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Title: Identity crisis : film and the fractured self
Author: McCartney, Neil Lorn
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 7237
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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In this project I examine how we, as film spectators, build an understanding of characters in fiction film narratives and how this could be said to relate to the way in which we build a sense of selfhood in the real world. I conduct detailed case studies of six films, which in different ways engage with issues of selfidentity in a way that can be said to highlight the inherent fragility of our sense of self. I bring together contributions from theoretical film studies, cognitive psychology, and philosophy in order to both link ideas from these different areas of research as well as linking seemingly disparate films through their respective approaches to character portrayal. My aim is to build on the existing discourse that predominantly falls under the banner of cognitive film theory, with particular emphasis on audience affect and character portrayal. I offer alternative readings and approaches to certain films which feature unconventional character development and which, to varying degrees, deviate from established cinematic storytelling norms. The idea I wish to advance is that there is an inherent aversion to imagery and / or cinematic storytelling styles which highlight (either implicitly or explicitly) the artificiality of what we are seeing, particularly if the example involves a breakdown in the clarity of character identity. The view I offer is that an aversion to or frustration with such instances is not solely restricted to our sense of confusion stemming from a perceived lack of clear storytelling. Behind this lies the potentially discomfiting sense that the fabricated nature of characters points towards something similarly fragile about our own 'real world' identities, which can be the case particularly if the subject matter complements the avant-garde style of the film in question. When character identity dissolves it may impair our ability to comprehend a film narrative, but a negative viewer response may also be generated by the suggestion that our sense of self might be more vulnerable that we care to admit. I argue that our appreciation of certain kinds of 'difficult' films require a revision of not only how we approach films more generally but how we understand selfhood itself.
Supervisor: Smith, Murray ; Cinquegrani, Maurizio ; Choi, Jinhee Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available