FILM AND EMOTION
Towards a Psychological Theory of Close-ups: Experiencing Intimacy and Threat
The paper offers a functionalist
perspective on cinema. It does not suffice to describe
textual features without the awareness of how these function
in co-operation with cultural-psychological-behavioral
structures in the spectator. It is the experience of cinema
that a reception study seeks to elucidate. It is maintained
that threat and intimacy are two universally widespread
spectatorial effects of close-ups. A possible explanation
of these effects might be found in the theory of personal
space. In social psychology, personal space refers to an
intimate sphere surrounded by every individual’s regulating
distance, which influences our behavior in interpersonal
situations. This behavioral pattern is said to have two
functions: protective and communicative.
function ensures that an intrusion into personal space
is treated as a warning of potential threats and generates
protective behavior (backing off, leaving the situation).
The communicative function refers to the speaker’s ability
to manipulate the distance during conversation (for example,
let someone into his/her intimate space) as a way to flag
desire for deeper involvement and intimacy. It is maintained
that these functions of personal space correlate in many
ways with the two functions of close-ups: the close-up
evokes socio-psychological processes similar to a real
interpersonal situation. This theory is substantiated by
a series of close-ups chosen from a wide spectrum of genres.
It is concluded that some cinematic conventions (such as
close-ups) are not totally arbitrary. They are designed
with careful consideration of the socio-psychological makeup
of the spectator in order to produce specific effects.
ANALYTIC CONTENTS OF THE PAPER:
Introduction; Threat; Intimacy; Personal
space; Close-up effects and personal space; Conclusions.