How Important Is Performance in Understanding the Spectator’s Emotional Response to Popular Films?

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How important is performance in understanding the spectator’s emotional response to popular films? Performance is very important in understanding the spectator’s emotional response in the films ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, ‘Seven’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’. All three films provoke similar emotional responses and in the essay I am going to explore the ways in which performance is used to create these. ‘Boys Don’t Cry is about a woman named Teena Brandon, AKA Brandon Teena, who is having a sexual identity crisis. ‘He’ wants to become a boy and does everything he can to make his look resemble that of a young man. The film follows Brandon as ‘he’ makes new friends and manages to fool a lot of people. Performances in this film are key in provoking an emotional response, especially in some of the final scenes of the film when Brandon is sexually assaulted and eventually murdered by two men, Tom and John. They are his girlfriend’s friends who are extremely protective of her. Tom and John’s performances when sexually assaulting Brandon are effective in making the audience feel disgusted, shocked and physically sick. They drive Brandon out to a remote location and violently assault him but the thing that is most disturbing is the fact that throughout it, they are jumping around with massive smiles on their faces and high fiving each other. The disgust that this makes the audience feel is huge because they are doing something so violent yet they are getting this much enjoyment out of it. As an audience we want to help Brandon but we are helpless and this is emphasised by Brandon’s emotions. He is shouting as loud as he can with tears flooding down his face and she can hear Tom and John’s reaction which is only making things worse. In the film Brandon gets a girlfriend called Lana, and a convincing performance by Hilary Swank at first made us feel anger towards Brandon and want to tell Lana the truth. Hilary Swank is very convincing in portraying Brandon and...
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