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Cinematic Appeals

Cinematic Appeals: The Experience of New Movie Technologies

Ariel Rogers
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Cinematic Appeals
    Book Description:

    Cinematic Appealsfollows the effect of technological innovation on the cinema experience, specifically the introduction of widescreen and stereoscopic 3D systems in the 1950s, the rise of digital cinema in the 1990s, and the transition to digital 3D since 2005. Widescreen cinema promised to draw the viewer into the world of the screen, enabling larger-than-life close-ups of already larger-than-life actors. This technology fostered the illusion of physically entering a film, enhancing the semblance of realism. Alternatively, the digital era was less concerned with the viewer's physical response and more with information flow, awe, and the reevaluation of spatiality and embodiment. This study ultimately shows how cinematic technology and the human experience shape and respond to each other over time.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53578-6
    Subjects: Film Studies, Art & Art History, Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-18)

    Darryl Zanuck’s professed interest in harnessing the new widescreen format to make “moving pictures thatmove” may seem ironic since early CinemaScope films were notoriously static.² But widescreen, together with stereoscopic 3D, did move viewers in 1953—not only away from their television sets and into the movie theater but also to what were widely heralded as new forms of cinematic experience. Almost fifty years later another technological development, the increasing incorporation of digital tools in production, postproduction, distribution, and exhibition, again reputedly transformed viewers’ mode of engagement with movies, an apparent evolution that has persisted well into the twenty-first...

  6. 1 “SMOTHERED IN BAKED ALASKA”: The Anxious Appeal of Widescreen Cinema
    (pp. 19-60)

    In the face of a severe decline in film attendance, widescreen cinema lured viewers in 1950s America by promising a thrilling new experience that set it apart from both traditional moviegoing and the phenomenon of television. Beginning with the debut of Cinerama in 1952 and continuing with the introduction of CinemaScope and numerous similar systems in subsequent years, industry executives and critics described the novel experience widescreen offered with reference to the idea of “audience participation.”² While this notion of audience participation appears frequently in the advertisements and film reviews surrounding the introduction of widescreen processes and is widely acknowledged...

  7. 2 EAST OF EDEN IN CINEMASCOPE: Intimacy Writ Large
    (pp. 61-90)

    Warner Bros. persuaded Elia Kazan to shootEast of Edenin Cinema-Scope. During production of the film the director claimed to be unenthusiastic about the system and predicted that it would not last long.³ Even years later, he maintained thatEast of Eden’s intimate content did not lend itself to the format and justified the choice by explaining that “that was the rule in those days. Nearly all the big pictures had to be shot in CinemaScope.”⁴ Rather than accept the new filmmaking norms minted by early CinemaScope features such asThe RobeandHow to Marry a Millionairealong...

  8. 3 DIGITAL CINEMA’S HETEROGENEOUS APPEAL: Debates on Embodiment, Intersubjectivity, and Immediacy
    (pp. 91-140)

    The increasing ubiquity of electronic and digital technologies has been a major concern in cinema studies over the past two decades. In the broader field of media studies the legacy is longer. However we view the relationship between these disciplines, one thing they share is a profound lack of consensus about these technologies.² Within cinema studies, arguments have ranged from the claim that digital— and sometimes electronic—technologies radically alter cinema’s ontological relationship with the world to the contention that these technologies do not fundamentally transform the experience cinema offers at all.³ Recently, prominent scholars have also drawn attention to...

  9. 4 AWE AND AGGRESSION: The Experience of Erasure in The Phantom Menace and The Celebration
    (pp. 141-178)

    As we saw in chapter 3, the concept of digital cinema that gained prominence in the late 1990s encompassed a wide variety of applications of digital technologies in the processes of production, postproduction, distribution, and exhibition. This chapter considers the aesthetic transformations accompanying this technological shift, focusing on two films widely identified as watersheds for digital cinema: GeorgeLucas’s Star Wars: Episode IThe Phantom Menaceand Thomas Vinterberg’sThe Celebration(Festen). These movies represent very different cinematic industries and institutions—the former epitomizing the tradition of the high-concept Hollywood blockbuster that the originalStar Warshad been influential in...

  10. 5 POINTS OF CONVERGENCE: Conceptualizing the Appeal of 3D Cinema Then and Now
    (pp. 179-226)

    Months before the February 2012 release ofStar Wars: Episode IThe Phantom Menacein digital 3D, a trailer for the new version of the film circulated online.² The trailer begins with an inset frame, a fraction the size of the video frame itself, within which play iconic scenes from theStar Warscycle. Accompanying this montage, a voice-over proclaims, “The greatest saga of all time is coming to the big screen . . .” When, after a pause, the narrator continues, “in spectacular 3D!” the inset box disappears and the trailer offers an image filling the frame: a shot...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 227-298)
    (pp. 299-318)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 319-330)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-334)