Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research

Southern California Conferences for Undergraduate Research

Focalization in Modern Films


Robert Galletly


Bryan Rasmussen, Professor of English, California Lutheran University

Focalization in Modern Films
Author: Robert Galletly, California Lutheran University
Mentor: Dr. Bryan Rasmussen, English Division, California Lutheran University

In film, as in fiction, an audience is drawn in to the characters before them. This paper explores a key mechanism by which audience is connected to character in contemporary film, namely through the narrative action of focalization. Focalization is the process by which we see from a character's perspective. Interestingly, there has been a trend in contemporary filmmaking that makes the technical process of focalization a feature of the plot. That is, the films that I want to analyze do not just use focalization, but are explicitly focused about focalization. In the film Being John Malkovich (1999), the characters place themselves literally into someone else’s body and interact with others to find out more about themselves. As the characters enter someone else, the audience views this "outer" character, yet the "inner" character is acting and thinking for them. The action of plot comes to revolve around the consequences of this inner/outer dynamic. I want to explore how this process works in some representative "postmodern" films and what this move to make formal narrative elements like focalization the substance or content of the narrative has to say about film and culture. For example, what does it have to tell us about current desires for empathy, or how the viewer feels with and not just for the characters on screen?

Presented by:

Robert Galletly


Saturday, November 17, 2012


2:30 PM — 2:45 PM


Bell Tower 2582

Presentation Type:

Oral Presentation


English Literature