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Transcript of Deconstructing Hollywood
Discourse, Ideology & the Media
Today we'll consider:
Content and Form
Some ideological assumptions about the Classical Hollywood style
Some Non-Hollywood examples
The 'content' (i.e. the depiction of the myth of Persephone) is the same, but the execution (the 'form') is quite different.
Greek vase circa 440BCE
Dante Garbriel Rossetti 1874
'Persephone' Monica Belluci, 'Matrix Reloaded', 2003
: encourages us to look at WHAT the text is about.
: encourages us to look a HOW that content is expressed.
Some Ideological Assumptions
Battleship Potemkin (Dir: Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERS ARE USUALLY THE CAUSAL AGENTS – in the Hollywood style we typically rely upon (male) heroes to lead us through the story. Early Soviet cinema did something else by creating the 'people' as the hero.
PATTERNS OF DEVELOPMENT or Hermeneutic Code
And 'order restored' is often signified in terms of a successful heterosexual courtship.
Pretty Woman (Dir: Garry Marshall, 1990)
TECHNIQUE IS SUBORDINATED TO THE NEED TO CONVEY STORY INFORMATION
Normally the process of film making (editing, camera, sound) does not draw attention to itself. Thus the viewer is easily able to construct a coherent and consistent time and space for the narrative.
Casablanca (Dir: Michael Curtiz, 1942)
Tends to begin with an establishing shot
An axis of action is maintained (180º Rule)
Shot/Reverse Shot pattern used.
Tends to cut on action.
Tends to match production design/lighting etc.
EDITING is one of the main components of a film's stylistic system. Hollywood developed the CONTINUITY EDITING style. (Remember the
tendency to subordinate technique to the need to convey story information.
Rules of Continuity Editing
Barbarella (Dir: Roger Vadim, 1968)
Uses Hollywood rules of continuity editing to unproblematically represent space and time through establishing shots, shot/reverse shot pattern, cuts on action.
However, for some the
‘seamlessness’ of continuity editing makes it ideologically suspect because it hands audiences a pre-determined meaning to the film text. Audiences don’t have to work to make meaning and so they are ‘hoodwinked’ into uncritically accepting what they are shown.
Un Chien Andalou (Dir: Salvador Dali & Luis Bunuel, 1929)
A film which goes to some lengths to create an INCOHERENT space for the viewer.
There is no hero.
There are no patterns of development.
Technique is discontinuous - graphic matching is reason enough to cut.
Viewers are forced to create their own meaning.
Coherent, seamless and unambiguous.
Last Year in Marienbad (Dir: Alain Resnais, 1961)
Uses techniques of continuity editing but then undercuts them. Still rejects Hollywood rules because overall the film refuses to present its narrative unambiguously.
The TEMPORAL ORDER of the narrative is unclear which forces the audience to actively try to make sense of it.
Mise en scene is full of paintings, mirrors, false perspectives. The film begins and ends with the characters watching the stage. Can we believe what we are shown?
…a masterpiece of perceptual prestidigitation…”
(Monaco, 1978, p.53)
The characters have no names. He is X. She is A. Her husband (?) is M.
You could argue that Hollywood through its closed system of codes and conventions, perpetuates the dominant ideological system which sees the white, heterosexual male as the valued hero of society.
The non-Hollywood style is less uniform and harder to pinpoint ideologically... but hinges on leaving a more open text from which audiences are forced to construct their own meaning.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948, Max Ophuls)