Film Studies

In this section I take a look at some of my favourite films and some of the perspectives film theorists have used in the study of film.

My interests in film largely intersect with my interests in science fiction, language and cognitive psychology so the work of David Bordwell is of great interest to me. Making Meaning examines Bordwell’s book of the same name and the importance of the book to anyone interested in the practice of interpretation.

By necessity the Film Studies section takes a look at psychoanalysis as it plays a huge role in the study of film, even now over 40 years since psychoanalysis was laughed out of the psychology departments of the university, only to find a home in the literature and cultural studies departments.

I take Laura Mulvey‘s hugely influential Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema to task for it’s uncritical use of pseudoscientific ideas and it’s elite valoration – I’m tempted to use the term ‘fetishisation’ – of the avante-garde. Mulvey’s article isn’t the worst ever written – at least it’s readable – but the deference with which it is regarded is ridiculous. None of the claims – other than the obvious truism that sexism has always been part of Hollywood – bear any scrutiny. Accepting that films have largely been targeted at male audiences does not warrant a lot of twaddle about castration anxieties, Oedipal conflicts, sadism and voyeurism on behalf of the male audience, and masochism on behalf of women supposedly related to the ‘loss’ of a penis they never had.

Please note I am criticising her article from a feminist perspective, not criticising feminism itself. Cinema undoubtedly employs some sexist conventions but incorporating psychoanalysis into feminism makes as much sense as incorporating eugenics into the fight against racism.

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