This book embraces studies of cinematic realism and nineteenth-century tradition; the realist film theories of Lukács, Grierson, Bazin and Kracauer; and the relationship of realist film theory to the general field of film theory and philosophy. It attempts a rigorous and systematic application of realist film theory to the analysis of particular films, suggesting new ways forward for a new series of studies in cinematic realism, and for a new form of film theory based on realism. The book stresses the importance of the question of realism both in film studies and in contemporary life.
This book explores Georg Lukács' writings on film. The Hungarian Marxist critic Georg Lukács is primarily known as a literary theorist, but he also wrote extensively on the cinema. These writings have remained little known in the English-speaking world because the great majority of them have never actually been translated into English until now. This book contains the most important writings and the translations. This book thus makes a decisive contribution to understandings of Lukács within the field of film studies, and, in doing so, also challenges many existing preconceptions concerning his theoretical position. For example, whilst Lukács' literary theory is well known for its repudiation of naturalism, in his writings on film Lukács appears to advance a theory and practice of film that can best be described as naturalist. Lukácsian film theory and cinema is divided into two parts. In part one, Lukács' writings on film are explored, and placed within relevant historical and intellectual contexts, whilst part two consists of the essays themselves.
The Specificity of the Aesthetic/Die Eigenart des Ästhetischen
The bulk of Georg Lukács' major writings over the 1931–63 period were concerned with questions of literary criticism or political philosophy. This chapter focuses on The Specificity of the Aesthetic (1963), which marks the return of Lukáacs to the questions of abstract philosophy and high aesthetic theory, as well as his reengagement with issues relating to film.
Filmmaker Jennifer Lyon Bell (Blue Artichoke Films) has made empathy the centre
of her practice as an alternative porn filmmaker. This blend of artist manifesto
and academic essay illuminates the three ways in which empathy is a driving
force at every level of her artistic efforts. 1) Structure: Using a foundation
of cognitive film theory and specifically the work of Murray Smith, she builds
empathy into the structure and content of her films themselves. 2) Production:
She prioritises empathy in her production process on the set with cast and crew
3) Society: By creating and spreading empathetic pornography, she aims to
introduce more empathy into society at large.
Film viewers responses to characters are of a great variety; global notions of
‘identification’, ‘empathy’, or ‘parasocial interaction’ are too reductive to capture
their rich nuances. This paper contributes to current theoretical accounts by
clarifying the intuitive notion of ‘being close’ to characters, drawing on social and
cognitive psychology. Several kinds of closeness are distinguished: spatiotemporal
proximity, understanding and perspective-taking, familiarity and similarity, PSI, and
affective closeness. These ways of being close to characters interact in
probabilistic ways, forming a system. Understanding its patterns might help us to
more precisely analyze the varieties of character engagement, which is demonstrated
by an analysis of David Fincher‘s Fight Club (1999).
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’.
The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse
Time-lapse photography—the extremely accelerated recording and projection of an event
taking place over an extended duration of time—is almost as old as the movies
themselves. (The first known use of time-lapse dates from 1898.) In the early decades
of the twentieth century, cineastes, not to mention scientists, artists, and poets,
waxed eloquently on the promise of time-lapse photography as a means for revealing
“things we cannot see,” and expanding human perception. This essay examines
time-lapses tremendous initial imaginative appeal for such figures as Ernst Mach,
Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Rudolf Arnheim, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Collette, and
speculates about the possible reasons for its diminution over the course of the
The Position of Women in Post-War Japanese Cinema (Kinema Junpō,
In contrast to the canonical history of cinema and film theory, often dominated by
academic texts and Western and/or male voices, this article presents a casual
conversation held in 1961 between four of the most influential women in the post-war
Japanese film industry: Kawakita Kashiko,,Yamamoto Kyōko, Tanaka Kinuyo and Takamine
Hideko. As they openly discuss their gendered experience in production, promotion,
distribution and criticism, their thoughts shed light on the wide range of
opportunities available to women in filmmaking, but also on the professional
constraints,and concerns which they felt came along with their gender. Their
conversation reveals how they measured themselves and their national industry in
relation to the West; at times unaware of their pioneer role in world cinema. This
piece of self-reflexive criticism contributes to existing research on both womens
filmmaking and the industry of Japanese cinema, and invites us to reconsider
non-hegemonic film thinking practices and voices.
Medieval film' forces us into a double-take on chronology. This book argues that such a playful confusion of temporalities is a fundamental characteristic not just of the term but also of medieval films themselves. Medieval films reflect on the fact that they make present a past that was never filmable and offer alternatives to chronological conceptions of time. The book examines the contrasting uses, or non-uses, of medieval art objects in two medieval films and assesses how they contribute to the films' overall authenticity-effects. It makes tentative contribution to a list of such characteristics: that the fragmented visual profile of the medieval makes medieval authenticity-effects particularly troublesome to produce. The reliance of film theory on medievalism has never been acknowledged by film scholars. The book shows the ways in which preconceived notions of the Middle Ages filtered into and were influenced by film theory throughout the twentieth century; and to what extent film theory relies on knowledge about the Middle Ages for its basic principles. It explores to what extent medieval film engages with questions of language, and to what extent these engagements may be distinctive. Cinematic medievalism participated in and drew on a wider cultural and political preoccupation with the Middle Ages. Romanticism posited the Middle Ages as an alternative, utopian realm promising creative and political possibility. The book argues that certain films with medieval themes and settings, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s, demonstrate a surprising affinity with the themes and techniques associated with film noir.