: the film pretends not to know the answers to questions for which there are answers, answers that we already know.
The answers to questions or problems raised by the film therefore come to be experienced as problems that have destined solutions, answers that are inscribed by destiny, almost as if by magic. The Cahiers authors call this the film's ideological function: the destined, automatic, natural greatness of Lincoln.
They are a solution to the farming family's inability to pay for goods this family later becomes central to the narrative. He chooses his career - will he stay in the village, or leave to become a lawyer?
The case of the plaintiffs - a dispute over property - is resolved by Lincoln without his having to choose between the two sides in the case.
Instead, the Law chooses for him.
Again, a conflict or problem is magically resolved. In the pie judging contest, Lincoln's moment of choosing is elided in order that he never be seen to choose.
Rather, it is destiny which always makes his choices for him and which chooses him. In the murder case around which the film's central narrative unfolds, Lincoln steadfastly refuses to choose between the two defendants. The solution to the murder trial is magically pulled out of Lincoln's hat, like the proverbial magician's rabbit. The almanac which charts the movements of the heavens reveals the answer, as if to again prove that Lincoln finds the solutions to problems by way of predestined, eternal forces.
Therefore, this is an important factor - predestination; of never having to choose - that shapes the film. These are elements in the film which are hinted at - slavery, politics, sexuality - but which are then covered over.
And yet, even though these concepts are made absent from the film, they nevertheless exert a force over it. First of all, the film signals its preference for morality over and above politics, and politics becomes a structuring absence. When Lincoln, in his electoral speech near the beginning of the film, signals his preference for Republican policies - protectionism and a national bank - these policies play no further role. Rather, any politics is replaced by a commitment to the Law established in moral terms: the difference between right and wrong.
And again, the basis of this morality is one in which Lincoln will not have to choose, for the moral differences between right and wrong are, for this film, eternal and predestined. There is only one brief moment in the film when Lincoln mentions slavery, a political issue central to his presidency and the origins of the Republican Party.
But as this issue is one of division, it is also made into one of the film's structuring absences so that emphasis can be put on Lincoln's powers of unity: the film refuses to exhibit Lincoln as a potentially divisive political figure in favour of his moral powers of uniting the nation behind an eternal, predestined, Republican morality.
The Cahiers authors then expand this reading to incorporate structuring of Law in the film.
It is invariably associated with the figure of Lincoln's mother. Yet Lincoln's mother is absent her only words are those of the poem spoken from beyond the grave. However, the absent mother is replaced by a number of figures throughout the film: Ann Rutledge Lincoln's 'true love' and the mother of the two defendants, Mrs Clay. Significantly, it is from these characters that he receives the impetus to follow the Law: beside Ann's grave he makes the decision to go into the Law, and it is from Mrs Clay that he first receives Blackstone's commentaries.
Law, the film seems to be saying, is something that happens in nature, by virtue of nature, and at the origin of which is the figure of woman. The association between Lincoln, women and his mother, becomes more important insofar as, following the death of Ann, Lincoln shies away from all sexual desire. Source: Courtesy Kobal Collection. Twentieth-Century Fox. The river, of course, is associated with Ann: the absent woman-mother demonstrates her force by denying Lincoln any sexual desire.
Renunciation of desire Lincoln's renunciation of sexual desire opens onto one of the Cahiers authors' most controversial claims: that Lincoln 'does not have the phallus, he is the phallus' Drawing upon theories from Lacanian psychoanalysis see Lacan b , the authors argue that Lincoln is both castrating he has the phallus , but also castrated is the phallus.
In other words, the film tries to establish Lincoln's masculine power - on various occasions, he calls on his brute strength in order to quell disquiet: in order to keep the plaintiffs from coming to blows; he demonstrates his strength at the rail-splitting contest; and he has the power to disperse the mob when they try to attack the prison. These are all examples of Lincoln's castrating power. At all times, these forces are derived from women: the Law itself is passed to him by women, while his ultimate triumph in the trial is delivered to him by way of the almanac given him by Mrs Clay the almanac also doubling as a force of nature.
From this perspective, Lincoln is merely a conduit for a feminine Law, a Law which positions him as castrated, and thus, desexualized.
Lincoln's position as both castrating and castrated is the central point on which the Cahiers authors base their claim that Young Mr. Lincoln reveals the limitations of its own capitalist ideology.
The figure of Lincoln can only totter between ineffectual powerlessness - as a mere channel through which an eternal, feminine, Republican Law manifests itself - or an irrational and threatening violence whose threat of force is the last resort of the Law. At the end of the film, the authors argue, 'he is an intolerable figure' Figure 1.
The Cahiers article remains one of the most influential in the history of film theory. Extraordinary for its use of structuralist methods in delving beneath the surface text of the film, the article also courted controversy for its too heavy reliance on Lacanian psychoanalysis.
Nevertheless, the article remains a landmark one for pointing out the possible underlying structures of a film that give rise to cultural and political meanings. All references are to the latter reprint.
Lincoln was published in , Brian Henderson's article on another of John Ford's films, The Searchers , was published over 10 years later, in Henderson is also one of the foremost contributors to debates over the Cahiers article, to the point where he claims that, in its methodology, it presents a critique of the application of structuralism to the study of cinema see Henderson ; Where Bellour's analysis of The Birds is by and large free from a consideration of historical circumstances, and where the Cahiers' analysis takes into account a limited acknowledgement of historical factors, Brian Henderson's reading is very much concerned with questions of history.
In many ways his article is an attempt to account for the specific historical period in which The Searchers was produced and released. Twentieth Century-Fox. Already we might begin to see some evidence of a structuralist methodology in Henderson's article: where on the surface The Searchers is a film about conflict between white Americans and North American Indians, at a deeper level - at the level of structure - the film's significance lies in its being a tale of conflict between white and black Americans.
One might call black Americans a 'structuring absence' in The Searchers. At one level, Henderson openly notes the similarity between the content of The Searchers and the kinds of topics studied by anthropologists like Levi-Strauss: kinship, race, marriage and tribal relations. Debbie is a white woman who has been 'adopted' by an Indian tribe, while Martin is a part-Indian, who has been adopted by a white family. Thus, the film might be seen as one in which there is an exchange between races: what happens when a white person becomes integrated into an Indian tribe, and what happens when an Indian is assimilated into white society?
Henderson further complicates these questions by recasting the opposition between Indian and white at another level: the most fundamental opposition is that between being a relative by blood and being a relative by adoption. Neither Martin nor Debbie has the 'pure' blood of the societies in which they now live, so how do societies cope with members who are not of pure blood?
While the film itself deals with these questions, there is one character through whom these questions are profoundly and ambiguously articulated: Ethan Edwards John Wayne.
Ethan is deeply suspicious of Martin's presumed assimilation into the Edwards family. These suspicions are made evident by Ethan's reluctance to accept Martin at the family dinner table early in the film, and he pokes fun at Martin throughout the film, at times referring to him as a 'blankethead' or 'half breed'.
And yet, at one and the same time, he is not opposed to the idea of Martin's marriage to Laurie Jorgenson, the white daughter of a neighbouring family. With regard to Debbie, throughout the film Ethan is intent on murdering her, for her blood has been sullied by association with an Indian tribe. Yet again, at the end of the film, he spares Debbie and returns her to white society. In the character of Ethan is crystallized the dilemma of relations between Indians and whites in The Searchers.
Henderson argues, however, that The Searchers is a film about relations between Indians and whites only on its surface. The surface story serves to cover over the genuine dilemma that is at the film's core: relations between blacks and whites in US society. Why does Henderson think this? He reads the film in this way because, at the time when the film was being produced, one of the central political problems confronting American society was that concerning relations between blacks and whites.
More specifically, these issues were at the forefront of the national consciousness on account of the Supreme Court ruling, on May 17 , of the case of Brown vs The Board ofEducation ofTopeka. This decision had decreed that the segregation of black and white students in schools was unconstitutional, thus paving the way in general for the desegregation of US society.
Therefore, during - precisely the period in which The Searchers is being planned and produced - the issue of desegregation and of relations between blacks and whites was a heated public issue in the United States.
Henderson notes the important changes made to the script during this period , for there are very significant differences between the novel of The Searchers, written by Alan LeMay and published in , and the finished film version of the story. In the film Martin sneaks into the Indians' camp, kills their leader, Scar, and sets Debbie free. In the novel, however, he merely rides with the rest of the rangers and finds Debbie has already gone.
In the film, Ethan finds and rescues Debbie. In the novel, on the other hand, Ethan is killed in the final battle. Debbie, meanwhile, in not described in the novel as one of Scar's wives, while she is in the film. Finally, in the novel Martin tracks down Debbie and embraces her, as if to make love to her, in the novel's closing episode. Laurie Jorgenson, in the novel, has married another man Charlie McCorry quite some time before.
The film's ending is thus remarkably different from that of the novel. The film of The Searchers thus emphasizes the opposition between relations by blood and relations by adoption in ways that the novel does not. Ethan, for the most part, is intent on upholding relations by blood, which is the ground for his desire to kill Debbie and for his continued ridiculing of Martin. Ethan finds it tremendously difficult to acknowledge relations by adoption.
Therefore, argues Henderson, 'Ethan's insistence on literal blood lines in determining kinship, its privileges and obligations, is historically the position of the segregationist and white supremacist' Ethan's position thus accords with those sections of the American population opposed to the Brown decision and therefore opposed to recognizing the equality of blacks and whites. Henderson concludes: Racism was always immoral and undemocratic but Brown made some of its fundamental institutions illegal After Brown, opposing the possibility of kinship by adoption, affirming kinship by blood only, places one outside the law.
Thus Ethan's exclusion from the community at the end of the film is overdetermined by its unconscious structure. At the same time, however, for Henderson, not everything in the film can be neatly explained and contained within a unified whole. Rather, even if Ethan is revealed to be racist, or at the very least to be representative of southern American racist attitudes, he is nonetheless treated very sympathetically by the film.
He is, without question, the film's hero; he is not a hated figure, but is instead a figure of great affection, even if one acknowledges the difficult and even contradictory nature of his motives and beliefs. The sympathy we have for Ethan is one of the film's finest attributes, Henderson claims, and Ethan encapsulates the complexities and tensions of the debate around the Brown decision during the years of the mids in the United States.
Finally, The Searchers is ultimately still founded on an imbalance. The film effectively declares that it is acceptable for non-whites to be assimilated into white society - as occurs with Martin - but under no circumstances should the prospect of the white person's assimilation into nonwhite society be countenanced; i. Furthermore, for Martin to be accepted into white society he has to prove that he has renounced any ties he might have had with non-white society - he must prove himself 'as fully white'.
Lincoln, Henderson manages to unearth a wealth of delicate material from The Searchers. As with each of the articles examined in this chapter, the conclusions made by Henderson are not ones that rely on overt or necessarily 'conscious' understandings of the films or sequences in question. Rather, structuralism aims to uncover a deeper level of understanding, a level which might be at odds with our overt, conscious understandings of cinematic material.
Braudy Leo, Cohen Marshall. Film Theory and Criticism
Such findings are in accordance with the structuralist belief that the true, scientific nature of sign systems and systems of meaning are ones which lie beneath the surface of things, for it is only by delving beneath the surface that one can find the definitive ways in which things come to be structured.
The structuralist approach to film set the trend for the next 20 years or more in film theory. The quest to discover meanings in films which lay beneath the surface, the search for the structuring logic of a film which might be hidden inside it, obscured by the surface display, and the urge to uncover symbolic meanings which might be historically significant enough to constitute the covert structuring axioms of a film - these are the great contributions structuralism made to film theory.
Myth: The structuralist anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss developed a sophisticated theory of myths, declaring that myths are ways in which primitive societies find solutions to social divisions or problems which would otherwise be irresolvable. Roland Barthes extended Levi-Strauss's findings to contemporary societies, arguing that myths are ideological insofar as they render social contradictions neutral see Barthes Oedipus complex: Initially formulated by Sigmund Freud, one of the major complexes theorized by psychoanalysis.
Typically, from the male child's perspective, it describes the unconscious conflict played out by the child's love and desire for his mother and his hatred for his father, insofar as the father blocks the boy's desire for the mother.
The complex is 'dissolved' when the boy comes to realize that he must bow to his father's authority and allow his father priority over the mother's love.
Phallus: For Freud, and most importantly for Lacan, the phallus is a signifier, not an organ i. In a stage prior to the Oedipus complex, the child can 'be' the phallus in a quest to make up for the mother's lack of a penis; that is, the child can 'be' the phallus for the mother.
Following the phallic phase and the dissolution of the Oedipus complex, the phallus assumes the role of a signifier which positions the subject in relation to circuits of desire. Structuralism: An intellectual movement which tried to uncover the deep structures of social formations. A central tenet of the movement was that societies were not founded on specific, intrinsic truths, but instead were constructed out of systems of differences.
The movement built on the foundations of the linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure, who argued that languages were constructed by the system of differences between individual words. Then Genre Studies Theorists try to see if those themes mean something about the world or time in which they occurred. How is the damsel in distress used and subverted in the Action Genre?
Why is sex punished in horror films? Queer theory Queer Theory came about in the early s. Like Feminist Film, it breaks films down from the perspective of how they originated. By breaking this barrier down, queer theory can show the limitations of that model and work to undo the norm.
For more on Queer Theory, check out this breakdown from Film Reference. Plus, you could make a career out of it. Mine landed me at No Film School. Here are some other places where a good base of Film Theory. Professors If you went to Film School or took a Media Studies course in college you probably already know about this path.
Most Film Theorists are college professors. They teach all over the world and have a vast array of specialties. My favorite Professor in college recently wrote a book on Italian American portraits of Masculinity in Film and Television. The nice part here is you can find and chase your niche. Are you the person your friends go to before Rotten Tomatoes? Maybe a career in Film Criticism is right for your future.Just as the mirror unifies the fragmentary body of the child according to Lacan's theory of the mirror stage, so too does the cinema screen offer the spectator who gazes upon it a unity which is not typically found in reality.
You can comment on how the lighting changes the tone. In recent years, people have also used the clarification that both women must be named. In the time you spend disguising your plagiarism you could have just written your own work. As for my own research, any reader of my work knows that I draw upon theories and practices of literature, the visual arts, and music in trying to understand questions of cinema.
Narrational Principles and Procedures. I do not accept any assignment by email unless explicitly approved by me ahead of time.
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