Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Filmwissenschaft, Seminar für » Prof. Dr. Margrit Tröhler » Kirsten

Completed research project

Title / Titel Theory and History of Cinematic Realism as a Mode of Ostentation
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Zur Theorie und Geschichte des Filmischen Realismus. Ein Modus des Ostentativen
Summary / Zusammenfassung ‘There is probably no critical term with a more unruly and confusing lineage than that of realism,’ says John Hill in his book Sex, Class and Realism. In fact, in film studies, it is often rather unclear what the term refers to because it is used on different theoretical levels and within different frameworks. We talk about film's causal links to the real world in terms of indexicality, and studies informed by perceptional psychology emphasise its specific ‘impression of reality’. Problems with categorising cinematic 'realism' become more complex when trying to define it as a specific filmic style or tradition (French poetic realism, Italian neo-realism, British New Wave etc.). The problem is that even if there may be a lot of common features in the films belonging to each ‘school’ or movement which are supposed to follow a realistic aesthetic, none of those features define ‘cinematic realism’ per se.
After examining the different conceptualisations of ‘cinematic realism’ and their inherent limits and aporias the project explores how a pragma-semiotic perspective allows one to understand ‘realism’ not so much as a feature of movies but rather as the result of a certain mode of perception. Cinematic realism here is regarded as a regime of fictional film that supposes a structural homology between the film’s diegesis and the non-filmic reality.
The notion of ’ostentation’ is engaged on two levels. Firstly, closely connected to the notion of the ’impression of reality’, the filmic medium can be said to have a unique potential for ostentation: films do not only communicate or narrate certain events, they literally set them before the spectator’s eyes, they make them ’present’. In the more limited field of the specific realistic mode that this project focuses on there is also another level of ostentation: ’realistic’ films inscribe themselves with certain stylistic and narrative devices so as to be perceived in the realistic mode of perception.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Guido Kirsten (Project Leader)
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Programm NFS/NCCR)
Doktorand im NCCR Mediality: Ostentation, Konfigurationen und Dynamiken der kinematografischen Ostentation
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Oct 2009 to Oct 2013