Uploaded by Debasish Mondal

L1 Representation and reality

H OW D O F I L M S G O A B O U T R E P R E S E N T I N G R E A L I T Y ?
A D A P T E D F R O M F I L M S T U D I E S : A N I N T R O D U C T I O N B Y E D S I KO V
• Consider the word “representation”. What does it mean (and what
technology does it take) to represent real people or physical
objects on film?
• These are two of the most basic questions in Film Studies – why?
• Do objects and people depicted in painting and literature need to have a physical
reality? Why/why not?
• You can paint a picture of a woman without using a model or even without having a
specific real woman in mind. You can paint landscapes you’ve never actually seen.
• Art can also be entirely nonrepresentational – just splashes of colour or streaks of
black paint.
• In literature, too, writers describe cities that never existed and people who never
• How does film differ from art and literature in terms of representing reality?
• Consider the fact that in classical world cinema, in all but a few rare cases,
directors had to have something real to photograph with a film camera.
• They may be actors wearing makeup and costumes, but they’re still real human
beings. These actors may be walking through constructed sets, but these sets
have a physical reality; walls that look like stone may actually be made of
painted wood, but they are still real, material walls.
• Consider animated films. How do directors create a physical reality akin to live
action films?
• When we talk about the form of an artwork, what does that actually mean?
• In art, the shape and structure of the artwork; in film, all the specific techniques
used by filmmakers to create expressive meaning.
• This is how we recognise the meaning behind an artwork, piece of literature
and film.
• Every filmmaker is unique and uses different techniques to create their
cinematic works. This course will show you how and why each film you watch
(and your own films) are different and why those differences matter to the art
form. You will learn to see the ways in which filmmakers express ideas and
emotions with their cameras.
This is one of the key aesthetic issues of Film Studies – learning to see that an
apparently unmediated event (such as a sports match, concert etc.) is in fact a
mediated work of art. At first glance, we tend not to see the mediation involved
in the cinema; we don’t see the art. All we see – at first – is a representation of
the physical reality of what has been photographed. But throughout the course,
you will learn to see beyond this and make sense of how filmmakers go about
representing this reality.