This article extends current theorizing in media psychology on audience responses to cinema by examining individuals' perceptions of meaningfulness. Specifically, it presents the results of a study designed to expand upon research on psychological and subjective well-being to experiences and memories of films that are perceived as particularly meaningful by viewers. Characteristics and themes of such films are examined and identified, as well as the specific emotional responses that accompany perceptions of meaningful cinema.
Mary Beth Oliver and Tilo Hartmann
Paisley Livingston, Douglas Pye, Robert Stecker and George M. Wilson
SEEING FICTIONS IN FILM
THE IMAGINED SEEING THESIS
FILM NARRATION, IMAGINATIVE SEEING, AND SEEING-IN
REPLY: SEEING THROUGH THE IMAGINATION IN CINEMA
George M. Wilson
If people generally do a poor job of recognizing liars, it is interesting that so many movies employ deceptive characters. Duplicity and prevarication are common plot devices whereby scheming characters maneuver to get their way. Such movies often rely on viewers’ abilities to recognize the deception at hand. Does this represent a disconnect between movies and life, with viewers tasked in one arena with a skill set that doesn’t seem to function well in the other?
The journal’s subtitle—“movies and mind”—points to the intersection of cinema and its viewers. Although it works in foreseeable ways, mind is not a machine. Its constituents include the unique sets of circumstances that define a person; thus there are many routes to revealing the intersection of movies and mind.
Reel to Real: race, sex and class at the movies by bell hooks. New York and London: Routledge, 1997.
Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The paradox of race. The 1997 Reith Lectures by Patricia J. Williams. London: Virago Press, 1997.
Gal Raz, Giancarlo Valente, Michele Svanera, Sergio Benini and András Bálint Kovács
This article provides evidence for the existence of a robust “brainprint” of cinematic shot-scales that generalizes across movies, genres, and viewers. We applied a machine-learning method on a dataset of 234 fMRI scans taken during the viewing of a movie excerpt. Based on a manual annotation of shot-scales in five movies, we generated a computational model that predicts time series of this feature. The model was then applied on fMRI data obtained from new participants who either watched excerpts from the movies or clips from new movies. The predicted shot-scale time series that were based on our model significantly correlated with the original annotation in all nine cases. The spatial structure of the model indicates that the empirical experience of cinematic close-ups correlates with the activation of the ventral visual stream, the centromedial amygdala, and components of the mentalization network, while the experience of long shots correlates with the activation of the dorsal visual pathway and the parahippocampus. The shot-scale brainprint is also in line with the notion that this feature is informed among other factors by perceived apparent distance. Based on related theoretical and empirical findings we suggest that the empirical experience of close and far shots implicates different mental models: concrete and contextualized perception dominated by recognition and visual and semantic memory on the one hand, and action-related processing supporting orientation and movement monitoring on the other.
Review Essay on: COGNITIVISM GOES TO THE MOVIES: Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga, eds., THE ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO PHILOSOPHY AND FILM; Carl Plantinga, MOVING VIEWERS: AMERICAN FILM AND THE SPECTATOR’S EXPERIENCE; Torben Grodal, EMBODIED VISIONS: EVOLUTION, EMOTION, CULTURE, AND FILM
Cinemas of Boyhood Part II
We are proud to present a second set of essays on the topic of boyhood in cinema, adding to those that appeared in issue 8.2 of this journal. Again, the range of interests is eclectic, further illustrating the diverse concerns that boyhood’s representation evinces in movies and all media.
Pascal Wallisch and Jake Alden Whritner
Neuroimaging research suggests that watching a movie synchronizes brain activity between observers. This is surprising in light of anecdotal reports that viewers construct their experience radically differently, consistent with contemporary cognitive media theory. This article empirically tests the degree of agreement in the appraisal of commercially produced major motion pictures. Ratings for more than two hundred carefully selected movies were solicited from a diverse pool of more than three thousand study participants. Doing so shows that intersubjective movie appraisal is strikingly low but significantly different from zero. The article also shows that these ratings correlate only weakly with the judgment of professional movie critics. Taken together, this study supports the notion that movies are an extremely rich, highly dimensional narrative stimulus with many degrees of freedom for viewers to construct their subjective experience in a highly idiosyncratic fashion.
Patrick Colm Hogan
It is commonplace to remark that India has the largest film industry anywhere, producing “unquestionably the most-seen movies in the world” (Kabir 2001: 1). Of the many languages in which Indian movies are made, films in Hindi (or Urdu) are the most prominent globally, and they comprise the most obviously “national” cinema (Ganti 2004: 12). Indian films in general, and Hindi films in particular, have had international success for decades (Desai 2004: 40). They constitute perhaps the only national cinema that can come close to rivaling the U.S. film industry. This parallel with Hollywood has led to the popular name for the Hindi film industry, “Bollywood.” The name refers particularly to the entertainment-oriented films from the 1960s on, and of these especially the films produced since the early 1990s in the period of economic neoliberalism and globalization.