Narrative understanding supposes the viewer's mental activity of constructing causal links, an activity biased by emotions and other mental or psychological circumstances, making the causal links we construct while watching the film sometimes quite different from those the viewers obtain as a consequence of a thorough logical analysis of a narrative. This article argues that this is not the difference between “misunderstanding” and “adequate understanding,” but rather the fact that the viewers cannot discount emotional bias when talking about narrative causality. Because most films are made to be seen and understood after one viewing, they are meant to be understood through emotionally biased causal inference rather than by the pure analytical mind. In order to understand how emotionally biased causal thinking works, it is necessary to conduct empirical research with real audiences. Theories of narrative understanding can only be corroborated by such empirical research.
András Bálint Kovács
Book Review of Todd Berliner, Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)
Charlotte Sun Jensen
This article investigates the film trailer in a cognitive film analytic perspective. More specifically, the focus is on how it circumvents its ontological tension between both giving and holding back its product—the film—at the same time. The hypothesis is that trailers that follow a classic genre convention seek to sell their products by condensing a range of genre traits, which arouses a specific, intense emotional experience. Most particularly, the trailer chooses to activate the main genre of the film and the corresponding range of emotions by reducing and reordering its often complex narrative. On this basis, compared to the film, the trailer may be viewed as an alternative narrative.
It has been an accepted precept in film theory that specific stylistic features do not express specific content. Nevertheless, it is possible to find many examples in the history of film in which stylistic features do express specific content: for instance, the circular camera movement is used repeatedly to convey the feeling of a man and a woman falling in love. This raises the question of why producers and directors choose certain stylistic features to narrate certain categories of content. Through the analysis of several short film and TV clips, this article explores whether or not there are perceptual aspects related to specific stylistic features that enable them to be used for delimited narrational purposes. The article further attempts to reopen this particular stylistic debate by exploring the embodied aspects of visual perception in relation to specific stylistic features such as the circular camera movement.
A Case of Emic Coherence
The Fereydani Georgians are Shi'a Muslims, while the Georgians of Georgia are predominantly Orthodox Christians. This article deals with the mechanism by which Fereydani Georgians reaffirm their Shi'a identity in harmony with the Iranian Georgians' role in the Iranian history. After discussing the theoretical foundation of the relationship between history and ethnic (and national) self-identification, the article describes how Fereydani Georgian identity is represented today and how important historical events are narrated in order to create a cohesive and coherent image of self - an outcome that is called 'emic coherence'. The concept of historical peak experience is introduced on an ethnic level.
These comments concern Bordwell’s explicit and implicit claims about cinematic authorship in his 1985 Narration in the Fiction Film. Distinctions are drawn between causal and attributionist conceptions of authorship, and between actualist and fictionalist views about the spectator’s attitude toward authorship. A key question concerns the autonomy or independence of a viewer’s competent uptake of story and narration, as opposed to its dependence on knowledge of authorship or authorial design. The example of cinematic quotation in Resnais’s Mon oncle d’Amérique is used to illustrate the pertinence of the latter option.
Joseph P. Magliano and James A. Clinton
Contemporary theories of narrative comprehension assume that people build mental models for narrative experiences that are structured around situational relationships such as time, space, and causality. The dominance of this perspective in cognitive psychology arguably emerged in the mid-1990s. Bordwell’s Narration in the Fiction Film is remarkable in how well it dovetails with contemporary theory and the fact that it was written at least ten years before this theoretical perspective became dominant in the psychological literature on narrative comprehension. In this paper, we discuss the relationship and influence of Bordwell’s masterpiece of research focusing on the comprehension of narrative film.