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Shaping Edits, Creating Fractals

A Cinematic Case Study

James E. Cutting and Karen Pearlman

Abstract

We investigated physical changes over three versions in the production of the short historical drama, Woman with an Editing Bench (2016, The Physical TV Company). Pearlman, the film's director and editor, had also written about the work that editors do to create rhythms in film (), and, through the use of computational techniques employed previously (), we found that those descriptions of the editing process had parallels in the physical changes of the film as it progressed from its first assembled form, through a fine cut, to the released film. Basically, the rhythms of the released film are not unlike the rhythms of heartbeats, breathing, and footfalls—they share the property of “fractality.” That is, as Pearlman shaped a story and its emotional dynamics over successive revisions, she also (without consciously intending to do so) fashioned several dimensions of the film—shot duration, motion, luminance, chroma, and clutter—so as to make them more fractal.

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A Structure of Antipathy

Constructing the Villain in Narrative Film

Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Abstract

Many narrative films feature villains, major characters that audiences are meant to condemn. This article investigates the cognitive-affective underpinnings of audience antipathy in order to shed light on how filmic villainy is constructed. To that end, the article introduces an analytical framework at the intersection of cognitive film theory and moral psychology. The framework analyzes villainy into three categories: guilty intentionality, consequential action, and causal responsibility.

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Stacie Friend

Abstract

In Film, Art, and the Third Culture, Murray Smith articulates and defends a naturalized aesthetics of film that exemplifies a “third culture,” integrating the insights and methods of the natural sciences with those of the arts and humanities. By contrast with skeptics, who reject the relevance of psychology and neuroscience to the study of film and art, I agree with Smith that we should embrace the third-cultural project. However, I argue here that Smith does not go far enough in developing this project. In defending the contribution of the natural sciences to film aesthetics as traditionally conceived in the arts and humanities, Smith focuses on only one side of the equation, unduly limiting the potential contribution of the arts and humanities to the scientific study of film. Using the example of emotional responses to fiction film, I propose that we adopt a more genuinely integrative approach.

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Joerg Fingerhut

Abstract

I will argue that the ambition to provide a naturalized aesthetics of film in Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture is not fully matched by the actual explanatory work done. This is because it converges too much on the emotional engagement with character at the expense of other features of film. I will make three related points to back up my claim. I will argue (1) that Smith does not adequately capture in what ways the phenomenon of seeing-in, introduced early in the book, could explain our complex engagement with moving images; (2) that because of this oversight he also misconstrues the role of the mirror neuron system in our engagement with filmic scenes; and (3) that an account of embodied seeing-in could be a remedy for the above. In order to demonstrate the latter point, I will show how such an account could contribute to the analysis of a central sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951) that Smith also discusses.

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Jerrold Levinson

Abstract

After expressing my enthusiasm for Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture, I offer a critical discussion focused upon the place of the experiential-phenomenological dimension in Smith’s naturalized aesthetics. I look closely at two films, Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse (2011) and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin (2013), in relationship to Smith’s claims about the qualia filmmakers impart to their creations and the highly specific states of mind, emotional and otherwise, that they manage to express and to evoke in viewers.

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Film, Art, and the Third Culture

A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film—Précis

Murray Smith

Abstract

In this overview of my recent book, I outline its main themes, questions, and arguments. Part 1 explores the applicability of philosophical naturalism to aesthetics and the arts. Searching for the principles that might under-gird a naturalistic or “third cultural” approach to the arts, I defend a model of “triangulation” that seeks consilience among phenomenological, psychological, and neurophysiological evidence and that relates to two further strategies: “thick explanation,” combining personal and “subpersonal” levels of analysis, and “theory construction,” conceived as an empirically oriented alternative to conceptual analysis. Part 2 examines emotion in the arts and in film as a relevant and fertile territory for a naturalized aesthetics, in relation to Charles Darwin’s account of the expression of the emotions, niche construction, and the theory of the “extended mind.”

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Murray Smith

Abstract

In this article, I reply to the eleven commentaries on Film, Art, and the Third Culture gathered here, organizing my responses thematically and seeking to find points of similarity and difference among the commentators as well as with my own perspective. I address arguments on embodied simulation; the analogy between films and dreams; aesthetic experience and the “expansion” of ordinary experience; the relationships between culture and cognition and between fiction and emotion; theories of the extended mind and of niche construction; the place of neuroscience in aesthetics; and the relationship between naturalism and normativity. I conclude with some reflections on naturalistic methodology.

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Ted Nannicelli

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Lorenzo Javier Torres Hortelano

In Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009), the inverted story of a modern-day Adam (He) and Eve (She) and the death of their son, we witness the deep wound that von Trier himself suffered when his mother revealed to him a truth. He would later reveal this truth to the general public, and I follow the film’s own allusive structure by returning to this revelation only at the end of this report.

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Ivan Mozzhukhin’s Acting Style

Beyond the Kuleshov Effect

Johannes Riis

Abstract

While the Russian film actor Ivan Mozzhukhin has been recognized by film scholars such as Jean Mitry as one of the important actors of the silent screen the nature of his contributions has gone unexplained and, ironically, Mozzhukhin is perhaps best remembered for a lost experiment, presumably carried out by Lev Kuleshov around 1920, that showed how the editor can construct character emotions with shots of contextual objects. The historical record and scientific attempts to replicate the experiment indicate that we need to pay attention to Mozzhukhin’s role as performer and my study of his performances suggests that we may have to rethink long-held assumptions about the relationship between performer expressiveness and editing.