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formalism approach to studying film
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formalism approach to studying film

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. Formalist films will focus more on ideas, conveying emotions and feelings as well as having more fantastical stories. Today, it is a major approach in film studies 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. 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. Formalism attempts to treat each work as its own distinct piece, free from its environment, era, and even author. In the field of literary criticism, a formalist approach is one that studies a text as a text and nothing more. Support: V.F. ( Log Out /  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. In the movie The Matrix, color, shots, and angles are used to illustrate the idea of formalism. April 1, 2018. Formalist theory examines issues related to the nature of the film itself and how its aesthetics promote meaning. However, these technical features have to be used for a certain purpose. For this reason it is the preferred approach for propaganda. All we need is the text itself. Both stories have internal battles of good and evil. 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. I find this to be too broad, generalizing films into politically and societally driven machines. 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. Wood’s theory also considers cultural reflections and assumptions exhibited in the film. Feminist study, such as writing about how women have been both negatively and positively represented in film. Formalism explores ideas, e.g., political, religious, and philosophical ideas. Dir. Throughout the movie, color is used to add depth and help establish the mood in the scene. Perkins’ scrutiny of shot, scene, film, and cinema is an effective formula for determining what cinema can be. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Seeing as how I have yet to conduct a film review on my blog, this analysis will fill that void. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Screen 16.3, 1975. What more appropriate approach could there be than to use ourselves and our experiences with film as the driving forces behind analysis? 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. The Formalist Theory. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. What is the significance here? Film. 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. These films… 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. 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. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. 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). This directorial choice to have the eyes visible for all except the policeman creates a parallel with the spectator of the film. 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. 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. 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. 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. Formalism began in Russia during the 20th century by a group of linguists who desired a … 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. Plato (c. 430--347 B … 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. (“Psycho” 157). Marion has committed a crime, but is regretful, and plans to return home to apologize for her thievery. “Psycho”, Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, F&F, 1989. 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. 4. 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 is a school of literary criticism and literary theory having mainly to do with structural purposes of a particular text. ( Log Out /  In fact, he is the only character in the entire film whose eyes we do not see. 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. And without us having to go off and do all kinds of background research in the library. 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. In film studies, formalism is a trait in filmmaking, which overtly uses the language of film, such as editing, shot composition, camera movement, set design, etc., so as to emphasise graphical (as opposed to diegetic) qualities of the image. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. More simply stated, Perkins considers why the film is as it is, analyzing editing and camera techniques and their effects on the spectator. parts of a … Psycho. In monographs about world filmmakers, aesthetic or formalist film theory is the most represented in the English language. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. 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. The whole purpose of watching movies is to entertain ourselves. ( Log Out /  Formalism depicts scenes in a way that a person can not see with the eye in real life. Form Follows Function: Russian Formalism, New Criticism, Neo-Aristotelianism. 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. It is the study of a text without taking into account any outside influence. 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. 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. ( Log Out /  Formalism, in other words, allows us to explain how writers achieve certain effects. 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. This is part of the lecture I give students on the first day of class for HUM1900 Introduction to Film. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John McIntire, John Gavin. The formalist theory is one that is very often used as a topic of study. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. Formalist film makers shape and mold the images we see on the screen the way a sculptor shapes and molds clay. Formalist film first came about in the 1920s, this is when formalist filmmakers were trying to legitimate themselves as artists. 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”. 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. 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). Giannetti, Lewis - "Understanding Film" Langdale, Allan & Munsterberg, Hugo - "Hugo Munsterberg on Film: The Photoplay: A 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). Wood is another British film critic and professor, known for a slightly more spectator based, formalist approach. Their approach to film emphasizes their ability to create story and emotion through manipulation. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. 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. This will then give the viewer a more authentic feel of the character and their story. 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). Formalism, also called Russian Formalism, Russian Russky Formalism, innovative 20th-century Russian school of literary criticism.

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