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Publication Detail
Aesthetic illusion and the breaking of illusion in film: devices and functions
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Cammack J
  • Publisher:
  • Publication date:
  • Place of publication:
    Berlin, Germany
  • Edition:
  • Editors:
    Wolf W,Bernhart W,Mahler A
  • Medium:
  • Status:
    In preparation
  • Book title:
    Aesthetic Illusion in Literature and Other Media, Studies in Intermediality
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Aesthetic illusion, film
Film’s extraordinary capacity for life-like representation and thus for aesthetic illusion operates by way of multiple levels of illusion-inducing devices. From concepts of narratology, such as focalization and diegesis, to the technical aspects of remapping three-dimensional, physical space into the two dimensions of screen space, the use of conventions such as plot, character, set, spatial and temporal continuity and ‘synchronous’ sound is motivated by and linked to our systems of knowledge organization and manipulation. Through such conventions, most com-mercial cinema offers a largely unambiguous and familiar representation of life, a compelling, imaginary film world into which audiences readily enter. Occasion¬ally, however, filmmakers choose to fracture this illusory cinematic realism in order to serve their greater directorial concerns. This essay considers film se¬quences, from both commercial and experimental canons, that are ambiguous by design and whose immersive effect is intentionally disrupted by the filmmaker through a range of metafilmic techniques. I will argue that, in these cases, the techniques employed operate by destabilizing the relationship between the sen¬so¬ry (mainly visual) and cognitive (intellectual/emotional) registers of the receptive experience in order to fracture the initial illusion and (re)direct the viewer’s attention – perhaps paradoxically – toward a deeper level of engagement in an alternative illusory aspect.
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