McIntyre, Dan (2006) Towards a stylistics of film. In: 26th Conference of the Poetics and Linguistics Association, 26th - 29th July 2006, University of Joensuu, Finland. (Unpublished)

Traditionally, stylistic analyses of drama have tended to concentrate on the analysis of dramatic texts rather than dramatic performances. This has been on the basis that no two performances of the same text are entirely alike, and that accurate critical discussion is therefore impossible unless we can be sure that everyone concerned has seen the particular performance we are analysing (Short 1981). However, with film drama this is not so much of an issue, since, with the exception of re-makes, there is only ever one performance to analyse. With film drama, then, it seems possible to analyse both the dramatic text (i.e. the screenplay) and the dramatic performance (the finished film). Since performance is a major component of the prototypical drama, if we can take account of it in stylistic analysis, then it would seem to make sense to do so. This, though, requires not just a methodological approach to the stylistic analysis of performance, but also a clear idea of what the aims of such an analysis should be. In this paper I discuss some of the issues involved in analysing film drama, and the extent to which it makes sense to talk about ‘a stylistics of film’. In particular, I consider Kress and van Leeuwen’s (1996) work on the analysis of multimodal texts by attempting to apply their grammar of visual design in an analysis of István Szábo’s film, Sunshine (1999). My analysis shows up some of the problems associated with this approach to multimodal texts, and I suggest that before we can consider the grammar of film drama, it is necessary to take account of the points of view represented in film. I demonstrate this through a brief comparative analysis of two film versions of Richard III.

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