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Peter Wright describes Doctor Who (1996) as “culturally stagnant”. To what extent do you agree with Wright and can his claim be applied to the original series of Doctor Who (1963-89)? The response should refer to the work of Theodor Adorno. To begin with, it should be noted that the movie Doctor Who (1996) is the continuation of the commonly known show Doctor Who (1963-89). Considering the film from the deeper aspects, Amy-Chinn (2010) speaks about it in reference to combing the religious and scientific perspectives having stated that “the Doctor is both mythical and heroic, in a world in which religion is no longer seen unequivocally as force for good, claiming credit for his virtue leads into an ideological battleground” (p. 22). This vision helps considering the movie from different perspectives, finding the signs of both divine and non-divine nature there. However, Wright (2011) has stated that Doctor Who movie “epitomises the worst quality of much popular cultural production: an intellectually numbing, politically complicit, and culturally stagnant sameness” (p. 142). Thus, one of the main aspects of this part is that the film is “culturally stagnant” (Wright 2011, p. 142); maybe this is the reason why it did not receive high popularity in the USA.
The culture is a very dynamic aspect created by the human being (Oyserman 2017). However, the culture in the film does not develop. Reincarnating from one life to another, the Doctor does not change culturally. Therefore, I agree with this statement that the movie is culturally stagnant; it does not develop, does not change. It is neither good nor bad for a movie. It can be a particular concept for a movie, aimed at reminding people their place.
Referring to Doctor Who (1963-89) show, the series were created under the influence of social, political, and economic stagnation in the Great Britain (Lowe 2017). It can be predicted that the community wanted the changes. Moreover, Doctor Who in the series is responsible for saving the planet, which presupposes his constant change of cultures. Therefore, in this case, the movie is not culturally stagnant. In support of this idea, Knapp (2013) has stated that “The character is helped because he can be played by a limitless number of actors. The longevity of the character is assured because it thrives on the basis of character, even as popular culture changes. That idea of change – being able to reinvent itself – is central to Doctor Who”. Therefore, the series is not culturally stagnant. This idea can also be supported with the help of the social theory by Theodor Adorno.
According to Theodor W Adorno (2005), culture does not carry any value guidelines for a person; it is not aimed at spiritual enrichment and enlightenment. The culture is understood as a kind of a product, which can be an object of manipulation in the society. Generating false needs, the culture turns the consumer into a passive inhabitant, indifferent even to his/her own economic situation, no matter how hard it was.
Referring Adorno’s theory to Doctor Who (1963-89) show, it is possible to see that the culture is used to manipulate the vision of the audience and the perception of the actions the main character does.How can cinematography and editing shape our understanding of a film’s narrative and characters? Psycho (1960) According to Nicholson (2010), “Cinematography captures and expresses what a character is feeling – their attitude towards the rest of the world, their interior state” (p. 196). The author is sure that the portrayal of the characters is one of the most important aspects of storytelling. Cinematography helps the audience understand the characters and their role in the storytelling.
According to Nicholson (2010), cinematography plays three main functions regarding to character portrayal, lighting, camera placement, and the elements within the camera. These three aspects of cinematography help understand the characters and their place in the narrative. Lighting helps control the appearance of the characters, the focus on the particular objects, and in some cases even thoughts and reactions (Mercado 2013). In Psycho (Hitchcock 1960), for example, the most famous shower scene is shot with the help of high key light technique showing the contrast between Marion’s supreme vulnerability and Norman’s view on the scene in the total darkness. Camera placement is another technique, which helps cinematography control the position and the viewpoint from which the characters in the movie can be seen (Browning 2011). In Psycho, Hitchcock (1960) uses the specific camera placement to give a hint what type of the character Norman is. When showing Norman’s room, straight lines, such as the photo frames, are included in the shooting. However, the camera is placed in such a way that the photos are positioned at an angle. It gives a hint that Norman’s character is not as easy as the director wants to show, and that it is uneasy and unbalanced. Finally, the elements within the camera are used to control the character’s mode of perception (Fielding 2013).
For example, in the famous parlor scene, the shadows from the stuffed owl shows Norman as a demon, when he stands up and the camera shows low shot. Speaking about editing, it is essential in understanding film’s narrative and characters because the main purpose of the editors is to show the audience the sense of time continuity and the relation of the characters to each other. Thus, in the scenes one is sure that there is an afternoon or the evening in Hitchcock (1960) scenes because the editors have created the sequence of the shots in such a way that the movement is transformed from outside the window of an apartment to the place itself. Editing helps to create the realistic image of the narration (Figueiredo ?2015), like editing in shower scene, where the main character takes the shower and becomes murdered by someone.
The constant change of shots from the positon of the victim and the editor, the view of shower from the bottom and the pull back from the eye are the examples how editing can help understand the narration and the characters. At the beginning of the parlor scene the audience can see how Marion and Norman appear in the shot together. This is the last time when they appear in such a way. During the next scenes, even communicating and staying close to each other, Marion and Norman never appear in the same shot, they are shown interchangeably, which helps notice some contradiction between these characters. This is the power of editing and its role in the vision and presenting the characters.
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