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Categories from Hugo Münsterberg’s The Photoplay: A Psychological Study

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Categories from Hugo Münsterberg’s The Photoplay: A Psychological Study

(from Münsterberg, Hugo. The Photoplay: A Psychological Study And Other Writings. Allan Landale ed.New York. Routledge. 2002)

 

Formal Quality or possibility of “The Photoplay” Function/cue Psychological functional equivalent  Difference from theater
       
Depth an impression balanced by knowledge of the picture’s flatness “brings our mind into a peculiar complex state” (71) Theater uses real depth
Movement Movement: impression of continuity supplied by psychological factors Like depth “we invest the impressions with” it (78) and so it Theater uses real movement
       
       
Attention Function/cue Psychological functional equivalent  Difference from theater
Text (on leaders and in the picture) Force the attention of the spectator toward [a] new goal” (82) (“Involuntary”) Attention The theater uses spoken words
Movement of the actors Draws attention (83) (“Involuntary”) Attention Movements accompanies with speech
The form of the moving picture stage/use of foregrounds Intensifies impressions (83) (“Involuntary”) Attention Theater   stage: broad foreground/narrow background. Moving picture stage broad background /narrow foreground.
Costuming  & casting, setting and background Focuses our interest (84) (“Involuntary”) Attention Has painted backgrounds which “can hardly compete” (84)
Composition “play(s) on the keyboard  of our mind” (84) (“Involuntary”) Attention Theater gives different impressions to spectators in different parts of the house
The close-up Mimics the minds focus on one impression and the fading away of all else. (85) (“Involuntary”) Attention The theater has no device that objectifies “in our world of perception our mental act of attention” 87
Memory & imagination Function/cue Psychological functional equivalent  Difference from theater
Cut back Mimics memories “darting through the mind” (90) Memory Theater has no device that objectifies “our memory function” (90)
Forward glance Association of ideas (91) Expectation or imagination Theater obeys laws of outer rather than inner world., photoplays obey laws of inner world.
“Gradual transition” (dissolve) What a character sees in their own mind (and the “lower” case: what a character is saying), a character’s “fancies of the imagination” (93) Reminiscence or imagination Theater must use words for Reminiscence and fancy
Parallel scenes Action “irradiates in all directions” (96) Division of attention Theater “can show us only the events at one spot”

 

 

Emotions Function/cue Psychological functional equivalent  Difference from theater  
Acting/ close-ups Emotions of characters Gives meaning and unity to photoplay Theater actors can discharge  emotions through words. Film gestures not tied to moment of stage performance. Photoactors can be chosen for appearance more easily.  
Costume/ set designm Emotions of characters Gives meaning and unity to photoplay Theater backgrounds can’t be changed as quickly  
Visual perception of various forms of emotional expression “Fuses in our mind with the conscious awareness of the emotions expressed” (105) Emotions in the spectator transmitted from characters    
Focus/blur Shading of emotional background Emotions in the spectator’s “independent affective life” (105) Impossible in theater  
Under/over cranking Shading of emotional background Emotions in the spectator’s “independent affective life” (105) Impossible in theater  
Editing “rhythm” (repeated, patterned use of frames) Shading of emotional background Emotions in the spectator’s “independent affective life” (105) Impossible in theater  
Unstable camera support Shading of emotional background Emotions in the spectator’s “independent affective life” (105) Impossible in theater  

 

 

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