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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52925
Doc. No:TL22879
Call number:‭3236528‬
Main Entry:David Melbye
Title & Author:The contemplative landscape: Allegories of space in cinemaDavid Melbye
College:University of Southern California
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:216
Abstract:This study seeks to understand a particular form of cinematic space, the "contemplative landscape," in which natural, outdoor settings serve as outward manifestations of characters' inner subjective states. Contemplative landscape films strive for an allegorical dimension---beyond the normal surface-level function of human activity. In addition to a clearly established psychological dimension to these films' characters, aggressive techniques of framing, editing, and juxtaposition allow the landscape to emerge as an independent character. In certain cases, culturally received notions of an exotic wilderness or hostile wasteland are invoked through specific terrains so that the landscape plays the antagonist in a narrative whose protagonist struggles against it---and himself---in order to achieve self-realization. Especially in the 1960s and 70s, a period whose films maintained a relatively cynical agenda, this Sisyphean allegory of futility became paradigmatic. In their most realized form, these films are a larger indictment of Western politics and sensibility, and so incorporate a characteristic megalomaniac who attempts to dominate a "Third World" landscape and its indigenous peoples. Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Aguirre the Wrath of God (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979) are examples of this latter mode of landscape allegory. This study does not simply locate the contemplative landscape in various films, but also explores the aesthetic heritage of landscape depiction in pre-cinematic mediums. This vast cultural tradition establishes our perception of natural outdoor space---and how we have been encouraged to read landscape as the macroscopic outer reflection of the microscopic inner activity of the mind. Our aesthetic past---even as far back as the Middle Ages---reveals a cultural trajectory of spiritual transformation and eventual disillusionment wherein natural landscapes become increasingly prominent as an alternative realm of signification. Studying this complex evolution of landscape allegory informs the arrival of cinema and its own permutations of the contemplative landscape. In a similar way, early film experiments such as French Impressionism and exotic landscape documentaries like Nanook of the North (1922)---as well as the evolution of the western genre---inform the unconventional use of landscape in films of the 1960s and 70s.
Subject:Communication and the arts; Allegory; Cinema; Landscape; Space; Motion pictures; Art history; 0900:Motion pictures; 0377:Art history
Added Entry:L. Overholdt
Added Entry:University of Southern California