Project: Cinema between Media: Intermediality and the analysis of narrative film

Project information

Project members: Jørgen Bruhn, LInnaeus University, and Anne Gjelsvik, NTNU Trondheim

More about the project

'From the birth some hundred years ago, cinema has often been seen as a form between media. As it shares its basic material, celluloid, with photography, cinema has sometimes been described as a mechanical reproduction of reality. However, early cinema borrowed heavily from traditional performing arts, like theatre and tableau vivant; and the narrative forms of literature, particularly the structure of the novel, have played important roles in shaping narrative cinema. The list of influencing forms goes on, and also includes music, architecture, and painting. Some film theorists, though, Eisenstein and Bazin perhaps the most important among them, have investigated cinema from the perspective of medium specificity.

Following the more recent historical advents of technical media like the VCR and the DVD, and digitalisation and its effects, the notion of cinema as a mixed medium has become even more prominent within film theory. Cinema both has been and is, in other words, intermedial. However, we argue that the acknowledgement of this has not affected the practice of film analysis to any great extent.

Thus, in this project on cinema and intermediality, which will result in the publication of a book (Edinburgh University Press) in 2018, we (one a specialist in intermediality and comparative literature, the other a specialist in media cultures and cinema) intend to rethink both cinema as a form and the practice of film analysis, using concepts and analytical tools derived mainly from the fields of media theory and intermediality.

What happens, we ask, if cinema is considered to be a mixed medium? How should one approach film analysis based on intermediality perspectives? What thematic and formal traits will become clear by way of seeing film as mixed media? A basic model for intermedial film analysis will be proposed and tested upon four case studies from European and American cinema (Epstein & Friedman, Howl, Joachim Trier, Louder than Bombs, Jan Troell, Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick, Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, Orson Welles, Citizen Kane and Jeff Orlowski, Chasing Ice).