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European Cinema and Social Change

Cinema, in itself, is a centralized influence in conveying messages, including that of social change. 1 The most insistent message is oftentimes generated by a particular medium itself – in this case, European cinema – through the role that media has obtained in modern society. The style of transmission, or the use of European cinema per se, is the vehicle for social change, and not any social message that the film wants to convey. 2 In short, European film is the message. However, there are factors that have to betaken into account, like style, language, etc.

These “codes” are what invites an audience to ponder and later on understand themselves as part of a given community. 3 In effect, European cinema in closely connected to the political ceiling which caps a particular culture and transforms it into a solid nation-state. 4 In recent years, European cinema has taken an active role in forming or helping to form what is called “nationalist consciousness” also called national identity. 5 Nevertheless, European cinema is only next to another medium, which is the print media.

6 1. Hjort, M. and MacKenzie, S. Cinema and Nation. Routledge, 2000. p. 21 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. , p. 22 4. Ibid. , p. 22 5. Ibid. , p. 23 6. Ibid. , p. 23 European Cinema 3 First and foremost, the most basic contradiction in film making is the fact that films are basically, commodities. 7 Yes, it is a form of communication, but it is a commodity – because no matter how much you attempt to communicate something, if your medium is cinema, then people have to be somehow willing to pay to watch your message, or hear your message. 8 Nevertheless, the quickest way to convey your message is through a popular medium, as in the case of European cinema.

So, in order to reach a wider audience, one has first to consider, first your subject, then the characters to be portrayed and who will portray them, them the material to be used. 9 Only then do you think of embellishments which would ensure that you are able to capture an audience. In general, films can leave an audience with altered perceptions or emotions, which is in fact, productive. 10 It shows effectiveness in conveying a message. One example of this is the German film “The Lives of Others.

”11 As with most projects with a social message to encourage change in society, European films I effective in creating agitation, in stirring up people’s 7. Atkinson, W. When Enemy is at the Door. Red Pepper, Spicing Up Politics. Retrieved on August 14, 2008, from http://www. redpepper. org. uk/When-the-enemy-is-at-the-door 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. European Cinema 4 emotions making them ready for education. 12 However, European films are a mite too short and brief to contain serious education, except perhaps make a point or two across.

13 European film makers, as a whole, have used their medium as a political voice. One type of European film movement is documentary making. 14 For more than a century, European non-fiction cinematic films have become a prominent tool for persuasion. Perhaps this is one reason why these types of films are called “activist. 15” The documentary film may be used as a weapon for social protest, by documenting abuses and disseminating images of oppression. Perhaps the earliest forms of European cinematic documentaries were those propagated in the 1920’s by the Stalin movement, and in the 1930’s to 1940’s by the Hitler era.

16 It is important to note that even though cinema was a powerful vehicle for social change in Europe, no social message would have been successfully conveyed if there was no leg work like educating the people. Examples of European films with social messages include San Soleil, by Chris Marker, Poto and Cabengo by Jean-Pierre Gorin and The Journey by Peter 13. loc. Cit. 14. Aguayo, A. J. Documnetary Film/Video and Social Change: A Rhetorical Investigation of Dissent. University of Texas, at Austin. 2005. Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from http://www. lib. utexas. edu/etd/d/2005/aguayoa11349/aguayoa11349.

pdf 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. European Cinema 5 Watkin. 17 Another example of European cinema being a vehicle for social change is the increasingly popular genre of “identity” films, which cater to, among others, feminists and gays. 18 The 1970s embodies the wave of feminism in Europe. Through the use of European cinema, mass appeal for these advocacies propagate and found their way into the lives of Europeans. 19 Feminists and gays have gradually integrated into European society, through the help of cinema. European films utilized larger than life characters in authenticating feminist and gay lifestories.

20 An example of European cinematic success on feminism Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by Laura Mulvey. 21 If one wants change on a large scale, European cinema may be used in two ways. First, by using a direct pathway wherein the film itself is utilized in promoting changes by motivating the audience, and guiding them. 22 The other method is through the use of a pathway which is socially mediated, meaning the film is linked to other participants like social networks and certain settings 17. loc. Cit. 18. Rabinowitz, P. They Must be Represented: The Politics of Documentary.

Verso, 1994. 19. Ibid. 20. Ibid. 21. Ibid. 22. Shinghal, A. , Cody, M. J. , Rogers E. and Sabido, M. Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research and Practice. Lawrence Eribaum Associates, 2004. European Cinema 6 in the community so that whatever social message it conveys is assimilated. 23 These latter provide influential paths in which the cinematic endeavor results in psychosocial changes. 23. Ibid.

Bibliography

Aguayo, A. J. Documnetary Film/Video and Social Change: A Rhetorical Investigation of Dissent. University of Texas, at Austin. 2005. Retrieved on August 14, 2008 from http://www. lib. utexas. edu/etd/d/2005/aguayoa11349/aguayoa11349. pdf Atkinson, W. When Enemy is at the Door. Red Pepper, Spicing Up Politics. Retrieved on August 14, 2008, from http://www. redpepper. org. uk/When-the-enemy-is-at-the-door Hjort, M. and MacKenzie, S. Cinema and Nation. Routledge, 2000. p. 21 Rabinowitz, P. They Must be Represented: The Politics of Documentary. Verso, 1994. Shinghal, A. , Cody, M. J. , Rogers E. and Sabido, M. Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research and Practice. Lawrence Eribaum Associates, 2004.

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