Alternative Theory Assignment

An excerpt from my prospectus:

The spectator of Skin does not sit there in patience, they use their body to respond while their mind is processing the suspenseful and mind-boggling filmic material. With this epistemological approach to audience reception, I would also like to use Baudry’s “Ideological Effects.”  I believe this piece delves into art as being something more than entertainment: art with psychological purpose. Within the context of my thesis: experiencing a film within an enclosed space makes us feel not only entranced but entrapped. Utilizing the theory of  Plato’s cave, Baudry says that moving images give us feelings of experience and immersion. For Baudry, the spectator is held captive. This harsh language is used to describe the theater’s  psychological effects to the torture porn, gore fest that is the original Saw movie. Another movie that causes bodily tension in the audience: nail-biting and eye averting, stomach churning. I would like to explore these response to torture horror and their entrancing nature.

 Furthermore, the film theater becomes a place of entrapment when horrific actions take place on-screen. Audiences reacting to horror films can be seen throughout marketing campaigns. The audience reaction trailer is used to showcase how the film makes people,  by taking night-vision of people jumping and screaming.

Theory Challenge



Amani Jordan

4 April 2016

Theory Challenge

Word Count: 399


Fighting Pigs Within Elsaesser’s ‘Frame’ and Arnheim’s ‘Illusion’


Film must either reflect our reality or create its own. In “Cinema as Window and Frame” film theories are found between two poles: the window and the frame.  The former, utilizes film as a window onto our reality. Here, the  cinematic medium as a realistic art expression. The latter, the frame  privileges a  formalist position: we use cinema in a self-reflexive manner, calling  attention to what one is viewing and experiencing To elaborate: “On the one hand, the window as a medium effaces itself completely and becomes invisible, and on the other, the frame exhibits the medium in its material specificity”(Elsaesser 16). In this week’s film, 10 Nights of Dream (Y. Yamaguchi, 2006), the frame shows itself more than the window.

The pig boxing match scene, is a framed fantasy,  an imagining of Shotaro’s memories. The boxing ring is complete with flashes from unseen photographers. The villainous woman becomes a grotesque hairy, fleshy pig, punishing Shotaro with freeze framed  bloody punches. The pig is created on-screen with spectacular special effects, costuming and makeup. These elements position the viewer(s) within the filmic reality of the male protagonist.

The suspension of disbelief lies within the audience members; there must a willingness to believe that Shotaro is in danger from being hurt by this anthropomorphic animal. The filmic medium does this by acting in this surrealist, fantastical, formalist way. Arnheim in “Film and Reality” elaborates on the concept of film as dream, or ‘illusion.’  He states: “Up to a certain degree, it [film] gives the impression of real life…It is always at one and the same time a flat picture post card and the scene of a living action”(Arnheim 26). Furthermore, this scene constitutes the cinematic art form as one both ‘real life’ and one of imagined fantasy.

Works Cited:

Arnheim, Rudolf.  “Film and Reality.”  1957.

Elsaesser, Thomas. “Cinema as Window and Frame.” 2015.

Yamaguchi, Yudai. 10 Nights of Dream. 2006.




Week 5 Discussion Questions

  1. Postmodernism is characterized by a subversion of established ideas, humor and self-awareness. Where do we see instances of self-awareness and self parody in “You only Live Twice”? How do these enhance the narrative for the viewer? What does the viewer need to be aware of and understand to “get” the joke? In other words, what elements of the series that it once took seriously it it now making fun of? 
  2.  As Jennifer Swift-Kramer states, in “Casino Royale,” Peter Sellers “was aiming to pull off a multiple role in a new way, by fracturing his performance to include drama, comedy and sheer abstraction on two separate yet related tracks simultaneously. Sellers finally settled on a deflected interpretation of the Bond persona and its increasingly heavy baggage: Playing someone playing a character.” One could argue the same is true for Connery in “You Only Live Twice.” In what instances is his Bond “someone playing a character”? How does Connery infuse the role with self-referential comedy and utilize Jameson’s idea of ‘pastiche'(“mimicry…without any of parody’s ulterior motives”[Jameson 17]) while at the same time keeping it from becoming a complete farce like “Casino Royale?”
  3. Chapman points out that “the Bond films, from Goldfinger onwards, contribute to the obsession with technology by fetishizing it.” We’ve seen that technological innovations and gadgets were important in the first films, but do they take a more central role in “You Only Live Twice?” How are they used in the narrative? Also, how is this rise in the importance of technology connected to Bond’s journey to Japan? In fact, there seems to be an overall fascination with objects and products in the Bond films. Where do we see product integration, technological or otherwise, in “You Only Live Twice” and how does it contribute to our understanding of the film?” 

Week 2: Bond as a modernist figure

Through the sexist code, Bond is interpreted through his relationship to heroine throughout the films. A “representative of norms of masculinity and femininity”(Bennett 24) is presented through the interactions between the two gendered characters. For instance, in ‘Dr. No,’ Bond leaves his card with Sylvia Trench in order to suggest that she take the active role in pursuit. Here, male masculinity becomes passive; women become magnetized to the nonchalant nature of the smooth agent.

In the imperialist code, Bond becomes infused with the idea of British neo-imperialism and nationhood. Premiering during the Cold War, these films infer “the imaginary possibility that England might once again be placed at the centre of world affairs during a period when its world-power status was visibly and rapidly declining”(Bennett 19).  This reinvented British hero is emblematic of the desire for Britain to regain its global position. Through the respectful language of the ‘colonies’ (‘yes sir’ ‘Captain’), the British Bond is refashioning   the nation in a postwar supremacist position.

            Lastly, the phallic code interprets agent 007 through a set of pseudo-sexual relationships. Bond’s nemesis utilizes masochistic torture as a means of emasculation. Furthermore, homoerotic tension is displayed between evil genius Dr. No and James Bond; this conflict can only be achieved through violent means as No is defeated ultimately by a nuclear reactor.  Loosely defined queerness is punished as to reaffirm the supremacy of heterosexism.