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TitleUnderstanding Cinema: A Psychological Theory of Moving Imagery
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN 139780521813280
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size10.9 MB
Total Pages296
Document Text Contents
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http://www.cambridge.org/9780521813280

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UNDERSTANDING CINEMA

A Psychological Theory of Moving Imagery

Understanding Cinema analyzes the moving imagery of film and television
from a psychological perspective. Per Persson argues that spectators perceive,
think, apply knowledge, infer, interpret, feel, andmake use of knowledge, as-
sumptions, expectations, and prejudices when viewing and making sense of
film. Drawing on the methods of psychology and anthropology, he explains
howclose-ups, editing conventions, characterpsychologyandother cinematic
techniques work, and how and why they affect the spectator. This study in-
tegrates psychological and culturalist approaches to meaning and reception
in new ways, anchoring the discussion in concrete examples from early and
contemporary cinema Understanding Cinema also examines the design of cin-
ema conventions and their stylistic transformations through the evolution of
film.

Per Persson is currently researcher at the Nokia Research Center, Helsinki.

Page 148

Variable Framing and Personal Space 133

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

figure 33.
Die Hard (John
McTiernan, 1988).
(Obtained from
the film archives of
Svenska Filminsti-
tutet, Stockholm.)

camera positions give the impression of a fight that takes place in front of,
at the side of, and occasionally even behind the spectator. This constantly
moving and shifting presence, in combination with closer framings, sim-
ulates invasions from different directions within short time intervals. The
same effect can be seen in the infamous shower scene from Psycho (1960)
(Figure 34). In Figure 32, on the other hand, the viewer has not only visual

Page 149

134 Understanding Cinema

figure 34. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). (Obtained from the film archives of
Svenska Filminstitutet, Stockholm.)

control of and a comfortable distance from the fight, but, there is no sur-
round space from which attacks and intrusions can appear. If anything
comes in at all, it comes from the front.

Modern horror films often exploit personal-space threats and invasions
for emotional purposes. Sudden intrusions into the frame by amonster or
an object – often with strong auditory accompaniment – are occasionally
used to frighten the spectator. Such threats, which may trigger protective
physical behavior by the spectator, are of the same type as real-world
pranks, in which someone jumps on somebody from behind or from a
hiding place (see the subsection on Personal-Space Invasions). The closer
one gets to the victim before disclosing one’s presence, the greater the
effect. From this perspective, it would make sense if the burst-into-the-
frame effects of horror films are more effective in closer framings than in
wider ones. Intuitively speaking, this is probably true.

Again, the strength and the value of such effects depend on how the
spectator evaluates the invader, which is determined by narration com-
bined with the spectator’s preferences. The stronger the emotional eval-
uation of the character (negatively or positively), the more emotionally
the simulated invasion will be experienced. A real-world invasion, and
presumably also the close-up format, will intensify an already negative
evaluation of the invader. It is no coincidence that sudden appearances
of killers and monsters, who are evaluated extremely negatively, often

Page 295

280 Index

Messaris, Paul, 33, 39, 79, 81, 101, 130, 161
metaphor, 49, 137, 257
Metz, Christian, 138, 144, 146
Meyrowitz, Joshua, 101, 104, 106, 108–110,

121, 130, 142
Mitry, Jean, 19, 47, 67
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Ian

MacNaughton, 1972), 206
mood, 148, 180
moral judgment, 38, 141, 148, 173, 204, 258
morale, 32, 118
Mulvey, Laura, 47, 90, 145, 147
Münsterberg, Hugo, 20, 51, 52, 130, 256
Musketeers of Pig Alley, The (D.W. Griffith,

1912), 58, 88, 226, 256
Musser, Charles, 21, 52, 233
mutual gaze, 67, 74, 82, 99, 106
Muybridge, Eadweard, 48
My Life as a Dog (Mitt liv som hund, Lasse

Hallström, 1985), 188, 203

Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927), 91
narrative pausing, 224
narratology
and characters, 145

North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock,
1959), 31, 144, 193

Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922), 127, 128,
135, 136

object shot, 47, 57, 60, 62–64, 67, 75, 76,
78–80, 83, 84, 86–88, 90, 91, 98

offscreen space, 53, 54, 80, 111, 112, 117,
132

Olsson, Jan, xi, 52, 110, 136
Omdahl, Becky, 163, 169, 170, 173, 207,

220, 222, 245, 256

Pearson, Roberta E., 21, 233, 235
Perkins, V.F., 47
personal space, 45, 62, 101, 143, 161, 254
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959), 91, 192,

198, 258
Plantinga, Carl, 39
Play Time (Jacques Tati, 1968), 188, 220
point-of-view
and character, 145

POV editing, 30, 46, 198, 199, 201, 227, 231
Pratt, George, 21, 56, 78, 112, 125, 228, 239,

253, 259
predictive inferences, 181, 216, 224
Propp, Vladimir, 144, 186

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock , 1960), 34, 133,
135, 136

psychoanalysis, 107, 138, 144, 146, 186,
256, 270

Pudovkin, V.I., 46, 253, 268

Quinn, Naomi, 163, 174, 269

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954), 76,
77, 85–88, 199, 253

reception, 1, 19, 146, 182
recognition
of characters, 29, 147
of faces, 122, 184, 237
of objects, 28
of scenes, 28

Redman and the Child, The (D.W. Griffith,
1908), 65, 76, 119, 201

Reeves, B., 101, 142, 179
Rescued by Rover (Hepworth, 1904), 119
Rosch, Eleanor, 28, 29
Roseman, Ira, 163, 170, 173, 202

Saleslady’s Matinee, The (Edison, 1909), 78,
80

Salt, Barry, 49, 50, 54, 55, 57–62, 111, 121,
122, 128, 139, 253

Salvation Army Lass, The (D.W. Griffith,
1908), 94, 95

Schank, Roger, 31, 165, 166
schemas, 11, 150, 154, 163, 171, 172, 174,

176, 181, 182, 209, 249, 253, 254
cultural models, 176
event schemas, 249
folk-psychology, 163
object schemas, 28
scene schemas, 28
social schemas, 153, 163

sets, 60
Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954),

150, 195, 215, 221, 223, 226, 243
Seventh Day, The (D.W. Griffith, 1909), 56
shot–reverse shot (SRS), 30, 62, 225, 226
sight link, 47, 87–89, 91, 254
monitor vs. nonmonitor, 88

Simmel, Marianne, 179
situation, 25, 30, 31, 34, 61, 65, 70, 71, 76,

80, 83, 84, 89–91, 99, 106–109, 117, 130,
131, 136, 138–140, 147, 148, 152, 153,
161, 162, 165, 169–172, 174, 176, 178,
183, 187, 188, 198, 202, 206, 207, 210,
212, 214, 215, 217, 221–224, 227–229,

Page 296

Index 281

231, 235, 240, 241, 244, 245, 250, 253,
254, 256, 257

Smith, Murray, 29, 32, 47, 50, 96, 122, 143,
147–150, 153, 155, 156, 158, 159, 176,
184, 185, 202, 204, 216–218, 223, 245,
251, 272

social psychology, 71, 155, 249, 256
social referencing, 71
social types, 153, 166, 191, 249
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959), 195
Sommaren med Monika (Ingmar Bergman,

1953), 140
spatial immersion, 52
spatial reading strategy, 84, 86, 87, 253
spatiotemporal attachment, 148, 158, 204,

216, 223, 231, 237
Staiger, Janet, 21, 25, 33, 42, 47, 52, 53, 64,

186, 247
stalker films, 33, 64, 146, 209
Stam, Robert, 46, 145, 148
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Charles Reisner, 1928),

196, 197, 212
Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925), 32, 86, 155,

223, 232
switch-back, 94, 95
Switchman’s Tower, The (Edison, 1911), 57
sympathy, 147, 149, 199, 245, 256

Tan, Ed, 1, 10, 38, 145, 148–150, 155–157,
183, 217, 244, 245, 256

Taylor, Shelly, 10
That Obscure Object of Desire (Louis

Buñuel, 1977), 185
thematic inferences, 36
Thompson, Kristin, 20, 21, 26, 27, 30, 33,

36, 37, 42, 47–49, 52–54, 56, 57, 62–64,
66, 77, 112, 121–123, 125, 130, 132, 137,
139, 144, 155, 182, 183, 186, 225,
227–229, 234, 235, 237–240, 247, 259

Top Secret (Jim Abrahams & David Zucker,
1984), 38

Trabasso, Tom, 24, 187, 188, 218, 246

trait, 145, 154
traits, 31, 144, 146, 148, 153, 155, 158, 191,

216, 244
Trip to Mars, A (Lubin, 1903), 228
Trois couleurs Bleu (Krzysztof Kieslowski,

1993), 192
true POV, 47, 57, 59, 62, 87, 88, 90, 254
Tsivian, Yuri, 21, 42, 51, 52, 101, 102, 112,

116–118, 120, 125, 126, 233, 235,
239

Uricchio, William, 21, 233, 235

Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, Les (Jacques
Tati, 1953), 188, 195, 203

van Dijk, T.A, 25, 30
variable framing, 101
vaudeville, 21, 48–50, 52, 53, 64, 90, 110,

112, 138, 155, 224, 227, 233, 236,
238

Vishton, P., 252
visual cliff studies, 71
Voyage dans la lune, Le (Georges Méliès,

1902), 63, 122, 228, 253

Walker, Ian, 155
Warning, The (Majestic, 1914), 155
Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967), 185, 188,

189, 191, 203, 206, 207, 216, 220, 222,
229, 232

Wellman, Henry, 163, 165, 168, 170,
176

White Rose of the Wilds, The (D.W. Griffith,
1911), 56

Whiten, Andrew, 4, 72, 163, 176, 181
Williams, Linda, 136
Wilson, George, 94
Wind, The (Victor Sjöström, 1928), 205

Ye Gods! What a Cast! (Luna, 1915), 57

Zwaan, Rolf, 21, 34, 270

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