Film study short answer questions

Section 1: Longer Answer (10 points) – The Cinema of Attractions (Gunning/Méliès/Lumières)

In his essay “The Cinema of Attraction”, Tom Gunning states about the “cinema of attractions” that “its
energy moves outward towards an acknowledged spectator rather than inward towards the characterbased situations essential to classical narrative.” What does he mean by this sentence? How can one
define the cinema of attractions? How are George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon or The Lumière brothers’
Arrival of A Train in Ciotat, which we both watched in the unit on early cinema, characteristic of the
“cinema of attractions”? (Answer this question in two longer paragraphs)

Section 2: Long essay (30 points) – Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese) or The Searchers (John Ford)

Both The Searchers and Taxi Driver are films about frustrated, angry white males who direct their anger
against “others” and are haunted by what one could call a “saviour complex.” Today, in the light of the
terrorist acts committed by white supremacists groups in the U.S. in recent years, some critics might
even describe the forms of masculinity these films engage with as “toxic.” The similarities are no
coincidence: Martin Scorsese credited The Searchers not only as his all-time favourite Hollywood movie,
but also as a direct influence on Taxi Driver. With these similarities in mind, please analyze and interpret
one of the two films (of course, you are encouraged make cross-references, but the main focus should
be on one of the films) in the perspective suggested above. How are the films indicating that something
is wrong with their (anti-)heroes? What psychological issues do they have and how does it impact their
actions? How is the filmmaker distancing us from the main characters? What role does style, mise-enscène, acting, cinematography play in this attempt to “deconstruct” or dismantle the perspective of the
anti-heroes? Is there anything we can learn from these films for our times? Do you think the critique in
these films works – or should it have been more overt? Please indicate at the beginning what film you
are focussing on. At least once in your essay focus on a significant scene and its formal aspects. (Answer
this question in a multi-paragraph essay)

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