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A Structure of Antipathy

Constructing the Villain in Narrative Film

Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates, 2001–2011)—that provoke their audiences’ moral condemnation. What are the psychological underpinnings of this response, and by what means do the villains provoke it? Cognitive film theory has not yet

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Racialized Disgust and Embodied Cognition in Film

Dan Flory

responses. From the point of view of current cognitive film theory, the problem with racialized disgust responses is that in spite of being critically important to the history of film—if not also its present—they nonetheless have been all but ignored. They

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Twofoldness in Moving Images

The Philosophy and Neuroscience of Filmic Experience

Joerg Fingerhut

2019 ). I will re-engage in a recent debate regarding their interpretation ( Fingerhut 2018a ; M. Smith 2018 ). My aim is to indicate how a new cognitive film theory and naturalized aesthetics of film could take shape if it were to engage more

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A Pragmatic Framework for the Cognitive Study of Documentary

Catalin Brylla and Mette Kramer

analysis of fiction film over that of documentary, a tendency that is mainly attributable to four factors. First, cognitive film theory developed in the 1990s as (arguably) a theoretical alternative to the influential Marxist, psychoanalytic, semiotic and

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Film as the Engine for Learning

A Model to Assess Film's Interest Raising Potential

Winnifred Wijnker, Ed S. Tan, Arthur Bakker, Tamara A. J. M. van Gog, and Paul H. M. Drijvers

emotion theory in conceptualizing student interest in learning contexts, cognitive film theory follows emotion theory in conceptualizing viewer interest as an appraisal-driven emotion. Film theory has attempted to account for film viewers’ interest using

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Constructing Film Emotions

The Theory of Constructed Emotion as a Biocultural Framework for Cognitive Film Theory

Timothy Justus

argue that cognitive film theory would do well to consider another view that can more readily accommodate questions of cultural and historical specificity. In what follows, I give an overview of basic emotions theory, or the classical view of emotion

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Neurocinematics: The Neuroscience of Film

Uri Hasson, Ohad Landesman, Barbara Knappmeyer, Ignacio Vallines, Nava Rubin, and David J. Heeger

This article describes a new method for assessing the effect of a given film on viewers' brain activity. Brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during free viewing of films, and inter-subject correlation analysis (ISC) was used to assess similarities in the spatiotemporal responses across viewers' brains during movie watching. Our results demonstrate that some films can exert considerable control over brain activity and eye movements. However, this was not the case for all types of motion picture sequences, and the level of control over viewers' brain activity differed as a function of movie content, editing, and directing style. We propose that ISC may be useful to film studies by providing a quantitative neuroscientific assessment of the impact of different styles of filmmaking on viewers' brains, and a valuable method for the film industry to better assess its products. Finally, we suggest that this method brings together two separate and largely unrelated disciplines, cognitive neuroscience and film studies, and may open the way for a new interdisciplinary field of “neurocinematic” studies.

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Die Hard as an Emotion Symphony: How Reptilian Scenarios Meet Mammalian Emotions in the Flow of an Action Film

Torben Grodal

Abstract

The article analyzes how action films use different emotional sources of arousal to create narrative tension and suspense in the PECMA flow (i.e., the mental flow of perceptions that activate emotions, cognition, and action). It analyzes how different emotions link to each other or contrast each other in the narrative flow that one metaphorically might call an emotion symphony. The flow may create a time-out experience because of the way in which the action-oriented flow recruits consciousness in full, similar to the way in which music creates flow experiences, as discussed by cognitive music aestheticians. The article discusses how the flow supports character simulation and how it uses a small set of scenarios (HTTOFF scenarios) to drive the flow. To illustrate the symphonic flow, it makes a close reading of John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988).

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Pain, Sadness, Aggression, and Joy: An Evolutionary Approach to Film Emotions

Torben Grodal

Based on film examples and evolutionary psychology, this article discusses why viewers are fascinated not only with funny and pleasure-evoking films, but also with sad and disgust-evoking ones. This article argues that although the basic emotional mechanisms are made to avoid negative experiences and approach pleasant ones, a series of adaptations modify such mechanisms. Goal-setting in narratives implies that a certain amount of negative experiences are gratifying challenges, and comic mechanisms make it possible to deal with negative social emotions such as shame. Innate adaptations make negative events fascinating because of the clear survival value, as when children are fascinated by stories about loss of parental attachment. Furthermore, it seems that the interest in tragic stories ending in death is an innate adaptation to reaffirm social attachment by the shared ritual of sadness, often linked to acceptance of group living and a tribal identity.

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What Difference Does It Make?: Science, Sentiment, and Film

Murray Smith

Skepticism, even hostility, about the relevance of the natural sciences to the humanities has been the orthodoxy for several decades—a position finding support from otherwise disparate traditions and philosophies, including that of the late Wittgenstein, and post-structuralism. What, then, of the ambitions of those counter-movements within the humanities, like cognitive film theory, which have actively turned to scientific knowledge as a resource in exploring certain aspects of the arts and culture? This article examines emotional expression and experience in relation to film, testing the hypothesis that different theories of emotion, and in particular scientifically grounded theories of emotion, will yield different implications about both emotional expression in film, and our emotional response to films. To concretize the argument, this article offers an analysis of a sequence from Heimat 3, contextualized by a consideration of various factors that make the series as a whole a particularly illuminating case study.