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  • Author: Zsolt Gyenge x
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Visual Composition of Bodily Presence. A Phenomenological Approach to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

Abstract

The description and interpretation of the visual composition of a film is crucial in understanding the effects of moving images and their specific role in the contemporary context of intermediality. The phenomenological approach, based on the precise depiction of the lived perceptual experience and its integration in the process of interpretation, offers a powerful tool for critical analysis. Although this theoretical framework opens up many different approaches, in this paper I will focus on Merleau-Pontyʼs phenomenological account of perception and on the viewer experience described by Vivian Sobchack with the self-contradictory term “a filmʼs body.” After studying this concept and its role in film analysis, as used by Sobchack, based on the term double-sided and fissured experience the paper offers an alternative approach which, compared to the earlier ones, seems to be more fruitful in understanding the act of vision and the embodied viewer experience constructed by a moving picture. The last part of the paper demonstrates, through the example of Paul Thomas Andersonʼs The Master (2012), how crucial the embodied viewer experience can be in the understanding of moving images. The analysis of the visual system of this film will show how the main problem of the whole story is re-created, re-presented in the visually triggered bodily experience of the viewer.

Open access
Subjects and Objects of the Embodied Gaze: Abbas Kiarostami and the Real of the Individual Perspective

Abstract

It is widely accepted that Abbas Kiarostami’s cinema revolves around the representation of the gaze. Many critics argue that he should be considered a late modernist who repeats the self-reflexive gestures of modernist European cinema decades after they were first introduced. The present paper will contradict this assertion by investigating the problematic of the Kiarostamian gaze and analyzing the perceptual side of the act of looking. I will argue that instead of focusing on the gaze of the spectator directed towards the filmic image, he exposes a gaze that is fully integrated into the reality to be captured on film. The second part of the paper will explain this by linking the concept of gaze to the Lacanian concept of the order of the Real. Finally, I will contextualize all this by discussing the Iranian director’s position between Eastern and Western traditions of representation.

Open access