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Title: Subjectivity, immediacy, and the digital : historical reassessment in contemporary American cinema
Author: Gallimore, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 204X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates various forms of historical reassessment in contemporary American cinema (2005-2013), with a particular emphasis on the role that digital technologies play in re-framing, re-negotiating, and re-vivifying historical figures and events. The focus of this work concerns questions relating to cinema’s relationship with history, and how this has been achieved through changing narratives and film aesthetics. It uses critical analysis to propose that a new range of practices and tools have been utilised to address and challenge conventions of specific historical genres, such as the historical epic, the gangster film, and the biopic. The complex and ambiguous notions of historical narrative and experience, together with continued discourses concerning representation, verisimilitude and accountability, make recent historical cinema particularly suitable for demonstrating this. The Review of Literature addresses three major areas through which this thesis has been conceived and conducted: historiography, historical cinema, and film technologies. It considers a broad range of literature in order to acknowledge some of the wider contexts that will be employed in the discussion of the historical film, and establishes the more specific conditions under which my analysis takes place. The main section of the thesis is divided into three chapters, each of which examining a particular sub-genre of the historical film. Chapter One introduces some of the key issues surrounding historical cinema, discussing the conventions of the historical epic in order to frame our understanding of issues of spectacularity and subjectivity in the genre. I use The New World and Che as case studies to examine the differing practical, aesthetic and narrative approaches to the historical epic, considering the implication of technology in terms of style, approach and implication. Chapter Two deals with the gangster film, using Public Enemies to consider issues of immediacy and immersion within the genre. I also compare modern iterations of the gangster film with its classical, revisionist and retro antecedents, making extensive comparisons with Bonnie and Clyde. Similarly, in my study of the biographical film in Chapter Three, I use Citizen Kane as a contrast to the modern form of the “unconventional” biopic embodied by The Social Network. This genre is considered in light of its aesthetic approaches, generic deviations and developments, the public-private dynamic, and the notion of the American Dream. The thesis concludes with an overview of the aesthetic and narrative approaches studied in this work, and draws attention to the contemporary shift in filmmaking practices and technologies. Given the isolated period of study, I propose ways in which the study could be extended in generic, transmedial and methodological terms, as well as acknowledging the importance of the historical film at the levels of expression, representation, and discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts & Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) ; University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures