Viewing notes on Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008)
Waltz with Bashir is about a filmmaker trying to remember the time he was in the Lebanese war. He endeavors to trace his steps by meeting with people he was in the war with and asking them what they recollect.
With a friend, who has nightmares about canines he killed in the war endeavoring to get him and another few who only recollect fractions of what happened during their involvement in the events as they have blocked most of it out, he endeavors to put together a timeline of the traumatic experience.
They all have different methods dealing with the horrific memories of war. Some of them felt censurable and wish they would have done more, some of them opt to only visually perceive the good components, some of them are so traumatised they have blocked out their experiences.
In the cessation, they ascertain that they were right there when the massacre of Sabra and Shatila happened and all they did was on standby. The film ends with shocking real-life footage of women crying and the aftermath of an attack.
History or Memory: Notes on Radstone, S. (2010) ‘Cinema and Memory’, in Radstone, S. and Schwarz, B. (eds) Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. New York: Fordham University Press, pp. 325-342
Memory and the recollection of those memories are like films. You can pause, rewind or decelerate any details you operate. This explicates cinemas fascination of recollection – films that play around on our conscious and subconscious mind. The way our recollections can perturb or transmutation in our own heads is often a subject of interest. The things we forget and do not forget vary and can reveal a lot.
Cinema has used flashback to engage with dreams and uses fades to distinguish between past and present. Cinema takes part in history and the recollection of memory through recording events for future viewers. Photography and cinematography represent visual recollection and the fragments of a period of time. The film can be a component of the public recollection by recording events or private in home videos.
Heritage film – often habituated from literary works and characterised by high budgets with lavish, lovingly dwelt-on period detail, locations. This has been often inculpated of exhibiting only a narrow-minded, romanticised and elite view on history.
The fetishisation of time period means that they often don’t reflect the time period faithfully and mix the fact and fiction. Films about traumatic history are profoundly adept at engaging the viewer emotionally. These films themselves become part of history.
Cinema can affect recollection – we can visually perceive footage from places and events that have transpired, even if we were there ourselves to witness them. We can learn a lot about an event we did not even attend or witness, form an opinion or someone else interpretation about it.
Ways film can engender recollections – we often have fond recollections of a film or the time in our lives we optically discerned a certain film. They can additionally make us more intrigued with a subject or a moment in history and commence an interest we might look deep into.
Ways films can influence history – propaganda films, times in history certain things were not shown, censorship. Representation of minorities on screen.
Ways films can reflect history – films always carry the time they are made in it. We optically discern films made in the past about future that might seem cockamamy, we optically discern films from times consequential to the present, certain moments that reflect how we visually perceive the present day. Representation of minorities on screen.
Discussion notes on Not Reconciled (Daniels, 2009, UK)
Not Reconciled is a film about collective recollection and history. It depicts towns ravaged by the Spanish civil war and has a voice-over monologue.
The voice over is presented as two ghosts sharing their recollections of the war. Throughout they disagree and debate one another in Spanish. There is additionally a British voice throwing in arbitrary facts. Through this, it explores recollection in different ways. There are interviews with people who personally experienced it and they share their recollections.
I find the images of wrecked buildings and interviews with people who were puerile at that time very efficacious for exhibiting how recollection changes with time. The images that are shown are haunting in order to make you feel like those who died there.
Viewing this film in this way it makes you feel like you are experiencing what happened to the memories of other. The voices echo as if they are still inhabiting the old structures.
Types of Documentary Cinema: Notes on Nichols, B. (2001) Introduction to Documentary, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, pp. 99-137.
There are many different types or ‘Modes’ of documentaries that a filmmaker may choose to implement. All have different ways of approaching a subject matter and engaging the audience in that subject matter.
The Poetic mode
Share common themes with the modernist avant-garde, sacrifices continuity editing. Adept at opening up alternative forms of knowledge to the straightforward transfer of information, argument or viewpoint. Gives the potential to see the historical world anew.
N.Y.N.Y. (1957) for example, show how New York looking in the 1950’s but arranges the shots to give a poetic impression of the cities mass of volume, colour, and movement.
Un Chien Andalou Luis Beñuel and Salvador Dali, 1928) use abrupt shifts in time and place, and more puzzles than answers.
The Expository mode
This mode assembles fragments of history into a more rhetorical or argumentative frame. Adopt voice-of-God commentary.
The Voice-of-God tradition fostered the cultivation of the professional Male voice for commentary.
These documentaries rely on informing logic by spoken word to emphasis images. Just like a written caption grabs our attention and emphasises some of the many meanings.
Editing is in a more formal pattern, it’s a mode that conveys information or mobilises support within the framework that pre-exists in the film.
The Observational Mode
This form wants to observe what happens without overt intentions. Scenes tend, like fiction, to reveal aspects of character and individuality.
They have a particular strength in giving a sense of the duration of the actual event. It’s trying to be present during an event but filming as if the camera and the filmmaker were absent, or as if they were a ‘fly on the wall’.
However, films such as Triumph of the Will hides it’s cooperation and demonstrates the power of the image.
The Participatory Mode
These documentaries expect to witness the historical world as represented by some who actually engages with it. The filmmaker steps out from the fly on the wall perch and becomes a social actor.
The films stress the actual, lived encounters between filmmakers and subject. The idea of “film truth” is used, it’s the truth of the encounter rather than the absolute or untampered truth.
Filmmakers serve as a researcher or investigative reporter. This mode is used to introduce a border perspective, often one that is historical in nature.
The Reflexive Mode
The historical world becomes the meeting place for the process of negotiation between filmmaker and viewer. The filmmaker engages with the audience, speaking not only about the historical world but also about the problems and issues representing it as well. It asked the audience to see the documentary as a construction or representation
. Far from Poland director, Jill Godmilow addresses us directly to ponder the solidarity movement in Poland. These film set to heighten our awareness of the problems.
These documentaries address the issues of realism, it takes form as physical, psychological, and emotional realism through techniques of evidentiary or continuity editing, character development, and narrative structure. The overall result deconstructs the impression of unimpeded access to reality and invites us to reflect on the process by which this impression is itself constructed through editing.
The Performative Mode
These documentaries set out to demonstrate how embodied knowledge provides entry into an understanding of the more general processes at work In society. Meaning is clearly a subjective, affect-laden phenomenon. They underscore the complexity of our knowledge of the world by emphasising it’s subjective and affective dimensions.
They primarily address us, emotionally and expressively, rather than pointing us to the factual world we hold in common. These films engage us less with rhetorical commands or imperatives than with a sense of their own vivid responsiveness,
The filmmaker’s responsiveness seeks to animate our own. We engage with their representation of the historical world but do so obliquely, via the effective charge they apply to it and seek to make our own.
It constantly reminds us that the world is more than the sum of the visible evidence we derive from it.
They restore a sense of magnitude to the local, specific, and embodied. It animates the personal so that it may become our port of entry to the political.
Visit to the National Gallery
The Marriage of Frederick Barbarossa (1752-3, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo)
The Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and his wife Beatrice kneel afore Gebhard, Bishop of Würzburg. On the right of the picture, the royal household, and dignitaries of Imperium are amassed, while the father of the bride, Count Raynald of Burgundy, kneels on the steps to the left of the altar, accompanied by two pageboys.
The court jester, visually perceived from behind, occupies a prominent position in the foreground at the foot of the steps to the altar, an example of Tiepolo’s penchant for introducing witty and frivolous conceptions to the acceded pictorial subject matter. The steps to the altar lead us into the picture and, along with the colossal background architecture, engender great spatial depth. The musicians on the balcony in the background are a favourite motif of Tiepolo, which he utilizes to avail make the historical subject matter topical.
The Singing Revolution is a series of events between 1987 and 1991 that led to the restoration of the independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from the Soviet Union. It is known as the most famous revolution with no bloodshed. One of the most well known peaceful political demonstration during that time is the Baltic Way, where over 2 million people joined hands from Tallinn to Vilnius representing the unity between Baltic countries.
Research Agreement & Ideas
Materials, notes, and images for the practice presentation.
Trauma Film: Notes on Walker, J. (2001) ‘Trauma cinema: false memories and true experience’, in Radstone, S. (ed.) ‘Special Debate: Trauma and Screen Studies’, Screen vol 42.2, Summer, pps.188-216.
Trauma’s field of referral ought not to be restricted to its more customary application: that of particular and concrete replications/representations prompted by a devastating event. Rather than the term’s salience is due less to its ‘referral’ to catastrophic events – a referral that is both betokens and put in crisis by the term itself- than to the revised understandings of referentiality it prompts. Trauma theory is not so much a theory of recuperated recollection as it is one of recuperated referentiality, that acknowledges that there is no there. It is the space trauma provides for the consideration, rather than the foreclosure of such ostensible paradoxes, that controvertibly constitutes the concept’s value.
Trauma theory revises rather than recuperates theories of referentiality: more categorically, it prompts a re-cerebrating of the cognition between cinema, film, recollection, and history, and insists that film theorists bring trauma theory’s insights concerning latency and belatedness to the question: why this film now?
PTSD – can be linked to a categorical event
Trauma theory runs the jeopardy of returning Screen Studies to that model of passive spectatorship, and the retention of fantasy may be our best indemnification against such outcome.
Melodrama – trauma has its roots in the nineteenth century and was developed in sodality with industrialization, the oppression of women in the bourgeois family and colonisation. Hollywood melodramas illimitably reiterate family and war traumas and instaurations. Domains of history and fantasy – a sodality that suggests a privileged cognation between melodrama and the representation and analysis of cultural trauma.
The 1980s and 1990s dealing with the world-shattering public or personal events. Crisis in representation.
Trauma theory is endeavoring to redefine consequential theoretical and political ground about the status of fantasy and the crisis of referentiality. To the extents that this additionally implicatively insinuates the crisis of indexicality with regards to the photographic mode of the moving image, it is of both theoretical and pragmatic interest to film philomaths – even to those not primarily concerned with film texts that represent military, genocidal or national-ethnic traumatic events.
Trauma is not something assimilated, but an experience not integrated into the psychic economy of a subject. This gives trauma theory a double set of objectives, but additionally of historical tasks: on the one hand, it opens up trauma theory to the experience and recollection of events other than public-historical ones, as in personal memoirs, autobiography, testimony or family history. On the other hand, it defines traumas such as the Vietnam War or ethnic cleansing in the Balkans as an issue of narrative – of telling and heedfully auricularly discerning – within the terms of which its cognition to subjectivity, history, and recollection can best be addressed.
Verbalize shows – the culture of confession and witness, of exposure and self-exposure.
Films have proved to be a most extraordinary instruments for giving shape, texture and voice to a ‘history from below’ or ‘everyday history’ and once authenticating ‘lived experience’ through the puissance of immediacy intrinsical in the moving image and demonstrating the cinema’s capacity to ‘fake’ such authenticity through the stylistic- narrational techniques of editing sounds and images.
Trauma theory is obligatory, and it could become handy a catch-all for the aporias or lacunae of precedent theoretical configurations in the fields of film and television studies, whereas its more challenging task is to celebrate through the deadlocks of deconstruction in cognition to extra-textuality and interpretation, as well as rethinking the hermeneutics of psychoanalysis.
Melodrama – family struggle and feminist theory for struggling white women. Cultural trauma. The personal drama caused by the society’s changes.
In melodrama, the spectator is introduced to trauma through film’s themes and techniques, but the film ends with a comforting closure or remedy. The spectator is vicariously traumatized – a potentially negative result in the sense that the viewer may recoil in disrelish or terror out of trepidation of being haunted by unheralded painful images rather than being empathetically or ethically moved. The spectator is situated as a voyeur. The spectator is addressed as a witness, controvertibly the most politically utilizable position.
Freud understood war trauma as a series of events that occur in a particular context of disillusionment and dislocation.
Flashback and montage as an implement. Witnessing and testimony.
Prosthetic recollection – recollection can be very veridical. True and erroneous recollections. Recollection not as a quandary of storage and retrieval of a discrete quantity of information but rather as a question of correspondence – between recollections and authentic past events.
The catalogue of film topics encompassed by trauma cinema finds its best description – not coincidentally – in the ingression for PTSD, which may be caused by experiencing or witnessing military combat, truculent personal assault, being abducted, taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or man-made disasters, astringent automobile accidents, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Prosthetic Memory: Notes on Landsberg, A. (1995) ‘Prosthetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner‘ in Featherstone, M., and Burrows, R. (eds) Cyberspace/Cyberbodies/Cyberpunk: Cultures of Technological Embodiment. London: Sage. p175-189.
The 1908 Edison film The Thieving Hand anticipated a preoccupation in science fiction with ‘prosthetic memories’. Implanted memories between real and simulated ones. The idea of prosthetic memory problematises any conception memory that posits it as essential, stable or grounded.
The mass media production of memories might be an under-theorised force in the production of identity. Blade runner and total recall play around with the idea that memories have to belong to use to experience them. Both films involve individuals who identify with memories that are not their own.
These films can be used to literalise prosthetic memory to disrupt some postmodern assumptions about the experience. Fredric Jameson says in post-modernity, the experience is dead. ‘Nostalgia films’ invoke ‘pastness’ instead of engaging with ‘real history’.
Jean Baudrillard’s states that different media, meditations, and simulations have dissolved the dichotomy between authentic and the inauthentic.
Experience within the movie theatre and the memory the cinema affords might be significant in constructing, or deconstructing the spectator’s identity as any experience that s/he has live through.
Nightmare on elms street uses memories as a life or death threat to those experiencing them. The memories prosthetic or not, are experienced as real, in a life or death way, informing the decision taken by the characters.
Bullet-point outline of essay.
Introduction to All The President’s Men and what I’ll be analysing and question topic.
The meaning of docudrama
Critiques on docudrama
Mockumentaries and it’s connection to docudrama
Origins of docudrama
Ethics of docudrama
All The President’s Men film analysis