Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings

Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings

Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings

Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings

Synopsis

Since publication of the first edition in 1974, Film Theory and Criticism has been the most widely used and cited anthology of critical writings about film. Extensively revised and updated, this sixth edition highlights both classic texts and cutting edge essays from more than a century ofthought and writing about the movies. Editors Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen have reformulated the book's sections and their introductions in order to lead students into a rich understanding of what the movies have accomplished, both as individual works and as contributions to what has been called"the art form of the twentieth [and now twenty-first] century." Building upon the wide range of selections and the extensive historical coverage that marked previous editions, this new compilation stretches from the earliest attempts to define the cinema to the most recent efforts to place film inthe contexts of psychology, sociology, and philosophy, and to explore issues of gender and race. The sixth edition features several new essays that discuss the impact of digital technology on the traditional conceptions of what films do and how they manage to do it. Additional selections from the important works of Gilles Deleuze round out sections dealing with the theories of such writers asSergei Eisenstein, Andre Bazin, and Christian Metz, among others. New essays also strengthen sections dealing with the idea of "excess" in film, film spectatorship, the horror genre, and feminist criticism. Film Theory and Criticism, 6/e, is ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses in filmtheory and criticism.

Excerpt

In the thirty years since the first edition of this collection appeared in 1974—let alone the more than one hundred years since the first films were shown—the academic study of film has changed enormously, and the journalistic and popular criticism of film has been deeply affected as well. Yet many of the same issues that preoccupied and stimulated writers from the very beginning of film theory and criticism are still puzzling later generations: Is the filmed world realistic or artificial? Is film a language? Is its world best expressed in silence? in sound? through stories that may be derived from other arts? through stories that can be told only on film?

Many of these questions were first formulated in critical language indebted to the methods and terminology of such humanistic disciplines as literary criticism, art history, and aesthetics. But early on, theorists began to emphasize the obligation to appreciate what was different, even unique, about film in comparison with the other arts: its formal qualities, its common need for enormous capital investment, and its relation to a mass audience.

In the light both of continuing issues and evolving ideas, we might roughly divide the history of film theory into three somewhat overlapping phases. The first, which generally corresponds to the silent period, was formalist. From about 1916 (the year in which the earliest essay in this volume was published) to the mid-1930s, theorists such as Hugo Münsterberg, Rudolf Arnheim, and Sergei Eisenstein attempted to demonstrate that film was indeed an art, not just a direct recording of nature. The coming of synchronized sound then brought on a realist reaction to the formalist argument. Siegfried Kracauer and André Bazin among others argued that film was not an art in contrast to nature but an art of nature.

By the 1960s and 1970s, this classical phase of film theory was being challenged by writers responding both to historical conditions (the Viet Nam war, the student . . .

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