Cinema Studies-Classic Hollywood Cinema Essay Example

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 Cinema Studies: Classical Hollywood Cinema

The art has evolved with the human beings and this is but natural given the fact that art is mainly the reflection of human thought and is essentially a form of expression for human beings. The field of art has always been a reflection of the changes that are being experienced in society. Society is a human construct and has over the years evolved and changed with the changing human demands and expectations. The evolution of society is traceable into history. Art has constantly been a reflection of the societal upheavals that are experienced. Thus, with the evolution of society there can be seen a clear, parallel and corresponding evolution and growth in art.

. Cinema of AttractionCinema is one of the most important methodologies that exist in the society for the expression of the various human emotions (Mulvey, L, 1975). It is not a stagnant factor, but like all other art forms, it is also subjective and relative. Cinematography as an art form can be divided into various classes on the basis of its origin, time period etc. It has evolved, changed and gradually developed with the changes that have occurred in the society and its structural changes. This paper will go into a detailed discussion on the early developments of Hollywood cinema, a phase that was described as the time of

The term cinema of attraction is one which was coined by Tom Gunning to describe the beginning years of the Hollywood film industry, wherein he opined that the focus of the cinema makers was specifically intense on the projection of image in the cinema to the audience. As has been pointed out by Gunning at the beginning of the phase of cinema, film makers were still experimenting with the technical knowhow and knowledge, where the focus was on comprehending what all could be achieved through the use of imagery and were testing the capabilities of film making itself, rather than focusing on what they could communicate to the audience.

Attraction to describe this phenomenon. Cinema of The focus was on what imagery could be produced and what could be shown to the audience instead. More than the narrative of the film, the imagery that was involved represented more in the film (Guido, L, 2006). This is the main basis on which Gunning reflected in his paper that the movies that were produced in Hollywood had a different kind of relationship with the audience prior to the year of 1960s, and uses the phrase

specified the most significant characteristics of the early films of Hollywood, where he describes the interaction of the films with the audience. Gunning in his paper states “it is a cinema that bases itself on the quality that Léger celebrated: its ability to show something, this is a cinema that displaces its visibility, willing to rupture a self enclosed fictional world for a chance to solicit the attention of the spectator. This is a cinema that displaces its visibility, willing to rupture a self enclosed fictional world for a chance to solicit the attention of the spectator (Gunning, T, 1989).” ‘The Cinema Of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator, and the Avant-Garde,’ Gunning has, in his article,

Thus, the main specifications that have been provided by Gunning is that the cinema before the year of 1906 were such that there was direct interaction between the actors and the audience. The fact that there is direct interaction between the audience and the images completely destroys the sense of realism that was later developed in the films (Musser, C, 1994).

There was a level of exhibitionism developed through the imagery which directly related to the audience (Gunning, T, 1990). This is a significant difference between the narrative films that were developed later, where there is a quality of voyeur developed in the film, whereas the cinema of attraction were developed where it was kept in mind that there is an audience that is viewing the images that are being displayed, and the images are developed specifically for the viewing in the cinema by the audience. Also the actors in the cinema of attraction maintain direct contact with the audience, and this makes a clear breakage from the realistic development of cinema. This form of cinema gives them a sense of being watched, while feeling connected directly to the imagery in the cinema, helping them ensure that they are aware of their role as an audience of the film (Bukatman, S, 2006). The continuous connection also helps the audience engaged, helping ensure that they do not get distracted and keeping their attention completely captured on the images on screen.

, there was a scene where the life sized bandit looks at the audience and shoots. This effectively engages the attention and the interest of the audience. The Great Train Robbery by Edwin PorterTechnical development is also very significant when developing a film of cinema of attraction. It has been observed that the form of cinema of attraction was one which was incorporated along with a narrative to ensure greater interaction with the audience and the setting up of an effectively engaging cinema (Bolter, J.D. and Grusin, R, 1999). For example, in the year of 1903 in the movie

Such scenes at the beginning of a film engage the interest of the audience and makes them wonder why the shooting took place, and to find out about the narrative behind the shot, and at the end it helps provide an exciting yet shocking end which makes the narrative more realistic and relatable to the audience without making them aware of themselves as an audience (Gaudreault, A, 2006). If the scene is somewhere in the middle of the movie then it takes away from the movie and the focus shifts completely to the scene, leading to the narrative becoming weak and taking attention away from the story that is being told. Thus the technical usage of the cinema of attraction is very significant and has to be implemented correctly in the films to be effective.

Generally, most of the film viewers do realize that such a thing is absurd, but will understand that this technique is used to show them what the character is experiencing in a more dramatic than natural way. Also, the characters’ reaction to the musical numbers is one of unawareness, as though in their reality it is considered something completely of the norm. This technique, being mainly exhibitionist, attempts to conform and make sense within the narrative. Yet rather than aid in the narrative’s progression, it functions on a level of emotional reaction or understanding that follows attributes of the cinema of attractions. Songs are placed in the film as productions specifically for the audience, recognizing them as the viewers, and geared towards helping them understand the mood. In this case, the cinema is used to highlight a point that may not be clear through the narrative, and pauses between it to explain in further detail.

The narrative then continues as though this sudden reflection of the mood was nothing unnatural to the situation, but rather just acted as an interruption in the unaware story. While attractions in the past were created to shock or leave the crowd in awe, film further progresses to incorporate attractions focused on emphasizing a point or creating a mood.

The emphasis of this type of cinematography is that it has its own specific and significant place in the technical apparatus of movie making in the film industry, especially in the earlier movies. It helped ensure that the audience was able to connect to the movie and feel like they were a part of the entire experience that has been developed on reel, instead of being given a feeling that they were being provided a peak into the fictional world, where there is no connection between the audience and the images and the characters unfolding on the screen (Abel, R, 2004).

This technological knowledge was a significant break though in the cinema making process as it helped in the demolition of the diegetic walls of cinema, letting the audience connect with the images that they view and become a part of the story that was being told on screen. In the older days of filming, this technique was employed by film makers to shock and awe the audience in the movie and make them feel like the narrative was interesting and all incorporating, but it has been observed that with the advancement of technology it has helped the film makers to be able to develop and set the tone and mood of a scene and the movie. Thus, there are certain scholars who are disdainful of the technology, finding it crude there are many who believe that it is a genius way of engaging the audience in the narrative of the film.


, in ed. Lee Grievson and Peter Krämer, London: Routledge, 63-75.The Silent Cinema Reader Abel, R. (2004) “The Cinema of Attractions in France, 1896-1904”,

, MIT Press.Remediation: Understanding New Media Bolter, J.D. and Grusin, R. (1999)

, ed. Wanda Strauven, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 71-82.The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded: Film Culture in Transition Bukatman, S. (2006) “Spectacle, Attractions and Visual Pleasure”, in

, ed. Wanda Strauven, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 85-104.The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded: Film Culture in Transition Gaudreault, A. (2006) “From ‘Primitive Cinema’ to ‘Kine-Attractography’”, in

, ed. Wanda Strauven, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 139-156.The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded: Film Culture in Transition Guido, L. (2006) “Rhythmic Bodies/Movies: Dances as Attraction in Early Film Culture”, in

, 34 Spring, 31-45.Art & Text Gunning, T. (1989) “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)credulous Spectator”, 

, ed. Thomas Elsaesser, London: British Film Institute, pp 56-62.Early Cinema: Space Frame Narrative Gunning, T. (1990) “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde”, in

, 16.3, 6-18.Screen Mulvey, L. (1975) “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”,

, 7.2: Fall, 203-231.The Yale Journal of Criticism Musser, C. (1994) “Rethinking Early Cinema: Cinema of Attractions and Narrativity”,