Viewing and viewing again : film narrative and the time-travelling spectator

Lee, Leiya Ho-Yin (2017) Viewing and viewing again : film narrative and the time-travelling spectator. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Having had a time-travel-like experience of witnessing an audience response at a Disney 4D screen performance in 2010 that mirrored that at the fabled screening of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de la Ciotat in 1895, this thesis argues that there is an inherent quality of time-travel in cinema. This thesis investigates if Film Studies and concepts of time travel can inform one another to create new ideas on film spectatorship. The natural place to start is to study films that feature time-travel narratives. Time travel in films has three key characteristics, each of which is tackled by individual chapters: (1) complicated narrative structures; (2) an aesthetic of repeats; and (3) adherence to a strict cause-and-effect logic. First, this thesis studies narrative structures developing on David Bordwell’s cognitivist work, and, combining with ideas from analytic philosopher Jack W Meiland, continental philosopher Henri Bergson and mathematician Hermann Minkowski, this thesis presents graphical representations of time travel and film narration. Next, the thesis deals with the idea of revisits and repeats, where the Freudian concept of nachträglichkeit (“deferred action”) is useful in trying to understand ‘repeating’ cinematic experiences, such as the knowledge of ‘twist’ endings (à la The Usual Suspects) during repeated viewings. The fact that this thesis uses a psychoanalytic concept to complement a Post-Theory cognitive approach is an attempt to reconcile the dichotomy between the two often antagonistic paradigms. Finally, two opposing systems of thinking, of cause-and-effect and of chance, are pitted against one another; it is then argued that cinema is where these two incompatible logics coexist harmoniously, making cinema a time machine and the spectator a time traveller.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page