Cognition and Emotion in the Cinema of Giuseppe Tornatore

By:
Dr. William Hope
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The nature of the spectator’s emotional engagement with films is attracting increasing critical scrutiny, and a number of theoretical frameworks have been elaborated in recent years with the objective of analysing how and why viewers are moved by what they see on screen. Viewer responses may be influenced by genre expectations, by involuntary physiological reactions to what is seen and heard, by shifting attachments towards screen characters, and by specific devices within an individual film’s mise-en-scène, such as lighting and colour.

The first part of my paper will explore the ways in which the work of the Oscar-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore possesses an unusually strong affective charge in the current cinematic climate of self-referential irony and detachment. However, the paper will also explore the cognitive and intellectual basis of Tornatore’s films, an element that is often overlooked by critics. This intellectual component forms a 'frame' through which viewers observe and engage with the intra-diegetic action, conditioning the viewer's experience, but without reducing the emotional impact of the director's narrative and aesthetic devices.

The paper will explore the cognitive appeal of several of Tornatore's films, including the self-conscious representations of film-making and viewing in movies such as the acclaimed Cinema Paradiso (1989) and The Starmaker (1995), the ways in which the viewer’s traditional cognitive engagement with detective fiction is highlighted and subverted in A Pure Formality (1994), and the manner in which Tornatore’s most controversial release, Malèna (2000), challenges notions of unrestricted voyeurism and the objectification of individuals that modern viewers have come to expect, regardless of the medium of entertainment with which they engage.


Keywords: Tornatore, Italian Cinema, Cognition, Emotion
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. William Hope

Lecturer in Italian Language and Film, School of Languages, The University of Salford
UK

Dr William Hope is a lecturer in Italian language and film at the University of Salford, U.K. He has published volumes on the films of Giuseppe Tornatore and on the writings of the novelist and journalist Curzio Malaparte. His most recent publication is the edited volume, 'Italian Cinema - New Directions' (Peter Lang, 2005). Dr Hope is a member of the editorial board of the journal 'Studies in European Cinema'.

Ref: H06P0124