formalism approach to studying film

New York: De Capo Press., 1993. In studying both formalist and ideological approaches, I believe Wood’s formalist approach serves film analysis best to fully appreciate cinema as a whole. Common formalist approaches include analysis of style and narrative, as well as literary and artistic criticism. Wood’s theory also considers cultural reflections and assumptions exhibited in the film. While they were doing this, they influenced soviet montage filmmakers such as Eisenstein. Wood’s methodology starts with an analysis of the director’s choice, and its subsequent effect on the viewer. However, I find this to be a much more intense and specific approach to film study. ( Log Out /  Finally, we apply what we know about the film, its effects, and its greatness, to determine how the film fits into our, the audience’s, world. Formalism, in other words, allows us to explain how writers achieve certain effects. According to The Routledge Encyclopedia of Film Theory, Film Theory is “…a set of scholarly approaches within the academic discipline of cinema studies that question the essentialism of cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large." The exposure of the eyes leaves the character vulnerable, open to the viewer’s scrutiny, allowing access to their soul. BASIC THEORY This approach was proposed by Hugo Münsterberg, Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, and Béla Balázs. Another pioneer of Formalist film theory is Robin Wood, widely known for his famous review article, simply titled “Psycho”. parts of a … This is a great way to tell a specific story as you can use certain devices to emphasis important information in the best way possible, instead of going through and using all the technical features you can, but not highlighting anything particular in your film. Thomson Jones describes formalist film as an appreciation of aesthetic objects and one that needs structural analysis. Support: V.F. Thomson Jones describes formalist film as an appreciation of aesthetic objects and one that needs structural analysis. Formalism emphases aesthetics and style over reality. Their approach to film emphasizes their ability to create story and emotion through manipulation. The Formalist Theory. Most directors who are great stylists are formalists to some degree. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The whole purpose of watching movies is to entertain ourselves. The movement may have been short lived from the 1910’s […] Formalism explores ideas, e.g., political, religious, and philosophical ideas. This directorial choice to have the eyes visible for all except the policeman creates a parallel with the spectator of the film. Their approach to film emphasizes their ability to create story and emotion through manipulation. The formalist theory is one that is very often used as a topic of study. Seeing as how I have yet to conduct a film review on my blog, this analysis will fill that void. ( Log Out /  A good moment to analyze comes in the scene when the initial protagonist, Marion Crane, is pulled over by the police officer. Recognition, Alignment, Allegiance in Taxi Driver, Use the camera to emphasise the subject’s mood e.g. The distinction between form and content is that content is the works subject matter whereas form is what we use and how we present the subject matter. The formalist approach analyzes films from a detail-oriented and spectator-based stance, whereas the Ideological approach is much more broad, focusing more on how the world is, and how it should be seen as a result of film. ( Log Out /  Formalism and Film A Look Behind Formalism What is Film Formalism? The formalist approach as exercised by Wood helps to decipher these recurring themes, thus maximizing film appreciation. Formalism is a very appealing method of literary analysis. I personally believe the viewer determines the true value of the film, and this area of focus results in a greater gratification in recognizing what makes film great. Formalist film theory is an approach to film theory that is focused on the formal, or technical, elements of a film: i.e., the lighting, scoring, sound and set design, use of color, shot composition, and editing. According to this method, representation is based on formal structure and not content. PLOT: A narrator begins the story by explaining that he's sane. Current essay provides a comparative analysis of formalist and realist film theories, based on theoretical approaches, innovations, critical findings and film-making practice of such renowned representatives of both currents of the film theory as Eisenstein, Arnheim and Bazin. A strictly formalist critic would, for example, approach The Great Gatsby as a structure of words, ignoring the details of Fitzgerald’s life and the social and historical contexts of the novel. Formalism, also called Russian Formalism, Russian Russky Formalism, innovative 20th-century Russian school of literary criticism. In the world of film study, there are multiple theories that can be applied for the purpose of film analysis. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry—they’ll be explained in the next section. Elements like color, shapes, textures, and line are emphasized, while the context of the work is de-emphasized, and made a secondary characteristic—at times taken completely out of consequence. A strictly formalist critic would, for example, approach The Great Gatsby as a structure of words, ignoring the details of Fitzgerald’s life and the social and historical contexts of the novel. Structuralism and formalism are two literary theories or literary criticisms that focus on the structure of a particular text. Perf. What are Some Values of this Theory? Film titles should always Current essay provides a comparative analysis of formalist and realist film theories, based on theoretical approaches, innovations, critical findings and film-making practice of such renowned representatives of both currents of the film theory as Eisenstein, Arnheim and Bazin. When she is murdered by what the spectator believes to be Norman’s mother, we then shift our empathy to the poor, unfortunate Mr. Bates. This modern film theory is used to evoke certain emotions or mental states with the help of technical cinematic facets such as lighting, scoring, sound and set design. However, these technical features have to be used for a certain purpose. Perkins, the British film critic, professor, and notable formalist film theorist picks apart films by looking at how the shot fits into a sequence, sequence into film, and film into cinema as a whole. Although I find both Perkins’ and Mulvey’s approaches to film worthwhile and significant, Wood’s method of studying film as it pertains to the spectator appeals to me most, for it focuses on the spectator’s perception. This modern film theory is used to evoke certain emotions… What are Some Shortcomings of This Theory? 4. Formalism attempts to treat each work as its own distinct piece, free from its environment, era, and even author. Yet, for some it is still the medium to dream in. DIFFERENT VIEWS UNDERFORMALISM NEO-REALISM ANTI-REALISM REALISM AVANT GARDE 5. Wood, Robin. The film usually presents extraordinary characters and events. The film usually presents extraordinary characters and events. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. Following the understanding of audience perception, the question of film greatness comes into play. Formalist films have focus on technical elements of a film, such as the lighting of a shot, the colors in a shot and how a scene is shot. moving the camera to create high energy. In fact, he is the only character in the entire film whose eyes we do not see. I really enjoy picking apart sequence (like Perkins’ approach)! This form of analysis derails from what I find to be more imperative, the understanding of the film through the spectator’s eyes, whether or not that includes the consideration of such outside factors raised in ideological theory. Plato (c. 430--347 B … It is a major theory of film study today. For example, formalists are aware that mise-en-scene, sound, camera, framing, editing and optical effects can be used to create a great work of art. Formalism The subject of films is a matter of dreams for many persons though the attraction has come down after the new medium of video has come in. A film theory is a discipline, which encompasses different aspects of cinema in order to explore different concepts regarding this form of expression. Realism as expression of mythic, not the scientific. What is the ideology/ideological approach to studying film? More simply stated, Perkins considers why the film is as it is, analyzing editing and camera techniques and their effects on the spectator. The goal of ideological film theory is to realize, as a result of the film, how the world is or should be seen by way of the director’s vision. Film. It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence. April 1, 2018. In Wood’s simply titled article, “Psycho”, he states: Hence the insistence on eyes, into which the camera, our own eyes, makes us look, to see the dark places of the human soul beyond. Change ), Formalist Film Theory and Psycho-Analysis. What is the significance here? But I agree that it has a very specific function and audience. To get into the concept of formalist film theory, one has to talk about the film in terms of the formal or technical elements within the film. Avant garde films are an example of extreme formalism. What more appropriate approach could there be than to use ourselves and our experiences with film as the driving forces behind analysis? It would certainly be impractical in many situations… but I enjoy it anyway! In my experiences with film study and review, I have always exercised the formalist approach as opposed to the ideological, because I believe film is all about the spectator’s perception. (Photos sourced from google) Formalist film first came about in the 1920s, this is when formalist filmmakers were trying to legitimate themselves as artists. The idea originates in ancient Greek metaphysics. Sometimes finding this answer proves most tricky, as not every film is great. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John McIntire, John Gavin. Marion has committed a crime, but is regretful, and plans to return home to apologize for her thievery. The assessment of a piece of artwork is based purely on the artist’s skilland not on the choice of subject matter, with the value based primarily on the use o… Formalism depicts scenes in a way that a person can not see with the eye in real life. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Neo and Russian formalists believed the work of art as a set of devices, they then use these devices to craft a film. Perkin, V.F.. “Film as Film”, Ch./Art: Excerpts p. 1-6 as reprinted. Common formalist approaches include analysis of style and narrative, as well as literary and artistic criticism. When you look into these theories closely, you can start to understand how and why formalist filmmakers crafted their films, and what theories we can take onto our filmmaking. In an article titled “Film as Film” by V.F. Examples of how formalism can be used in my future filmmaking could be to; All these devices are used to emphasize what the character is doing, seeing and feeling and not used just for the sake of doing so. (“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” 175). Different Views under Formalism . Formalist film theory is a theory of film study that is focused on the formal, or technical, elements of a film: i.e., the lighting, scoring, sound and set design, use of color, shot composition, and editing. Most directors who are great stylists are formalists to some degree. Dir. Formalism The subject of films is a matter of dreams for many persons though the attraction has come down after the new medium of video has come in. It began in two groups: OPOYAZ , an acronym for Russian words meaning Society for the Study of Poetic Language, founded in 1916 at St. Petersburg (later Leningrad) and led by Viktor Shklovsky ; and the Moscow Linguistic Circle , founded in 1915. Key characteristics of formalism is the theoretical and critical emphasis on form. Formalism analyses the structure of a text without focusing on the external factors such as authorship, social and cultural influence. Through the process of the Formalist approach to film analysis as Robin Wood sees it, we are given a strong, efficient formula for film study, and in turn, film appreciation. In the beginning Russian formalist were trying to convert their theories from literary art to film. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Throughout the movie, color is used to add depth and help establish the mood in the scene. In Film Studies, the formalist tradition covers everything from the Russian formalists (see Eagle, 1981) to Rudolf Arnheim's pioneering Film as Art (1957), Christian Metz's film semiotics (1974a; 1974b; Buckland, 1999); Noël Burch's study of film's formal principles (1981); Edward Branigan's description of point of view in narrative cinema (1984); Raymond Bellour's shot-by-shot analyses of film segments (2000); … In the movie The Matrix, color, shots, and angles are used to illustrate the idea of formalism. Structuralism is based on the assumption that every text has a universal, underlying structure. achieved considerable success when it comes to purging criticism “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Screen 16.3, 1975. I believe the Formalist Approach to be the more effective method of studying film because it is important to consider the moment or scene of a film not just in relation to the outside world, but within the context of the film in which it resides. Formalist Film Theory and Psycho-Analysis. All we need is the text itself. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Feminist study, such as writing about how women have been both negatively and positively represented in film. Film analysis is the process in which film is analyzed in terms of semiotics, narrative structure, cultural context, and mise-en-scene, among other approaches. The ideological approach to film, practiced by such notable film figures as Russian director and theorist Sergei Eisenstein as well as British film theorist and feminist Laura Mulvey, also analyzes film through psychoanalysis of the viewer, but with different motives and intents than that of the formalist approach. Mulvey utilizes a gender-oriented process of looking at film, as expressed in her article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”: The image of woman as (passive) raw material for the (active) gaze of man takes the argument a step further into the structure of representation, adding a further layer demanded by the ideology of the patriarchal order as it is worked out in its favorite cinematic form – illusionistic narrative film. ORIGIN CONT. In monographs about world filmmakers, aesthetic or formalist film theory is the most represented in the English language. Today, it is a major approach in film studies Both stories have internal battles of good and evil. Formalist theory examines issues related to the nature of the film itself and how its aesthetics promote meaning. This will then give the viewer a more authentic feel of the character and their story. To further demonstrate my argument that Robin Wood’s formalist approach to film analysis is the most viable of the previously discussed approaches, I will apply his methodology to the classic 1960 thriller, Psycho, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho). We later find out, when his mother’s identity is revealed, that he too has been fighting an internal battle of a more psychotic sort, between himself and his “mother”. Using Wood’s approach, and analyzing the details of the film, we see two separate stories, focused around Marion during Act one, and Norman in Act two. The eyes are a common theme throughout Psycho, highlighted in such scenes as when psycho Norman Bates peeps through a hole in the wall to watch Marion undress, as well as in the conclusion to the famous shower scene in which the camera spirals, zooming out from Marion’s dead eye. I believe this is why so many people hold the cinema in such high regard, retaining strong opinions. Formalist films will focus more on ideas, conveying emotions and feelings as well as having more fantastical stories. The ideological approach as a whole has its place in film theory and critique, answering questions posed about cinema, utilizing psychoanalysis to conclude how we, the audience, should see film. ( Log Out /  Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. I find this to be too broad, generalizing films into politically and societally driven machines. The formalistic approach directs that art be analyzed by reviewing form and style. Yet, for some it is still the medium to dream in. The Formalist approach to literature, or Formalism, is a broad branch of literary criticism that seeks to examine a text on its own terms, independent of the text's societal or authorial context. (“Psycho” 157). Perkins article and detailed scene analysis from film Formalist theory examines issues related to the nature of the film itself and how its aesthetics promote meaning. “Psycho”, Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, F&F, 1989. Formalism explores ideas, e.g., political, religious, and philosophical ideas. In monographs about world filmmakers, aesthetic or formalist film theory is the most represented in the English language. ( Log Out /  In studying both formalist and ideological approaches, I believe Wood’s formalist approach serves film analysis best to fully appreciate cinema as a whole. Psycho. In breaking down specific moments in Psycho, we can understand Hitchcock’s motives by analyzing their effects on the spectator. As formalist theory in film progressed in the 1980s concepts of Russian formalist films were taken to create Neo-formalism. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. In a time of revolution a new form of literary theory also emerged. Formalist film first came about in the 1920s, this is when formalist filmmakers were trying to legitimate themselves as artists. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. After viewing the film and evaluating its effect on the spectator, such as the effect of focusing on the eyes, we can ask ourselves, “what makes Psycho great?”  What makes the film great is that we as the viewer are put in position by Hitchcock to empathize with Marion and Norman, sequentially (transitioning with the shower murder). However, structuralism connects the work of a particular author with works of similar st… Which of the following best applies to the Formalism approach to studying film The chief focus could be on patterns such as narrative openings and closings, the significant repetition and variation of camera techniques, or the relation of shots and sequences to each other. Which of the following best applies to the Formalism approach to studying film The chief focus could be on patterns such as narrative openings and closings, the significant repetition and variation of camera techniques, or the relation of shots and sequences to each other. Russian Formalism was an influential school of literary criticism that involved a number of influential scholars including Viktor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynianov, Vladimir Propp, Boris Eichenbaum, Roman Jakobson, Boris Tomashevsky and Grigory Gukovsky. ( Log Out /  Giannetti, Lewis - "Understanding Film" Langdale, Allan & Munsterberg, Hugo - "Hugo Munsterberg on Film: The Photoplay: A Through analysis of these characters and their personalities/actions, we can conclude that Psycho, in its simplest form, is a classic story of the duality between good and evil. Formalists disagreed about what specific elements make a literary work "good" or "bad"; but generally, Formalism maintains that a literary work contains certain intrinsic features, and the theory "...defined and addressed the specifically literary qualities in the text" (Richter 699). Formalist film theory is an approach to film theory that is focused on the formal, or technical, elements of a film: i.e., the lighting, scoring, sound and set design, use of color, shot composition, and editing. It is true that study at university level normally requires a Deep rather than a Surface approach; you are expected to be analytical, to investigate topics in depth and to develop a critical perspective on them, rather than just writing down everything and trying to reproduce it in essays or exams. Perhaps the reason I relate to Wood’s formalist theory of film analysis is because the answer to the question “why is film great?” truly lies within the spectator being questioned. But as I have stated before, that answer lies within the spectator. Writing about edition or use of color in a film. These films… Most importantly, however, I believe my approach to Hindi film dances enables me to explore “Bollywood dance” as a site of reception of Hindi film dances as they move from films to stage. What is the formalism/formalist approach to studying film? In the field of literary criticism, a formalist approach is one that studies a text as a text and nothing more. To get into the concept of formalist film theory, one has to talk about the film in terms of the formal or technical elements within the film. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. Through Wood’s formalist theory, we can begin to draw conclusions as to what the eyes represent in Psycho. It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence. Perkins then asks how the scene relates to the rest of the film, connecting common themes found within. pub. NEO-REALISM: Andre Bazin. Formalism accomplishes this examination by evaluating the formal aspects of a text. Although I find both Perkins’ and Mulvey’s approaches to film worthwhile and significant, Wood’s method of studying film as it pertains to the spectator appeals to me most, for it focuses on the spectator’s perception. 1969. ( Log Out /  The Formalist Theory A film theory is a discipline, which encompasses different aspects of cinema in order to explore different concepts regarding this form of expression. This point of view developed in reaction to "...forms of 'extrinsic' criticism that viewed the text as either the product of social and historical forces or a document making an ethical statement" (699). This process can be applied to every film, thus furthering the field of film study. Mulvey, Laura. On the whole, the formalist approach to film study rests on the subjective viewer’s response to film, which I believe is the heart of the cinematic experience. Formalism is a method of criticism which “examines a literary text or artwork through its aesthetic composition such as form, language, technique and style” (Formalism, 2018). And without us having to go off and do all kinds of background research in the library. Formalism began in Russia during the 20th century by a group of linguists who desired a … My rather formalist approach to Hindi film dances provides a foundation for investigating these dances in way that will allow me to expand on this research in the future. And hence the dark glasses of the policeman: he is the only character whose eyes we never see, because it is he who is watching Marion, and hence ourselves. ( Log Out /  Formalism is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text.

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