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TitleThe Film Experience: An Introduction
PublisherBedford/St. Martin's
ISBN 139780312681708
CategoryArts - Film
File Size53.0 MB
Total Pages547
Table of Contents
                            Cover Page
From Movie Buff to Critical Viewer
Title Page
Copyright Page
Brief Contents
PART 1 CULTURAL CONTEXTS: making, watching, and studying movies
	INTRODUCTION Studying Film: Culture, Practice, Experience
		Why Film Studies Matters
		Film Spectators and Film Cultures
		FORM IN ACTION: Identification, Cognition, and Film Variety
		FILM IN FOCUS: Studying The 400 Blows (1959)
		The Film Experience
	CHAPTER 1 Encountering Film: From Preproduction to Exhibition
		Production: How Films Are Made
		Distribution: What We Can See
			Ancillary Markets
			Non-Theatrical Distribution
			Distribution Timing
		FILM IN FOCUS: Distributing Killer of Sheep (1977)
		Marketing and Promotion: What We Want to See
			Generating Our Interest
		FORM IN ACTION: The Changing Art and Business of the Film Trailer
			Word of Mouth
			Fan Engagement
		Movie Exhibition: The Where, When, and How of Movie Experiences
			The Changing Contexts and Practices of Film Exhibition
		FILM IN FOCUS: Promoting The Crying Game (1992)
			Technologies and Cultures of Exhibition
		FILM IN FOCUS: Exhibiting Citizen Kane (1941)
			The Timing of Exhibition
PART 2 FORMAL COMPOSITIONS: film scenes, shots,cuts, and sounds
	CHAPTER 2 Exploring a Material World: Mise-en-Scène
		A Short History of Mise-en-Scène
			Theatrical Mise-en-Scène and the Prehistory of Cinema
			1900–1912: Early Cinema’s Theatrical Influences
			1915–1928: Silent Cinema and the Star System
			1930s–1960s: Studio-Era Production
			1940–1970: New Cinematic Realism
			1975–Present: Mise-en-Scène and the Blockbuster
		The Elements of Mise-en-Scène
			Settings and Sets
			Scenic and Atmospheric Realism
			Props, Actors, Costumes, and Lights
		FILM IN FOCUS: From Props to Lighting in Do the Right Thing (1989)
			Space and Design
		FORM IN ACTION: Mise-en-Scène in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
		The Significance of Mise-en-Scène
			Defining Our Place in a Film’s Material World
			Interpretive Contexts for Mise-en-Scènes
		FILM IN FOCUS: Naturalistic Mise-en-Scène in Bicycle Thieves (1948)
			Spectacularizing the Movies
	CHAPTER 3 Framing What We See: Cinematography
		A Short History of the Cinematic Image
			1820s–1880s: The Invention of Photography and the Prehistory of Cinema
			1890s–1920s: The Emergence and Refinement of Cinematography
			1930s–1940s: Developments in Color, Wide-Angle, and Small-Gauge Cinematography
			1950s–1960s: Widescreen, 3-D, and New Color Processes
			1970s–1980s: Cinematography and Exhibition in the Age of the Blockbuster
			1990s and Beyond: The Digital Future
		The Elements of Cinematography
			Points of View
			Four Attributes of the Shot
		FORM IN ACTION: Color and Contrast in Film
			Animation and Visual Effects
		The Significance of the Film Image
			Image as Presentation or Representation
			Image as Presence or Text
		FILM IN FOCUS: From Angles to Animation in Vertigo (1958)
		FILM IN FOCUS: Meaning through Images in M (1931)
	CHAPTER 4 Relating Images: Editing
		A Short History of Film Editing
			1895–1918: Early Cinema and the Emergence of Continuity Editing
			1919–1929: Soviet Montage
			1930–1959: The Studio Era
			1960–1989: Modern Disjunctive Editing
			1990s–Present: Editing in the Digital Age
		The Elements of Editing
			The Cut and Other Transitions
			Continuity Style
			Editing and Temporality
		FORM IN ACTION: Editing and Rhythm in Moulin Rouge! (2001)
			Graphic, Movement, and Rhythmic Editing
		FILM IN FOCUS: Patterns of Editing in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
		The Significance of Film Editing
			How Editing Makes Meaning
			Continuity and Disjunctive Editing Styles
		FILM IN FOCUS: Montage in Battleship Potemkin (1925)
			Converging Editing Styles
	CHAPTER 5 Listening to the Cinema: Film Sound
		A Short History of Film Sound
			Theatrical and Technological Prehistories of Film Sound
			1895–1920s: The Sounds of Silent Cinema
			1927–1930: Transition to Synchronized Sound
			1930s–1940s: Challenges and Innovations in Cinema Sound
			1950s–Present: From Stereophonic to Digital Sound
		The Elements of Film Sound
			Sound and Image
			Sound Production
		FILM IN FOCUS: Sound and Image in Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
			Voice, Music, Sound Effects
		FORM IN ACTION: Music and Meaning in I’m Not There (2007)
		The Significance of Film Sound
			Authenticity and Experience
			Sound Continuity and Sound Montage
			FILM IN FOCUS: The Ethics and Effects of Sound Technology in The Conversation (1974)
PART 3 ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES: from stories to genres
	CHAPTER 6 Telling Stories: Narrative Films
		A Short History of Narrative Film
			1900–1920s: Adaptations, Scriptwriters, and Screenplays
			1927–1950: Sound Technology, Dialogue, and Classical Hollywood Narrative
			1950–1980: Art Cinema
			1980s–Present: Narrative Reflexivity and Games
		The Elements of Narrative Film
			Stories and Plots
			Diegetic and Nondiegetic Elements
			Narrative Patterns of Time
		FORM IN ACTION: Nondiegetic Images and Narrative
			Narrative Space
			Narrative Perspectives
		FILM IN FOCUS: Plot and Narration in Apocalypse Now (1979)
		The Significance of Film Narrative
			Shaping Memory, Making History
			Narrative Traditions
		FILM IN FOCUS: Classical and Alternative Traditions in Mildred Pierce (1945) and Daughters of the Dust (1991)
	CHAPTER 7 Representing the Real Documentary Films
		A Short History of Documentary Cinema
			A Prehistory of Documentaries
			1895–1905: Early Actualities, Scenics, and Topicals
			The 1920s: Robert Flaherty and the Soviet Documentaries
			1930–1945: The Politics and Propaganda of Documentary
			1950s–1970s: New Technologies and the Arrival of Television
			1980s–Present: Digital Cinema, Cable, and Reality TV
		The Elements of Documentary Films
			Nonfiction and Non-Narrative
			Expositions: Organizations That Show or Describe
		FILM IN FOCUS: Nonfiction and Non-Narrative in Man of Aran (1934)
			Rhetorical Positions
		The Significance of Documentary Films
			Revealing New or Ignored Realities
		FILM IN FOCUS: Organizational Strategies and Rhetorical Positions in Sunless (1982)
			Confronting Assumptions, Altering Opinions
			Serving as a Social, Cultural, and Personal Lens
		FORM IN ACTION: The Contemporary Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
	CHAPTER 8 Challenging Form Experimental Film and New Media
		A Short History of Experimental Film and Media Practices
			1910s–1920s: European Avant-Garde Movements
			1930s–1940s: Sound and Vision
			1950s–1960s: The Postwar Avant-Garde in America
		FILM IN FOCUS: Avant-Garde Visions in Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
			1968 and After: Politics and Experimental Cinema
			1980s–Present: New Technologies and New Media
		The Elements of Experimental Media
			Formalisms: Narrative Experimentation and Abstraction
			Experimental Organizations: Associative, Structural, and Participatory
		FILM IN FOCUS: Formal Play in Ballet mécanique (1924)
			Styles and Perspectives: Surrealist, Lyrical, and Critical
		FORM IN ACTION: Lyrical Style in Bridges-Go-Round (1958)
		The Significance of Experimental Media
			Challenging and Expanding Perception
			Experimental Film Traditions
	CHAPTER 9 Rituals, Conventions, Archetypes,and Formulas: Movie Genres
		A Short History of Film Genre
			Historical Origins of Genres
			Early Film Genres
			1920s–1940s: Genre and the Studio System
			1948–1970s: Postwar Film Genres
			1970s–Present: New Hollywood, Sequels, and Global Genres
		The Elements of Film Genre
			Conventions, Formulas, and Expectations
			Movie Genres: Six Paradigms
		The Significance of Film Genre
			Prescriptive and Descriptive Approaches
		FILM IN FOCUS: Generic Chinatown (1974)
			Classical and Revisionist Genres
		FORM IN ACTION: Genre Revisionism: Comparing True Grit (1969) and True Grit (2010)
			Local and Global Genres
		FILM IN FOCUS: The Significance of Genre History in Vagabond (1985)
PART 4 CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES: history, methods, writing
	CHAPTER 10 History and Historiography: Hollywood and Beyond
		Early Cinema
		Cinema between the Wars
			Classical Hollywood Cinema
			German Expressionist Cinema
			Soviet Silent Films
			French Impressionist Cinema and Poetic Realism
		Postwar Cinemas
			Postwar Hollywood
			Italian Neorealism
			French New Wave
			Japanese Cinema
			Third Cinema
		Contemporary Film Cultures
			Contemporary Hollywood
			Contemporary European Cinema
		FILM IN FOCUS: Taxi Driver and New Hollywood (1976)
			Indian Cinema
			African Cinema
			Chinese Cinema
			Iranian Cinema
		The Lost and Found of Film History
			Women Filmmakers
			African American Cinema
			Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) Film History
		FILM IN FOCUS: Lost and Found History: Within Our Gates (1920)
			Indigenous Media
			Excavating Film History
	CHAPTER 11 Reading about Film: Critical Theories and Methods
		Film Theory: Cinematic Specificity and Interdisciplinarity
		Early and Classical Film Theory
			Early Film Theory
			Soviet Montage Theory
			Classical Film Theories: Formalism and Realism
		Postwar Film Culture and Criticism
			Film Journals
			Auteur Theory
			Genre Theory
		Critical Questions in Contemporary Film Theory
			Semiotics, Structuralism, and Ideological Critique
		FILM IN FOCUS: Genre and Authorship in Touch of Evil (1958)
			Poststructuralism: Psychoanalysis, Apparatus Theory, and Spectatorship
			Theories of Gender and Sexuality
			Cultural Studies
			Film and Philosophy
			Postmodernism and New Media
		FILM IN FOCUS: Clueless about Contemporary Film Theory? (1995)
	CHAPTER 12 Writing a Film Essay: Observations, Arguments, Research, and Analysis
		Writing an Analytical Film Essay
			Personal Opinion and Objectivity
			Identifying Your Readers
			Elements of the Analytical Film Essay
		Preparing to Write about a Film
			Asking Questions
			Taking Notes
		FILM IN FOCUS: Analysis, Audience, and Citizen Kane (1941)
			Selecting a Topic
		Elements of a Film Essay
			Interpretation, Argument, and Evidence
			Thesis Statement
			Outline and Topic Sentences
		Revision, Manuscript Format, and Proofreading
			Using Film Images in Your Paper
			Writer’s Checklist
		Researching the Movies
			Distinguishing Research Materials
		FILM IN FOCUS: Interpretation, Argument, and Evidence in Rashomon (1950)
			Using and Documenting Sources
		FILM IN FOCUS: From Research to Writing about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The Next Level: Additional Sources
Document Text Contents
Page 2

form in






Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) uses stop-motion anima-
tion to bring a much-loved Roald Dahl children’s book to life. The
tale pits three ruthless farmers against Mr. Fox’s thrill-seeking
thievery, pulling an array of animals into the fray in the process.
The film relies on an elaborately textured mise-en-scène to develop
and enrich the story’s largely underground action. A scene depicting
the displaced animals’ new home in Badger’s Flint Mine opens with
Mole playing the piano [figure 2.41a] in a relaxed manner reminis-
cent of 1950s Hollywood. The space is large and tastefully lit by
candles and a garland of what appears to be fruit and fake flowers
entwined with twinkle lights. Even in this first image, however, the
storage racks in the background indicate that the gracious living
of Badger’s home is being challenged by an influx of refugees and
stolen supplies.

The camera tracks right to a kitchen area [figure 2.41b].
Bright, cheery lighting highlights Rabbit chopping ingredients for a
communal meal, and the cramped space and detailed abundance
of food (like the roasting rack of stolen chickens) indicates both
the large number and the camaraderie of the refugee animals.
The camera moves right again to Mr. Fox and Badger, strolling past
the opening to a bedroom where the feet of an exhausted animal
can be seen lying on a top bunk [figure 2.41c] and discussing the
sustainability of the group’s current living arrangement.

The scene ends at a punch bowl [figure 2.41d], beyond which
the makeshift aspects of the living arrangements are evident: stolen
cases of cider, bags of flour, and chicken carcasses are stored in
the background. It is at this point in the shot that Ash, Mr. Fox’s
son, believing decisive action is needed to restore Mr. Fox’s honor,
asks his cousin Kristofferson to help him retrieve his father’s tail
from the ferocious Farmer Bean. Production design richly colors this
tale in which animals dress and act more human than the humans
hunting them.

mise-en-scène in
fantastic mr. fox (2009)

04_COR_68170_ch02_060_093.indd 85 10/5/11 11:09 AM

Framing What We See: Cinematography c h a p t e r 3 101

1930s–1940s: Developments in Color, Wide-Angle,
and Small-Gauge Cinematography
Technical innovations increased even as the aesthetic potential of the medium was
explored. By the 1930s, color processes, by which a single or a wide range of colors
become part of the film image, had evolved from the individually hand-painted
frames or tinted sequences of silent films to colored stocks and, finally, the rich
Technicolor process that would dominate color film production until the 1950s.
The Disney cartoon Flowers and Trees (1932) was the first to use Technicolor’s
three-strip process, which recorded different colors separately, using a dye transfer
process to create a single image with a full spectrum of color. The process offered
new realism but was often used to highlight artifice and spectacle, as in The Wizard
of Oz (1939) [Figures 3.10a–3.10c].

Meanwhile, the camera lens, the piece of curved glass that redirects light rays
in order to focus and shape images, also changed significantly—in terms of lens
speed, which determines how much light an aperture allows to be gathered (that is,
the “f-stop”), and the introduction of new lenses—wide-angle, telephoto, and zoom.
Each lens produces a different focal length—the distance from the center of the
lens to the point where light rays meet in sharp focus—that alters the perspective
relations of an image. Wide-angle lenses have a short focal length, telephoto lenses
have a long one, and a zoom is a variable focus lens. The range of perspectives
offered by these advancements allowed for better resolution, more depth of field
(the portion of the image that is in focus), wider angles, and more frame movement.

3.10a–3.10c The Wizard of Oz (1939). Viewers sometimes find
the opening, sepia-tinted scenes of The Wizard of Oz (1939) jarring (a),
having vivid memories of the film in Technicolor. When Dorothy first opens
the door to Munchkinland, the drab tints of Kansas are left behind (b).
Technicolor’s saturated primary colors are so important in the film (c), the
silver slippers of the book were changed to ruby slippers for the screen.

05_COR_68170_ch03_094_131.indd 101 10/21/11 12:45 PM

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Page 273

Telling Stories: Narrative Films C h a p t E r 6 247

between how individuals live their lives
according to personal temporal patterns
and how those patterns conflict with
those of the social history that inter-
sects with their lives.

Classical Film Narrative
Three primary features characterize the
classical film narrative:

■ It centers on one or more central
characters who propel the plot with
a cause-and-effect logic (whereby
an action generates a reaction).

■ Its plots develop with linear chro-
nologies directed at certain goals (even when flashbacks are integrated into
that linearity).

■ It employs an omniscient or a restricted narration that suggests some degree
of realism.

Classical narrative often appears as a three-part structure: (1) the presentation
of a situation or a circumstance; (2) the disruption of that situation, often as a
crisis or confrontation; and (3) the resolution of that disruption. Its narrative point
of view is usually objective and realistic, including most information necessary to
understand the characters and their world.

Since the 1910s, the U.S. classical Hollywood narrative has been the most
visible and dominant form of classical narrative, but there have been many
historical and cultural variations on this narrative model. Both the 1925 and
1959 films of Ben-Hur develop their plots around the heroic motivations of
the title character and follow his struggles and triumphs as a former citizen
who becomes a slave, rebel, and gladiator, fighting against the cruelties of the
Roman Empire. Both movies spent inordinate amounts of money on large casts
of characters and on details and locations that attempt to seem as realistic as
possible. Yet even if both these Hollywood films can be classified as classical
narratives, they can also be distinguished by their variations on this narrative
formula. Besides some differences in the details of the story, the first version
attends more to grand spectacles (such as sea battles) and places greater empha-
sis on the plight of the Jews as a social group; the second version concentrates
significantly more on the individual drama of Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur, on
his search to find his lost family, and on Christian salvation through personal
faith [Figure 6.53].

Two important variations on the
classical narrative tradition are the
classical European narrative, films
made in Europe since 1910 and
flourishing in the 1930s and 1940s,
and the postclassical narrative, a
global body of films that began to
appear in the decades after World
War II and that strained but maintained
the classical formula for coherent char-
acters and plots. As discussed earlier,
this latter tradition remains visible to
the present day. Although it is difficult
to offer broad or definitive models for

For the film you will watch next in
class, what type of history is being
depicted? What does the narrative
say about the meaning of time and
change in the lives of the characters?
What events are presented as most
important, and why?

6.53 Ben-Hur (1959). As the different versions of this film demonstrate, classical Hollywood
narration can vary significantly through history—even when the story is fundamentally the same.

6.52 The Social Network (2010). Here the personal history of the founder of
Facebook reflects a much broader transformation in the social history of technology.

08_COR_68170_ch06_212_253.indd 247 11/20/11 2:43 PM

Page 274

p a r t 3 Organizational Structures: From Stories to Genres248

these two narrative forms, the European
model tends to situate the story in large
and varied social contexts that dilute the
singularity of a central protagonist and
is usually less action-oriented than its
U.S. counterpart. Thus in Jean Renoir’s
The Rules of the Game (1939), a diverse
milieu of many classes and social types
(from servants to aristocrats) interact
on a large estate to create a narrative
that seems less like a single plot than
a collage of many stories about sexual
escapades and bankrupt social mores.
An exchange between two characters
summarizes the range of this satiric
narrative: one character exclaims, “Stop
this farce!” and the other replies, “Which
one?” [Figure 6.54]. Conversely, the
postclassical model frequently under-
mines the power of a protagonist to
control and drive the narrative forward
in a clear direction. As a postclassical
narrative, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver

(1976) works with a plot much like that of The Searchers, but in Travis Bickle’s
strange quest to rescue a New York City prostitute from her pimp, he wanders
with even less direction, identity, and control than his predecessor, Ethan. Bickle,
a dark hero, becomes lost in his own fantasies (see pp. 372–73) [Figure 6.55].

Alternative Film Narrative
Most visible in foreign and independent film cultures, these movies tell stories
while also revealing information or perspectives traditionally excluded from clas-
sical narratives in order to unsettle audience expectations, provoke new thinking,
or differentiate themselves from more common narrative structures. Generally,
the alternative film narrative has the following characteristics:

■ It deviates from or challenges the lin-
earity of the classical narrative.

■ It undermines the centrality of a main

■ It questions the objective realism of
classical narration.

Both the predominance and motiva-
tional control of characters in moving a
plot come into question with alternative
films. Instead of the one or two central
characters we see in classical narratives,
alternative films may put a multitude of
characters into play, with their stories
perhaps not even being connected. In
Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967),
the narrative shifts among three young
people—a student, an economist, a phi-
losopher—whose tales appear like a series

6.54 The Rules of the Game (1939). Do classical European narratives, such as this one
by Jean Renoir, tend to accentuate social contexts more than classical Hollywood narratives?

6.55 Taxi Driver (1976). De Niro’s character erupts into senseless violence and seems
bent on his own destruction.

How would you describe the narra-
tive tradition of the film you’re now
studying? What specific features
of this film define it as part of one
tradition or another?

08_COR_68170_ch06_212_253.indd 248 11/20/11 2:43 PM

Page 546


Studying Film
Studying The 400 Blows (1959), 14-15

From Preproduction to Exhibition
Distributing Killer of Sheep (1977), 40-41
Promoting The Crying Game (1992), 52-53
Exhibiting Citizen Kane (1941), 56-57

From Props to Lighting in Do the Right Thing (1989),

Naturalistic Mise–en–Scène in Bicycle Thieves (1948),


From Angles to Animation in Vertigo (1958), 124-125
Meaning through Images in M (1931), 128-129

Patterns of Editing in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), 160-161
Montage in Battleship Potemkin (1925), 172-173

Film Sound
Sound and Image in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), 188-189
The Ethics and Effects of Sound Technology in The

Conversation (1974), 208-209

Narrative Films
Plot and Narration in Apocalypse Now (1979), 242-243
Classical and Alternative Traditions in Mildred Pierce

(1945) and Daughters of the Dust (1991), 250-251

Documentary Films
Nonfiction and Non-Narrative in Man of Aran (1934),

Organizational Strategies and Rhetorical Positions in

Sunless (1982), 272-273

Experimental Film and New Media
Avant-Garde Visions in Meshes of the Afternoon

(1943), 292-293
Formal Play in Ballet mécanique (1924), 300-301

Movie Genres
Generic Chinatown (1974), 342-343
The Significance of Genre History in Vagabond (1985),


History and Historiography
Taxi Driver and New Hollywood (1976), 372-373
Lost and Found History: Within Our Gates (1920),


Critical Theories and Methods
Genre and Authorship in Touch of Evil (1958), 414-415
Clueless about Contemporary Film Theory? (1995),


Writing a Film Essay
Analysis, Audience, and Citizen Kane (1941), 442-444
Interpretation, Argument, and Evidence in Rashomon

(1950), 453-456
From Research to Writing about The Cabinet of Dr.

Caligari (1920), 462-466


Studying Film
Identification, Cognition, and Film Variety, 13

From Preproduction to Exhibition
The Changing Art and Business of the Film Trailer, 47

Mise-en-Scène in The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), 85

Color and Contrast in Film, 115

Editing and Rhythm in Moulin Rouge! (2001), 154

Film Sound
Music and Meaning in I’m Not There (2007), 197

Narrative Films
Nondiegetic Images and Narrative, 233

Documentary Films
The Contemporary Documentary: Exit hrough the Gift

Shop (2010), 281

Experimental Film and New Media
Lyrical Style in Bridges-Go-Round (1958), 307

Movie Genres
Genre Revision: Comparing True Grit (1969) and True

Grit (2010), 346


19_COR_68170_Last_Verso.indd 520 11/15/11 2:12 PM

Page 547

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