Impasse of David Bordwell's Model of Film Study Open Access

Kokotovic, Sima (2015)

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The intention of this thesis is to demonstrate the way in which David Bordwell's model of film study and his consequential proposition for understanding art cinema are insufficient for engaging art films and films in general in terms of the political. David Bordwell's article "The Art Cinema as a Mode of Practice," published in 1979, has been tremendously influential for how the category of art cinema has been conceptualized within film scholarship. He is one of the defining figures for the discipline of film studies. Throughout the eighties and nineties he embarked on the project of restructuring the discipline proposing an approach he defined as empirical investigation that would be capable of dealing with the numerous and diverse phenomena from film history. Today, his books "Film Art: An Introduction" and "Film History: An Introduction" are mandatory textbooks for undergraduate film studies across the United States. I've tried to overcome Bordwell's formalist approach in order to create the conditions of possibility for thinking about film in a way that will allow for the recognition of multiplicity and complexity of relations between films and worlds in which they were created. In the first chapter I demonstrate how Bordwell's reading of Sergei Eisenstein theoretical positions throughout 1920's is predicated upon the erasure of political aspect of Eisenstein's thought. In the second chapter, I discern what constitutes Bordwell's model of film study that relies on the severance of object of its study from the world. In order to do this I use Heidegger's "The Age of the World Picture" and Althusser's "On the Materialist Dialectic". I conclude the chapter with a proposition of how to understand the intention of the knowledge produced by his process of production of knowledge. In the third chapter I engage the character and limitations of Bordwell's formalist proposition to understand art cinema in relation to Steve Neale's notion of art cinema as institution.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 5

Chapter 2 26

Chapter 3 41

Conclusion 61

Bibliography 63

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