The cinematic experience is often an emotional or ‘felt’ experience. In the aftermath of the film, it is challenging to indicate precisely how I was guided to react emotionally to the film. This study presents an investigation of the emotional cinematic experience from a Jungian critical reading. Jungian theory introduces a model of the psyche as consisting of, amongst other constructs, the collective unconscious and the archetypes. These archetypal contents manifest visually as symbols. These symbols guide the reader of the filmic text towards an emotional cinematic experience by activating, in particular, the archetype of the Self. Based on a review of the available scholarship in Jungian theory and film, this dissertation develops a Jungian conceptual framework consisting of notions and concepts that can describe, articulate and examine the psychological dynamics of an emotional cinematic experience. In a demonstration of how a Jungian approach to the text can highlight the dynamics of the emotional cinematic experience, the study presents a critical reading of M. Night Shyamalan’s films The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. Using the Jungian practice of amplification, the study focuses on notions of the archetypal (contents and manifestations, particularly the archetype of the Self); individuation motifs; notions of the Apocalypse; and alchemical symbolism, all framed within an approach proposed by Jungian dream analysis. The symbolic aspect of film imagery is constructed by archetypal contents and individuation motifs that emphasise the emotional cinematic experience Based on the critical reading of Shyamalan’s film, this dissertation concludes that the emotional cinematic experience can be examined with specific reference to the emotional cinematic experience as ‘guided’ by the filmic images’ symbolic aspect. The Jungian framework developed by this study can be used to effectively investigate and articulate the emotional cinematic experience.
Dissertation (MA (Drama and Film Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.