What is the more logical approach to analyze a movie?

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What is the more logical approach to analyze a movie?

Suspension of disbelief
2
17%
Literary approach
0
No votes
Historical approach
7
58%
Other
3
25%
 
Total votes: 12

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What is the more logical approach to analyze a movie?

Post by Who is like God arbour » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:21 pm

        • What is the more logical approach to analyze a movie and its secondary literature?
Some people argue, that suspension of disbelief is the more effective approach.
  • Suspension of disbelief is an aesthetic theory intended to characterize people's relationships to art. It refers to the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible and to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is a quid pro quo: the audience tacitly agrees to provisionally suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment [1]. That means that the films and TV shows are considered documentary footage and books are treated as if they were real stories, historical records, official spec sheets, etc [2]
Other argue, that the literary approach is the more effective approach.
  • The literary approach treats the films and TV shows as a mere "depiction", or "dramatic re-enactment" of a world which exists only in the author's mind. [3]
Some people argue, that neither method is preferable to the other because both methods have their flaws.
  • Suspension of disbelief, beside its dogmatic problems [4] is not able to deal with inconsistence and visual errors, especially in special effects, that can’t be explained, like the apparently different sizes of a ship or base, caused by the use of different big models in the course of one and the same movie or series or the reuse of the same models and images of ships, bases, cities or even whole planets or the replacement of roles. Suspension of disbelief would demand that one accept that a ship or base is able to shrink or deepen or that different species have built independently of each other ships, bases or cities or have planets, which are looking all the same. Devotees of that approach are trying to find explanations for such errors, which are not seldom not only not plausible but also hilarious and inane.
    Those, who are against that approach, think that such result is not satisfying. Suspension of disbelief is a lazy man method, with which one simply ignores all inconsistency to get a non-ambiguous material for a furthergoing analyses.

    The literary approach on the other side has its difficulties to deal with the question, what the author has wanted to say, especially if that, what he says makes no or only little sense, especially if he talks about technical affairs but has no clue what he is saying. That results in dialogues, in which plans are made, which are – from a scientifically point of view – impossible but are working nevertheless. Also at that approach, devotees are trying to find explanations for such errors and can produce only seldom plausible explanations. Often they find, as the devotees of the Suspension of disbelief approach, that everyone in the galaxy – although they are able to build huge and complex starships and operate and maintain them - is stupid because nobody is able to see, that what was planned couldn’t have worked, but because it has worked nevertheless, the other side has to be more stupid.
That’s why there is a third approach, that is favored by some people, the historical approach.
  • The historical approach treats the movie as the film adaptation of events, that have really happened. Those film adaption have their flaws because the producer of the films don’t even know what exactly has happened. They are depending on historical documents and traditions, which they evaluate. But, as it is with historical documents, they are fragmentary and the producers are trying, like an historian which has also only fragmentary evidence of the past, to get a whole picture. But because of the gaps in his results and his own knowledge, sometimes he simply guess, what could have happened and fills the gap with what he thinks, could have happened.
    One also has to consider, that the data, a producer has available, are only seldom in his own language. They have to be translated. But that is difficult sometimes. When a producer reads the protocol of a briefing and don’t understand the used terms – because they are not translatable, because our own science is not so far, that we would even have terms for those things, from which they have spoken, the producer replace the recorded dialogue with his own dialogue. Sometimes, that results in absurd dialogues.
    Sometimes a producer has also to consider his budget and therefore cut certain elements of a story or combines different elements of a story. While for example Star Trek plays in its different series always only onboard of one and the same ship, one could assume, that the missions are executed by different Starfleet crews. But because it would be too costly to cast for each new mission a new crew and build new models, all the Starfleet missions are projected on one ship with one crew. That could explain, why a ship is at one episode at the one border of its affiliation and already at the next episode at the other border and why one crew can have so many adventures.
    That approach would also explain the visual mistakes. That are simply mistakes. The FX department are only human beings and as such, are making also mistakes. All what is shown, is only the interpretation of that department of the data they have. But because they have never seen things, to which they should produce their special effects, they also can only guess. And sometimes, the producer comes and says, that he thinks, that a special effect, although it is realistic – is not spectacular enough. That’s why cars always explode in Hollywood after a crash and why these explosions don’t look like an exploding car would look.
    The devotees of the historical approach knows, that with their approach, they don’t always get non-ambiguous results. But they think, that this is acceptable because that reflects only the uncertainty of life. Most scientists, which don’t have the luck, that their field is calculable and provable in laboratories have to deal with such uncertainties. They think, one has to reduce what was seen in a movie to its basics. In a versus debate, one should only compare the basics of one franchise with the basics of the other franchise and not the details because they are uncertain.
    Insofar, they treat a movie similar to the film adaption of historical traditions from times, when no video cameras existed. But not as a documentary but as an entertainment.
What do you think, is the best approach and why?

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Post by Who is like God arbour » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:23 pm

As one can see, I prefer the historical approach.

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Post by Jedi Master Spock » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:43 pm

Of those three, I'm also a fairly big fan of the historical approach. Documentarians run into entirely too many outright contradictions.

Pabawan commented that he likes to think of Star Wars as a fictionalized account of "what really happened" in the Star Wars universe, and it seems to be a fairly popular view among general fandom.

There's also the view some (such as Saxton) take, that the films are presented in such a manner as to be Rebel propaganda.

The literary approach is often undervalued by those who are technically minded but never did well in classes relating to analysis of art and literature. Ultimately, its "flaw" of subjectivity is present in every approach, including the documentarian - who must decide when to start discarding evidence, and authorial intent is not actually that difficult to decipher in many cases.

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Post by Who is like God arbour » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:47 pm

Jedi Master Spock wrote:There's also the view some (such as Saxton) take, that the films are presented in such a manner as to be Rebel propaganda.
I don't think, that this necessary contradicts the historical approach. If the producer has only access to rebel propaganda material, his understanding is biased. You know, the winner rewrites history and the rebels have won.

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Post by Jedi Master Spock » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:51 pm

Correct, it doesn't. All of these approaches overlap a little bit, potentially.

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Post by Mr. Oragahn » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:44 am

The first two have flaws which I often have issues with, though I'd find myself easily favouring SoD than LA.
But I voted for the third option, on the asumption that the material is accurate and authentic enough, made closer as much as possible to the truth, even up to the point where it could contain "bits of real footage".

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Post by Socar » Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:56 am

I think historical approach best fits with what I prefer.

I would be interested to know who voted "other" and what their specific preference is. It's not common to not fall into one of the other main categories.

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Post by 2046 » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:39 pm

Realistically, the historical approach is entirely silly when dealing with fiction, especially science fiction. That's adding levels of fake on top of something that is itself fake.

The literary approach is thus preferred on the basis of reality, but it is not too far a leap to accept suspension of disbelief for the purpose of analysis.

Barring intentional absurdities as one might find in comedy or whatnot -- or general apathy -- an author intends the work to represent a functional, unique world . . . one which supports and maintains the plot, characters, and other elements of the story he or she wishes to tell. Making the small leap of accepting that world as presented allows for its proper analysis.

The only caveat is that one must be willing and able to withdraw to a literary perspective if and when the internal reality of the world breaks down . . . i.e. in the case of contradiction and such. The trick is knowing when to do that, especially in the scenario of analyzing a science fiction world (or universe, really). Both scholars and peasants of centuries past might think our world absurd, just as even a completely accurate history of the future would often seem absurd to us.

Applying this concept to the opening post:

The literary . . . or as needed, the tele-literary . . . approach gives us cause to understand some of the things that might otherwise seem absurd. For a non-(or-at-least-not-too-much)-science-fiction example, is it at all likely that Jack Ryan would be so intimately involved in and even guiding the outcome of all the events of those assorted Tom Clancy novels? Not really, no . . . but it serves assorted literary purposes, not least of which is giving the readers a familiar base point in a plot that might otherwise be unfamiliar. (This familiarity is somewhat lost when, as ported to film, the Jack Ryan character keeps getting recast. It's not like Batman or Superman where there's a costume more identifiable.)

Similarly, it might seem amiss that there is often one ship present for so many major events. But that is the story, for good or ill.

Suspension of disbelief is by far not the lazy man's method. A historical approach gives one vast maneuvering room to reimagine and ignore vast amounts of material, whereas suspension of disbelief forces us to try to understand a world as consistent, right up to the point where we just can't do it anymore.

In the case of analysis of science fiction, we are thus left in a tenuous position . . . oftentimes we must make sense of and accept as consistent a universe which violates our own physical laws (among other crimes). But, just as the scholars and peasants of ages past might view our world as violating their world's rules, so too must we accept and make sense of the seeming absurdities if disbelief is actually to be suspended.

Otherwise, we just give up and call the author a dumbass, which . . . while possibly true . . . renders everything we're doing moot.

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Post by Who is like God arbour » Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:51 pm

2046 wrote:Realistically, the historical approach is entirely silly when dealing with fiction, especially science fiction. That's adding levels of fake on top of something that is itself fake.
One is doing the same and even more, if one treats footage as if it would be real documentary footage, even if what is shown, is impossible or contradicts the plot or contradicts itself. One adds the fake of realism on top of something that is itself fake, while at the historical approach, the possibility of errors is considered, while it is asssumed, that the basics have still happened.
2046 wrote:The literary approach is thus preferred on the basis of reality, but it is not too far a leap to accept suspension of disbelief for the purpose of analysis.
Even if what the author has wanted to describe is proved as impossible in real life or the author has made logical or plausibel errors in its own plot because he has lost the overview over its own story while creating it?
2046 wrote:Barring intentional absurdities as one might find in comedy or whatnot -- or general apathy -- an author intends the work to represent a functional, unique world . . . one which supports and maintains the plot, characters, and other elements of the story he or she wishes to tell. Making the small leap of accepting that world as presented allows for its proper analysis.
The problem is, that your assumption is not true. The producer of a film usually intends to also entertain its audience. That's why he doesn't always intend his work to represent the real world - because he thinks, that this would be boring. He think, it's boring, if a car falls from a cliff, but doesn't explode. And it's boring, if it explodes, how a car in real life would explode, in the seldom cases, that a car would indeed explode. That's why they engage pyrotechnist, who are tasked to produce an optical spectacular explosion.
Accepting footage of exploding cars as real, would lead to a proper analyze, that results in cars, that are filled with pyrotechnics.

Other times, the producer may want his work to represent real life, but he doesn't know enough about real life. Then it can happen, that he creates an universe, that is impossible and does not reflect real life.
2046 wrote:The only caveat is that one must be willing and able to withdraw to a literary perspective if and when the internal reality of the world breaks down . . . i.e. in the case of contradiction and such. The trick is knowing when to do that, especially in the scenario of analyzing a science fiction world (or universe, really).
The problem is, that both approachs have dogmatic errors.
In the suspension of disbelief approach, there shouldn't be errors in the film footage, if what is shown, would have been recorded in real life.
And contradictions or logical or plausibel errors in the plot shouldn't be possible, if the author would really have had the overview over the whole plot of his story and would have the necessary scientifical knowledge and understanding.

The problem is, that you don't even always know, if, what you have seen, is indeed an error or rather, which approach has the error as result. (Example: What is wrong in »The Die Is Cast«, the visuals or the dialogue? Has the author really wanted to destroy the planet's mantle and the visuals were wrong or has he wanted to merely bombard the surface and the dialogue is wrong? Which approach do you prefer and how can you give an objective and comprehensible reason?)

And you really got a problem, if you get that error in both approaches, if for example it is the intend of the author that something happens a certain way and it is indeed shown exactly as the author has wanted it, but it is proven as impossible.

The historical approachs admits, that there are errors and is therefore able to deal with them in its own dogmatic.
2046 wrote:Both scholars and peasants of centuries past might think our world absurd, just as even a completely accurate history of the future would often seem absurd to us.
That isn't the problem.

An accurate history of the future wouldn't have errors and inconsistencies. The recording of a ship (that's not supposed to change its size) would show the ship always in its real size. A scar, wound or beauty patch would not change its position to and fro (assuming that it is not suppossed to change its position).

The problem is not that there are things, that are not explainable with modern science but may be nevertheless possible. Far from it! The historical approach considers exactly that. But it assumes that the in the adaption given description or visualization is wrong - because the original was wrong translated or not understood from the author, producer or special effect department or a description was not passed down. But that doesn't mean, that the basics haven't happened.

The problem is, that there are real mistakes that wouldn't be there, if it would be a real history.
2046 wrote:Applying this concept to the opening post:

The literary . . . or as needed, the tele-literary . . . approach gives us cause to understand some of the things that might otherwise seem absurd. For a non-(or-at-least-not-too-much)-science-fiction example, is it at all likely that Jack Ryan would be so intimately involved in and even guiding the outcome of all the events of those assorted Tom Clancy novels? Not really, no . . . but it serves assorted literary purposes, not least of which is giving the readers a familiar base point in a plot that might otherwise be unfamiliar. (This familiarity is somewhat lost when, as ported to film, the Jack Ryan character keeps getting recast. It's not like Batman or Superman where there's a costume more identifiable.)

Similarly, it might seem amiss that there is often one ship present for so many major events. But that is the story, for good or ill.
Now, at least it seems to me, your argument confirm the historical approach.

It's unrealistic up to impossible that one character can has or the crew of one ship can have all these adventures. It's more realitic to assume that these adventures were the adventures of many different characters or crews. But for the adaption, these adventures were ascribed to only one character or crew.

But even considering that, it has nearly no effect on the results of an analysis. Because it is nearly irrelevant, who has had these adventures. What happens is mostly only important.

And to assume, that the shown adventure hasn't really happened the same person, who has had the last adventure, can explain, why the persons don't always learn from their experiences - because they have not have the last adventure and therfore couldn't learn from it. It was another person. But in the adaption, it was ascribed to only one person.

Otherwise, one has to wonder, if the character is stupid or unable to learn or has to find a reason, why a solution to a problem, that has worked last time, wouldn't work that time - although there is no difference shown and not indented by the author and the solution was not even tried or mentioned as possibility by the character.

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Post by 2046 » Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:16 am

Sorry for my delayed reply.

I really don't see where the historical approach is of any value here. I mean, you keep saying it is and attacking alternatives, but it makes no sense on its own.

After all, the historical approach requires from the get-go that we parse the source material for information from which to divine the history we are choosing to believe in. Thus, in the case of your "The Die is Cast" example, what information are you going to believe in the parsing? The visuals or the dialogue?

It goes both ways.

If we take a more tele-literary approach, we quickly realize that what's on the page is the most relevant, but for the purpose of analysis (and thus suspension of disbelief), both must be accepted unless there is a clear contradiction between the two.

The final product is what is being analyzed. After the writer or writing team, the episode has gone through assorted producers, the director, the actors and their choices, and so on . . . and that's all before it ever hits celluloid (to play it old school). That's many cooks taking part in making the broth, with more to come. It's all based on the script, but sometimes (contrary to Brent Spiner's quote) if it ain't on the page, it may still be on the stage.

(The classic example is the end of DSN5, in which they've lost the station. The script suggested that the two evacuation ships (Defiant and Rotarran, IIRC) would meet up with the fleet.
85 EXT. SPACE (OPTICAL)

As the Defiant and Martok's ship, no longer cloaked,
approach a combined Federation and Klingon fleet. We
hold on this impressive sight for a beat, then...

FADE OUT.
The writers were thinking of a certain sort of mood.

But the FX guys turned this into the Defiant and Rotarran meeting up with a huge fleet of ships that were flying toward the direction the Defiant and Rotarran came from, with the two ships turning around and all of them heading back. This provided a much different meaning, as if to say "awww, yeah, we're gonna go kick some ass right this very minute". Thus the intended openings for the sixth season had to be rewritten to show a beaten and battered fleet limping home.

Many hands make an episode.)

Now personally, I don't believe there is a contradiction between the visuals and dialogue of TDiC. But, accepting for the purpose of argument that there is, one must figure out what to accept.

The convention chosen by ASVS (by the side which, purely coincidentally of course, had the highest dollars-per-minute spent on their franchise's productions) was to claim that the visuals override all. Given that Lucas was intimately involved in everything from writing to producing and often to directing and post-production (effects, et cetera), that was okay for Star Wars.

I've accepted that convention for the purpose of ST-v-SW.Net, simply because even with the handicaps of Trek's lower-than-Star-Wars-budget productions, Trek can still give a much better accounting of itself than its foes ever suspected (would've helped if they'd . . . oh, I dunno . . . watched it, but that's neither here nor there).

I do so recognizing that it is silly. Both are valid for motion pictures by their nature, and the forced dichotomy is based on a false premise. Were we truly suspending disbelief, then we would know better.

For example, you use the case of an exploding car in an action movie. You claim that a proper analysis would result in the discovery of pyrotechnics in the vehicle. This is not the case at all. In the film's reality under suspension of disbelief, vehicle gas tanks go boom. It has by now become such a Hollywood convention that we accept it as movie-normal, which became part of a joke in "Last Action Hero" (or whichever Schwarzenegger movie that was where a movie guy came into the real world). He was surprised when his overpowered elephant-gun pistol didn't blow up a car in the real world.

Now obviously, tele-literarily, we know the writer is just an idiot or careless entertainer. But for the purpose of analysis, it is certainly wiser to accept that the car went boom than to say that in the 'real history', a lucky shot simply went through the glass and hit the badguy.

But in any event, when your executive producers are themselves writers, you know which must take precedence. However, as the classic example shows, you can't claim the visuals don't count at all. It depends on context.

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Re: What is the more logical approach to analyze a movie?

Post by alpinedigital » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:11 pm

I chose other because although I can work with anything they present as being accurate, I don't think they intend on everything being accurate. The final explosion of a movie for instance, and esp the one from the first death star destruction - its meant to be extra dramatic, regardless of how realistic it is. The only thing that I find issues with is weapons powers, explosions, targeting abilities, plot device stuff that people seem to latch onto for reference in debates, esp trying to judge destructive power vs things that naturally have varied reaction to the weapon in use or the composition of the things a weapon hits. It just seems obvvious to me that these impacts and results vary according to the flow of the film. In some instances, a weapon is very dangerous, and at other times, it seems survivable. Off hand, something like an X-wing being smoked with a shot at one time, doesnt seem to have the desired effect against the same ship when the lead actor is piloting it.

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