The Radical Film.doc

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Innis College Courses
Corinn Columpar

The Radical Film • ex. Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore, Lincoln • can concern itself with a political issue or political figure • "Every film is political, inasmuch as it is determined by the ideology which pro- duces it (or within which it is produced, which stems from the same thing)." (Co- molli & Narboni, 814) • "Ideology is an internalized image of one's place within all of the social dy- namics related to power and hierarchy. Put differently, ideology describes the lens through which individuals see and understand how they fit into the social world around them. The internalized image of one's place in the world bestows on each individual an idea of what goals to strive for, which values and beliefs count most, what groups inhabit society, how to use and adapt com- mon social practices, and what cultural ideals deserve emulation." (Nichols, 287) ◦ ideology manifests itself and operates by social norms, which give us pur- pose and provide us with meaning ◦ ex. of a dominant ideology: "hard work is good" - not necessarily based on natural law, not necessarily universal; ex. of alternative worldview: hedo- nism, or that hard-work is distracting to happiness/enlightenment ◦ could you envision an alternative? or does it exist in another time or cul- ture? if yes, then it is an ideology • Louis Althusser ◦ was a French Marxist philosopher ◦ fuelled many social movements in the 1960s in France and beyond ◦ influenced Cahiers du Cinema + Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin ■ Tout Va Bien ◦ essay in Cahiers announced what the journal would be concerned with, as it began taking a leftist approach - influenced by Althusser ◦ how does the capitalist system come to perpetuate itself? how does it come to be perpetuated by the workers, by the very people whom it ex- ploits? why does the working class continue with this system that does not serve its interests? bc dominant ideology has trained them to ◦ Althusser's answer: the capitalistic system is secured by the legal political + ideological realms ◦ argued that the current system is perpetuated through the workings of two types of institutions: ■ Repressive State Apparatuses ■ army, courts, prisons ■ operated on threats and punishments ■ work by force ■ Ideological State Apparatuses ■ schools, families, churches, media ■ perpetuate and disseminate the values, beliefs, norms, of the current social system ■ to convince people its inevitability and righteousness ■ work by coercion, suggestion ■ can influence the "hearts and the minds" of people - result in internalization The Radical Film ■ "In a class society ideology is the relay whereby, and the element in which, the relation between men and their conditions of existence is settled to the profit of the ruling class." ◦ ◦ Cahiers writers claim that film by and large serves to benefit the ruling class by maintaining the status quo ■ **all films are political • what we think of as reality is actually an expression of the dominant ideology • what the filmmaker captures with his photographic medium is really the world in which the dominant ideology has produced • "Ideology is an internalized image of one's place within all of the social dynamics related to power and hierarchy." (Nichols) • every time we are "hailed" by the social world, and we respond, that is when our position is established and re-established in ideology • interpellation --> the process by which we become subjects in ideology ◦ a combination of interpolation (insertion) AND appellation (name) ◦ has us both being named and inserted into the social system ◦ ex. advertisements • film can hail us when we see ourselves in characters, in the reality constructed by the film - the key thing that Cahiers writers want us to know is that that represen- tation of reality is not real, it is a construction and expression of the system by which the filmmakers work in • failing to contest ideology with their content and their form - films that pass them- selves off as harmless entertainment, often classical form: these naturalize the status quo, serve as the mouthpiece for dominant ideology, confirming the world- view it has produced by replicating it and passing it off as just the way things are • according to Comolli and Narboni, vast majority of films are like this: • Comolli and Narboni's film categories ◦ a. dominant films: "imbued through & through with dominant ideology" ■ many art films belong in this category along w classical cinema ◦ b. resistant films - attack the dominant ideology with both con- tent and form, signifier and signal ■ the radical film, run counter to the films of category A: "attack their ideological assimilation on two fronts"; in breaking convention in content + subject matter, but also in their form ■ motivated to subvert political agenda of conventional filmmaking, create and explicitly political cinema that encourages the audience to engage w the material ◦ c. formally resistant films - not explicitly political, not dedicated to specific political matter, but are subversive at the level of form, refute c
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