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Title: 'Between sympathy and detachment' : point of view and distance in movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger and Max Ophuls
Author: Zborowski, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 0580
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis explores some of the possibilities of the relationship established between a movie, its main character(s) and the viewer in terms of distance. I treat distance primarily as an aspect of point of view, and it is in relation to the body of literature in film studies pertaining to point of view that this account positions itself in its first chapter. I offer there a series of arguments that reject i) the need to postulate a cinematic narrator for all or even most movies, ii) the over-privileging of the camera in theorizations of point of view, and iii) accounts of point of view built too centrally around characters, with a too-narrow emphasis upon either optical POV shots or characters-as-narrators. I present a more holistic approach to point of view and distance. My three case study chapters are structured according to Robin Wood’s suggestion that the films of Max Ophuls achieve a balance between ‘the audience-participation techniques of Hitchcock and the clinical objectivity and detachment of Preminger’ (Personal Views 126). Each chapter chiefly offers a critical account of point of view and distance in a single movie. First, I discuss Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958): I describe the techniques it employs to encourage the viewer to share its protagonist’s emotional experiences. Next, I discuss Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959): how the movie achieves emotional detachment in its viewer, and to what end. Finally, I discuss The Reckless Moment (Max Ophuls, 1949), and demonstrate how the movie, whilst rarely leaving its protagonist’s side and maintaining a sympathetic view of her, is committed to revealing the limitations of her perspective on events. My first chapter constitutes a contribution to various longstanding debates within the study of filmic point of view. I view this thesis mainly as a work of film criticism, and therefore as a contribution to our understanding of the directors and films studied within it – and of Hollywood cinema more broadly. I also view this account as a demonstration of one methodological approach we might usefully adopt in the study of film and point of view – a comparative approach rooted in detailed textual analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures