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Marxist Film Theory

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SkepticalMetal Posted: Thu, Nov 22 2012 9:53 AM

This is the Wikipedia article on Marxist Film Theory:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist_film_theory

 

It seems to me that this is right, like many audiences have been receptive of the masses getting rid of some "greedy rich guy."

Thoughts on Marxist film theory?

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Not sure about the theory, but the scenes of "masses" of people can be quite disturbing, in a very powerful way, in many of Eisenstein's movies.

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On a personal level, I have found that placing the individual at the center of film going up against the masses as the protagonist to be much more entertaining. It seems to me that the Marxist theory of film is designed to go up against that, by stating that audiences will be more receptive of a group going up against a small group of individuals (proletariat vs. bourgoisie) and that sort of thing. I believe that the libertarian stance on film should have a two-way organization - individual vs. masses, and masses vs. state.

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I guess Terry Pratchett summarised the non-Marxist approach to masses in narrative art pretty well:

They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to.

— Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

This approach recognizes that readers/watchers are able to attach/identify themselves even to the worst of the villains, if the characters have just a little bit more personality than a cardboard figure. So, if you want to dispose of someone without much explanation (your genre requires fighting, your hero needs to prove himself, etc.), be sure to kill masses, not personalities.

The fact that MFT tries to work against the grain of this human trait may be the reason for almost traumatic power of MFT films.

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Why do you believe it is traumatic?

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What, I believe, makes them traumatic? That's discussible...

Or what makes me believe they are traumatic? Watching them, obviously :)

I grew up in the USSR, so I was exposed to many of these. Coincidentally, I worked in two different offices located on Sergei Eisenstein street - he was born in the same city as me :)

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Okay, so let's discuss it. I enjoy learning about film theory, and I believe that throughout filmmaking humans have been much more receptive of the triumph of the individual, rather than the triumph of the masses, the only time the triumph of the masses being greeted with great reception being when they are going up against a greater force that is oppressing their own personal liberties AS individuals.

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We can arrange this as some kind of a film-watching club. Let's pick a freely accessible movie (e.g., on YouTube), watch it, and discuss the fine points, say, in a week. Battleship Potemkin is one possible choice.

Anyone else up to this?

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Okay, sounds like a plan. How about I arrange an official Mises film group?

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Never mind, just found out that you can't just snap your finger and create one.

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I'm watching the Battleship Potemkin right now. I'm about 8 minutes into it. Right now, it seems actually libertarian in nature - the people who the sailors are rising up against are not "the greedy capitalist class," but rather, the state. Ironic how the conditions that these sailors are rebelling against are the precise same conditions that the Soviet Union offerred.

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I watched Battleship Potempkin a few months ago and really didn't like it at all. It was quite well paced but wasn't as visual as it ought especially for a silent film- Metropolis is far more visual and a better film. Further Potempkin is very unsubtle in terms of character and theme, there's the heros and the villains and it is very clear whose who. It really is Marxist propaganda. I do remember thinking the music was pretty effective.

The fundemental flaw with MFT is that  it is more difficult to identify with a group than an individual. I further think most films have too many characters which means each of them have less character and are less engaging. You need to know about someone to care about them which requires time; further we only know individuals and families, any bigger and it becomes less personal and such less engaging.

The atoms tell the atoms so, for I never was or will but atoms forevermore be.

Yours sincerely,

Physiocrat

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This is why I was surprised that The Avengers wasn't a complete clusterf***. When the film focuses on a group, you really are going to need a non-linear narrative, because that's the only way it would work. Otherwise, the characters will be no different from the film extras.

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