From Antz to Titanic

From Antz to Titanic : Reinventing Film Analysis

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Everybody analyses films. Ordinary viewers, chatting on the way home afterwards. Reviewers, telling us just enough to tempt or put off. Critics, 'situating' films for us. Moralists, hunting for the (harmful) message. So what exactly is it that film academics do that's different? Martin Barker and Thomas Austin provide a jargon-free, accessible and student-friendly introduction to film analysis. They begin with a discussion about audience and a detailed case-study on four conflicting analyses of Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. The authors examine a range of popular Hollywood films in a variety of genres, including Titanic, Deep Impact, Sleepless in Seattle, The Lion King, Starship Troopers and The Usual Suspects, and provide vivid demonstrations of what can and can't be achieved with close textual analysis. The book ends by proposing a list of measures for assessing the adequacy of film analyses: measures intended to lay the basis of a way of doing film analysis which goes beyond theoretically-predetermined and often obscurantist assertions.
Explicitly rejecting much of the theoretical baggage that dogs contemporary film analysis, Barker and Austin strip the subject down to its bare essentials. The result is a provocative and timely reexamination of many of the basic tenets in film theory and analysis.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 20.83mm | 363g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745315844
  • 9780745315843

Table of contents

Acknowledgements 1. Films, Audiences and Analyses 2. Formalism and the Implied Audience 3. Usual Suspects, Unusual Devices 4. An Ant With Ideas 5. Titanic: A Knight To Remember 6. In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle 7. Like Food Processors, But Nasty 8. Dear Meg, Dearest Tom 9. A Very Deep Impact (with Thomas Austin) 10. Showing That It Is What It Is Bibliography
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Review quote

"In this ambitious and timely state of the field address-cum-manifesto, one that makes no attempt at skirting its subtitled aim of "reinventing film analysis," Martin Barker presents an extensive, pull-no-punches critique of cinema scholars who freely help themselves to questionable concepts such as "identification" and "interpellation," and who make unsubstantiated claims concerning the deletrious effects of particular films on supposedly passive and homogenous spectators. At once a work of meta-criticism and first-order investigation, "From Antz to Titanic" strives to identify just where (and how, and why) academic film studies has gone off the rails, and to illustrate through numerous case-studies what a responsible, fruitful, empirically-oriented film analysis might look like.It is the author's willingness to critically engage with so much of what has come to dominate academic film studies today, as well as the clarity of his writing and the fertility of his thought, that makes From Antz to Titanic a beneficial if sobering read." -- Steven Jay Schneider, Harvard University"From Antz to Titanic may not yet have reinvented film analysis as it set out to do, but the argumentation and paradigmatic scope of the book definitely set new standards for film analysis. .. several concepts, like those that concern the implied audience and the narrative function of special effects, are certainly ready to become pivotal to future models of analyses. A must read." -- Ernest Mathijs, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.
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About Martin Barker

Martin Barker is Research Professor at Aberystwyth University. He has researched and published widely on topics ranging from comic books, censorship campaigns, arguments over 'dangerous media', methods of film analysis, and audiences for films ranging from Judge Dredd and Crash to Being John Malkovich and The Lord of the Rings. Thomas Austin lectures in film studies at Sussex University. He is the author of Hollywood: Hype and Audiences, forthcoming from Manchester University Press.
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