The aesthetics of spectacle in mainstream cinema

Lewis, Simon John (2012) The aesthetics of spectacle in mainstream cinema. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This thesis seeks to develop an aesthetics of spectacle in mainstream cinema. Whilst a significant amount of critical work has been undertaken on spectacle within the context of narrative theory, little attention has been paid to defining and analysing spectacle in itself and its place in the cinematic experience. Not only does this mean that a pervasive concept in film studies is left poorly defined and unconsidered, it also hampers an understanding of the nature of the cinematic experience itself.

The central question addressed by the thesis is ‘What is the role of spectacle in the cinematic experience, with particular reference to mainstream cinema?’ This involves a consideration of the ways in which spectacle has been treated in theoretical terms to date. In particular, the contribution of cognitive approaches is critically assessed with a view to establishing a more inclusive framework that recognises the experiential nature of cinematic spectacle. In the light of this, the thesis proposes a new critical model for understanding spectacle, one based on a notion of transmission which presents narrative and spectacle as coexistent within the cinematic experience rather than as antithetical qualities. As another aspect of this, the thesis considers the historical development of spectacle in the context of spectatorship at the time of early cinema at the end of the nineteenth century.

The latter part of the thesis applies its definition of spectacle to specific elements of the cinematic experience, namely the use of technology and miseen-scene. It thereby engages with the aesthetics of spectacle within particular contexts and conditions. This exercise makes it clear that far from being a marginalised element, as suggested by current narrative-centred film theory, spectacle is central to the cinematic experience.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: film theory, spectatorship, cognitive film theory, film technology, mise-en-scene
Subjects: W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Research and Innovation Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2012 10:32
Last Modified: 08 May 2017 14:57
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/8781

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