Date of Award

4-20-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Greg M. Smith - Chair

Second Advisor

Charlie Keil

Third Advisor

Ted Friedman

Fourth Advisor

Kathy Fuller-Seeley

Fifth Advisor

Angelo Restivo

Abstract

This project examines the how camera movement as a stylistic element is used as a storytelling device in the films of select international filmmakers. The main intention of the study is to trace the changing function of the mobile frame to see how a specific stylistic element develops across different narrative paradigms, national industries and between “early” and contemporary periods of filmmakers. My primary assertion is that the norms guiding the development of the tracking camera expand gradually from normative functions toward figurative uses. In order to be able to differentiate between normative and figurative uses of the tracking camera with conceptual clarity, this project adapts Roland Barthes’s typology about the narrative function of distinctive textual/stylistic units. Barthes’ conceptual framework becomes functional by assigning specific codes (hermeneutic, the semic, the proairetic, the symbolic and the cultural codes) to the interactions of the elements of narration. When transforming and changing the function of stylistic elements across their films, artists respond to a wide range of industrial, technological, aesthetic, cultural factors, from which this study focuses on socio-cultural trends. The underlying assumption of this project holds that the mentioned trends can be detected in the stylistic choices of artists. This study takes a bottom-up route: starting with an analytical interpretation of a specific aesthetic device, it moves towards an explanation that connects camera movement to larger, dynamic signifying systems. The arch of my project traces the relation between normative and figurative textual codes through the prism of camera movement.

Included in

Communication Commons

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