Formalism and Realism

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Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

Formalism and Realism
Hero. Zhang Yi Mou. 2002

Week 2.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

1

Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

Formalism is simply the seeing film as an expressive medium where filmmaking is purely to communicate whatever message the film has to offer. There is no intent to be believable in the broad sense. This breach with actuality could be also simply be to entertain. Poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the term “willing suspension of disbelief” to justify the use of fantastic elements in literature.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Realism is filming as if capturing and portraying the actuality of things. The attempt to convince the viewer that what they are seeing is genuinely happening. The ultimate expression of this being the documentary. But here the aim is to have the audience believe that the fictional is a truthful representation of events and characters. There is of course no absolutes rather a spectrum of belief that travels from credible to totally incredible.

2

Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Setting
Real Realistic Unreal

Midnight Cowboy. John Schlesinger. 1969

Rear Window. Alfred Hitchcock. 1954

Dogville. Lars Von Trier. 2003

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Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Character
Real Realistic Unreal

Ip Man. Wilson Yip. 2008

Forest Gump. Robert Zemeckis. 1994

Spiderman. Sam Raimi. 2002

4

Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Confrontation
Real Realistic Unreal

Alexander Nevsky. Sergei Eisenstein. 1938

Doctor Zhivago. David Lean. 1965

Star Wars I. George Lucas.

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Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Disaster
Real Realistic Unreal

Krakatoa. Bernard L. Kowalski. 1969

Deep Impact. Mimi Leder. 1998

2012. Roland Emerich. 2009

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Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Characters.
Real Realistic Unreal

Freaks. Tod Browning. 1932

Elephant Man. David Lynch. 1980

Hunchback of Notre Dame. William Dieterle 1939

7

Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

Spectrum of Credibility: Martial Arts
Real Realistic Unreal

Fist of Fury. Wei Lo. 1972

Fearless Hyena. Jackie Chan. 1979

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ang Lee. 2000

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Prepared by Adjunct Professor Paul Loosley

FTV 111/511 History of Screen Language

Conclusion

Auteur Formalism & Realism.

FACULTY OF COMMUNICATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING

By and large the distinction between Formalism and Realism, despite the filmmaker’s intent, is made by the viewer. Some things are made genuinely incredible and there is no reason to feel they might happen, have happened or ever would happen. Including characters and events or both. Yet other films you feel you can believe in. That the people are real, the events are real and the motives and...
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