Special Topics in Film: Performance in Film
135T | CCN: 45266
Instructor: Eileen Jones
According to James Naremore in his seminal book Acting in the Cinema,
…[P]eople in film can be regarded in at least three different senses: as actors playing theatrical personages, as public figures playing themselves, and as documentary evidence. If the term performance is defined in its broadest sense, it covers the last category as much as the first: when people are caught unawares by a camera, they become objects to be looked at, and they usually provide evidence of role-playing in everyday life; when they know they are being photographed, they become role-players of another sort.
In contrast, critic David Thomson argues, “’Actor’ is not even a term appropriate to the cinema. The barrier of the screen certainly gives the impression of acting, but what we are seeing in the cinema are people.”
In this course we will explore film performance in the complex terms laid out by Naremore, Thompson, Andrew Klevan, Cynthia Baron and Sharon Marie Carnicke, and many others, considering such issues as:
• the effect of cinema on performance basics such as expression, gesture, speech, and movement;
• acting methods (Delsarte, Stanislavsky, Brecht);
• stardom, casting, and typecasting in film;
• character actors
• the film performer’s relationship to clothing, make-up, and props, as well as the camera, mise-en-scene, lighting, editing, and other performers;
• and the way performance is inflected by genre and directorial vision.