In today's lecture, we took a look at the concept of Ideology (the values/themes/principals/agendas of a piece), and how this is applied to film. We began by taking a look at a clip from Alfred Hitchcock's much acclaimed Psycho (1960), where Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is spying on Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she undresses. What could be the ideas here at work, even in a few seconds of film?
-The supremacy of Patriarchy (male authority), since he has the power within this scene, and of course, we know what he'll do next to her, taking the ultimate decision of life or death for this woman, which she is completely oblivious to.
After, we began to really break down cinematic themes into a set of groups, such as the Controlling Idea (the ultimate idea of a tale, determined by is value+cause i.e. in Death Wish; Society will be Okay once Criminals are dead), which we had discussed last year, as well as how Classical Cinema would project these ideas unto the audience (identifying with the characters and thus, getting to understand their world view, the imagery evoking a certain atmosphere or mood upon the subject, the use of cause + effect to demonstrate the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of a certain idea/belief etc.)
Also, as one is writing the actual story, it can become very much a/the philosophy, and from there, the C.I can arise from there organically, as opposed to being crow-barred in by the writer, blended seamlessly yet inseparably from the narrative. As another demonstration of this in action, this time within a short film, we watch the 1996 French short, A Summer Dress. where two young men are out on holiday the country, one of them gay, and the other, irritated by his companion's camp attitude, goes for a bike ride. He ends up meeting a girl there, and they have sex in the nude. However, his clothes go missing and he is loaned her dress. At first irritated, he grows more comfortable in the outfit, and upon returning home, has sex with his companion, taking on the more submissive role and even referring to himself a s a 'girl'. The following day, he returns the dress.
What s the ideology here? Some of the ideas thrown up by the class included:
- Life is short, so don't limit your choice or variety of 'pleasures'.
- Human desire is complex, and what we may want is not always clear at first.
- It takes a woman to truly help a man find his 'preference'.
- The narrative favors a heterosexual (straight) couple, since they get more screen time than when he is with another man.
Today was a mixed bag, with the lecture standing head & shoulders above the rather meager seminar (though, in fairness, this session was more of a mop-up, and the leftovers from last certainly hurt it quite a bit). The lecture was where the day's major ideas were discussed, and it certainly was interesting how even a few seconds of film, or even a short one, can convey a lot of ideas with having to out and out spell it out or be made for a specific agenda. Given my background as an internet reviewer, I'm no stranger to the concept of themes/ideas in a piece, and often discuss them when talking about the film's artistic merits/ambition, and how the dialogue and plot construction either helps or hinders the presentation of these ideas (for a example, recently I reviewed the 2012 historical, For Greater Glory, which had a very pro-Christian message, but the clumsy narrative, flat characters and stagey, bland dialogue did nothing to help it present them with any sort of grace.) Full review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAS3HB9x5mw