International cinema, comedy, and online film and media practices: audience research at PARTICIPATIONS

Frame grab from A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971). You can read about audience responses to this film in Peter Krämer’s excellent article ‘‘Movies that make people sick’: Audience Responses to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange in 1971/72’

Film Studies For Free takes to the blogwaves today to shout out about a truly excellent issue of the Open Access, and openly refereed, international audience research journal Participations.

It’s a bumper issue with 27 articles – an advantage of an online journal format over its offline, paper-bound relatives, as editor Martin Barker outlines in his interesting introduction to this issue.

FSFF particularly appreciated the section on international film audiences, and also especially enjoyed Inger-Lise Kalviknes Bore’s study ‘Reviewing Romcom: (100) IMDb Users and (500) Days of Summer‘ and also Anne Collins Smith and Owen M. Smith’s article on ‘Pragmatism and Meaning: Assessing the Message of Star Trek: The Original Series’.

Special Edition Contents



Special Section: Comedy Audiences

Special Section: International Film Audiences Conference

Special Section: Approaching the Online Audience: New Practices, New Thinking


>Amsterdam fine links!


Image from Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972), based on Stanisław Lem‘s 1961 novel. Read BC Biermann’s film-philosophical PhD Thesis chapter on this film adaptation

A little window of opportunity for Film Studies For Free‘s author to bring you one of this site’s regular features today: a report (or, more accurately, a labour-intensive links-harvest) from a University research repository, one of those online archives in which, on occasion, academics choose not only to store references to their published film studies work, but also to provide Open Access to that work.

The repository in question today is that of the University of Amsterdam/Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), home to one of the best Film and Media Studies departments in the world. Below is a list of links to an amazing spread of very high quality film research accessible there, most of it in the form of full-length PhD theses.

>Paranormal cinematic activity: ghost film studies


Latest update: April 27, 2010

 Publicity still for The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961). See an excerpt from this film in Nicolas Rapold and Matt Zoller Seitz‘s L Magazine video essay ‘Bad Seeds: Creepy Kids on Film’, embedded towards the foot of this entry

Film Studies For Free has gone and spooked itself, today, with its own scary persistence in compiling a list of links to openly accessible, online, scholarly articles, chapters and theses on international ghost film studies. Oh, and there are two related video essays lurking at the bottom to scare the scholarly bejesus out of you for good measure, too (added April 27) .
Like all the best posts at this blog (IOHO), the list below owes its hefty materiality to its connections with FSFF‘s author‘s own (hauntological) research, some of which, hopefully, will be directly shared with her fearless readers very shortly. So do please be a revenant, won’t you?


    >BFI Researchers’ Tales: Mulvey, Dyer, Kubrick, Frayling


     Image of Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

    For some time now, Film Studies For Free has been enjoying the videos that the British Film Institute has been posting at BFI Live, its online video channel exploring film and TV culture. There are lots of videos worth seeing at the site but, below, FSFF has singled out and directly linked to some which are especially deserving of the attention of film scholars.

    Laura Mulvey on the Blonde

    8 Mar 2010: The world-renowned film theorist presents her thoughts on the Hitchcock Blonde.

    Researchers' Tales: Richard Dyer

    8 Mar 2010: The writer and academic discusses his instrumental role in the creation of the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious celebrations of queer cinema.

    Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made? (Part 1)

    13 Jan 2010: An illustrated lecture on Stanley Kubrick’s most ambitious yet unrealised project.

    Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made? (Part 2)

    11 Jan 2010: An onstage discussion of the finer points of Stanley Kubrick’s failed production.

    Researchers' Tales: Sir Christopher Frayling on Spaghetti Westerns

    14 Dec 2009: Eminent academic and writer Sir Christopher Frayling discusses the Spaghetti Western genre as part of the BFI National Library’s Researcher’s Tales strand.

    Researchers' Tales: Sir Christopher Frayling on Film Research

    14 Dec 2009: Eminent educationalist and writer Sir Christopher Frayling discusses the practice of researching film.

    Study of a Single Film: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

    What makes A.I. Steven Spielberg’s strangest, most interesting, and (though it may sound ironic to say it) most mature work is that, whether by accident or design, it’s the first of his movies to be both a “children’s” film, ingratiating and manipulative, and a film for adults—complex, ambiguous, brutal and cold. Or, to put it another way, both a Steven Spielberg film and a Stanley Kubrick film.
    Tim Kreider, ‘A.I.: Artificial Intelligence’, originally published in Film Quarterly, Vol. 56, no. 2, December 2002

    Although Stanley Kubrick spent almost two decades developing A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001), Steven Spielberg would eventually write and direct the final film after Kubrick’s death. While it may seem odd for a single work to result from two creators—especially two directors so distinct in style and temperament—this combination of minds actually reflects the themes and motifs of the film. Within its visual text, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is obsessed with patterns of doubling and circular design. Throughout the film, faces become superimposed on top of one another, different characters repeat similar actions, and even the film narrative circles around on itself. In addition, specific characters are repeatedly framed through oval structures or reflected against rounded surfaces. These repetitions of shot choice and composition suggest multiple readings and underlying themes, including an interconnection between humans and machines that spans both desire and destiny.
    Ben Sampson, ”Intelligence Doubled: A Visual Study of A.I. Artificial Intelligence”, UCLA, 2010

    Way back in the increasingly dim and distant past, when Film Studies For Free‘s author used to teach film studies in a real classroom … to real people … (imagine!), one of her favourite courses was called Study of a Single Film. It fruitfully took a single film as its subject and object, for a whole semester,  revealing — even to students who had hoped they might be able to choose the film themselves… — the many benefits of truly concentrated film analysis and scholarship.

    FSFF was reminded of these benefits when its attention was drawn to a marvellous new video essay on a single film by Benjamin Sampson, a graduate researcher in Cinema and Media Studies at UCLA. Sampson is the creator of another visual essay that this blog loved, on Orson Welles’s F for Fake, originally published in the online UCLA journal Mediascape. According to the Mediascape website, prior to his graduate studies, Sampson worked for four years as a freelance videographer and video editor. His current research focuses on the later films of Orson Welles, audience segmentation in the 1950s, and essay films

    Sampson’s magnificently edited and profoundly argued new essay, embedded above, studies in detail the design and purpose of the many motifs of duality in Steven Spielberg‘s 2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence. As Sampson himself notes in his commentary, duality is a particularly interesting aspect to study in relation to A.I., as it was the film with which Spielberg ‘completed’ Stanley Kubrick‘s original project in his own fashion. The essay is very timely, too: while somewhat derided by serious film criticism at the time of its release, A.I. recently found its way into some of the most discerning ‘Best Films of the Decade’ lists (see here [Reverse Shot], here [Glenn Kenny], and here [Jonathan Rosenbaum]), very deservedly in this blog‘s humble opinion.

    In honour of A.I., as well as in celebration of Ben Sampson‘s wonderful, multimedia essay on it — a piece of work which really begins to show what scholarly video essays can achieve, FSFF today launches its occasional series of ‘Study of a Single Film’ blog-posts.

    There’ll be links galore to online and openly accessible film scholarship or criticism of note (as below), all pertaining to great films of particular relevance to academic film studies. More of the usual, really…

    But if you’d like to suggest a fruitful film for this series on which FSFF might base future such blogposts, or if, like Sampson, you have produced a really good scholarly video essay on a single film (or know of someone else who has) that might be centrepiece of future posts, do please get in touch by email.

    Participations: Studying Cinema Audiences

    Dr Frank N. Furter/Tim Curry loving his ‘audience’ (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, UK, 1975)
    Film Studies For Free is delighted, as always, to flag up that the new issue of Participations – the Open Access journal of audience and reception studies — has just gone online. 
    It encompasses an excellent special section devoted to cinema audiences, but there are lots of high quality essays throughout, and a great set of Film Studies book reviews.
    Special Edition on Cinema Audiences

    Storytelling sans frontières? On Adaptation, Remaking, Intertextuality, and Transmediality

    Still from the trailer for (The Twilight Saga:) New Moon (Chris Weitz, 2009)
    Another rather long links list today, this time on one of Film Studies For Free‘s author‘s main research specialisms: adaptation (and remaking, ‘remediation’, ‘transmediality’) and intertextuality. The list — as always of direct links to openly-accessible scholarly resources — is particularly meaty in celebration of a very cool happening. A proposed contribution by her on these topics to a panel at the Los Angeles Society of Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in 2010 was accepted this week (woohoo!).

    A video-essay version of this work — entitled ‘Intertextuality and Anomalousness: Luis Buñuel’s The Young One (1960)’ — part of a great panel calledLooking Backwards and Thinking Forwards: Engaging the Cinema of 1960 with Multimedia Scholarship’ will appear on this website in due course…

    So, in celebration of the above, do please enjoy the following links to very high quality scholarly resources on adaptation and narrative transmediality, with a nice little video embedded at the very end:

    Archives and Auteurs: conference papers online

    As part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded research project on ‘The Cinema Authorship of Lindsay Anderson’ (see detailed project outline), a conference on Archives and Auteurs was held at the University of Stirling from 2nd – 4th September 2009. The conference brought archivists, academics, curators and researchers together to discuss the ways in which the study of the archives of filmmakers and the film industry can provide new perspectives and insights into the history of cinema.

    Film Studies For Free was delighted to see that the excellent papers from the conference are now freely accessible online at the Stirling University website.

    Direct links to open pdf files are given below. In addition, check out Kathryn Mackenzie‘s wonderful blog — Archives and Auteurs — devoted to this project. A selection of Anderson’s photograph albums from 1940s and 1950s have been made available on the University of Stirling Archives flickr pages. These albums provide a rich visual record of Anderson’s early years as a filmmaker, documenting the early industrial films he made in Wakefield, his trips to the Cannes Film Festival and his contribution to Free Cinema. Those interested should also read this related article by Isabelle Gourdin-Sangouard, ‘Creating Authorship? Lindsay Anderson and David Sherwin’s collaboration on If…. (1968)’, Journal of Screenwriting, Volume 1, Number 1, 2010. And finally, Moving Image Source published a great article on Anderson (August 14, 2008) by Steve Erickson, entitled ‘Anarchy in the U.K‘: 

    New Brights Lights Film Journal

    A quick post to begin the blogging week: Film Studies For Free is delighted to flag up that Issue 66 of Bright Lights Film Journal is now online. Below are all the relevant links. There are some very good articles, written as always in BLFJ‘s entertaining, but still scholarly-critical, house style, including ones on Polanski, Chaplin, Delphine Seyrig, Kubrick, Tarantino, and a great interview with Jonas Mekas. Keep up with Bright Lights between issues by visiting its companion blog, Bright Lights After Dark. Those of you on Twitter might also like to follow the BLF Journal  @blfj

    From the editor