This desideratum is an outgrowth of the previous one. Strike-ing out: the partial success of early Eisenstein's emotional appeal; 7. For those interested in such matters, an appendix follows that examines the Freudian assumptions about the nature of emotion that are the underpinnings of psychoanalytic film theory. Can it provide a more insightful explanation than previous critics have done of the timeless appeal of a film like Casablanca? Analyzing a variety and range of films, including Casablanca and Stranger than Paradise, this book offers a grounded approach to the mechanisms through which films appeal to the human emotions, demonstrating the role of style and narration in this process. Each case study is designed to test a different capability of the critical approach. One of this book's basic assertions is that film studies' understanding of emotions should be consonant with or at least not directly contradict the best current understanding of emotions in psychology.
This is not a book about sadness or joy; instead it deals with the foundational structures that make such emotions possible. A good approach should provide different explanations for how film A and film B elicit emotional responses. The primary research questions addressed by this work are: 1 how is the emotion system structured? In chapter 2 I survey recent psychological research on emotion and synthesize a theory of how the emotion system is structured. When film academics do address emotion, they generally proceed as if the concept of emotions were clearly and widely understood; therefore the task of the film scholar is to say what is specific about filmic emotions. Moods, in contrast, are longer-lasting, less-intense preparatory states that orient one to a particular environment, assisting the body in perceiving data that could be of potential use.
However, the approach should not endorse a single emotional response as being the only valid one because of the incredible range of reactions among individual viewers. To show how a film cues emotions is only half the battle. Can it explain how one text successfully shifts from one emotional appeal? It is possible that the portions of the discussion in this book may also apply to other audio-visual narrative media that unfold uninterrupted in real time for instance, certain kinds of theater. There may be specific responses that the cinema and no other medium is uniquely qualified to elicit, but this book will spend little time examining such questions. Film Structure and the Emotion System also details the ways in which Smith's approach to filmic emotion and the spectator differs from previous work in the field.
Nor am I attempting to provide a particular theory for how each cinematic component evokes emotion. Films do get remarkably similar emotional reactions when shown to a variety of viewing audiences, and this continuity of response needs explanation. This volume describes a grounded approach to ana Synthesizing recent research on emotion in cognitive psychology and neurology, this study provides a more nuanced understanding of how film evokes emotion. Such textual study is a necessary prerequisite for a film scholar dealing with emotions. In order to evaluate the approach to filmic emotions in this book, we should agree on some desiderata for an approach: 1 A good approach to filmic emotions should provide specific explanations, not generalizations, for how particular films elicit emotions. Film audiences can accept the invitation and experience some of the range of feelings proffered by the text, or they can reject the film's invitation.
Films are objects that are well constructed to elicit a real emotional response from our already existing emotion systems. In the modern era, studying emotional responses to films became the task of quantitative communication researchers, resulting in a large body of work on topics such as the effects of media violence on children. Instead they focused on more externally observable differences, such as those in language and ritual performances. Can it mine new insights into a film that has been exhaustively studied by psychoanalytic film scholars Stella Dallas? Social forces relied upon fear or love to create prejudice or empathy, but few sociologists questioned the basic nature of these emotions. We need to better understand what emotions are before we discuss any unique qualities of filmic emotions. Film Structure and the Emotion System synthesizes research on emotion in cognitive psychology and neurology in an effort to provide a more nuanced understanding of how film evokes emotion.
Although it may be true that the classical cinema may require a different explanation of emotion than the art cinema, an approach that explains both would clearly be more powerful. Since my method deals with the text, I can only elucidate the primary invitation that the film offers. That way, if a particular cue does not activate the desired emotion within a particular audience member, another might. Recent psychoanalytic theory has attempted revisions to correct its reductive, overly-broad approach. This book deals only with emotion and the structure of narrative film. In chapter 3 I discuss the implications of this research on our concept of film structure and demonstrate the basic concepts involved in analyzing a film's emotional appeals using four short case studies Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Local Hero, and Stranger than Paradise.
Film theory devoted more of its energy toward issues of cinematic specificity, arguments over aesthetic valuations, and understanding of representation. Influenced by psychologist Nico Frijda, who describes emotions that are merely expressive and not meant to satisfy a particular concern, Smith's account of the human emotion system differentiates him from previous cognitive film theorists. Analyzing Emotional Appeals in Film: 5. I lay out both a theory of emotion and an approach to filmic emotion. This is not to say that there are no differences between the two media for instance, the theatrical convention of a greater emphasis on language and their emotional appeals, but that their narrational structure may call on very similar principles. However, a complete theory of the interrelationship among music, film, and emotion is outside the scope of this study.
How does our emotional reaction evolve, progress, wane? These general concepts are a poor basis for a specific theory of emotion, making them a poor foundation for an approach to filmic emotion. Films offer invitations to feel. Smith, Movie Moods: The Emotion System and Film Structure diss. As the title of this work indicates, this book is about both emotion and film structures. Once a certain mood is created, the audience becomes more susceptible to emotional cues in the film and is more likely to respond in the desired manner. Of course empirical researchers are susceptible to the same self-perpetuating ideas, but at least they have the opportunity to encounter data that refute these ideas. Although there is much variety among what partygoers are doing, there are implicit conventions that set limits on the ways that most people accept the invitation for instance, showing up to the party with no clothes on would in most situations be considered a violation of convention.
Similarly, if we claim that all mainstream film viewing emerges from the same scenario of repressed desire, we ignore the diverse motivations driving the spectator's interest and emotion. It has also articulated contradictory pleasures in an effort to make discussions of emotion more nuanced and specific. Once we have a better understanding of how the emotion system operates, we can then take note of how certain film structures are particularly well designed to manipulate emotions. Classical film theorists such as André Bazin discuss emotion but within a limited context that fails to provide much foundation for a broad research project. And so this book will not discuss specifically filmic emotions. Of course not all actual individuals who view a film may have the required knowledge to understand and respond to the film. In Smith's model emotion moves beyond a prototypical definition in which emotions are directed toward a particular object.
The past decade has produced a flurry of new research across academic disciplines in the neglected topic of emotions. When cognitive science arose to challenge behaviorism with a new emphasis on internal representations, researchers agreed not to consider emotion. How does a film change from one emotion to another? Carl Plantinga and Greg M. If an approach works for melodrama or contemporary cinema but not for action-adventure or silent films, then it is of limited use value. This volume describes a grounded approach to analyzing the emotional appeal of a wide variety of films from Casablanca to Stranger than Paradise, from Renoir to Spielberg , showing how style and narration call upon the viewer's emotion system.