Film: The Key Concepts

Film: The Key Concepts

Film: The Key Concepts

Film: The Key Concepts


Film: the Key Concepts presents a coherent, clear and exciting overview of film theory for beginning readers. The book takes the reader through the often conflicting analyses which make up film theory, illustrating arguments with examples from mainstream and independent films. It isolates 6 key concepts in film theory - the photogenic in film, dialectic film montage, film constructs, imaginary signifiers, voyeuristic pleasures and simulacra - each with its own, short essay. Through these concepts it covers the main sites in film theory: realism, formalism, structuralism, semiotics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, cognitivism, post-colonialism, postmodernism, gender and queer film theories. Each chapter stands on its own, tracing the historical evolution of each concept to the present. The book as a whole provides a complete overview of the evolution of film theory. In order to help introductory students, each chapter includes boxed summaries of key theorists, bulleted summaries and an Annotated Guide to Further Reading.


Differing from film history, film criticism or filmmaking — activities that deal with specific films in specific historical contexts — film theory strives to offer general ideas on the nature of film and models for film analysis, presumably applicable to every film irrespective of its specific context of production. Beyond the obvious pleasure and reward involved in thinking about this multilayered culturally dominant medium, film theory enriches our viewing. It also aids historians, critics and filmmakers who are by necessity consciously or inadvertently guided by theoretical assumptions in their practice.

Learning about what has been said on the nature of film, on its peculiar signifying processes, on its ideological and psychological effects, or on the ways it can be productively placed within historical, social, spectator or authorial contexts broadens our comprehension of the medium, enriches our viewing, and enhances awareness of the theoretical questions relevant and deserving attention when writing film history, criticizing a film or making one.

This book aims to provide a brief and coherent overview of film theory for beginning readers. It isolates six key concepts in four chapters, through which the main sites in film theory are covered. Each chapter follows the changing conception of the concept addressed through key articles. Some necessary historical guidelines and references to adjacent fields are offered, along with boxed summaries analysing films and buUeted summaries at the end of each chapter to provide beginning students with a map of the field. A section offering questions for essays and class discussions and an annotated bibliography appear at the back of the book.

Each key concept focuses attention on a particular aspect of the medium: 'From the Photogenic to the Simulacrum' addresses the evolving understanding of the relation between film and reality. It opposes the realist version of film as revealing reality through its reproduction, to the formalist conception of film-art as anti-realist. These two opposing views find relief in the postmodern notion of the simulacrum, according to which 'film' and 'reality' are both simulations. 'Film Constructs' focuses on the evolving notion of how films signify. It starts with the semiological and structural comprehension of films as enclosed structures, followed by the poststructural . . .

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