Reconsideration of Excess in Cinema: Arrested Narrative, Opened Diegetic Spaces, and Hidden Details Open Access

Gutierrez, Jason Charles (2015)

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Writing about excess in cinema can be traced back to the earliest film writing, as Surrealists and Impressionists attempted to articulate a theoretical approach to the ineffable qualities of the film image. The approach was subsequently adopted by cinephile critics of the 1950s and 1960s. With film studies' entry into the academy, theorists like Roland Barthes continued to write about cinematic excess using semiology as a means to account for those elements of film which fall outside the standard modes of analysis. Writing about Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible Barthes noted that, after an images informational and symbolic levels were accounted for, he was still "held by the image. I read, I receive a third meaning--evident, erratic, obstinate." Shortly there after Stephen Heath investigated those same elements by placing them within the context of narrative, and Kristin Thompson used neoformalism as method to investigate that which tends to elude analysis. Eventually, excess fell out of favor, as theorists circumscribed the affective qualities of excess as a theoretical term but did not attempt to put the term in dialog with contemporary scholarship. This thesis is a reconsideration of the critical term excess. Using Howard Hawks' Western Rio Bravo and Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Twelve as the key examples throughout, the work explores how the term has been deployed by academic film studies and how it can be utilized by contemporary scholarship. Mirroring the range of application by past scholars, this thesis similarly puts excess in dialog with narratology, psychology and cognitive functions in the brain, cinephilia, Giles Deleuze's theories of the movement-image and time-image, temporality, and alternative modes of spectatorship. Ultimately the thesis argues that excess has a great deal of utility for contemporary scholarship as a discourse through which one can engage with elements of film (both formal and affective) that fit uneasily within traditional scholarly frameworks.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter I: Excess and Narrative Structure 13

Chapter II: An Ecological Approach to Film Narrative 29

Chapter III: Excess and Cinephilia as a Viewing Practice 46

Chapter IV: Excess and the Destabilization of Cinematic Temporality 57

Conclusion 66

Bibliography 69

Filmography 71

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