Munsterberg And Arnheim: Theoretical Interpretati

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Film Theory Münsterberg and Arnheim: Theoretical Interpretations of Sound in Cinema Separated by an entire generation, the cinematic premises of Hugo Münsterberg and Rudolf Arnheim lay the primary structural foundation for understanding how and why film affects the human mind so profoundly and differently from all preceding art forms. Although these theoreticians have made their own respective contributions to the core assumptions of film theory, their analyses converge in the particular lens through which they choose to assess the phenomenon: the psychoanalytic paradigm. From this perspective, Münsterberg and Arnheim are able to fully dissect film’s facets and explain their construction as well as their consequences on the viewer. How these aspects combine with one another forms the crux of film’s effect on the human brain, thus expanding the ontology of the medium beyond the sum of its immediate parts and into the realm of its perceptual impact. It is from this vantage point that one needs to assess all characteristics of film, including the development of sound. Accordingly, the central query for such an appraisal must be how does this particular property (sound) contribute or detract from the medium’s intended effect? Münsterberg’s early death notwithstanding, one can hypothesize from chapter nine of his work The Photoplay: A Psychological Study as to his probable judgment concerning sound in cinema. The Means of the Photoplay, as Münsterberg coined this portion of his study, refers directly to the modes of perception that give film its unique elegance as an art: the aesthetic and psychological. From these two analyses, Münsterberg declares a formative principle: We recognized there that the photoplay, incomparable in this respect with the drama, gave us a view of dramatic events which was completely shaped by the inner movements of the mind…
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