Cinematic tradition suggests that Hollywood films, like plays, are divided into acts. Thompson (1999) streamlined the conception of this largescale film structure by suggesting that most films are composed of four acts of generally equal length—the setup, the complicating action, the development, and the climax (often including an epilog). These acts are based on the structure of the narrative, and would not necessarily have a physical manifestation in shots and transitions. Nonetheless, exploring a sample of 150 Hollywood style films from 1935 to 2005, this article demonstrates that acts shape shot lengths and transitions. Dividing films into quarters, we found that shots are longer at quarter boundaries and generally shorter near the middle of each quarter. Moreover, aside from the beginnings and ends of films, the article shows that fades, dissolves, and other non-cut transitions are more common in the third and less common in the fourth quarters of films.
James E. Cutting, Kaitlin L. Brunick and Jordan E. Delong
James E. Cutting, Kaitlin L. Brunick and Jordan DeLong
This is an amendment to the article "How Act Structure Sculpts Shot Lengths and Shot Transitions in Hollywood Film" by the same authors published in Projections 5(1), summer 2011.
This research examined racial attitudes in response to viewing “white savior” films, best described as films in which a white character displays extraordinary acts of kindness and selflessness toward one or more minority characters. The results of an experiment (N = 149) revealed participants who viewed a savior film experienced moral emotion elevation, which, in turn, elicited prosocial motivations and universal orientation. Whereas prosocial motivations and universal orientation were predicted to reduce racism, findings indicated that prosocial motivations, in the absence of universal orientation, led to greater levels of both contemporary and traditional forms of racism. In addition, films portraying white saviors and those featuring black saviors were compared and shown to be invariant. Implications for understanding white privilege in light of these results are discussed.
The Plundered Archives of the Palestinian Cinema Institution and Cultural Arts Section
One of the biggest acts of plunder by Israel was of a vast Palestinian film archive looted by Israeli military forces in Beirut in 1982. The films are managed under the repressive colonial control of the Israel Defense Forces Archive, which thus conceals many of them and information regarding their origin. This article documents my efforts to disclose the films and locate their institutions in Beirut, to chart their history, name their film-makers and open a discussion about returning them. It also provides a deeper understanding of colonial mechanisms of looting and truth production. I discuss the Third Palestine Cinema Movement and the various institutions that were part of the Palestinian revolution in the 1970s, with a focus on the Cultural Arts Section managed by Ismail Shammout.
This article examines Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation as a creative enterprise that opens up new ideas about documentary film and insights into working with new media. It considers how the making of this film worked as a prosthetic aspect to the filmmaker's identity and stability. In examining the interplay of sound, image, and written text, I note how Tarnation develops an artistic meditation on a number of important topics: the representation of trauma, the abstract and formal means of expressing the fragility of survival, the damage to memory and to identity that family dys-function causes, the technical demands of creating narratives of broken and contested lives. The material in the film and its mode of composition from the perspective of psychoanalytic studies of mourning, gay performance and identity, gender dysphoria and its relation to loss, and artistic projects as acts of healing are also considered.
Do films that challenge us to turn away from the screen as a result of their depictions of violence raise issues about the ethics not of regarding the pain of others, but of watching films as a whole? Drawing on Stanley Cavell's notion of revulsion, recent investigations into “extreme“ cinema and, Antonin Artaud's concept of a “theater of cruelty,“ this article argues that watching violence on screen is not necessarily a negative and voyeuristic exercise, but that it can be good for viewers to see graphic violence on screen. This is not simply a question of viewing onscreen violence per se. What also is important is that the filmmakers adopt a set of stylistic techniques that are defined here as “cruel.“ Films (typically art house films) that adopt these techniques encourage viewers not to view violence for entertainment, but rather they encourage viewers to understand the potential in all humans to commit such acts. Such an understanding in turn forces us to lead our lives in an ethical fashion, whereby we do not unthinkingly follow a moral code, but rather choose and take responsibility for what we do. Furthermore, it encourages an “ethical“ mode of film spectatorship in general: we watch films to learn not just voyeuristically about others, but also about what we ourselves could become.
Nexus of Complicity and Acts of Subversion in The Piano Teacher and Black Swan
Neha Arora and Stephan Resch
Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) are films about women directed by men. Both films unorthodoxly chart women artists’ struggle with the discipline imposed on them by the arts and by their live-in mothers. By portraying mothers as their daughters’ oppressors, both films disturb the naïve “women = victims and men = perpetrators” binary. Simultaneously, they deploy audiovisual violence to exhibit the violence of society’s gender and sexuality policy norms and use gender-coded romance narratives to subvert the same gender codes from within this gender discourse. Using Judith Butler’s and Michael Foucault’s theories, we argue that Haneke and Aronofsky “do” feminism unconventionally by exposing the nexus of women’s complicity with omnipresent societal power structures that safeguard gender norms. These films showcase women concurrently as victim-products and complicit partisans of socially constructed gender ideology to emphasize that this ideology can be destabilized only when women “do” their gender and sexuality differently through acts of subversion.
While public discussions about media and violence tend to be defined by the negative psychological effects attributed to exposure to mediated depictions of violence, this article argues that the mediated violence in Valeska Grisebach's 2006 film, Longing, (Sehnsucht) instead seeks to heighten viewers' sensitivity towards violent acts in moving images. Grisebach rejects the so-called MTV aesthetic and instead employs formal and narrative devices that may be read in political terms. To illuminate the connection between film aesthetics, violence, and mass (dis)engagement with politics, this article draws upon the argument rehearsed in Walter Benjamin's oft-cited essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” (1936). Given that we are witnessing changes in the ways that we experience and re-present our reality now that are arguably as significant as the birth of the moving image itself, it is pertinent to look to early twentieth-century cultural theory in order to gain a better understanding of the significance of these transformations in a historical context. By reading the violent incidents in Longing through a Benjaminian lens, this article suggests that the film is a political act by Grisebach, as well as a key political work in the field of contemporary German-language cinema.
Queerness, Pedophilia and Perversions in "L.I.E." and "Mysterious Skin"
Sarag E. S. Sinwell
Drawing on the work of Gayle Rubin, Jonathan Dollimore, and B. Ruby Rich, this paper will explore the ways in which Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (2000) and Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin (2004) portray adolescent male bodies and subjectivities within the context of the queer. Throughout these films, cinematic identification is primarily tied up with the stories of adolescent boys. However, the perverse acts in which they participate (both voluntarily and involuntarily), the inclusion of multiple points of view, and the focus on our own cultural constructions of childhood, adolescent and adult sexualities trace a network of nodes of identification. Thus, I argue that L.I.E. and Mysterious Skin queer identification by imagining a multiplicity, fluidity, and diversity of modes of identification that engage with both the normal and perverse natures of identity, sexuality, and subjectivity.
Adaptation as Phallocentric Appropriation in Blue Is the Warmest Color
Marion Krauthaker and Roy Connolly
Hélène Cixous’s liminal text ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ calls for a challenge of traditional representations of femininity and prompts women to inscribe their hitherto concealed femininity into the world. Depicting the love, relationship and loss experienced by two female characters, Julie Maroh’s 2010 Blue Is the Warmest Color provides a narrative sustained by a reclaimed matrixial gaze that challenges patriarchal definitions of women. Whereas the original comic book acts in concert with Cixous’s perspective and seeks to assert the infinite richness of women’s individual constitutions, the 2013 film adaptation by Abdellatif Kechiche presents a different economy. This article analyses how, in contrast to Maroh’s original, the filmic adaptation discounts the feminine stance, develops a heteronormalised take on the same story and could therefore be read as promoting heteronormative leitmotifs and fantasised clichés of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality.