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Introduction to Film General Introduction Basic Tools of Analysis Areas of Inquiry Example: Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005)

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Film General Introduction Basic Tools of Analysis Areas of Inquiry Example: Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Film General Introduction Basic Tools of Analysis Areas of Inquiry Example: Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005)

2 From Print Culture to Media Culture During the twentieth century the economic needs of capitalism have shifted from production to consumption. [...] In this process the media obviously become more important. The rise of modern forms of mass communications, and the associated proliferation of popular media culture, therefore become central to the explanatory framework of postmodern theory. What is inferred from this is that the mass media have become so central to communication and information flows within and between modern societies (and consequently the popular culture they broadcast and promote has come increasingly to define and channel everyday life in these societies) that they, along with consumerism, have given rise to the characteristic features of postmodernism described above. The world, it is argued, will increasingly consist of media screens and popular cultural images - TVs, videos, computers, computer games, personal stereos, adverts, theme parks, shopping malls, ‚fictitious capital‘ or credit - which are part and parcel of the trends towards postmodern popular culture. From: Dominic Strinati, An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture (London, 2000), pp

3 From Literary Studies to Culture and Media Studies Holistic approach to culture Centrality of ‘supermedium audiovision’ Emphasis on intermediality “A film is a multimedial narrative form based on a physical record of sounds and moving pictures. Film is also a performed genre in the sense that it is primarily designed to be shown in a public performance. Whereas a dramatic play is realized as a live performance by actors on a stage, a film is shown in a cinema (a 'film theater'), is not a live event, and can theoretically be repeated infinitely without any change. Like drama, film is a narrative genre because it presents a story (a sequence of action units). Often, a film is an adaptation of an epic or a dramatic narrative […].” from Manfred Jahn. A Guide to Narratological Film Analysis.

4 Film and Text “At last they brought him to Meronocomoco, where was Powhatan their Emperor. Here more then two hundred of those grim Courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had beene a monster; till Powhatan and his trayne had put themselues in their greatest braveries. Before a fire vpon a seat like a bedsted, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun skinnes, and all the tayles hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 to 18 yeares, and along on each side the house, two rowes of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red; many of their heads bedecked with the white downe of Birds; but every one with something: and a great chayne of white beads about their necks. [Finally,] two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could layd hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocahontas the Kings dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne vpon his to saue him from death: whereat the Emperour was contented […].” From: John Smith. The Generall Historie of Virginia (1624).

5 Film and Text “[From a text t]he reader learns only [a limited number of] details and has to expand the picture imaginatively. But in the film representation, the number of details is indeterminate.“ “Those details are not asserted as such by a narrator but simply presented.” “In its essential visual mode, the film does not describe at all but merely presents; or better, it depicts: it renders in pictorial form.” from: Seymour Chatman, “What Novels Can Do that Films Can‘t (and Vice Versa)”,

6 Analyzing Film: The Basic Tools Film as a synaesthetic medium Uses several codes of signification A) auditory B) visual Active role of the viewer „Filminhalt und Bedeutung sind also prinzipiell das Resultat eines differenzierten Zusammenwirkens verschiedener, während der Rezeption meist unbewußt wahrgenommener Faktoren, die zudem in einer gezielt arrangierten zeitlichen Abfolge vom Filmemacher vorgegeben werden. Die erfahrene Botschaft basiert also keineswegs nur auf dem Plot, dem Spiel der Protagonisten und den Dialogen. Sie wird vielmehr in Kombination mit der Tonebene maßgeblich von der visuellen (Montage, Kameraaktivitäten, Beleuchtung, etc.) und zeitlichen Präsentationsstruktur geprägt.

7 The Basic Tools Sinnzusammenhänge vermitteln sich erst nach und nach und vor allem im Spielfilm nur selten gradlinig. Häufig werden Assoziationen, Gefühle, Stimmungen im Filmverlauf evoziert, die zu diesem Zeitpunkt gar nicht eindeutig entschlüsselt werden können und erst viel später in ihrer Funktion erkennbar sind. Hinzu kommt, daß die filmische Aussage über die Leinwandprojektion hinaus erst in der Wahrnehmung durch das Publikum entsteht und damit nur zum Teil auf den Film selbst zurückzuführen ist. Denn die rezipierte Botschaft als Summe filminterner und -externer Einflußfaktoren ist immer eine durch individuelle, situative und historisch-gesellschaftliche Variablen beeinflußte Konstruktion des Zuschauers oder - in zugespitzter Formulierung - jeder Betrachter sieht seinen eigenen (Meta-) Film.“ Helmut Korte, Einführung in die Systematische Filmanalyse (Berlin, 1999); p. 14

8 The Auditory Channel From Seymour Chatman. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Films. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990.

9 From Image to Scene Smallest unit: frame (24 per second) Shot: a sequence of frames filmed in a continuous (uninterrupted) take of a camera A sequence of shots makes up a scene: a scene is a sequence of action segments which take place, continuously, at the same time and in the same place

10 The Visual Channel From Seymour Chatman. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Films. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990.

11 Mise-en-scène: the arrangement of setting and subjects within the frame

12 Cinematography: Camera Settings Close up, close shot (CU, CS): Full view of, typically, a human face Detail/extreme close-up (DS, XCU): A small object or part of an object shown large

13 Camera Settings II Medium shot (MS): A view of the upper half of a person's body, showing his or her bodily stance American shot (AS): A three-quarter view of a person, showing her or him from the knees up Full shot (FS): A full view of a person

14 Camera Settings III Long shot (LS): A view from a distance, of a large object or a collection of objects (e.g., buildings, a bridge). Often used to establish a setting (establishing shot). People, when present, are reduced to indistinct small shapes. The term semi-long shot is sometimes used to indicate a slightly closer view (e.g., the facade of a house). Extreme long shot (XLS): A view from a considerable distance (e.g., the skyline of a city). If people can be made out at all, they are mere dots in the landscape

15 Long Shot

16 Camera Angles Straight-on angle: The camera is positioned at about the same height as the object, shooting straight and level (this is the default angle). Angle: The object is seen from above (camera looking down). A limit case of the high angle shot is the aerial shot (a bird's-eye view taken from a helicopter or an airplane) Low angle: The object is seen from a low-level position (camera looking up) Oblique angle: The camera is tilted sideways showing a tilted view of an object. The oblique angle can be combined with any of the other tilt angles

17 Camera Angle

18 Dynamic Shots Pan: The camera surveys a scene by turning around its vertical or horizontal axis Tracking shot/pulling shot: The camera follows (tracks) or precedes (pulls) an object which is in motion itself Zoom: The camera moves in on or away from an object (zooming in, zooming out) by smoothly extending or shortening its focal length Dolly shot: A shot taken from a camera mounted on a wheeled platform (a dolly). Crane shot: Camera moves up or down on a crane structure. Hand-held shot: camera is carried by the operator

19 The Visual Channel From Seymour Chatman. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Films. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990.

20 Editing Individual shots are put into scenes by editing process A cut marks the shift from one shot to another. It is identified by the type of transition which is produced. The two major kinds of cuts are 'direct' and 'transitional'. Editing as “the core of filmic narration” (Hicketier 2001, 145): filmic sequence/narrative is created in the editing process

21 Editing Conventions in Filmic Narration Continuity (or invisible) editing as the predominant style Aims: to smooth over inherent discontinuities of film, generate coherence and create a mimetic effect Temporal and spatial continuity is constructed by certain conventions/techniques

22 Temporal Continuity Narrative cinema generally preserves linearity of action, even where it features: Flashbacks, flashforwards, or parallel plots Within individual scenes impression of linearity is promoted through techniques such as match on action (see below)

23 Techniques of Creating Spatial Continuity Establishing shot 180 degree rule The shot/reverse shot formation Eyeline match Match on Action Breaking these rules and creating discontinuity can be used as an artistic means in cinema (e.g. montage style)

24 180 degree rule

25 Narrative Mediation in Film Ongoing scholarly discussion about: a) Who ‘really‘ narrates a film? b) Can we distinguish between narrator and focalizer? Types of speaking narrators within films: Homodiegetic vs. heterodiegetic On-screen vs. off-screen (voice-over)

26 Areas of Inquiry in Film Studies

27 Exemplary Analysis of The New World (2005) Guiding question: how does the film engage with stereotypical images of Native Americans and their history in Western discourse? Construction of ‘the Indian’ as the other of the Euro- American self Indianness as a marker of deficiency The Indians were defined as “a single group because they were [perceived as] deficient in whatever the quality Europeans or Americans at a given time used to define themselves” from Richard White. “Indians.” A Companion to American Thought. Eds. Richard Wightman Fox and James T. Kloppenberg. London: Blackwell, , 335.

28 Canibal vs. Nobel Savage “[T]he Indian was a White invention and still remains largely a White image, if not stereotype [, but] the idea of the Indian has created a reality in its own image as a result of the power of the Whites and the response of of Native Americans.” From Robert F. Berkhofer Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present. New York: Knopf, 1978, 3. “America,” ca Engraving by Theodor Galle after a drawing by Jan van der Straet

29 Pocahontas, Icon of Noble Savagism a) John White. Indian Woman and Young Girl ( ). Watercolor. b) Simon Van de Passe. Pocahontas (1616). Engraving publ. In John Smith’s Generall Historie. c) Robert Matthew Sully. Pocahontas (early 1850s). Oil on Canvas. d) Jean Leon Gerome Ferri. Matoax (c. 1921). Oil on Canvas. e) from Walt Disney’s Pocahontas (1995). f) from The New World (2005).

30 Pocahontas, Icon of Noble Savagism Pocahontas as an ideal embodiment of the natural vitality and virtuousness of America’s noble savages, which The New World represents in stark contrast to the decadent Anglo-European civilization John Smith: “They [i.e. the “naturals”] are gentle, loving, faithful, lacking in all guile and trickery…The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slandery and forgiveness have never been heard…They have no jealousy, no sense of possession…Real, what I thought a dream.” Jamestown as a symbol of Western corruption

31 The Rescue Scene Pocahontas‘ rescue of Smith is “in all probability, the most often told tale in American history, inspiring drama, novels, paintings, statuary, and films” From David A. Rice Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas and the Start of a New Nation. New York: Vintage, 2003, 67. The alleged love story between Pocahontas and Smith as America‘s foundational Romance A symbolic enactment of “the colonial paradigm”: “Pocahontas’ [instinctive] attraction to the modern man is presented as inevitable as the colonization of the Americas.” From John Purdy. “Trickster of the Trade: ‘Reimagining’ the Filmic Image of Native Americans.” Native American Representations: First Encounters, Distorted Images, And Literary Appropriations. Ed. Gretchen M. Bataille. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, , 105. The scene interlocks the discourse of noble savagism with that of the vanishing Indian

32 a)Robert Vaughan. King Powhatan Commands C. Smith to be Slayne, His Daughter Pocahontas Beggs His Life (1624). Engraving publ. in Smith’s Generall Historie. b) Victor Nehlig. Pocahontas Saving John Smith (1874). Litograph. c) from Walt Disney’s Pocahontas (1995). d) Fresco from US Capitol e) from The New World (2005)

33 Terrence Malick‘s The New World (2005) Visual adaptation of earlier depictions Radicalization of tragic variant of the vanishing Indian-discourse Pocahontas-iconography in The New World serves as a vehicle for the indictment of Euro-American culture, and as a medium to fantasize about unrealised alternatives to the corrupt ways of Western modernity Realities of Indian life in modern America remain invisible

34 Further Reading Deloria, Philip J. (1998). Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press. Dippie, Brian W. (1986). The Vanishing American. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press. Hilger, Michael (2002). From Savage to Nobleman: Images of Native Americans in Film. Boston: Scarecrow. Kilpatrick, Jaquelyn (1999). Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Peter C. Rollins, and John E. O’Connor, eds. Hollywood’s Indians: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film. Expanded Edition. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky. Tilton, Robert. Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge Universoty Press, 1994.


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