It would certainly be impractical in many situations… but I enjoy it anyway! According to this method, representation is based on formal structure and not content. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. 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). 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. This modern film theory is used to evoke certain emotions… Formalism depicts scenes in a way that a person can not see with the eye in real life. I really like that these filmmakers really focused on the content of their film and analysed the best ways they could present the story and its background. In the field of literary criticism, a formalist approach is one that studies a text as a text and nothing more. 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. pub. FORMALISM Formalism is the view that theoretical information about an object, or practical guidance about how to treat it, are to be derived from attention to its form rather than its matter or content. 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. However, I find this to be a much more intense and specific approach to film study. Common formalist approaches include analysis of style and narrative, as well as literary and artistic criticism. Formalism analyses the structure of a text without focusing on the external factors such as authorship, social and cultural influence. 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. From there, he determines how the film fits into our world through Freudian psychoanalysis, which, in short, is a formulated study of the human subconscious. 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. Perkins’ approach works best as a secondary stage in film analysis, to be preceded by Wood’s description driven approach. Change ). parts of a … Formalist theory examines issues related to the nature of the film itself and how its aesthetics promote meaning. 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. The formalist theory is one that is very often used as a topic of study. Avant garde films are an example of extreme formalism. (“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” 175). 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. PLOT: A narrator begins the story by explaining that he's sane. Formalism accomplishes this examination by evaluating the formal aspects of a text. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. Most directors who are great stylists are formalists to some degree. Wood’s theory also considers cultural reflections and assumptions exhibited in the film. Plato (c. 430--347 B … 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. 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). 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. And without us having to go off and do all kinds of background research in the library. In monographs about world filmmakers, aesthetic or formalist film theory is the most represented in the English language. 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. Recognition, Alignment, Allegiance in Taxi Driver, Use the camera to emphasise the subject’s mood e.g. 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. His final consideration is asking how the film demonstrates what film can be, interpreting the film as a whole and finding its place in cinema. 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 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. Psycho. New York: De Capo Press., 1993. 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. 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. Yet, for some it is still the medium to dream in. Dir. The formalist theory is one that is very often used as a topic of study. 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. What is the formalism/formalist approach to studying film? The exposure of the eyes leaves the character vulnerable, open to the viewer’s scrutiny, allowing access to their soul. “Psycho”, Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, F&F, 1989. Formalism began in Russia during the 20th century by a group of linguists who desired a … More simply stated, Perkins considers why the film is as it is, analyzing editing and camera techniques and their effects on the spectator. Change ), Formalist Film Theory and Psycho-Analysis. 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). In a time of revolution a new form of literary theory also emerged. Most directors who are great stylists are formalists to some degree. ( Log Out / Throughout the movie, color is used to add depth and help establish the mood in the scene. ( Log Out / ( Log Out / In fact, he is the only character in the entire film whose eyes we do not see. Today, it is a major approach in film studies While they were doing this, they influenced soviet montage filmmakers such as Eisenstein. This process can be applied to every film, thus furthering the field of film study. DIFFERENT VIEWS UNDERFORMALISM NEO-REALISM ANTI-REALISM REALISM AVANT GARDE 5. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Formalism, also called Russian Formalism, Russian Russky Formalism, innovative 20th-century Russian school of literary criticism. Perkins then asks how the scene relates to the rest of the film, connecting common themes found within. For this reason it is the preferred approach for propaganda. 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. Formalism, in other words, allows us to explain how writers achieve certain effects. Their approach to film emphasizes their ability to create story and emotion through manipulation. 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. The Formalist Theory. 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); … This approach was proposed by Hugo Münsterberg, Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, and Béla Balázs. The formalist approach as exercised by Wood helps to decipher these recurring themes, thus maximizing film appreciation. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Writing about edition or use of color in a film. 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. Another pioneer of Formalist film theory is Robin Wood, widely known for his famous review article, simply titled “Psycho”. Support: V.F. A good moment to analyze comes in the scene when the initial protagonist, Marion Crane, is pulled over by the police officer. 1969. 4. Wood is another British film critic and professor, known for a slightly more spectator based, formalist approach. Mulvey, Laura. Giannetti, Lewis - "Understanding Film" Langdale, Allan & Munsterberg, Hugo - "Hugo Munsterberg on Film: The Photoplay: A All we need is the text itself. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. A film theory is a discipline, which encompasses different aspects of cinema in order to explore different concepts regarding this form of expression. The film usually presents extraordinary characters and events. Perkins’ scrutiny of shot, scene, film, and cinema is an effective formula for determining what cinema can be. 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. ( Log Out / In the beginning Russian formalist were trying to convert their theories from literary art to film. Two of the most popular and widely exercised approaches to film analysis are the Formalist and Ideological approaches. Formalism is a very appealing method of literary analysis. achieved considerable success when it comes to purging criticism In breaking down specific moments in Psycho, we can understand Hitchcock’s motives by analyzing their effects on the spectator. The idea originates in ancient Greek metaphysics. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. ( Log Out / 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. Their approach to film emphasizes their ability to create story and emotion through manipulation. 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. 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. This directorial choice to have the eyes visible for all except the policeman creates a parallel with the spectator of the film. 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. The concept of understanding directors’ decisions as it pertains to the spectator is the foundation for this approach. Film titles should always It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence. But as I have stated before, that answer lies within the spectator. This is part of the lecture I give students on the first day of class for HUM1900 Introduction to Film. However, these technical features have to be used for a certain purpose. 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. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. In monographs about world filmmakers, aesthetic or formalist film theory is the most represented in the English language. Formalist theory examines issues related to the nature of the film itself and how its aesthetics promote meaning. ( Log Out / 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 formalistic approach directs that art be analyzed by reviewing form and style. Key characteristics of formalism is the theoretical and critical emphasis on form. Structuralism and formalism are two literary theories or literary criticisms that focus on the structure of a particular text. What are Some Values of this Theory? 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. April 1, 2018. Formalism explores ideas, e.g., political, religious, and philosophical ideas. I find this to be too broad, generalizing films into politically and societally driven machines. Thomson Jones describes formalist film as an appreciation of aesthetic objects and one that needs structural analysis. 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. However, structuralism connects the work of a particular author with works of similar st… 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. 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. 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." Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. What are Some Shortcomings of This Theory? (Photos sourced from google) Formalist film first came about in the 1920s, this is when formalist filmmakers were trying to legitimate themselves as artists. I believe this is why so many people hold the cinema in such high regard, retaining strong opinions. 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. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John McIntire, John Gavin. Following the understanding of audience perception, the question of film greatness comes into play. BASIC THEORY 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. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Screen 16.3, 1975. Formalist film first came about in the 1920s, this is when formalist filmmakers were trying to legitimate themselves as artists. ( Log Out / But I agree that it has a very specific function and audience. In studying both formalist and ideological approaches, I believe Wood’s formalist approach serves film analysis best to fully appreciate cinema as a whole. 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. 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. Feminist study, such as writing about how women have been both negatively and positively represented in film. 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. 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… In an article titled “Film as Film” by V.F. Formalism attempts to treat each work as its own distinct piece, free from its environment, era, and even author. 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. 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. Thomson Jones describes formalist film as an appreciation of aesthetic objects and one that needs structural analysis. The whole purpose of watching movies is to entertain ourselves. Marion has committed a crime, but is regretful, and plans to return home to apologize for her thievery. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The movement may have been short lived from the 1910’s […] Neo and Russian formalists believed the work of art as a set of devices, they then use these devices to craft a film. If these terms are new to you, don’t worry—they’ll be explained in the next section. (“Psycho” 157). For this reason it is the preferred approach for propaganda. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. 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. 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. Formalism and Film A Look Behind Formalism What is Film Formalism? 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. Just as the policeman watches Marion from a place of seclusion, so does the audience when studying Norman Bates. ( Log Out / Formalism explores ideas, e.g., political, religious, and philosophical ideas. It is a major theory of film study today. 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. 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. It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence.
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