Drawing on/from a mirror : a self-reflexive study of the representation and perception of violence in contemporary film

Marnewick, Benjamin Meiring (2011-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The cinematic communication process starts with the creative enunciation by the filmmaker and ends with the viewer's subjective perception of the film. This thesis represents a theoretical and experiential investigation of this process and entails critical and self-reflexive discussions of stylistic approaches to filmic representation. The focus of this representation falls on on-screen violence. This study is a practice-led process, and therefore the fields of research are applied to my own work, namely the filmmaking process of a feature film entitled Preek. The research was prompted by my need to take an academic stance on the filmmaking process, instead of a mere practical one, and to form an intellectual awareness of the filmmaker and viewer dynamic. As a practicing filmmaker interested in the mimetic quality of film representations, it was necessary for me to form a conscious apprehension of how a film may be understood as a reflection on reality on the one hand, and an expression formulated through the filmmakers creative decisions on the other. The representation of violence in film was investigated by the way of critical readings of selected films, framed by both contemporary and classical film theory. Through contemporary film theory, I investigated the viewer's perception and identification with the film's diegesis, and particularly with its characters. The „classic‟ film theories of the realists and formalists allowed me to discern two stylistic approaches to the representation of violence in film, and to explore the emotional affect and cathartic release these approaches may elicit from viewers. These discussions were then applied to my own film Preek, in order to critically understand the relationship between filmmaker and viewer. The research and the application thereof, indicated that the stylistic approach to the representation of violence and its intensity in a film, unveils the filmmaker's motivation for communicating through the film medium. The arguments showed that I represented the violence in Preek in such a way that it may result in a traumatic affect on the viewer rather than an appreciation of its aesthetic value, and that this affect is the result of an engagement with the film's diegesis, due to the viewer's own identificatory participation. The research concluded that the viewer's subjective identification with the film forms a triangular relationship and communication between filmmaker, film and viewer.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kinematiese kommunikasieproses begin met die kreatiewe uitdrukking van die filmmaker, en eindig met die kyker se subjektiewe waarneming van die film. Hierdie tesis verteenwoordig 'n teoretiese en ervaringsgerigte ondersoek van die kinematiese kommunikasieproses, en behels kritiese en self-reflektiewe argumente van stilistiese benaderings tot filmiese uitbeelding. Die fokus van hierdie uitbeelding is op geweld gerig. Die navorsing is 'n prakties-georiënteerde studie en daarom word die navorsing op my eie werk toegepas, naamlik die filmmaak-proses van die vollengte film, Preek. Die navorsing was aangespoor deur my behoefte daaraan om die filmmaak-proses vanuit 'n akademiese oogpunt te benader, in pleks daarvan om 'n suiwer praktiese posisie teenoor die filmmaak-proses in te neem. Vervolgens is die navorsing aangespoor deur my behoefte daaraan om intellektuele bewustheid oor die dinamika tussen die filmmaker en kyker te skep. As 'n praktiserende filmmaker wat geïnteresseerd is in die mimetiese eienskap van film-uitbeeldings, was dit vir my belangrik om 'n duidelike begrip te ontwikkel van die manier waarop film verstaan kan word, eertstens as 'n weerspieëling van realiteit, en tweedens as ‟n uitdrukking wat deur die kreatiewe besluite van die filmmaker gevorm is. Die verteenwoordiging van geweld in films is ondersoek deur middel van die kritiese beskouing van uitgesoekte films wat deur beide kontemporêre en klassieke film-teorie gevorm is. Ek het deur kontemporêre film teorie die kyker se waarneming en vereenselwiging met die film se diegesis en veral die film se karakters, ondersoek. Die klasieke film teorieë van die realiste en formaliste het my in staat gestel om tussen twee stilistiese benaderings tot die uitbeelding van geweld in film te onderskei, en om die emosionele effek en katartiese vrystelling wat hierdie benaderings by die kyker kan ontlok, te verken. Hierdie besprekings is gevolglik toegepas op my film, Preek, ten einde 'n kritiese begrip van die verhouding tussen filmmaker en kyker te vorm. Die navorsing en die toepassing daarvan het getoon dat die stilistiese benadering tot die uitbeelding van geweld, asook die intensiteit daarvan in film, die filmmaker se motivering tot kommunikasie deur die film-medium ontbloot. Die argumente het getoon dat ek die geweld in Preek op so 'n manier uitgebeeld het dat dit 'n traumatise affect op die kyker kan hê, in pleks van 'n waardering vir estetiese. Die argumente het verder aangedui dat hierdie effek die resultaat is van ‟n betrokkenheid by die film se diegesis, en dat dit te danke is aan die kyker se deelname aan vereenselwiging. Die navorsing het die slotsom gekom dat die kyker se subjektiewe identifikasie met die film 'n drieledige verhouding tussen filmmaker, film en die kyker vorm.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6582
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