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Film Theory and Philosophy$
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Richard Allen and Murray Smith

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198159216

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159216.001.0001

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Looking at Motion Pictures

Looking at Motion Pictures

Chapter:
(p.76) 3 Looking at Motion Pictures
Source:
Film Theory and Philosophy
Author(s):

Richard Allen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159216.003.0004

This chapter discusses the central question, ‘What do you see when you look at a motion picture?’. The answer depends on the understanding of the activity itself. The philosophical understanding of what seeing is has been dominated by casual theories of perception. When seeing is conceived in a certain way, pictorial perception generates a paradox. There are four kinds of theories in perceiving motion pictures: illusion, transparency, imagination, and recognition. Illusion theories were highly influential in the film theories during the 1970s and early 1980s. It sought to explain the special power of movies to shape the imagination while transparency theories were associated with the realist tradition of film theory. Transparency theorists claim that the unique properties of the photographic image allow us to see the object when we look at a motion picture. Imagination and recognition theories use the cognitive approach to understanding the motion picture.

Keywords:   motion picture, theories of perception, illusion theories, transparency theories, imagination theories, recognition theories, cognitive approach

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