Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
A theory of the soundtrack is concerned with what belongs to the soundtrack, how a soundtrack is effectively organized, how its status in a multimedia object affects the nature of the object, the tools available for its analysis, and the interpretive regime that the theory mandates for determining the meaning, sense, and structure that sound and music bring to film and other audiovisual media. Beyond that, a theory may also delineate the range of possible uses of sound and music, classify the types of relations that films have used for image and sound, identify the central problems, and reflect on and describe effective uses of sound in film. This book summarizes and critiques major theories of the soundtrack from roughly 1929 until today. Rather than providing an exhaustive historical survey, it sketches out the range of theoretical approaches that have been applied to the soundtrack since the commercial introduction of the sound film. The basic theoretical framework of each approach is presented, taking into account the explicit and implicit claims about the soundtrack and its relation to other theories. The organization is both chronological and topical, the former in that the chapters move steadily from early film theory through models of the classical system to more recent critical theories; the latter in that the chapters highlight central issues for each generation: the problem of film itself, then of image and sound, of adequate analytical-descriptive models, and finally of critical-interpretative models.
Is it true that film in the twentieth century experimented with vision more than any other art form? And what visions did it privilege? In this brilliant book, acclaimed film scholar Francesco Casetti situates the cinematic experience within discourses of twentieth-century modernity. He suggests that film defined a unique gaze, not only because it recorded many of the century's most important events, but also because it determined the manner in which they were received. Casetti begins by examining film's nature as a medium in an age obsessed with immediacy, nearness, and accessibility. He considers the myths and rituals cinema constructed on the screen and in the theater and how they provided new images and behaviors that responded to emerging concerns, ideas, and social orders. Film also succeeded in negotiating the different needs of modernity, comparing and uniting conflicting stimuli, providing answers in a world torn apart by conflict, and satisfying a desire for everydayness, as well as lightness, in people's lives. The ability to communicate, the power to inform, and the capacity to negotiate-these are the three factors that defined film's function and outlook and made the medium a relevant and vital art form of its time. So what kind of gaze did film create? Film cultivated a personal gaze, intimately tied to the emergence of point of view, but also able to restore the immediacy of the real; a complex gaze, in which reality and imagination were combined; a piercing gaze, achieved by machine, and yet deeply anthropomorphic; an excited gaze, rich in perceptive stimuli, but also attentive to the spectator's orientation; and an immersive gaze, which gave the impression of being inside the seen world while also maintaining a sense of distance. Each of these gazes combined two different qualities and balanced them. The result was an ever inventive synthesis that strived to bring about true compromises without ever sacrificing the complexity of contradiction. As Casetti demonstrates, film proposed a vision that, in making opposites permeable, modeled itself on an oxymoronic principle. In this sense, film is the key to reading and understanding the modern experience.
Cinema: A Visual Anthropology provides a clear and concise summary of the key ideas, debates, and texts of the most important approaches to the study of fiction film from around the world. The book examines ways to address film and film experience beyond the study of the audience. Cross-disciplinary in scope, Cinema uses ideas and approaches both from within and outside of anthropology to further students' knowledge of and interest in fiction film. Including selected, globally based case studies to highlight and exemplify important issues, the book also contains suggested Further Reading for each chapter, for students to expand their learning independently. Exploring fundamental methods and approaches to engage this most interesting and vibrant of media, Cinema will be essential reading for students of anthropology and film.