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Theory for Film Practice - Essay Example

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Film form is thought to be the overall system of particular relations that can be found among the film’s elements. While all of them are classified either as narrative or stylistic, in this paper I will focus on the latter. To stylistic elements, mise en scene, editing, cinematography, and sound are referred (Keuthan). When the sound was introduced to the silent cinema back in 1927, its integration became the subject of hot debate ranging from passionate approval to criticism expressed by film critics of the time. Indeed, as Dale observes, “sound invasion in the cinema brought about many crises”, so that the techniques used to produce silent films were subject to complete revision (Dale 637). In the centre of the continuous debate was the role and necessity of sound, if it was thought necessary at all. While the public immediately fell in love with the sound film, a lot of film directors, aestheticians and many film critics argued that integration of sound in the film “was a disaster that would destroy the cinema as a unique art form” (Fabe 59). Opposing the views expressed by the early sound theorists that sound creates obstacles to better conveying the film’s message, this paper contends that sound is crucial to conveying the film’s message through imagery. Let us first discuss the arguments by the early sound theorists against the integration of the spoken word into the cinema. In particular, the aesthetic disadvantages of the new technology need to be observed. Having done this, I will focus on pro-sound arguments developed by another set of film theorists at that time, as well as make references to the contemporary theory of film sound. One of the most passionate anti-sound theorists was Bela Balasz. He contended that the primacy of image ensures deep communicative force of the film. Since speech is far less expressive than the body language that accompanies it, the integration of the spoken word into the cinema would lead to audience’s desensitizing. To illustrate, Balasz said, “The silent film is free of the isolating walls of language difference. If we look at and understand each other’s faces and gestures, we not only understand, we also learn to feel each other’s emotions” (Balasz as quoted in Fabe 60). Similarly, the film theoretician and historian of art Rudolph Arnheim argued against the inclusion of literal voices into film supporting his argument with the claim that images themselves speak. Moreover, Arhnheim not only advocated the anti-sound position, he called for the silent film’s return. Close analysis of Arnheim’s views helps to understand the essence of most radical anti-sound views in the film theory. In his well-known essay “A New Laocoon: Artistic Composites and the Talking Film” written back in 1938, Arhneim discusses the irrelevance of spoken word in a film. One of his arguments is that the use of sound at the then level of technological development created to the feeling of uneasiness caused by the fact the attention of the audience was torn in two opposite directions. Specifically, Arnheim contends that in a film two different media are struggling with each other to express one thing rather than exerting a united effort and capture the message. The coincidence of these fighting voices results in violation of aesthetic laws by films with sound, as Arnheim posits it (Arnheim 164). Partially sharing Arnheim’s critical views on the use of spoken word in ...Show more
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The Course Number 20 June 2012 Theory for Film Practice Just as any film is perceived as an artwork, it involves the audience through engagement of senses, as well as feeling and mind in a certain process of active perception…
Theory for Film Practice
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