Film, Form and Phantasy: Adrian Stokes and Film Aesthetics (Language, Discourse, Society)
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This book explores the ideas of the neglected English aesthetician and art historian, Adrian Stokes. Stokes's Kleinian-based concepts of carving and modelling are analyzed in relation to film, arguing that they replace the traditional notions of realism and montage in film theory and provide a set of aesthetics which encompasses mainstream and "art" cinema. This Kleinian psychoanalytic approach is applied to the films of Eisenstein, Rossellini, Hitchcock and others.
important factors in understanding their work and assessing it in the same way that understanding Renaissance artists can benefit from knowledge of the conditions of patronage and technological advances under which they worked. The same factors have ruled our understanding of print and graphic art since the early Renaissance.5 If Ford expresses deeply humanist and whole-object values, then much of Hitchcock’s work would seem to serve opposing ends, ones intimate with part-object compulsions,
emotional states expressed in sequences, scenes, shots are experienced in an emotional complexity which perhaps acquires an order not identical to its narrative order and yet determined by the latter. This is a way of denying the view that the expressive order is simply its narrational one. As we know, a final expressive scene may trickle back through a film’s entirety and transform its prior expressive content; in the same way that emotions can project back into our own pasts so can a film’s.13
the picture but not engaging us somehow; perhaps it is a cliché, or a mechanically used convention, or it has not succeeded because technique has failed it. Films which have attempted to reject emotional expressiveness of any kind can of course express a coldness or abstractness the viewer feels too. Straub and Huillet’s The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968) is elegant and powerful in its ‘expressionlessness’ in relation to its characters, compared, say, with a film like Howard Hawks’s The
the patient’s early seduction by a parent or authority figure. This view had been forced upon him to a large extent by the childhood seduction stories recounted to him mainly by female patients. Through the Wolf Man case he was able to understand such stories as phantasies by which the patient expressed an unconscious desire or wish to enter into a sexual relationship with his or her parent. This wish remained operative and productive in that it created in the consulting room a phantasy about
especially in terms of an attack on its surface for representational ends. Stokes: The Carving and Modelling Modes 79 These ideas, which suggest a particular relationship between artist and material, were also important to the English modernist school. For example, the notion of what the art critic Reginald Wilenski calls ‘collaboration’ between sculptor and the substance upon which he worked set it apart from modelling. The fact that the artist actually carved was also defining of sculpture,