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Film and Risk

Edited by Mette Hjort

Publication Year: 2012

The phenomenon of risk has been seriously neglected in connection with the study of film, yet many of those who write about film seem to have intuitions about how various forms of risk-taking shape aspects of the filmmaking or film-viewing process. Film and Risk fills this gap as editor Mette Hjort and interdisciplinary contributors discuss film’s relation to all types of risk. Bringing together scholars from philosophy, anthropology, film studies, economics, and cultural studies, as well as experts from the fields of law, filmmaking, and photojournalism, this volume discusses risk from multiple intriguing angles. In thirteen chapters, contributors consider concrete risks (e.g., stunts or financial decisions); theoretical aesthetic and artistic risks (e.g., filmmakers who incorporate excessive hazards into their films); and the real-world jeopardy spectators might put themselves in when viewing films. The first three chapters tackle the conceptual terrain that is relevant to understanding risk in film. The next three chapters focus on risk as it pertains to the practice of filmmaking. Subsequent chapters deal with economic risk and the role that risk has in the development of film’s institutional landscape. The scholarship in this collection is impressive, boasting some of the top writers in their respective fields. Through the contributors’ clear and thorough discussions, this cohesive but diverse collection shows that risk arises in many different areas that tend to be thought of as central to film studies. Scholars of film studies will appreciate this daring and inventive collection, and readers with a general interest in film studies will enjoy its accessible style.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series

Series Page

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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

I am grateful to Cheung Tit Leung for meticulous help with the preparation of the manuscript for publication and for research assistance. Martine Beugnet, Carol Hart, Jimmy Choi, Emily Yueh Yu Yeh, Richard Freadman, Peter Schepelern, Niels Bjørn, Darrel Davis, and David Bordwell all...

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Introduction: The Film Phenomenon and How Risk Pervades It

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pp. 1-30

Th e language of risk is common coin these days, informing virtually all areas of our lives. Parent/teacher discussions, whether in Asia or the West, make reference to learner profiles, and these often include the idea of being a “risk taker.” Th us, for example, a child may be encouraged proudly...

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Flamboyant Risk Taking: Why Some Filmmakers Embrace Avoidable and Excessive Risks

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pp. 31-54

While many scholarly books and articles devoted to fi lm make passing reference to risk, no attempt has been made systematically to explore filmmaking as a process involving the actual taking of risks as well as the depiction of risk taking. As a mostly cost-intensive, collaborative activity that...

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True Stories of Risk Inadvertence

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pp. 55-72

A troubling feature of our lives is the apparent pervasiveness of risk. So risky is life that individuals could not possibly keep track of all the risks they run. Nor do they necessarily care all that much about the ones they do identify, save for those somehow discovered to be, for a time, particularly...

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Spectatorship and Risk

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pp. 73-95

Cinematic fictions often depict characters who face a remarkable variety of natural and otherworldly dangers, such as attacks by aliens, dinosaurs, zombies, killer puppets, and swarms of insects. Th e risk of physical injury and death is the staple of the horror, crime, war, and action genres, while...

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Stunt Workers and Spectacle: Ethnography of Physical Risk in Hollywood and Hong Kong

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pp. 97-114

This essay examines physical risk in the commercial film industries of Hollywood and Hong Kong. Many of the films that emerge from commercial industries and garner profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars are composed of spectacular images of action...

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The Canary in the Gemeinschaft? Disability, Film, and the Jewish Question

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pp. 115-142

In the nineteenth century, canaries were taken into British mines to detect the potential risk to humans of methane gas, which is odorless but lethal. The sensitivity of this small, delicate bird to an invisible but deadly substance meant that if it died, a risk was present that humans would not...

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Accented Filmmaking and Risk Taking in the Age of Postcolonial Militancy, Terrorism, Globalization, Wars, Oppression, and Occupation

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pp. 143-164

Accented filmmaking by exilic, diasporic, and ethnic filmmakers inherently involves taking risks, risks that sometimes are integrated into the film’s narrative and style and often provide the focus for the film’s extratextual material in the form of a filmmaker’s biography, interviews with the filmmaker...

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Multinational Casts and Epistemic Risk: The Case of Pan-Asian Cinema

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pp. 165-179

In Chen Kaige’s The Promise (2005), Asian audiences see odd interactions among a multinational cast, free from language barriers and unbound by national identities. Set in a mythic space, the film depicts the entangled romances of the slave Kunlun (played by Korean actor...

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The Financial and Economic Risks of Film Production

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pp. 181-196

would generally be accepted as self-evident that the film industry provides a very unstable environment for the development of a coherent investment strategy. Indeed, realistic investors in film production should expect their returns to be in the form of reflected glamour and kudos, rather than in...

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Motion Picture Finance and Risk in the United States

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pp. 197-208

Financing commercial motion pictures by its nature involves risk. Such risk is of a different order from that which is intrinsic to the calculations behind whether or not to make a commercial film, such as the strength of the screenplay, the ability of the director, the appeal of the stars, and so...

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Encouraging Artistic Risk Taking through Film Policy: The Case of New Danish Screen

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pp. 209-226

Making a feature film is a costly affair. As a filmmaker you are constantly confronted with the economic realities of realizing your creative vision, as you have to persuade a number of people to risk their money on your project. Artistic self-expression or risk taking are rarely the top priority in the...

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After the Decisive Moment: Moving beyond Photojournalism’s High-Risk Mode

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pp. 227-244

Since the early years of the new 35 mm photojournalism in the late 1930s, a dominant visual mode of depiction has gradually developed that privileges close-up shots of action and interaction, particularly when reporting from conflict zones. Specific historical conditions such as technological change...

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Chance and Change

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pp. 245-269

Our understanding of abstract concepts is often inflected through working with them in the rough-and-tumble of concrete experience. Arriving in Maputo, Mozambique, in November 1990, just after the feature film...

Film and the Environment: Risk Offscreen

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pp. 271-289


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pp. 291-294


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pp. 295-311

E-ISBN-13: 9780814336113
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334638

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 43
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series