This article argues that the central dimensions of film aesthetics may be explained
by a general theory of viewer psychology, the PECMA flow model. The PECMA flow model
explains how the film experience is shaped by the brain‘s architecture and the
operation of different cognitive systems; the model describes how the experience is
based on a mental flow from perception, through emotional activation and cognitive
processing, to motor action. The article uses the flow model to account for a variety
of aesthetic phenomena, including the reality-status of films, the difference between
narrative and lyrical-associative film forms, and the notion of ‘excess’.
tradition and trends over recent years, including the increasing
presence of feature filmaesthetics and entertainment values.
By the time JFK hit US cinemas in late 1991, Stone’s political filmmaking was the subject of op-ed pages in major national newspapers, not simply the province of independently-minded film critics.
The initial reception to the counter-mythic rendering of Kennedy’s
death constructed two opposing ranks almost immediately. In one
corner stood the media –primarily print journalists, but supported
by a few television commentators
. Armstrong’s updated
film was then transmitted on BBC Four in April 2005. This kind of
mixed-mode approach to a social issue has been exploited further in
‘Persuasive practice’ – American docudrama in the fourthphase
In its third phase docudrama demonstrated an accommodation to filmaesthetics and structures that many found worrying.
Specifically, ‘fiction film values’ seemed to be threatening, indeed
driving out, the values of documentary – hence the concerns of
media lawyers to which I drew attention in Chapter 2. But convergences both
area of filmaesthetics.
I will therefore focus my discussion on the sound effects of animality and wildness within these films, particularly the snarls, growls and howls of the wolf and the sound of bodily transformation, alongside the musical scores that accompany the werewolf. In particular, a close analysis of Universal's first werewolf film, Werewolf of London (Stuart Walker, USA, 1935 ), and John Landis's reimagining of the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London (also for Universal; 1981 ), will
landscapes, colour, set design and stardom – with the aim of resituating filmaesthetics in relation to a ‘welter of other materials’ and examining British cinema’s engagement with interwar constructions of domestic life and modernity. 53
Chapter 1 examines depictions of the industrial working-class home in British social realist films, focusing specifically on the recurring motif of the tea table. As part of the growing trend for social investigation in the 1930s, working-class homes were rigorously mapped – by Mass-Observation (founded in 1937), by George Orwell in
While post-war popular cinema has traditionally been excluded from accounts of national cinemas, the last fifteen years have seen the academy’s gradual rediscovery of cult and, more, generally, popular films. Why, many years after their release, do we now deem these films worthy of study? The book situates ‘low’ film genres in their economic and culturally specific contexts (a period of unstable ‘economic miracles’ in different countries and regions) and explores the interconnections between those contexts, the immediate industrial-financial interests sustaining the films, and the films’ aesthetics. It argues that the visibility (or not) of popular genres in a nation’s account of its cinema is an indirect but demonstrable effect of the centrality (or not) of a particular kind of capital in that country’s economy. Through in-depth examination of what may at first appear as different cycles in film production and history – the Italian giallo, the Mexican horror film and Hindi horror cinema – Capital and popular cinema lays the foundations of a comparative approach to film; one capable of accounting for the whole of a national film industry’s production (‘popular’ and ‘canonic’) and applicable to the study of film genres globally.
of film and
cinema is transmuted into a medium-specific affinity with physical,
external or visible reality; and, in the same move, on the level of
intellectual biography, in that Kracauer seems to have cut himself
off completely from his Weimar persona … Had it been completed
at a time closer to the stage of its conception, Kracauer’s
virtual book on filmaesthetics [Bratu
middlebrow as ‘neither one thing nor the other’. 7 Indeed, a number of studies of British cinema have already alluded to the ‘middle-position’ of British cinema: ‘between restraint and passion’, between ‘Realism and Tinsel’, or – with a focus on the immediate postwar years – simply as a cinema ‘between’. 8 This sense of in-between-ness was evidenced at the level of filmaesthetics: the visual modes of address in each of the films in this book are characterised by realism and romanticism, pastoralism and preservation, escapism and restraint, and melodrama and modernism
third representational ‘reality’.
Collage reworks shards and fragments of the real to suggest the marvel
lous, a Surrealist key-word connoting the realm of mystery, newness
and startling apprehension.
As the documentary film theorist Bill Nichols notes in an account
of modernist filmaesthetics, the practice of rearranging found frag
ments was common in the early decades of the twentieth century
to both avant-gardist and documentary tendencies in filmmaking.
However, under the weight of the institutional
than simply a
collection of images, noting ‘the addition of a sound track can be made
to influence the visual impact of what the camera shot. Montage or the
art of film editing, can create the effects desired by the film maker.’4 The
study of film requires an understanding of all aspects of production,
reception and visual style, and this work will suggest ways in which this
can be achieved.
The first chapters of this book deal with the relationship that
exists between history and film, filmaesthetics and form, and film
historiography. Chapter 2 considers the way in