A Presentation by Jan-Hendrik Bakels

The use of music in film is often discussed with respect to the alleged ‘manipulation’ of the viewer. In this perspective, the strong emotive effect attributed to music is contrasted with a supposedly rational and realistic ‘narrative’ in images and words. This discussion intensifies especially where a ‘realistic’ portrayal is applied to cinematic images as a political-normative claim – as in TV reporting or in documentary films.

Against this background, Jan-Hendrik Bakels poses the question of the relationship between emotions and understanding in the film experience of the viewer on the basis of current film studies theory and research. In this perspective, the dichotomies mentioned above increasingly dissolve. Instead, it becomes clear to what extent film – understood a time-based medium whose perception is essentially shaped by the phenomena of rhythm and movement – is itself inherently ‘musical’.

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