Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by Laura Mulvey

April 13, 2010

 (page 711-722)

Without doubt, Freud’s research has been used in every single aspect in indiscriminating ways.  It seems that the use of psychoanalysis can be found in every form of art, such as literature, paintings and films.  It is like black shoes that will match with every article of clothing and will make the person appear informal, formal or casual.

pastedGraphic.pdfFurthermore, if Freud after he argued for his psychoanalysis theory and his theories of sexual behavior had desire to become a filmmaker, he would have the total intention to present his theories clearly on the eyes of the spectators.  He would not give  the message cryptically; he would put the message there for a complete re-education for the masses.

Film critics fall in love with Freud and they develop fetishes for his theories.  They   use his quotes because the quotes can fit in any essay about film, regardless if the film doesn’t have any intention to fall under a psychoanalysis theory.  Conscious film critics often want sophisticated reviews that use psychoanalysis to give them credibility on their writings.

Unconsciously women are desires for sex; they had been and probably will always be, either by the notion of beauty, perfection, and sublime God creation or by a fetishistic mentality of advertisers.

Mulvey’s essay is based on the use of psychoanalysis to understand the secret meanings of films, and classifies the women’s position in our society and in the social plane of the films.  Mulvey mentions women are becoming an object of the sex.   In other words, there is no difference between a female human body from an artifact that just brings sexual pleasure.  The films tend to use a scopophilic theory to portray women.  There is a parallel in being represented as a sexual object and the ego libido.  In other words, women are conscious in their representation and seem to feel proud of that.  They have no desire to change it because as long as films give them some position, which is often quite an important position, women don’t want to lose that position of attention.

Mulvey makes an argument about phallocentrism and its relationship to the patriarchal world of films. Women’s desire is mainly centered about the penis, rather on their desire. In addition a patriarchal society has designed those desires just in a compulsive aspire to become a spouse, mother and nurturer who lacks any sexual ambitions. In further analysis Mulvey she writes that a woman “can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it” (712). The paradox of castration can serve two purpose. One is that women wish to own physically a penis and the other is the men are mutilated by the materialization of female images.

Mulvey also argues that in many films, the role of female characters is more of a passive sex object rather than an active meaningful one.  Her presence constructs eroticism in men, and her presence does not move the story line forward.  The spectator (the audience) also identifies with the male character and becomes “fascinated with the image of his like set in an illusion of natural space, and through him gaining control and possession of the woman within the diegesis” (717).  So us not a rejection that women want to look like female characters to supply sexual interest to the males.



Warshow

March 24, 2010

In the reading “Gangster as Tragic Hero” by Robert Warshow, he tries to discuss that one of the reasons filmmakers use gangsters in the film.  One is to create a social culture. By 1955 the United States was living in a society with commodities, especially in the big cities.  The films need to somehow show the culture at the moment.  Also, Warshow mentions that cowboy movies are dedicated to American history to set the historical values.  Gangster movies set the values of the future.  Most importantly, the idea of using gangsters in the film will always result in a good profit in the box office. The importance of the gangster film has an impact to the emotions of the audience.  It also gives the foreign audience a wrong portrait of America.  Gangster movies are also used to balance the interpretation of what society is about when the moral can be uncertain, and the human desire to become rich and famous is more important than getting the money legally.  Warshow writes the gangster film “is also, and primarily, a creature of the imagination.  The real city, one might say, only produces criminals; the imaginary city produces the gangster” (578).  Warshow concludes that a gangster film has some relationship to Shakespeare’s plays because the villain possesses more intensity in his character and he is dramatically strong.  The villain forces the audience to look closer to him regardless of the fact that they may not be the main character.   The only failure that a gangster may have is death as the ultimate punishment or repentance for his own unlawful life in the film.


FinalPaper

March 24, 2010

Diego Congrains, Thesis

Contemporary Third CInema

The film critics in Latin America are recently new compared to the critics in the United States. The irrelevance in creating a culture on film after several dictatorships, the censorship in the literature, and the new ideologies in the young democracy of the southern counties. Delayed a concise study of a true culture of film. The academic scholars sadly have labeled every Latin American film as style “Third Cinema”  which is linked to be poor in quality. When the Latino filmmakers focus their effort to produce a piece of art on a celluloid, rather just mere product for entertainment. An example is The Motorcycle Diary , a film that portrays the face of Latin America in multiple aspects.

In terms of the narration, the film tells about Ernesto Guevara also knows as  “El Che”, hero or revolutionary man. Guevara become a symbol for a revolution in Latin America.  In terms of production the cast of the film unified actors and actresses from different nationalities. This production offers a clear portrait of South America. Also, the film humanizes the figure of “El  Che”, his origin as individual, whose goal at the beginning of the film is cure the body of ill people, instead his goal shifted to cure the ill Latin America from the Capitalism.

The film The Motorcycle Diary is based on the original notes from  Alberto Granados’ and Ernesto Guevara’s journal. The source links us to the history of the Hispanic communities throughout half of the continent. The use of the film as expression is important in the mind-eyes of the spectator, and the film used as device is the emulsion that record the Hispanic past to the future generations. The Motorcycle Diary capsulate the both the expression and the practice of the film  to materialize the culture.


Latino Cinema

March 22, 2010

Diego Congrains

In the reading An Esthetic of Hunger, Glauber Rocha analyzes a culture (countries in development) versus a civilized culture (industrialized market). The countries with an extended industrial culture, such as the members in the European Community, are free to express their opinion, and their films can focus on their artistic expression rather than their own political issues. Latin America is oppressed in its own unknown cultural identity and lacks expression in their films. Rocha said that in Latin America, there exists a conditional liberty, which is the freedom to choose the new colonizers after the independence from Spain, Portugal, France and England. Therefore, there is a hunger to express the art in Latin America. In the culture of the film there is also a starvation of expression. In addition Rocha mentions a new form of expression that is able to feed the hunger.  This is the knowledge of our origins before the colonist and Latin Americans built the ground of a new independent civilized culture. Cinema Novo (New Cinema) can bring those possibilities to the reality of Latin America “The age or the background of the filmmaker is not important.” What is important are the services to search for a non-colonial identity. Cinema Novo depends on our freedom to exist and our voice to yell against the new colonizer.

In Towards a Third Cinema by Fernando Solana and Octavio Getino, the authors explain how Latin America needs a revolution. The art of filmmaking is a revolution. The reason that films exist is that Latin America is no longer a European Colony.  This allows the introduction of revolutionary films that are creative in terms of sources, realities, culture and new ideas to preserve freedom. The authors are against the Classical Hollywood system, which is a symbol of monopoly and new oppression in the film industry. Revolutionary filmmakers are outcasts of the American film system because there is no commercial purpose to produce a film.  An absolute expression of reality is the goal. Hollywood is the devil capitalist system that tries to persuade a community with weak political ideas and a sub-developed in art, psychology, medicine, film and among other subjects. The third cinema is the revolution.  It is a new expression itself that struggles with the Yankee imperialism (Hollywood), the new culture colonizer. Furthermore the emphasis in this reading is that countries with a huge film industry at this time of massive “communication tend to complete the destruction of national awareness and an of a collective subjectivity … a destruction which begin as soon as the child has access to these media” (p. 38) A dominant culture in Latin America through the mass media is an eminent destruction to the future generation, which will become influenced by foreign films.

There is a new colonization by the foreign media in Latin America. This is something necessarily not true. The audience in Latin America likes Hollywood films because they are big productions that are full of effects.  Any other type of films that is mainly subject to special effect only, regardless of where the film is produced, will get accepted by the audience. There are no national films in Latin America.  Filmmakers did not set the parameters of the ideas to convey particular ideas to create an identity for films.

In Imperfect Cinema by Julio Espinosa, there is a focus in the Latino boom in films, especially in Cuba and Brazil. He addressed a complex problem, which is a true artist needs to prepared to face the risk or any problem that is against his/her artistic expression. In other words, the problem is how much of the artistic expression is in his/her art work, and how much is just a premeditated copy from the mirror of society. According to Espinosa, “They can even, in a reverse operation, reject their interest in finding tranquility, harmony, a certain compensation in the work of art, expressing instead disequilibrium” (74) Also Espinosa divides the problem in three aspects: First, the amazing development of science in society.  Let’s understand natural phenomenon, such as light, that is dispensable to draw an image on a film to create a shot. Second, the acceptance of a new development in science into the general use in the hands of the masses, the reading identify as technology that takes a regular person from being a spectator to a creator. Third, a potential revolution in which artists applies new ideas to change the traditional setting in art.


On Editing” by Vsevolod Pudovkin

March 3, 2010

Diego Congrains

In “On Editing” by Vsevold Pudovkin, Pudovkin describes the editing process. He describes the term “editing” as the making of a scene “from pieces, a sequence from events, and real from sequences” (7). He begins by explaining that a script is divided into sequences, sequences are divided into scenes, and scenes are divided into pieces “shot from various angles” (7). One job of a scenarist is to be able to communicate on paper exactly what will happen on the screen.

In film, a close-up is important because it guides the audience to be attentive to what is important in the scene. In editing, the camera becomes almost like an observer and directs the audience from one element to another. The film technician shoots the scenes separately and then puts them together in the editing process. Pudovkin gives the example of a scene of a man who is near a house and looks to his left, where another man is by the gate. The two is about to fight when a woman looks out her window from the top floor and calls the police. The men begin to run. In the editing part of this scene, the film technician will make the camera act like an observer who turns his head left, right, and up.

According to the law of psychology, the scenarist should guide in the audience in such a way that makes the viewer wonder what is happening next and make then feel the suspense of the scene. Editing, then, should create excitement in the audience. Pudovkin gives the example of a scene where two spies are climbing up to explode a powder magazine. One of them drops the letter where the instructions are written. Someone picks up the letter and calls the police. The police run and arrest the men. In the editing process, the scenarist does not show the men while the person is calling the police. This makes the audience wonder if the men will escape by the time the police arrive.

There are several methods of editing which are interesting. One is called contrast, where the audience compares two actions happening at the same time to get a better sentiment of the event. For example, a scenarist will create a contrast of a starving man and a well-fed man to tell the plight of the former. In parallelism, two events that are not connected in any way except for their themes develop in parallel. In simultaneity, the ending is dependent upon the falling actions of two simultaneous events that are related to each other. Some of these methods have been overused to the point that the film becomes a copy of another.

 


Excerpts from Film Form: by Sergei Eisenstein

March 3, 2010

 In “Beyond the Shot,” Eisenstein writes about the cinema of Japan, a country that has no cinematography. He argues that although Japanese cinema has no montage, the idea of montage is in fact ingrained in the culture, such as in their writing, hieroglyph. Eisenstein gives a fascinating example of how the Japanese script is composed of different representations put together, which is really what happens in cinema.

The Japanese use various methods in their cinema that are unknown in European cinema. One is called ‘transitionless acting,” where the actors make a change seamlessly. For example, an actor can be on stage and suddenly stops. He becomes concealed and in a few minutes appears as someone different with new make-up and a new emotional state.

Another idea of the Kabuki theatre is called “decomposed acting.” In the films The Mask Maker, actress Shocho depicted her dying character in fragmented ways. First, she used only her right arm, then one leg, then the neck and last the head, to portray the stages and agony of death. With this principle, the actor is able to grab the audience’s attention.

A third principle is the idea of slow tempo to a degree. This is about “the decomposition of the process of movement” (23). One example is the hara-kiri scene in The Forty-Seven Samurai.

From all these three methods, one can see that “the reduction of visual and aural sensations to a single physiological denominator” is what makes Japanese cinema different from European ones. Eisenstein argues that these three methods are worthwhile to learn cross-culturally. Unfortunately, Eisenstein points out that the opposite is happening; the Japanese are adapting some of the Western principles into their cinemas.

In the next section of his article, Eisenstein writes how “art is always conflict” (24). First, the task of art to deliver a social mission. Second, it is within the nature of art to stir up conflicts. Third, it is because of its methodology, since shot and montage are part of film.

Eisenstein emphasizes that montage is not made up of continuous shots put together but rather is composed of the “collision between two shots that are independent of one another” (27).

One needs to assume that the “shot is not a montage element—the shot is a montage cell” (29). He also sees a relationship among title, conflict and the conflict montage between the shots.


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