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Eyes and narrative perspectives on story: a practice led exploration of the use of eyes and eye lines in fiction film

Knudsen, EKO 2014, 'Eyes and narrative perspectives on story: a practice led exploration of the use of eyes and eye lines in fiction film' , Journal of Media Practice, 15 (1) , pp. 3-20.

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Eyes and eye lines are one of the key ways in which the perspective on a story is established in figurative narrative fiction cinema. As such, the eyes and the use of eyes by a performer needs as much creative and technical attention as shot composition, sound, production design and editing. Rather than thinking of the eyes of a performer as a subservient aspect of a projected performance, often driven by the dominance of dialogue-action delivery, this paper seeks to examine how, in fictional cinematic expression, eyes can be deployed to enhance an introspective and transcendent narrative perspective on a story. This exploration takes place through practice. In particular, during the creation of my latest feature film, The Raven On The Jetty (Erik Knudsen, UK 2014), in which I sought to explore how to enhance the relationship between eyes, eye lines and narrative perspective on story. In reflecting on these issues, I shall look at what is meant by narrative perspective and relate this not only to the performativity of a fiction film, but also to the relationship of this performativity to emotions and feelings. I shall then look at eyes: first looking at their behavioural importance, then at looking and seeing. I hope to show that we can think of eyes not merely as a part of an actor’s performance, but also as a window through which we can see a world whose presence is untouchable. I aim to argue that looks and eye lines are as effective as any other cinematic tool in establishing actions, re-actions, space, time, intentions and revelations and to illustrate how I have sought to challenge certain understandings and approaches to the use of eyes to add a different perspective on a story. I write this paper primarily from the perspective of a filmmaker, as opposed to a film scholar, and therefore while acknowledging the considerable theoretical work done by film theorists such as Vivian Sobchack (on phenomenological semiotics ), Stephen Heath (on narrative space ), Edward Branigan (on point of view ) and Tom Brown (on breaking the fourth wall ), not to speak of the extensive debates taking place on Catherine Grant’s Film Studies for Free Blog , this paper is a subjective and reflexive exploration that seeks to reveal a creative thought process in action, in contrast to a scholarly examination of the cultural theory around film language or film form. Finally, I shall very briefly summarise some of my key findings in a conclusion.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Media Practice
Publisher: Intellect
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1468-2753
Related URLs:
Funders: Intellect
Depositing User: Prof Erik Knudsen
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2014 15:57
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 23:35

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