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Hugo Munsterberg

The development of film as an artistic medium is, for Munsterberg, clearly linked to the capacity of film to reach a broad audience (2). This connection is particularly interesting given M's admission that the technologies which helped film reach that broad audience were the result of intellectual and academic work hardly intended to serve the aim of audience amusement (5).

M argues for film as something more than a poor copy of theater, and to this end he relies heavily on the technical innovations possible with film, the way in which film can manipulate time and space (time-lapse photography, the close-up, etc) (11-13).

Of particular interest to M are the psychological processes which occur as an audience views a film, the state of mind of the viewer, the mental work the viewer does. M stresses the viewer's perception of depth and movement, both problematic as the film cannot really represent either. As M notes, the perception of movement and depth cannot be understood through reference to film itself. Rather, "a characteristic content of consciousness must be added to such a series of visual impressions" (26). More to the point, M notes: "Depth and movement alike come to us in the moving picture world, not as hard facts but as a mixture of fact and symbol. They are present and yet they are not in the things. We invest the impressions with them" (30).

Attention, memory, imagination, and emotion are all, according to M, both mirrored by film and directed by it (through the use of the close-up and the manipulation of space, flashback and the manipulation of time, etc). This means, for M, that film overcomes "the forms of the outer world, namely space, time, and causality" and adjusts "the events to the forms of the inner world, namely attention, memory, imagination, and emotion" (74). This it does for the purpose of telling the human story with the complete unity of art.

Film, then, moves us away from physical reality (because we are forced to recognize its constructedness at every turn, because we can't help but see the screen) and moves us toward the mental world (75). What this seems to mean, for M at least, and here we're back to his focus on audience, is that film, more than other art forms,can act on the minds of audiences. M refers to this aspect of film primarily in terms of the dangers of "low" films (which he, to some degree, dismisses) and the possibility, made available through higher order films, of "remolding and upbuilding the national soul" (96). Film, through its unique interaction with the mind (and perhaps because of its physical requirements--the audience's "suggestibility during those hours in the dark house") requires special attention both as an art form and as a cultural phenomenon.