See also: [Film Terms (on film page)]
[Alienation] (film term)
The concept of distancing might at first glance appear to be the
same as -[alienation]-, but in reality the
primary idea behind alienation is that it sets apart one person
or thing from the rest. And this is not some "mere" dermarkation
occuring by something "passive" like classificatin, but rather
it is to set up a series of *barriers* between the alientated
and its/their environment.
The ways that distancing can be used are now briefly described
(if you think of any others, or have commetns, etc, pls
email me, frank: email@example.com
1) Objectivity. In the case of the scientist or the surgeon,
the practicioner needs to distance themselves from the
object under study/treatment so that they may judge each
aspect and evaluate it in terms of the existing body of
knowledge and how it may be "investigated". The scientist
exams the "fact that doesn't fit the theory" in order to
extend the theory to encompass a wider universe that it
does in its current form. Thus, scientific distancing
leads to scientific progress - even to the extent of
having to over-throw existing "doctrine" - but read
by scientists as THE STATE OF THE ART or THE FUNDAMENTAL
PRINCIPLES. In a sense, this is no different than the
belief system of the fundamentalist. Similarly, the
surgeon must remember their *theoretical* training and
undertake to tear apart the patient so as to find
and fix the problem, and *then* to re-build them so
that the flaw/disease/injury has been corrected. Thus,
the brain surgeon must not think about what s/h/they
are doing so that they *can* concentrate on what they
are doing - diging around inside someone's brain and
hence the IS-ness of that person.
2) Isolation. The master of this was of course Alfred
Hitchcock (recently this sort of "almost mystical
detachment" can be seen in many movies - esp in the
Kung Fu and Ninja movies (also viz, the homage in
"The Matrix") when we aren't sure if this is reality
or simply our perception of it). In "The Birds", during
the first major confrontation (at the Gas Station), the
camera pulls back (very bird-like), but becomes so
micro-scopically detached that we can't tell what is
really happening - but note the use of sound to attach
us how-ever remotely via SOUND to what essentially a
very visual (and viceral as well) scene. Note how this
is the exact opposite total involvement of the viewer
as in (eg) of "Psycho" in the Shower Scene.
3) To nip-off a bit of sub-space. This idea is more of the
idea of taking a set of things that is running essentially
as an independent system and setting it aside to "run its course".
Clear examples of this in film are when the camera either pulls
back (usually the sound is non-existant, muted or covered with
alternate music) or the action proceeds with cuts into it of
other events related to the system. Again, often the actual
voices are muted (or dis-connected) from what the people are
saying, their actions are essentially "under a microscope"
and we are able to see in detail - but often not understand --
what is happening.
The best examples of this that come to mind are in
"Seinfeld" when Jerry and George are trying to figure
out how to do the "room-mate switch", another example,
sees the plan coming together in "Home Alone", etc.
4) Repulsion/disavowal/etc. This is most commonly used and
seen in theatre when a character turns their back on
some-one during a speech - usually used to reveal a secret
or a discovery of fact or a dreaded confrontation. This
depends of course on the very human gestures of denial.
For example when someone discovers the worst about someone
or something else and they back away, shading their head
side-to-side or even saying "No, no, no, no...".
5) Skepticism. The most common is the raised eye-brow or
the head-turn to-the-side, or of course just a single
word. One of the best examples is in "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly"
when Tucco says to The Man with No Name, "See, Angel-eyes is
going to take care of us" and he responds with just "Yeah."
-- almost totally devoid of *any* emotion. This is a key
element to skepticism as distancing - the action/display/etc
"neither confirms nor denies" the object/event/"fact" under
6) Defocusing. The slightest form (as far as i can tell) is
simply to remove significance/focus from an event/object
by placing the "thing" at a distance. For example, in
"Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail" when Dr. Schneider
chooses the false grail for her boss and then this contrasted
for her and Indy searching the shelf for the actual grail.
The pan of the camera (as well as cutting back and forth
to the three actor's faces - as well as the knight's) bring
the object of desire OUT of focus. This is most often
manifest in magic tricks by the classic "distraction"
and "misdirection" techniques.
Representations of Distancing
(That is, the 2-dimensional)
(That is, in 3-dimensions)
(That is, in time, 4d, history, exposition, etc)
film clip examples, etc.
hmmm - history is the most consuming of probs in all of this