This chapter is the third of three devoted to analysis of film’s stylistics, and seeks, in its attention to sound and music, to redress an ocular bias that is still apparent in some discussions of film. The first of four analytical sections identifies and evaluates the diverse soundtracks that accompanied purportedly ‘silent’ film. Next, discussion turns to the fraught debates occasioned by the coming of synchronised sound in the late 1920s. The following section sets out various vocabularies that have emerged for analysis of film sound, and assesses the advantages and deficiencies of each. The last of the substantive sections is devoted to film music, tracking some of its global and historical variations and evaluating attempts to conceptualise it that range from the psychoanalytic through the cognitivist to the Marxist. A concluding case study of The Great Gatsby (2013) explores the implications of the film’s experiments not only with music (both diegetic and non-diegetic) but with voiceover, dialogue and sound effects also.
This chapter is divided into three main sections. The first traces economically the emergence of film as a medium in the late nineteenth century, noting its entanglement with many other forms of visual culture (not least the magic lantern). It is also observed that film’s current status as an object of analysis is complicated by digital developments. The second section turns to the emergence of film studies itself, briefly plotting the discipline’s consolidation from patchy beginnings in the first half of the twentieth century. The third section outlines the intentions of this book, summarises its structure and contents, and considers a number of questions readers may have as they begin work in film studies (for example, regarding the specialist, sometimes demanding terminology of film studies or how an increasing engagement with this discipline may affect the immersive experience important to many spectators when watching movies).
This chapter aims to introduce readers to approaches and terms essential for the analysis of film’s visual components. It begins by discussion of the term ‘mise-en-scène’, defined as everything that the spectator sees on screen. The chapter then considers in turn each of the ‘pro-filmic’ elements of mise-en-scène: i.e. those things that contribute to a shot’s visual effects but exist prior to the camera’s intervention: setting, props, lighting, costume, and acting or performance. The section that follows itemises and evaluates the attributes of cinematography itself: i.e. shot distance; the height, angle and level of the camera; masking of the lens; the camera’s movement; and focus. A further section considers the history, aesthetics and politics of colour in film. Finally, a sequence from 12 Years a Slave (2013) is offered as a case study in the analysis of mise-en-scène.
While the emergence of stars postdates the emergence of film itself as a medium, they have long been central to its economic prospects and to the cultural and ideological work it does. Hence this chapter introduces and evaluates a number of critical approaches to stardom. It begins by acknowledging the star’s commercial dimension and goes on to explore the political economy of stardom. The two interrelated sections that follow consider star personas, assessing first their elasticity or otherwise, then their relationship to historical contexts (what does a given star’s rise or fall tell us about his or her culture?). Subsequent discussion draws upon psychoanalysis and gender studies in order to consider the complex dynamics that obtain between the star and the spectator. So as to decentralise the Hollywood version of stardom, comparisons follow first with stardom in other filmmaking cultures (including Bollywood), then in such fields as music and sport. The chapter’s concluding case study is of the stardom of Jennifer Lawrence.
After reviewing current controversies concerning the classification of games and sports as art, this chapter argue that these can be considered art using newly revised definitions of artistic expressiveness and intentionality. In particular, within a framework of artistic participation and concreativity guided by algorithmic design, the claim that games and play are not art is precisely the claim required for games and game play, upon occasion (and somewhat randomly), to be art.
The nascent field of game studies has raised questions that, so far, that field has been unable to answer. Among these questions is a foundational one: What is a game? Despite the widespread appeal of games, despite the rise of digital games as a global cultural phenomenon, vexing problems persistently confront those who design, play, and think about games. How do we reconcile a videogame industry's insistence that games positively affect human beliefs and behaviors with the equally prevalent assumption that games are “just games”? How do we reconcile accusations that games make us violent and antisocial and unproductive with the realization that games are a universal source of human joy? In Games are not, David Myers demonstrates that these controversies and conflicts surrounding the meanings and effects of games are not going away; they are essential properties of the game's paradoxical aesthetic form. Buttressed by more than three decades of game studies scholarship, Myers offers an in-depth examination of games as objects of leisure, consumption, and art. Games are not focuses on games writ large, bound by neither by digital form nor by cultural interpretation. Interdisciplinary in scope and radical in conclusion, Games are not positions games as unique objects evoking a peculiar and paradoxical liminal state – a lusory attitude – that is essential to human creativity, knowledge, and sustenance of the species
This chapter examines the fate of belief in games and game play. There are those who claim that some beliefs are so resolute that it is difficult, if not impossible, to disbelieve them. Given the nature of games and game play, this chapter argues otherwise. Under the influence of a lusory attitude, under the influence of the rules of a game, it is not only common and possible for game players to disbelieve otherwise resolute beliefs, it is equally common and possible for game players to disbelieve that it is possible to disbelieve otherwise resolute beliefs.
As digital games and game play have become increasingly popular and widespread, the products of digital games have become increasingly profitable, and digital game design has become increasingly influenced by the digital game industry. Given these circumstances, it is tempting to view digital games and game play as consumer products subject to conventional market forces of supply and demand. This chapter explains how digital games and game play avoid market valuations and how a lusory attitude, in particular, resists commodification.
This chapter explains how and why games are paradoxical in a thorough examination of the notions of Bernard Suits (1978), who has offered the clearest and most pointed definition of games and game rules available, but who has also offered a flawed set of conclusions regarding the non-paradoxy of games. This chapter reiterates Suits’ emphasis of the importance of game rules and repudiates his disallowance of game paradoxy in favor of non-paradoxical and cooperative game play.
A fundamental misconception concerning games is that games are communicative -- much like language is communicative -- conveying an intentional message from game designer to game player. This misconception is oft championed by those who wish to position games and game play as rhetorical tools with persuasive consequences. Yet this misconception does not fare well in confrontation with the irascible and paradoxical nature of games and game play. Game rules tend to undermine and subvert intentional game design, and game players tend to prioritize and exhibit expressive play that undermines and subverts any supposed communicative intent of game designers.