ENGC56H3 Final Exam Notes F&L.pdf

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University of Toronto Scarborough
M.Hoffmann- Universityof Toronto

Final Exam Notes: F&L December-10-12 2:00 PM  Sergei Eisenstein, "Dickens, Griffith, and the film Today" - Film evolves from the social and industrial traditions that redefined space and time for the individual in the 19th cent - Moving beyond the heritage of Western individualism ○ Montage liberates the individual in society - Novels were to Dickens' contemporaries as films are to us ○ Mill the extraordinary, the unusual, the fantastic, from boring, prosaic and everyday existence - Romantic air, and bored people were grateful to the author - The novel's observations were extraordinary as is their optical quality ○ As slightly exaggerated as screen heroes of today ○ Clearly visible traits, its villains are remembered by certain facial expressions, and all are saturated in the peculiar, slightly unnatural radiant gleam thrown over them by the screen - In this deliberate "montage" displacement of the time-continuity of the description there is a brilliantly caught rendering of the transient thievery of the action ○ He personally through it was always pleasing to recognize again and again the fact that our cinema is not altogether without parents and without pedigree, without a past, without the traditions and rich cultural heritage of the past epochs  Presumptuous that esthetic for cinema was a virgin-birth of the art - Based on enormous cultured past; each part of this past in its own moment of world history has moved forward the great art of cinematography - The esthetic growth from the cinematographic eye o the image of an embodied viewpoint on phenomena was one of the most serious processes of development of our Soviet cinema ○ Particularly its role in history on the development of world cinema as a whole  Not a small role ○ Basic understanding of the principles of film-montage became so characteristic for the Soviet school of film-making - Inevitable in those pivotal moments of history ever anew push elements of the montage method into the centre of attention for creative work  Dudley Andrew, "Adaptation" - No matter how we judge the process or success of the film, its "being" owes something to the late that was its inspiration and potentially its measure - A new artistic sign will then feature this original sign as either its signified or its referent ○ Original as a signified, whereas those inspired by or derived from an earlier text stand in relation of referring to the original ○ Arguments of Marxist and other social theorists  Every cinematic rendering will exist in relation to some prior whole lodged unquestioned in the personal or public system of experience  In other words, no filmmaker and no film responds immediately to reality itself □ Adapts a prior conceptions ○ In the case of those texts explicitly termed "adaptations," the cultural model which the cinema represents is already treasured as a representation in another sign system - Adaptation is the appropriation of a meaning from a prior text ○ Before we can go about discussing and analyzing a text we must have a global conception of its meaning  Both a leap and a process ○ We reserve a special place for those films which foreground this relation by announcing themselves as versions of some standard whole  A standard whole can only be a text  A version of it is an adaptation in the narrow sense ○ Clear and useful "laboratory" condition which should not be neglected - Half of all commercial films have come from literary originals ○ Modes of relation between the film and the text ○ Reduced to three: borrow, intersection, and fidelity of transformation - Borrowing is the most frequent mode of adaptation - Borrowing is the most frequent mode of adaptation ○ More or less extensively, the material, idea, or form of an earlier, generally successful text ○ The main types of adaptation from Shakespeare come readily to mind ○ Hopes to win an audience by the prestige of its borrowed title or subject ○ Seeks to gain a certain respectability ○ Audience is expected to enjoy basking in a certain pre-established presence and to call up new or especially powerful aspects of a cherished work ○ Probe the source of power in the original by examining the use made of it in adaptation ○ Wide and varied appeal ○ Claims the status of myth: ○ Rests on the issue of their fertility not their fidelity - Intersecting we are presented not with an adaptation so much as a refraction of the original ○ The film is the novel as seen by cinema ○ Most elaborate metaphors ○ The original artwork can be likened to a crystal chandelier whose formal beauty is a product of its intricate but fully artificial arrangement of parts while the cinema would be a crude flashlight interesting not for its own shape or the quality ○ Initiating a dialectical interplay between the aesthetic forms of one period with the cinematic forms of our own period ○ Insists that the analyst attend to the specificity of the original within the specificity of the cinema - Tiresome discussion concerns fidelity and transformation - reproduction of something essential, clear- cut case of film trying to measure up to a literary work ○ Audience expecting something ○ Treated in relation to the "letter" and to the "spirit" of the text -legal precedent ○ Letter would appear to be within the reach generally elaborated in any film script ○ Ultimately, and this was Bazin's complaint about faithful transformations  More difficult is spirit: original tone, values, imagery, and rhythm  Intangible aspects must intuit and reproduce the feeling of the original  Frankly impossible - involves the systematic replacement of verbal signifiers by cinematic signifiers - From perception toward signification, from external facts to interior motivations and consequences ○ Literary fiction works oppositely, attempt to develop perception ○ How is translation of poetic texts conceivable from one language to another; from one material to another ○ At the very least one is forced to discount the primary articulations of the relevant language systems - Adaptation introduces the category of "matching ○ Bazin feels one cannot dismiss adaptation since it is a fact of human practice ○ We are able to make these distinctions - Study of adaptation include the study of both art forms in their properhistoric context ○ Both words and images are signs; resemblances to one another ○ Many different codes within each ○ Two separate sign systems, like novel and film  Same codes may reappear in more than one system - Narrative codes, then, always function at the level of implication or connotation ○ Hence they are potentially comparable in a novel and a film ○ Narrative itself is a semiotic system available to both and derivable from both ○ Units of that story through words and audio-visual sign, respectively, must be studied ○ Investigation of film styles and periods in relation to literary styles of different periods - Mode of adaptation suggest a great deal about decade to decade ○ Stylistic strategies ○ Symptomatic of a period's style but may crucially alter that style - Filmmaking, in other words, is always an event in which a system is used and altered in discourse  Evelyn Tribble, "When Every Noise Appalls Me - Listening to Shakespeare in Throne of Blood - Motion picture must be the most effective combination of both image and sound - There are many instances in his films where in the climatic scene no music whatever is used ○ Disturbs the more meaningful moments ○ Noh flute and percussion associated with Assaji ○ "dichotomous schema" ○ "dichotomous schema" - Sound = mobility, how that transfers from him to her - Reappearance, sound = sight? ○ Being present ○ Active off screen sound - The major conflict in Throne of Blood is presented through the spatial polarity between the castle and the forest ○ Geometrical and regular - exterior space is disordered  Linda Hutcheon, "How (Audiences)" - Child's delight in hearing the same nursery rhymes or reading the same books over and over ○ Like ritual, this kind of repetition brings comfort, a fuller understanding, and the confidence that comes with the sense of knowing what is about to happen next - But perhaps the real comfort lies in the simple act of almost but not quite repeating, in the revisiting of a theme with variations ○ Genres of film, especially Aristotle's notion of plot combined with Joseph Campbell's myth of the hero's quest - Fascination with story continues into adulthood ○ Overlap somewhat with their own lives and their personal issues with parents and siblings and with being accepted at school  Boys embarrassed by things too close to their own lives and escape, superhero exotic action is better ○ Young women - appropriate cultural material to construct personal meaning  Interactive, attractive, pleasure in adaptations  Girls create with their own history, geography, people and rules of behaviour  DVD's create deeper connection with brand, story to the next level - In direct contrast to this elitist or enriching appeal of adaptation is the pleasure of accessibility that drives not only adaptation's commercialization but also its role in education ○ Considered educationally important for children ○ This get-them-to-read motivation is what fuels an entire new education industry - Closely related to these moral and educational concerns for audiences is the idea that television adaptations of literature, in particular, can act as substitute vehicles for bringing literature to a larger public, cutting away the class differences inherent in access to literacy and literature - If we do not known that what we are experiencing actually is an adaptation or if we are not familiar with the particular work that it adapts, we simply experience the adaptation as we would any other work ○ To experience we need to adapt text ○ The latter to oscillate in our memories ○ Sometimes they rely too much, and the resulting adaptation to make no sense without reference to and foreknowledge of the adapted text - Music adds such an enormously new dimension to a piece ○ It's enough for any audience to absorb at one hearing ○ If the characters and situation are familiar, listeners can relax and let the music take them somewhere new and wonderful - Without foreknowledge film version simply new film, director therefore has greater freedom - Adaptation usually signals its identity overtly: often for legal reasons, a work is openly announced to be "based on" or "adapted from" a specific prior work or works ○ Often come to see the prior adapted work very differently as we compare it to the result of the adapter's creative and interpretive act ○ Become incarnate, imaginations are colonized - Reader obviously have different expectations than do spectators at a play or film or interactive participants in the new media ○ Showing is as different from telling as it is from interacting with a story ○ Different expectations and demands ○ Different viewing conditions and expectations ○ Differences in scale and level of distance/ proximity - Different audience members bring different information to their interpretations of adaptations ○ Different lenses/ positionality - Genre and media "literacy," as it is often called, can be crucial to the understanding of adaptationsas adaptations ○ Intertextual knowledge too might well impinge on their interpretation of the adaptation they are watching watching - What if this is utterly new to the viewer, no knowing of adaptation? ○ Simply experiencing the work for itself, and all agree that even adaptations must stand on their own ○ The more popular and beloved the novel, the more likely the discontent ○ Instead of "based on," they could read "suggested by" or "freely adapted from" to forestall the objections of knowing audience ○ Adapters must satisfy the expectations and demands of both the knowing and the unknowing audience - But even this camera work would not do what a stage production does: engage the viewer'simagination in a way that film, because of its realism, cannot - Has the novel ever evoked the same intense reaction - physical empathy affecting the muscles, pulse, breathing, suspense, dynamic sequences as in film? ○ Degree of active physical involvement of interactive art and especially videogames ○ Film in particular engulfs its audience with the image in all its immediacy ○ The film viewer as an isolated and distanced voyeur with no relation to the actors who he or she regards with "unauthorized scopophilia" ○ Depending on camera angle and type of shot ○ TV is reduced to a part of eyes - Time that is experienced differently by audiences in the various media ○ TV interrupted by ads, family, phone calls; rarely are movies interrupted ○ Watching at home is related to reading or playing games  We control how much we experience and when ○ Novels consume more time; films shorter and cannot leave the theatre - Modes of engagement can be considered immersive: the act of reading a print text immerses us through imagination in another world, seeing a play or film immerses us visually and aurally ○ Interaction with a story in a videogame or theme park adds a physical, enacted dimension ○ Sense of being transported - Movies and videogames don't help develop independence of mind ○ But different possible kinds of engagement (imaginative, visual, physical) ○ Degrees of immersion, identification, and distance - All readers are engaged in the active making of textual meaning ○ Stage audience - semioticians make meaning  Interpretive physical and emotional responses - Similar things can happen in interactive fiction ○ Viewer is not a voyeur and is connected to the story more than by means of emotional identification with a character, as in the telling and showing modes - There are manifest difference in the kind and degree of immersion in the three modes of engagement ○ We may be as much controlled as controllers, but we are still immersed differently in a world with which we interact than with one we are either told about or shown - Adaptation as adaptation involves, for its knowing audience, an interpretive doubling, a conceptual flipping back and forth between the work we know and the work we are experiencing ○ Cultural, social, historical - is another important factor  Robert Stam, "Beyond Fidelity" - Moralistic language such as "fidelity" is limiting when describing a film adapted from a novel ○ Many criticisms are based in concerns about whether an adaptation full embodied the critic's ideal of the "fundamental narrative, thematic, and aesthetic feature of its literary source" ○ More effective criticism will be based in "contextual and intertextual history"  Less concerned with vague ideas of "fidelity  More concerned with "readings, critiques, interpretations and rewriting of prior material" ○ Absolute fidelity is impossible - difference in mediums, lack single absolute correct read - Novel is composed of words; film of pictures and sounds ○ Changes are inevitable ○ General description must now be specific in appearance ○ Knowledge of actor's private life plays a role in film  Used as resource to enhance experience - Being faithful to what? ○ Plot? Spirit?  30 hour movie? ○ Point of view? Experience? ○ Point of view? Experience? ○ Fallacy of single core essence of the text  Dozens of reading = dozens of inter
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