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’.
film, emotion and genre, characterises the ‘affective life’ as
‘the life of feeling’ (Carroll, 2006: 217). Carroll suggests
that affect comprises a range of phenomena – including automatic
reactions (e.g., the startle response) and phobic and sexual responses
– in addition to those responses we might more readily identify as
emotion (fear, anger, sorrow, etc.) (Carroll, 2006 :
217-218). Within the framework he provides for
them more intensely. ‘Film, emotion, and genre’, in Carl Plantinga
and Greg M. Smith (eds), Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion
(Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), p. 30.
80 Richard Dyer discusses this in ‘Entertainment and utopia’, in Bill Nichols
(ed.), Movies and Methods: Volume II (London: University of California Press,
1985), p. 223.
81 Elizabeth Bowen, ‘Why I go to the cinema’, in Charles Davy (ed.), Footnotes
to the Film (London: Lovat Dickson, 1938), pp. 207–8.
82 Margaret Butler, Film and Community in Britain and
Aesthetic evaluation and filmEmotion qualities: ‘sad, angry, joyful, serene’ [the film is sad, the film is
Evocative qualities: ‘powerful, stirring, amusing’.
Behavioural qualities: ‘sluggish, bouncy, jaunty’.
Representational qualities: ‘realistic, distorted, true to life’.
Second order perceptual qualities: ‘vivid, dull, muted, steely, mellow (said
of colours or tones)’.
Historically related qualities: ‘derivative, original, daring, bold, conservative’ (1998: 17).
Many qualities are explicitly evaluative. Some of them appear to be nonevaluative, and merely