Film can be studied on various levels--as an art form, historic record, social commentary, reflection of the Zeitgeist of an era or culture, pure entertainment or a philosophical or spiritual experience.
Film theory is a group of interpretative frameworks developed over time in order to know better the manner films are produced and received. This theory is not a self-contained field: this borrows from the disciplines of social science, art theory, philosophy, cultural theory, economics, literary theory, political science, and psychology and linguistics.
Film theory was established to illustrate types of motion pictures and also how they affect the emotional and mental feelings of the audience. Film theory acquires into account which the making of films is an extremely different kind of art. This covers thinking and discussion about films. As along with several other theories, film theory was regularly created over a hundred-year duration and has been influenced via various theories and opinions. These opinions and theories have been combined into a movement which along with time, and one step at a time, has turn into a theory of the conceptual framework of the theater.
Purpose of Film Theory:
The reason of film theory is to add to the critical film debate through making changes in the technique of study of film and film analysis. This is a conglomerate of various elements that consist of philosophy, theater, painting, photography, architecture, etc. This is significant to point out that film analysis and film theory require film archives in order to maintain them, for without those archives this would be nearly not possible to study the theories and history of films and to arrive at some cogent analysis.
The other aspect of film theory is film criticism that focuses on evaluating and analyzing the film and asking questions about it in order to understand the purpose of the film: does it teach anything in particular and what is the meaning of specific parts of the film?
The best manner to reflect and analyze is to criticize, particularly in film. Movies can be a great origin of knowledge that can stimulate the thought process particularly along with respect to human nature. Film criticism and film theory is all about understanding and thinking the effects the films have on human nature. Critics will inquire questions about the film and attempt to know how it concerns to everyday occurrences and whether there is a lesson which can teach people something.
The Italian futurist Ricciotto Canudo (1879-1923) is identified to be the extremely first theoretician of cinema. He published his manifesto The Birth of the Seventh Art in 1911. The other early attempt was The Photoplay (1916) through the psychologist Hugo Munsterberg.
Classical film theory took shape throughout the era of silent film. This emerged from the works of directors as like: Louis Delluc, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Lev Kuleshov, Sergei Eisenstein, Paul Rotha and Dziga Vertov and film critics as like: Bela Balazs, Rudolf Arnheim, and Siegfried Kracauer. It was not an academic discipline.
In the early 1950s the French film critic Andre Bazin assisted to determine the highly influential Cahiers du Cinema. Several of its young writers as like: Jean Luc Godard and François Truffaut would go on to direct the films of the French New Wave. These writers were several of the first to take popular Hollywood cinema seriously like an art form. Their fascination along with Westerns and gangster films efficiently spawned genre theory.
In the 1960s film theory took up residence in academe, importing ideas from established disciplines like linguistics, literary theory and psychoanalysis.
In the seventies the British journal Screen was extremely influential.
In the 1990s the digital revolution in image technologies has impacted on film theory in different ways. There has been a refocus onto celluloid film's capability to capture an indexical image of a moment in time through theorists as like: Philip Rosen, Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane. There has also been a historical revisiting of early cinema practices, screenings and spectatorship modes via writers Yuri Tsivian and Tom Gunning, Miriam Hansen.
Due to the relative newness of the film medium compared along with other art forms--Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope peephole machines were initially open to the public in 1894, only in New York City, and the Lumiere brothers first projected their short actualities to a paying audience in a cafe in Paris in 1895--film theory and criticism are dependent upon a restricted number of mainly texts, and the lines of their discourse can simply be traced up to the point while Structuralism and post structuralism had their profound effect upon cultural history in common. By that point on, particularly along with the expansion of film faculties and departments at institutions of higher learning, film theory and criticism proliferated at a quick rate, and film journals turned into as much a place for heated debate upon the issues of aesthetics and art as the learned journals were for essays on literature. Many of the discourse on cinema from the beginning is concerned along with fictional narrative films, an emphasis which parallels the vast popularity of those works compared along with the more restricted and particular appeal of the avant-garde film and documentary.
For the first 20 years of motion pictures, film writing was mostly descriptive and occasionally evaluative, but along with the rise of the feature film, theory obtained its first pronounced steps along with the appearance of two pioneer texts in English, Vachel Lindsay's The Art of the Moving Picture in 1915 (revised edition, 1922) and Hugo Munsterberg's The Photoplay: A Psychological Study in 1916. Both of these works, the first through a poet and the second through a psychologist, identify this new medium in the context of other art forms. However, whereas Lindsay is content to demonstrates parallels among film and such other arts as poetry, sculpture, and architecture, Munsterberg goes much additionally in arguing for the single properties of cinema through focusing in the first part of his work on the psychological responses of the viewer and in the second on the aesthetic properties of film like a mental creation. For him, film, via being freed from the constraints of real space and time and also causality, is able of being constructed along with the free play of the viewer's mental life.
Major approaches and movements in film theory:
Early film theorists had two major concerns: to legitimize cinema as an art form and to know its unique effects and properties. Rudolf Arnheim and Hugo Munsterberg identified (silent) film to be art since it does not merely mechanically record actuality but quite transform the normal manner in which the human eye identifies, by camera angles, editing, and black-and-white photography.
Realist film theorists valued cinema for its capability to record actuality without any authorial intervention—a reversal of Arnheim’s and Munsterberg’s positions.
This movement, initially championed by postwar critics working for the French film journal Cahiers du Cinema, was introduced to America by Andrew Sarris. Auteurism idenifies the film director not merely a mechanical recorder of reality but rather a legitimate artist that personal vision battles the institutional limitations imposed through industrial modes of film production.
Semiotics and structuralism: Initiated by Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory of semiology and Claude Levi-Strauss’s structural anthropology, Umberto Eco and others tried to explain film language like a group of codes and structures that organizes meaning in manners predetermined through the medium itself rather than through single filmmakers.
Initiated by Lacanian psychoanalysis, Louis Althusser’s theory of ideology, and in France in May 1968, student revolts; film scholars began to consider the cinema as an ideological apparatus that interpolates spectators into misrecognizing their relation to the real conditions of their existence.
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