Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Issue 04: Open Theme

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Issue 4 is Alphaville's first Open Theme edition. Despite this issue's open nature, however, thematic consistencies arise, with authors re-evaluating female roles and representations in filmic genres, engaging with issues developing from evolving modes of censorship, working through the complexities of filmic narrative and merging distinct analytic approaches with aesthetic readings of key films. Edited by Stefano Odorico and Aidan Power, University College Cork

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    Towards an embodied poetics of cinema: the metaphoric construction of abstract meaning in film
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Coëgnarts, Maarten; Kravanja, Peter
    Central to Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) is the notion of embodied mind, which states that cognition is shaped by aspects of the body. Human beings make metaphoric use of recurring dynamic patterns of perceptual interactions and motor programmes (image schemas) for abstract conceptualisation and reasoning. According to film scholar David Bordwell the poetics of cinema studies the film as a result of a process of construction. He presents the following key question: how do film-makers use the aesthetic dynamics of the film medium to elicit particular effects from spectators? In this article we want to address an abbreviated case of meaning construction in film, namely the construction of abstract meaning in film. By combining insights from Bordwell as well as CMT, we will demonstrate how the poetics of abstract meaning-making in film is embodied. What does it mean to say that the construction of higher meaning in film is rooted in bodily experience and how can this be grasped without resorting to the confinement of words and sentences? By analysing the stylistics and the visual patterning of particular film scenes we will demonstrate how film-makers often resort to image schemas to come to terms with abstract notions such as time, love and psychological content.
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    Image versus imagination: memory’s theatre of cruelty in Chris Marker’s La Jetée
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Witt-Jauch, Martina
    While the 1962 French science fiction film La Jetée presents a straightforward narrative premise, it nonetheless details the story of a man who “becomes a human projectile to be pro-jeté through time,” as Paul Sandro claims. Incriminating the audience in a theatre of cruelty, the film moves through the past and future via the mental time-travel of the protagonist in a series of stills, which appear independent from the consciousness of the agent. In the course of events, the protagonist builds a cognitive map out of this chaotic sequence of memories that allows him to then create new spaces of thought. The first mention of the “theatre of cruelty” by Antonin Artaud in 1935, considered pain and terror to be the most important elements of any kind of play or film. The protagonist's situation of constantly chasing his own ghost and restoring his memory corresponds to these conditions and thus opens up new venues of considering cruelty, and in extension trauma, as an important third element in Chris Marker's film. His film La Jetée created a filmic embodiment of this interplay in both the redemptive yet productive powers of memory and the cyclical notion of time as it manifests itself in the mind of the protagonist and viewer.
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    Film-thinking and narrative indeterminacy
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Billingham, Jimmy
    This article elaborates on Daniel Frampton’s concept of “film-thinking” to propose a novel conception of the status of the narrative event presented in film, providing an alternative to previous conceptions of narration and agency in film. More specifically, the article develop Frampton’s idea that the moving images of film manifest a particular and unique mode of “thought,” with the agent of this thought immanent within the images that it “thinks.” Frampton terms this agent a “filmind” and regards it as transsubjective, it is not an objective perspective, outside the world of the film, nor a subjective character perspective within it, but is immanent within the film-world which constitutes its intentionality as a unique mode of thought. The article utilises this model of filmic agency and the underlying ontological indeterminacy to reconsider the status of narrative events presented in the moving image of film and how we may conceptualise narrative agency and viewer activity in relation to this, especially with regards to flashbacks, voice-over and unreliable narration.
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    “I get sort of carried away, being so normal and everything”: the oscillating sexuality of Clare Quilty and Humbert Humbert in the works of Nabokov, Kubrick and Lyne
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Richards, Emerson
    This paper compares and analyses the differences between Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955) and filmic versions by Stanley Kubrick (1962) and Adrian Lyne (1994), focusing on the respective characterisations of Clare Quilty, as mediated through his encounter with Humbert Humbert at a pivotal scene at the Enchanted Hunter’s Lodge. Following an in-depth analysis of the scene in question, the article then examines Kubrick’s Lolita, exploring the homosocial undertones of Peter Sellers’s Quilty, and the attendant commentary on heteronormative culture of late 1950s/early 1960s America. Finally, Lyne’s interpretation of this encounter will be analysed to discern how a menacing Quilty alters the narrative and deviates from the previous representations, updating the social commentary to incorporate a distinctly 1990s milieu in the process. Treating the two films as iterations and/or mutations of the original literature, the article proposes a comparatist-driven analysis to discern each artist’s intentions toward the narrative as exemplified by this crucial meeting of minds.
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    Film Theory: Rational Reconstructions, by Warren Buckland
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) McDonald, Kevin; Ercole, Pierluigi