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Free «Film theory» Essay Sample

Recently, there has been a growing interest in the literature work of little-known German cultural critic and literary; Walter Benjamin. It was not until 1968, that his literary work had not been produced in English material form (books). Since then, there has been publication of his work on three books and numerous articles. In the current society, no discussion of the German scholar scenario between the world wars is complete without uttering the name of Benjamin and no substantial judgment of Marxist aesthetic and cultural criticism disregards his literary work (Bernstein, 2010).

His famous and celebrated literature work; 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” has emerged to be a typical reference for any efforts to examine, analyze, and comprehend the interrelation of technological, political, and artistic growth under capitalism. The approaches he used in the literature work are particularly useful for the political analysis of the film. In many cases, his work has been known to be a well-documented work that covers major themes that are crucial to the society (Benjamin, 2005).



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In the 1920s, Benjamin Walter established the relationships with both Bertolt and T.W. Adorno. His research studies during this time had led him to an argument with aesthetic theory. His own understanding of scholarly proletarianization and his relationship with Adorno and later Brecht resulted to a grave deliberation of dialectical materialism as a vital method. He shifted his attention from previous mystical-religious doctrines and adopted the political analysis. In 1923, Benjamin’s reaction to the predicament of post-war Germany was for a person to practice the self-discipline.

In contrast to Benjamin’s works of literature, where relationship was more political and other related benefits, the film “Christopher Strong’ by Dorothy Arzner is a narrative of illegitimate love among the English nobility. Unlike Benjamin Walter’s works of literature, Dorothy illustrates how illicit love is being practiced among the noble class members of the society. Benjamin’s work of literature deals with mass production culture in society while Dorothy’s work of literature deals with women struggle in the society to gain equality in the society. The society in which Dorothy hailed from was dominated by male thus women in the society were oppressed by women. The culture, therefore, was male-dominated and women had no say in decision-making process while Benjamin’s work literature was characterized by mass production. Dorothy’s film deals with the place of women in the society.

In contrast to Theodor Adorno, these deals with effects of media and mass culture in the society, Arzner Dorothy has dealt with the aspect of issues related to relationship and feminism that affects the society. Dorothy role in advocating for equality in the society is well documented in the move. The male in this society are the key decision-makers while women are only manipulated and used by male as sex objects. On the other hand, in Ardono argues that the society has been established through mass culture and media. The two aspects influence many aspects of the society.

In the film, “Bowling for Columbine,” maker Michael Moore expands one’s ideas and fears of aggression. He depicts that United States is a violent country that is full of citizens idolizing ineffectual idols, thus, instilling fear among the audience. On watching the movie, it is apparent that he introduces a lot of characters and themes to establish violence and terror. When a child is too immature to comprehend the consequences and meaning of death, Moore displays reports of citizens giving details including why they consider the violent activities were dedicated with numerous circumstances (Bernstein, 2010). The film has been criticized for exposing the children or the minors into violent activities, thus, corrupting their minds while they are still young. One phrase, which can be employed to explain the emotions of our nation, is seen within the movie that elicits fears among viewers. Therefore, the entire film can be taken to mean it promotes fear among the viewers.

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It must not be misunderstood that Benjamin’s technique was stationary. The historical materialist technique, as he saw it, purposely entailed an analysis and understanding of the dialectical nervousness of the future in the present and past. This was meant to understand the depths destined for Benjamin to discover the vibrant interrelations. The focus on fragments was aimed at associating those fragments to the broader societal realism. Benjamin knew that the social structure is a complex intertwined aspect of the society that requires flexibility of individuals and systems. Benjamin, in this case, demonstrates that he was more flexible. According to him, art should just not be assessed in terms of its portrayal of the social realism of class antagonisms. Art should also be examined in terms of its method, and its relative position within the legendary production relations of a given period in history (Claussen, 2008).

Benjamin’s fame has continued to rise in the modern society, and the majority who has never heard of him by his name should be aware of his arguments on the matters related to mass culture and film. The present trends in both avant-garde and political cinema are clear indications that reflect issues and matters to those of Walter Benjamin. In the current film industry, artists have united scientific and artistic elements, thus, reflecting what Benjamin advocated for during his time. The craving to provide people with access to and representation in their own spectacles is apparent to a large extent in video work and movies such as ““The Amazing Equal Pay Show” and Blow for Blow” (Benjamin, 2005).

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Theodor Adorno was a critic, philosopher and theorist who produced high literary works on issues of society and culture. His interests varied from traditional philosophy, psychology, sociology and music. As an accomplished author, he wrote on topics such as far-flung, Beethoven, anti-Semitism, and film. Like Benjamin Walter, Theodor Adorno was a product of the German philosophy, filled with the language of Marx, Hegel and Kant. Adorno’s images are only just poetic in nature. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno describe the aspect of the Culture Industry in relation to mass marketing and media in the society. They believed that this enormous industry did not take into account economic aspects and processes, which significantly make the industry homogenous, hence, negligible variations (Claussen, 2008).

According to Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Culture Industry has three explicit ideas: mass production, monopoly and technology. This industry is known as a “system of domination”, in which its control is condensed into the authority of fewer and fewer beings (Claussen, 2008). According to Adorno, the increased diffusion of technology has significantly changed the culture industry, thus, tightening the authoritarian governments present in Europe. This resulted in increased transformation in the aspects related to distribution of culture and production in the capitalist society. Unlike Benjamin, who embraced the art of mass production in the film industry, Adorno was opposed to mass production in the society. Adorno's disapproval of mass culture was concurrently an appraisal of positivist techniques in media research.

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Adorno criticized the cultural opponents, such as T. S. Eliot, Ortega y Gasset, and Aldous Huxley for condemning culture as a sphere sovereign that originated from material production, and for arguing that the public threatened to demolish the principles and receptivity of high art via their formation of mass culture (Claussen, 2008). Horkheimer and Adorno clearly coined the term "culture industry" to dismiss the delusion that mass culture was in any sense generated by the masses. Horkheime and Adorno also left from the puritanical conviction of culture condemnation that mass culture destabilized morals by encouraging intemperance and unlimited sexuality. Expecting Marcuse's later appraisal of "oppressive desublimation," they argued that the culture industry was not critical, since it promoted intemperance; rather it subdued sexuality and pleasure under the appearance of being riotous.

Whether Walter Benjamin was a real champion for any of this progress, this remained uncertain. In this case, the clear aspect is that Benjamin analyzed mode of film production that still exists up to date, except that the modern film industry is more developed than it was in the late 1930s. Benjamin in his analysis clearly understood the need, its criticality and potential dangers associated with film production, particularly in the socialism form of organization. It is outstanding that 40 years ago, approximately eight years after the primary talkie, a German cultural critic interested primarily in literature (Benjamin, 2005). On the other hand, Adorno's literary work is disgracefully tricky to understand. He has sporadically been condemned on this account. However, as there is the instance with deconstructionists, such as Spivak or Derrida, Adorno's appearance enacts his content (Claussen, 2008).


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