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Contemporary Film Theory
Transcript of Contemporary Film Theory
• developed in the 1970-80s associated with critical theory which analyses film from a psychoanalytical stand point.
• The viewer is identified as the subject of the ‘gaze’ what is constructed by the text.
• What is on screen (mise en scene and framing) is the object of the subject’s desire.
• Identification is normally through the male protagonist for the subject / viewer.
• The theory argues that the film seems to offer a completeness to the subject / viewer, although this is always an illusion (as films are merely constructions of reality).
Psychoanalytic Film Theorists
• Jacques Lacan (French - Freudian - Philosopher 1901-1981)
• The main idea is that the theory deconstructs both the spectacle of cinema and the elements of film, which are both shaped by the unconscious.
• The unconscious has been broken down into four areas:
• The Filmmaker’s Unconscious
• The Character’s Unconscious
• The Audience’s Unconscious
• The Unconsciousness of Cinematic Discourse.
• It is also worth looking at Freudian theory in relation to this.
Feminist Film theory
the representations of the female gender
representation of female characters
the status of women in the film industry
A feminist film focuses upon the female gender and experiences of women, rather than merely has a female lead star
Feminist film theorists
• Laura Mulvey - ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1975)
• Mulvey discusses the ‘Male Gaze’ - mainstream cinema is constructed around a series of ‘gazes’ for male pleasure.
• This includes the characterisation, the camerawork and the narratives.
• Females are objectified for the (sexual) pleasure of the male viewer.
Contemporary Film Theory
• Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848.
• He believed that the history of society was based on class struggles and materialism
• Capitalism is an evil and corrupting force
• The Government should protect its people, not oppress them.
. Although Marx never went to the movies, Marxism has significantly affected filmmaking by politically committed directors such as Sergei Eisenstein and Jean-Luc Godard or politically committed film "movements" such as French New Wave and Brazilian Cinema Novo
• Marxist film theory is in opposition to traditional Hollywood narrative structure
. was opposed to a singular protagonist, but was in favour of group decision making
. Marxist film theory can also encode political views, with a belief that Hollywood promotes capitalism by drawing you into the propaganda/ marketing. For example, a shot reverse shot is devised to make the viewer align with the character/commercial ideology.
• The individual can make a difference to the world, a group can change the world
• The individual can improve themselves, by being part of a group
• Good will triumph and effort will be rewarded
• The criminal returns to the scene of the crime and evil will be exposed
• Corruption exists in isolated cases
• Everyone is equal --> basic idea of feminism film theory
Marxism and Film
• Post Colonialism = the relationship between nations/ areas that have been ruled / colonised.
• refers to the time after the period of colonialism, (mainly through flashbacks).
• It is often controversial and relates to identity politics.
• addresses identity matters, race, racism, ethnicity and gender.
• It deals with resistance, conflict, challenges to western schools of thought (including religion and law, creativity/ capitalism and spirituality).
Postcolonialism and Race Studies in Film
Queer Theory 1
Are you queer? • Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant.
A field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s by Judith Butler
Explores and challenges the way in which heterosexuality is constructed as normal
Challenges the traditionally held assumptions that there is an oppositional divide between being homosexual and heterosexual
Suggests sexual identity is more fluid.
Queer Film Theory
Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean
An ironic and over the top performance
Overly elaborate costume and eye make-up
Uses feminine and camp gestures
Not what we would consider ‘macho’
Queer Theory 2
Suggests gender is not the result of nature, but is
Male and female behaviour roles are not the result of biology but are constructed and
reinforced by society through media and culture.
Sees gender as a PERFORMANCE.
She argues that there are a number of exaggerated representations of masculinity and femininity which cause ―gender trouble.