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MPF 327 (1)

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Film Studies
MPF 327
Janice Kaye

Ruzanna Sukiasyan MPF 327 Film History as History Weekly reading #1 A lot of what was said in this chapter had to do with the explanation of what film history is and what historians do. Many vague questions were addressed in this introductory chapter along with the different types of historical views. The empiricist philosophical view of history is interesting to look at for example. Empiricist history is a simplistic view that focuses on method and primary sources. It uses experience to determine the past. The past however is much more complicated to determine. Not everyone is convinced by empiricist beliefs however; conventionalists argue that there is a missing link between investigator and reality and that historians and scientists have a different view of the world, one that is altered to suit their beliefs. Conventionalists however, are criticized to have logical extreme views since they believe empiricists are like architects of reality; “they construct the world they seek to explain.” To balance out the 2 philosophical views, there is also the realist approach to film history to be taken into consideration. To realists, how and what questions must be answered before a why question can be realized. Realists believe that theory is a “necessary component of scientific explanation” and theoretical assumptions and explanations’ can be derived from a certain time period or scientific paradigm. They believe that theory must not contradict and historical evidence is “partial, mediated but an important record of the past.” Historians can be bias with their research, their interest in a particular historical fact or data is what they choose to present in their historical argument. If a historian has a choice in their findings, then they must have a voice, if they have a voice then they must be bias. Historians have different beliefs and different beliefs pertain to different truths. A Historian must select, interpret, research and judge and therefore historians cannot really be objective. Being a historian is really risky but it’s almost like being a detective of the past. Although they weren’t at the scene of a historical event, they still must provide evidence and work with what they have to come up with a supporting argument that will prove that certain events did take place. Ruzanna Sukiasyan MPF 327 Researching FILM History Weekly reading #2 Film history and study of films did not come about that easily. Moving pictures was “invented” in the mid 1890’s and films were not shown commercially until a few years after that. There was a “generation lag” between what was invented and the study of its’ “artistic, economic and social use.” The fact that films were not considered of social and cultural value and were thought to be a lower class activity before the industries peak, did not help the cultural contribution of study at first. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when we first saw an interest in pop culture within American scholars and their interest in the “investigation of cultural phenomena”. Around this time was also when television was at its peak in the entertainment industry of America and films were no longer the main concern. There was hardly any concern over negative effects of movie going and people were more focused on TV violence and mass advertisement and brainwashing of children. By 1965 and 1975, there was a huge boom in academic interest in cinema studies within American universities. Over time, the world has forever lost a lot of the earlier films from the “pioneers” of filmmaking. Not only did these earlier films deteriorate but were also dangerous due to the nitrate stock used which was explosive. Lost films pertain to lost historical evidence and studies. Lost historical artifacts influence what gets investigated and what does not. The Nitrate stock problem was finally solved in 1951 when acetate film stock was developed. Being a film historian is not the easiest job in the world, at all. They are like the gamblers of history. Say they need to investigate and look at a specific film in order to collect data, not only do they have to locate the film archive, but perhaps even fly out to the other side of the world to get to that archive and even then, the condition of the film and possibility of it being in watchable condition is very low. Not only that but the version of the film they view may not be the original version since many films were modified and re-edited for many reasons. Film history is not just the history of one specific film, it’s the history of the whole production and historical context. Aesthetic film history deals with answering to what is considered filmic art. Technological film history is how films were made and how technology progressed and how this technology came to be. Economic film history refers to the financial side of film, producers, and production costs and where did the money come from to produce and distribute films. Finally, Social film history is finding reasoning for why specific films were made, who they were made by and who was i
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