Self Reflexive

Decent Essays
Movies and Meaning – Summary
Chapter 8 – Modes of Screen Reality
Pages 289-325

Key Outcomes • Explain the basic modes of screen reality. • Describe the principles of narrative, character behavior, and audiovisual design that operate in each mode of screen reality. • Differentiate ordinary fictional realism, historical realism, documentary realism, and fictional documentary realism. • Distinguish two modes of cinematic self-reflexivity. • Explain why multiple modes of screen reality are possible in cinema.

Key Terms • screen reality • realism • expressionism • fantasy • cinematic self-reflexivity • ordinary fictional realism

• historical realism • documentary realism
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Overview: Expressionism is an extremely stylized mode of screen reality in which filmmakers use visual distortion to suggest emotional, social, or psychological disturbances or abnormalities. The distortions may be subtle, but often emphasize strange or bizarrely poetic artistic designs. The camera work (lighting, angles, lenses, etc.) often enhances the de-centering of the screen world.

Classic German Expressionism: Expressionism in its purest form is found in 1920’s German cinema, in which case it was overtly opposed to realism, emphasizing elaborate distortions in the mise-en-scene.

Contemporary Expressionism: Most easily found in the films of Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, e.g.). Hitchcock employs low angled shots, close-ups and other camera tricks in order to accent the viewers’ perception of the subject and the overarching themes. Other contemporary expressionists may include Spike Lee (Crooklyn) and Tim Burton (any film of his).

Fantasy and the Fantastic
Overview: Though many filmmakers my employ expressionistic techniques in what we would consider an essentially realistic film, in films which employ a fantasy or fantastic mode, settings and subjects, characters, and narrative time are often displaced from the viewer’s own realm into other realms, sometimes futuristic ones, whose normal laws of time and space may not apply. Characters might have superpowers,
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