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dc.contributor.advisorRadner, Hilary
dc.contributor.advisorShogimen, Takashi
dc.contributor.authorGilmore, Sophie Violet
dc.identifier.citationGilmore, S. V. (2017). Film Theory and the Body (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThis thesis explores the role of the body in film theory. While past film theory yielded a variety of productive insights into numerous aspects of cinema as an art form, the issue of the body was largely neglected by theoretical explorations of film until around two decades ago. Approaches to the body by film theorists since then have included the fields of phenomenology and haptic visuality, which have been important in introducing notions such as embodiment and sensation into the study of film. These approaches remain unsatisfactory, however, in providing a strong theoretical framework that fully accounts for the highly visceral and emotionally charged experiences that a wide variety of films can generate in viewers. Over the course of the thesis I will evaluate and reassess the strengths and weaknesses of accounts of the body in film theory, ultimately arguing that the concept of “embodied simulation”, drawn from recent developments in neuroscience surrounding the nature of the body, mental processes, and interaction between subjects, provides a more compelling and useful way of interpreting the relationship between cinema and the body. What I will call, for want of a better term, “embodied simulation theory,” posits that the empathetic function of “mirror neurons” in the cerebral cortex causes a subject to replicate the actions and emotions of others in the brain resulting in a bodily simulation of the actions witnessed. This thesis argues that embodied simulation theory has striking implications for the study of narrative forms such as cinema as it has been discovered that the process of bodily simulation occurs the same way in the brain in response to fictional recreations of events as it does to actual events. I will explore the possibilities of embodied simulation theory, as a means of furthering our understanding of how cinema engages the body, through an analysis of the recent post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller 2015), which has been noted for the supposedly highly powerful bodily viewing experience it offers. Through analyzing Fury Road, I will argue that the potential of embodied simulation for developing an understanding of the body’s relationship to film extends to the domain of digital cinema, in which the role of the body has proved persistently theoretically troublesome.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectFilm Theory
dc.subjectEmbodied Simulation
dc.subjectMad Max: Fury Road
dc.subjectDigital Visual Effects
dc.subjecthaptic visuality
dc.subjectmirror neurons
dc.titleFilm Theory and the Body
dc.language.rfc3066en and Art History of Arts of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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