Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2009-12-16
  • Publisher: Routledge

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What is the relationship between the cinema and the spectator? Renowned film scholars Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener use this central question for film theory in order to guide students through all of the major film theories-from the classical period to today-in this brief, insightful, and engaging book. Every kind of cinema (and every kind of film theory) presupposes an ideal spectator, and then imagines a certain relationship between the mind and body of that spectator and the screen. Using seven distinctive configurations of spectator and screen that move from "exterior" to "interior" relationships, the authors retrace the most important stages of film theory from the 1920s onwards, with special attention paid to theories since 1945, from neo-realist and modernist theories to psychoanalytic, apparatus, phenomenological, and cognitivist theories, while also offering an incisive extension of film theory through the senses into the digital age.Each chapter opens with a paradigmatic scene from a well-known film to introduce key concepts, and outlines the major schools of thought and theorists attached to a particular film theory. The films discussed combine classics of cinema such as Rear Window and The Searchers with contemporary films including Donnie Darko and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind . Film stills throughout provide a visual key to unlock challenging theoretical concepts.

Author Biography

Thomas Elsaesser is Professor of Film and Television Studies in the Department of Art and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. A renowned film scholar, he is the author and editor of many books, including Weimar Cinema and After, also published by Routledge. Malte Hagener is Associate Professor of Media Studies at the Leuphana Universitt Lneburg. He has written Moving Forward, Looking Back: The European Avant-garde and the Invention of Film Culture, 1919-1939 and edited many volumes, including Cinephilia: Movies, Love, and Memory.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: film theory, cinema, the body and the sensesp. 1
Cinema as window and framep. 13
Rear Window
Open and closed film forms (Leo Braudy)
Classical cinema
Central perspective
Rudolf Arnheim
Sergej Eisenstein
André Bazin
David Bordwell
Cinema as shop-window and display
Cinema as door - screen and thresholdp. 35
The Searchers
Entry into the film
Etymology of screen
Thresholds of the cinema/movie theater
Beginnings: credits and credit sequences
Neo-formalism (Bordwell/Thompson)
Post-structuralism (Thierry Kuntzel)
Michail Bachtin
Door/screen as filmic motif in Buster Keaton and Woody Allen
Cinema as mirror and facep. 55
Béla Balázs
The close-up
The face
Face as mirror of the unconscious
Christian Metz
Jean-Louis Baudry
Early cinema and the close-up (Tom Gunning)
Reflexive doubling in modern (art) cinema
Mirror neurons
Paradoxes of the mirror
Cinema as eye - look and gazep. 82
Blade Runner
Active and passive eye
The mobile eye of early cinema
Dziga Vertov
Laura Mulvey
Feminist film theories
The Silence of the Lambs
Historicity of modes of perception
Regimes of the gaze
The big Other (Jacques Lacan)
Slavoj Äi ek
The panoptic gaze (Michel Foucault)
Niklas Luhmann and self-monitoring
Cinema as skin and touchp. 108
Critique of "ocularcentrism"
Skin and identity
The New world
Vivian Sobchack
The (re-)turn to the body
Avant-garde practices
Body and genre (Linda Williams, Barbara Creed)
The skin of film (Laura Marks)
Accented cinema (Hamid Naficy)
Siegfried Kracauer
Cinema as ear - acoustics and spacep. 129
Singin' in the Rain
Sound as spatial phenomenon
Silent cinema and the introduction of sounds
Sound in classical cinema
The acousniętre (Michel Chion)
Reversals in the hierarchy of image and sound
Materiality and plasticity of sound
Cinema as brain - mind and bodyp. 149
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Propaganda and cult films
Five concepts for connecting mind and cinema
Gilles Deleuze
Annette Michelson
Torben Grodal
Mind-game films
Mind and body, spectator and film
Embodiment and disembodied vision
Conclusion: digital cinema-the body and the senses refigured?p. 170
Toy story
Animation and (photo-)graphics
The future of projection
Screens: bigger and smaller
The new body norm: face or hand?
Productive contradictions: digital cinema, virtual reality, media convergence
Interface and portal instead of window, door and screen
Monsters Inc. and doors
Public and private
Mobility and hybridity
Film theory and philosophy: radical reformulations or rescue missions?
Notesp. 188
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 214
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