neoformalist film theory

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An approach to the aesthetic analysis of film based on the work of the Russian formalists and associated with Kristin Thompson (b.1950), an American film theorist. Neoformalism rejects models of art as communication, seen (reductively) in terms of messages passed between senders and receivers. Rather, artworks produce pleasure through defamiliarization that challenges the spectator's habitual perceptions of the world. There is no pre-existing method of neoformal analysis: spectators go through certain procedures in understanding films and the ways in which they relate to society. The analysis always involves careful viewing and a constant modification of the two-way interchange between that which the spectator brings to the film and the film's structures as experienced by them. Critics note that this approach focuses on formal and stylistic considerations at the expense of broader cultural, ideological, and institutional issues. See also cognitive film theory.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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