In order to understand the functions of performer expressiveness in film narratives, we need to draw on multiple conceptualizations of emotions. By viewing emotions in terms of their objects, rather than of their distinct expressions, we may understand how, for example, a pause during line delivery can suggest rich character emotions. In an analysis of an Ingmar Bergman scene from Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), I show how acting styles serve different purposes, such as invoking emotional implications of what has been put in place in the narrative. I discuss how artistic constraints and aesthetic considerations, such as acting norms and the need for balance among parts, provides a supplementary explanation of performer expressiveness.
Vivian Sobchack, Paisley Livingston and Bennett Roth
Laura Mulvey, DEATH 24 X A SECOND: STILLNESS AND THE MOVING IMAGE. London: Reaktion Books, 2006. xii + 196 pp., $24.95 (paperback).
Steene, Birgitta, INGMAR BERGMAN: A REFERENCE GUIDE. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005, 1,150 pp., $75 (hardback).
Andrew M. Gordon, EMPIRE OF DREAMS: THE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, x + 291 pp., $26.95 (paperback).
András Bálint Kovács
According to directors and directors of photography choosing the appropriate shot scale for a scene is primarily an issue of narrative function. However, especially in the practice of art cinema preference of specific shot scales may be an important indicator of a particular style. In some cases statistical analysis of overall shot scale distribution in films reveals consistent and recurrent patterns of shot scale distribution in an author's work. Such a consistency is surprising, because it cannot be the result of conscious decision. No filmmaker plans the proportion of each shot scale in a film. This article investigates a systematic variation of shot scale distribution (SSD) patterns disclosed in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni, and Ingmar Bergman, which raises a number of questions regarding the possible aesthetic and cognitive sources of such a regularity.
Norman N. Holland
Metafictions tell stories in which the physical medium of the story becomes part of the story as, classically, in Tristram Shandy or Don Quixote. In our times, both metafiction and metafilm have proliferated. Examples of metafilm include Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr., Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo, Alejandro Amenábar's Abre los Ojos, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers and, in particular, Spike Jonze's Adaptation. In my experience and that of others, metafilmic movies have a peculiarly disconcerting effect, sometimes arousing fear, sometimes seeming comic. Why? Metafilms play tricks on the levels and kinds of our belief (or our suspension of disbelief). To explain the effect, we need to understand how our brains are functioning when we are, as we say, "absorbed" in a film. The answer lies in the fact that reality testing depends on activity in the motor regions of the frontal cortex. But in experiencing the arts, we are not moving or even planning to move. As a result, as Richard Gerrig's experiments show, we momentarily believe (or suspend disbelief in) the film we are perceiving. Metafilm, however, introduces another, more real reality, the physical medium of the film. Metafilm thus sends conflicting messages to the brain about moving. The result is what Freud called "a signal of anxiety." If the metafilmic effect is brief, we laugh. If it persists over time, it can arouse anxiety.
Faithless, which centers on themes of fidelity and infidelity, was scripted by Ingmar Bergman and directed by Liv Ullmann, his muse and former lover. The film crosscuts between the ongoing dialogues of an aging director, named Bergman, and his created character, based on a woman with whom he has had a previous relationship, and flashbacks from the story they piece together. Just as the female figure emerges from the shadows of the director's workroom to spark his creativity and counter his loneliness by describing the major characters in his new screen play, so does Ullmann, through her direction, bring the real Bergman “face-to-face“ with a dissociated, unformulated aspect of his own experience. The filmic characters, a mix of the autobiographical and the imagined, are used by Bergman to illuminate and articulate the transformations in internal objects and one's relation to them that occur in the processes of loss and reparation, as well as the reparative function of the creative process itself. Having characters emerge to take form as the narrative unfolds illuminates the power of the erotic imagination to represent, sustain, and restore the inner world. The intertextuality between Faithless and a number of previous Bergman films highlights the way that the film is a homage to Bergman and a reflection on the creative process itself.