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Realism of the senses: a tendency in contemporary world cinema

Magalhães De Luca, Tiago (2011) Realism of the senses: a tendency in contemporary world cinema. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis proposes to examine the production of sensory realism in world cinema by using as case studies the cinemas of Carlos Reygadas (Mexico), Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan) and Gus Van Sant (US). These cinemas are bound together through the hyperbolic application of the long take, which promotes a sensory viewing experience anchored in duration and the pure phenomenological presence of animate and inanimate matter. The theoretical underpinnings of the project are laid out in the Introduction, which addresses the alleged demise of realism in light of the emergence of digital technology and provides an overview of the ways the realist style has been historically theorised as connected to the sensory character of the cinematic experience. It further investigates the main aesthetic principles governing contemporary realist cinema and proposes a theorisation of its distinctive sensory mode of address. The thesis is divided into three different parts, which focus separately on each of the aforementioned filmmakers and their distinct realist projects, with emphasis given on their political impact and social significance. Part I is dedicated to Carlos Reygadas’s oeuvre, which, indebted to the transcendental cinemas of Tarkovsky, Bresson and Dreyer, complicates spirituality through a quasi-scientific take on materiality and carnality. Tsai Ming-liang is the subject of Part II, which examines his cinema’s auteurist, ultra-reflexive realist approach as recycling an aesthetics of the everyday in film through a focus on the sheer physicality of domestic spaces and the physiology of a grotesque body. Part III investigates Gus Van Sant’s recent incursion into an experimental-realist style as producing sensory explorations of mental processes of perception in line with the American avant-garde cinema ‘visionary’ tradition. The Conclusion contextualises and evaluates the aesthetic and political contribution of these cinemas as perpetuating, and reconfiguring, cinematic realism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-094-1
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.540570
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2011 13:20
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1760

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