rss_2.0Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies FeedSciendo RSS Feed for Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies 's Cover : Masculinity in Totalitarian Spaces in Hungarian Film History<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>As a result of its radical approach to the topic of the Holocaust, as well as due to the long list of prestigious prizes it won, <italic>Son of Saul</italic> (<italic>Saul fia</italic>, 2015, directed by László Nemes Jeles) has put the relation between Eastern European societies and totalitarianism in the centre of public and academic discourse. Though most reviews and articles placed the film in the history of Holocaust-representations, this is not the only context in which the film can be understood. In the present article I argue that <italic>Son of Saul</italic> can also be read outside (or at least at a distance from) the context of a Holocaust-film, as it also belongs to another, quite different and internationally much less known local cinematic canon. There is an unclaimed heritage behind Nemes Jeles’s controversial masterpiece, a trend in Hungarian cinema that explores the crisis of masculinity in totalitarian political regimes, thereby performing an allegorical critique of modernity and modern subjectivity. My recontextualization of Nemes Jeles’s work indicates the ways it is influenced by a local, Eastern European filmmaking tradition (which includes the work of his own father, the filmmaker András Jeles as well), and is supported by three interrelated conceptual focus points: a post-Foucauldian understanding of cultural and cinematic space, an awareness of the workings of modern cinematic allegory, and finally the use of male protagonists as prime sites for the inscription of social crisis and historical trauma.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Singularity and the Open-Ended Crisis<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The study aims at investigating the phenomenon of crisis in the intersection of three areas: simulation, singularity and temporality. The argument develops a theory of the singular crisis whose instances are demonstrated and proved by the American thriller, <italic>Take Shelter</italic> (2011, Jeff Nichols). The applied concept of crisis is based on the argument that any critical period is treated by models derived from earlier crises. The theoretical background to the simulated operating mechanisms of the crisis is Jean Baudrillard’s and Gilles Deleuze’s appropriations of simulation and simulacra. In case the simulated problem-solving patterns fail in a critical period, the singular characteristics of the crisis can be observed. Based on examples taken from the film, the article argues that reaction to any given crisis is essentially built up by both hyperreal patterns governed by simulation and singular elements that simulation cannot account for. The description of the temporal nature of crises is heavily dependent on interpretation, thus their temporal span is observed from the vantage point of their singular characteristics. The study argues that crises are characteristically open-ended but their endpoint is predominantly designated in hindsight to render the crisis as a finished time period for the sake of manageability.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Narratives of Historical Memory and Their Touristic Function: The Case of Sergei Loznitsa’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article discusses a documentary film, <italic>Austerlitz</italic> (2016), by the Ukrainian film director Sergei Loznitsa. The film shows massive flows of tourists visiting Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps, therefore, it is interpreted through the prism of dark tourism. The article argues that by functioning as a piece of virtual dark tourism, <italic>Austerlitz</italic> is constructed as a re-enactment of a collision with places of death. By refusing to moralize or condemn bored concentration camp visitors, Loznitsa enables the viewer to understand how radical experiences of mass destruction and death are being recorded in tourism practices in today’s society. The French semiotician and philosopher Roland Barthes argues that death is most clearly perceived when it opens up as an act that has already taken place in the past, but at the same time will also take place in the future – <italic>this has been</italic> and <italic>this will be</italic>. The article concludes that exactly this is the effect of the documentary film <italic>Austerlitz</italic>. By showing crowds of visitors walking in the empty spaces of concentration camps, Loznitsa opens up a tragedy of mass destruction and death that has already taken place, but at the same time will also happen.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Finance Film on Must-See Lists: A Tale of Positivization<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article shows the way must-see film lists hosted by financial publications positivize, after the 2008 crisis, the message of feature and documentary films representing finance. Here positivization refers to the detouring or softening of the critical edge of the message of a film in the interests of the hosting website and the profession of finance in general. Emphasis falls on financial literacy and on a film’s artistic prestige and entertainment potential. The author argues that positivization is a semantic strategy indicative of a neoliberal business ontology that informs the interpretation of cultural artifacts. It instrumentalizes signification processes in order to foreground exchange value and present film reception as an investment in human capital.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Spectres of War in Deimantas Narkevičius’s and Sergei Loznitsa’s<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This text discusses Deimantas Narkevičius’s <italic>Legend Coming True</italic> (<italic>Legendos išsipildymas</italic>, 1999) and Sergei Loznitsa’s <italic>Reflections</italic> (<italic>Отражения</italic>, 2012), two films by contemporary artists and filmmakers that revisit war traumas – the Holocaust in Lithuania and the Siege of Sarajevo in Bosnia – indirectly, without narrative reconstruction of the events or use of the archival images to display their atrocities of these two tragedies. Instead, these two experimental films, I argue via Jacques Derrida, evoke spectres of the war in the contemporary urban setups to activate the half-mourning in the present. Aesthetic strategies used to expose the haunting past are closely scrutinized and compared in order to demonstrate the films’ aesthetic potential of walking the spectator through war traumas without departing the present.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00The Exquisite Corpse of History. Radu Jude and the Intermedial Collage<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The article argues for the relevance of intermediality in the interpretation of Radu Jude’s films made after 2016: <italic>The Dead Nation</italic> (<italic>Ţara moartă</italic>, 2017), <italic>I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians</italic> (<italic>Îmi este indiferent dacă în istorie vom intra ca barbari</italic>, 2018), <italic>The Marshal’s Two Executions</italic> (<italic>Cele două execuţii ale Mareşalului</italic>, 2018), <italic>To Punish, to Discipline</italic> (<italic>A pedepsi, a supraveghea</italic>, 2019), <italic>The Exit of the Trains</italic> (<italic>Ieşirea trenurilor din gară</italic>, 2020), <italic>Uppercase Print</italic> (<italic>Tipografic majuscul</italic>, 2020), <italic>Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn</italic> (<italic>Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc</italic>, 2021). Instead of framing Jude’s aesthetic in terms of the Eisensteinian montage, as many reviewers have done, the article addresses the way in which these films insist on the tensions between media, on creating an ontological collage, not only a cinematic montage. The collage effect of the films materializes in sensuously and intellectually layered permutations that connect different media and shares some traits with the Surrealist play of the <italic>cadavre exquis</italic>. The mixture of heterogeneous materials becomes a strategy (informed by the ideas of Walter Benjamin) to reflect on history in the conditions of postmemory as well as a way to explore the relationship between media and reality through various positions of spectatorial engagement and the affective metalepsis between reflexivity and immersion.<sup>1</sup></p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Crisis, Sociology and Agency in 1970s Hungarian Documentary Cinema<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article explores synergies between Hungarian critical sociology in the 1960–70s and the documentary films made in Balázs Béla Stúdió in the same period. It treats the rationalization of social phenomena as a battle ground for meaning and claims that both representatives of the social sciences and filmmakers, on the one hand, called upon deficient social mechanisms and the inner contradictions of existing socialism and, on the other hand, pointed to the discrepancy between ideological and empirical perceptions of reality as the root cause of the crisis characterizing the consolidated Kádár regime. Adopting Clifford Geertz’s conceptual matrix of the experience-near and the experience-distant production of social meaningfulness, the article explores how sociologists and makers of sociographic documentaries alike resisted the prevailing epistemic regime, more specifically how they punctured and undermined the ideological meanings of such concepts as maternity, the Romani, and cooperative democracy.<sup>1</sup></p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00In the Captivity of the Present. Approaches to by László Nemes Jeles<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p><italic>Son of Saul</italic>, the Hungarian director, László Nemes Jeles’s film about Holocaust was released in 2015 with great international success: Grand Prix of the Cannes Film Festival, the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best foreign-language film. In my essay, I approach the film from a variety of perspectives. First, by analysing the visual and aural level of the film I intend to show how – in a very original way – <italic>Son of Saul</italic> is capable of depicting the understandably limited perspective and numb state of mind of the protagonist, a member of the Sonderkommando. In the second section, I compare <italic>Son of Saul</italic> with the Nobel Prize winner novel, <italic>Fatelessness</italic> (1975) by Imre Kertész. I argue that these two works show strong similarity in their storytelling and staging of the Holocaust. Both works miss a looking back in hindsight and the historical perspective, confining their protagonists to the present. Thirdly, I examine the relation between the absurd mission of Saul saving the dead boy and the problem of remembering and commemorating the Holocaust. Finally, I try to map the traces of popular genres in <italic>Son of Saul</italic>. I recon the film applies – on the one hand – the audiovisual techniques of the POV-horror genre while – on the other hand – the media and presentation tactics of first-person-shooter video games. The application of well-known media procedures can thus bring the historical event that can be hardly visualized or verbalized closer to the younger generation. With the Holocaust fading away in the past and the number of survivors and witnesses radically decreasing, this is certainly becoming more and more important.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2022-08-05T00:00:00.000+00:00Silence as a Metaphor in the Polish Radio Reportages during the COVID-19 Pandemic<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Silence became one of the important aspects of the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article discusses how this social experience was presented in radio reportages, for which silence is not only a topic but also an element of the construction of the message. The reports of the Polish Radio, produced in lockdown conditions, document silence in a double perspective: the transformation of the broadcast sphere of large metropolises and the private sound space of the characters. Silence, as a phonic phenomenon, functions as a universal metaphor for fear, threat, “curse of isolation,” but also hope. Experiencing silence goes beyond the individual feeling thanks to a metaphoric line through which the recorded stories gain a universal context. The analysis of audible materials shows the mechanism of the constitution of these meanings, as well as selected media functions of silence as a tool for modelling content and managing the recipients’ attention.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00A Tale of Sound and Fury Signifying Everything: Argentine Tango Dance Films as Complex Self-Reflexive Creation<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article equates the multidimensional artistic form of Argentine tango (dance, music and song) with the innately hybrid form of film. It compares Argentine tango culture to the height of French cinephilia in the 1950s Paris, France, arguing that they are both passionate, erotic and nostalgic ways of life. In Carlos Saura’s <italic>Tango</italic> (1998) and Sally Potter’s <italic>The Tango Lesson</italic> (1997), the intertwining of the related skills of tango practice and filmmaking are an audio-visual treat for the senses and a cognitive challenge for the mind. Their self-reflexivity promotes excess and the result is a highly expressive and complex form. They evince a cross-fertilization of reality and fiction, of art and life, typical of a perfect <italic>mise en abyme</italic> as described by Christian Metz. These films are also art musicals, although they depart from the Hollywood musical conventions. Yet, one cannot speak in their case of intermedia reflexivity, according to Petr Szczepanik’s definition, because both of them retain their qualities in a symbiotic relationship of likeness that highlights their mutual aura.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00The Role of Experimenting with the Human Voice in Film Music in the Representation of the Human/Alien Divide: the Case of (2016)<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article focuses on the musical dimension of experimentation in the creative space of science fiction film, concerning its uncanny, new and fantastic places, and otherworldly encounters within fictional, but possible worlds. The aim is to consider the function and potential of the audible – to examine how sound is used in the filmic exploration of the boundaries between the human and the alien (the unknown). More particularly, we are interested in the role that human voice-like and human vocal sounds can play in this divide, as we believe manipulations with such audible qualities contribute greatly to the emotional dimension of cinematic stories of otherworldly encounters. For that purpose, we concentrate on Denis Villeneuve’s <italic>Arrival</italic> (2016) and its soundtrack composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson, who resorts to different singing practices and vocal techniques to accompany a story charting the territories between the human and the alien.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Circular Causality of Emotions in Moving Pictures<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In the framework of predictive coding, as explained by Giovanni Pezzulo in his article <italic>Why do you fear the bogeyman? An embodied predictive coding model of perceptual inference</italic> (2014), humans construct instances of emotions by a double arrow of explanation of stimuli. Top-down cognitive models explain in a predictive fashion the emotional value of stimuli. At the same time, feelings and emotions depend on the perception of internal changes in the body. When confronted with uncertain auditory and visual information, a multimodal internal state assigns more weight to interoceptive information (rather than auditory and visual information) like visceral and autonomic states as hunger or thirst (motivational conditions). In short, an emotional mood can constrain the construction of a particular instance of emotion. This observation suggests that the dynamics of generative processes of Bayesian inference contain a mechanism of bidirectional link between perceptual and cognitive inference and feelings and emotions. In other words, “subjective feeling states and emotions influence perceptual and cognitive inference, which in turn produce new subjective feeling states and emotions” as a self-fulfilling prophecy (Pezzulo 2014, 908). This article focuses on the short introductory scene from Steven Spielberg’s <italic>Jaws</italic> (1975), claiming that the construction / emergence of the fear and sadness emotions are created out of the circular causal coupling instantiated between cinematic bottom-up mood cues and top-down cognitive explanations.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Body, Telephone, Voice: (1974) and Monstrous Cinema<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>This article investigates the role of the telephone as both an engine of suspense and a metaphorical double of cinema in <italic>Black Christmas</italic> directed by Bob Clark (1974). Employing Michel Chion’s concept of acousmatic voice, the article first explores the role of the telephone in creating both narrative suspense and diegetic cohesion. It then investigates how the film implicitly establishes a pattern of resemblance between the telephonic and cinematic mediums centred on their capacities for diffusion and disembodiment. Finally, the article explores the meta-cinematic implications of its preceding findings, arguing that the fears and anxieties associated with the telephone in <italic>Black Christmas</italic> ultimately concern cinema itself and its possible cultural impact. Although it attempts to enforce certain categories of knowledge and identity, <italic>Black Christmas</italic> ultimately engages with cinema’s capacity for subverting rather than enforcing ideology.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Considering Eye-tracking as a Validation Tool in Cinema Research<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The use of eye-tracking in data collection, when accompanied by the proper research questions and methodology, is a powerful tool that may provide invaluable insights into the way viewers perceive and experience movies. Film theory can use eye-tracking to test and verify research hypotheses not only with unprecedented accuracy, but also with the ability to address a significant variety of theoretical questions. Eye-tracking can help build contemporary film theory by supporting its various fields of research, and also even assist the production of films themselves by helping filmmakers make more informed creative decisions. The present article is an overview of eye-tracking and its gradual implementation in cinema research; in the context of discussing some recent examples of academic work based on eye-tracking, it considers the technology of eye-trackers and the way in which human vision handles visual information on screen. By testing the attentional behaviour of viewers, eye-tracking can produce more solid answers to questions regarding the way films are experienced; therefore, it may very well prove to be the spearhead of a more robust body of film theory in the near future.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Instrumentalization of the Border Zone. Environment and Ideology in the Educational Films Made between 1955 and 1989 by the Hungarian Ministry of Interior’s Film Studio<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Analysing the output of the Hungarian Ministry of Interior’s own film studio, which produced educational films between 1955 and 1989, this essay investigates the modes in which the border zone was represented during the decades of state socialism. Considering the vicinity of the border as an area, where ideological confrontations are battled out, the article argues that there is a significant difference between the films produced in the 1950-60s, and those from the mid-1960s onwards. The earlier pieces depict an emotionally charged border zone the defence of which is a social-political duty: father-type superiors teach rookie soldiers about this obligation in coming-of-age stories. However, from the mid-1960s onwards, the films seem to confine themselves to an instrumental mode of persuasion, which presents border protection as a merely technical question. The article briefly ties these shifts to the changing modes in official discourses during the decades of state socialist Hungary.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Non-Normative Gender Performances Fat Video Game Characters<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>While video games unquestionably became more diverse and inclusive in the past decade, there is still a striking underrepresentation of characters whose bodies do not conform to the heterosexist concept of normativity, including those perceived as fat. My article begins with the introduction of fat studies as the interdisciplinary field concerned with the ways media construct fat people as unattractive, undesirable, and asexual. Next, it discusses how these prejudices are reflected in a medium in which fat has been historically coded as villainous and monstrous. The last part includes two case studies of positive fat representation: Ellie from the mainstream game <italic>Borderlands 2</italic> (Gearbox Software 2012) and the eponymous character from the independent title <italic>Felix the Reaper</italic> (Kong Orange 2019). Their gender performances are coded equally as non-normative.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00 as a Gothic Horror in Quality Television<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Quality television at its heart is designed to reward sustained viewing and involvement on the part of the audience. It has distinctive visual styles, serial characters and storylines and a filmic quality, all of which is evident in <italic>Game of Thrones</italic> (2011–2019). This article discusses how the scale and cinematic production values of quality television, adds value to the <italic>Game of Thrones</italic> series through the enhancement and articulation of the Gothic horror.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00The Soundtrack of the Trailer<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this article, I analyse the soundtrack of the green band trailer for <italic>Sinister</italic> (Scott Derrickson, 2012), combining quantitative methods to analyse the soundtrack with formal analysis. I show that, even though <italic>Sinister</italic> is a narrative about a demon who lives in images, the horror in the soundtrack of this trailer is articulated through the sound design. I describe the structure of the soundtrack and analyse the distribution and organisation of dialogue, the use of different types of sound effects to create a connection between the viewer and the characters onscreen, as well as the use of specific localised sound events to organise attention and to frighten the viewer. I identify two features not previously discussed in relation to quantitative analysis of film soundtracks: an affective event based on reactions to a stimulus and the presence of nonlinear features in the sound envelopes of localised affective events. The sound design of this trailer is consistent with the principles of contemporary sound design in horror cinema, but also demonstrates some variation in its use of sound as a paratext to its parent film.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-11-15T00:00:00.000+00:00Screens of the Picturesque: Aesthetics, Technology, Economy<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The 18th-century notion of the picturesque is somewhat lesser known as compared to the more celebrated categories of the beautiful and the sublime, even though it may not only help us critically reflect upon modern perceptions of the landscape, but it may also provide us a unique way to link the field of aesthetic speculation with questions of technology and economy. The article will focus on two of the major theoreticians of the picturesque (William Gilpin and Uvedale Price) and will examine their ideas in relation to Edmund Burke’s aesthetics on the one hand, and contemporary tendencies in landscape gardening (as represented by Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphry Repton) on the other. Such an investigation may shed light on the multiple shifts in the perception of nature and the sense of naturalness during the long 18th century, as well as on the pictorial and theatrical aspects of landscape design. But examples of the Claude glass, the ha-ha, and Humphry Repton’s Red Books may also indicate the role of technological innovations and economic interests, and thereby the relevancy of the very discourse of the picturesque to more modern or even postmodern artistic, cultural, and medial developments.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2021-04-03T00:00:00.000+00:00Decoding : the Metareferential Potential of Painterly References in Cinema<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The article focuses on the intermedial relationship between cinema and painting, viewed as a self-referential process, and tries to determine various ways in which this type of signifying process can be used to “encode” various messages (within the work itself), or become an integral part of this (meta)communicative operation. Starting from a broad definition of intermedial references and continuing with a brief recontextualized detour through Gérard Genette’s taxonomy of transtextual instances, the author narrows down a specific technique that exemplifies this type of “codifying” procedure, namely the <italic>tableau vivant</italic>. In accordance with Werner Wolf’s proposed terminology, he attempts to determine the metareferential potential of this extra-compositional self-referential technique. The case studies focus on films by Peter Greenaway and Lars von Trier.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2021-04-03T00:00:00.000+00:00en-us-1