Classical Hollywood cinema

Point of view and communication

Author: James Zborowski

This book explores the theoretical and critical concept of filmic point of view. Its case studies are six acclaimed and accomplished instances of ‘classical Hollywood cinema’: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Capra, 1936), Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939), Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948), Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, 1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962). The book’s particular contributions to the study of filmic point of view are to use ‘communication’ as an idea which permits new ways of approaching this topic, and to offer detailed explorations of the filmic representation of character experience (including character ‘consciousness’ and interaction), and of the relationship of film to other media of communication (especially print media and the novel). With respect to character experience, it is argued that the often-held distinction between an inner realm of thought and feeling and an outer realm of behaviour and objects fails to do justice to the human experience of ‘being-in-the-world’ and film’s ability to represent it. With respect to film’s relationship to other media, it explores the traversing of the public, the private and the social that narrative fiction film represents, in a way that aligns the medium with the novel. The book is offered as a demonstration and defence of the value of a ‘conversational’ critical method that entails detailed scrutiny of our film-viewing experiences and of the language we use to describe those experiences, and eschews the construction of a taxonomy designed for general applicability.

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