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Shots to the Heart
  • Publisher: Anthem Press
  • Online publication date: January 2023
  • Print publication year: 2022
  • Online ISBN: 9781839985904
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Book description

Shots to the Heart explores how the work of the film actor inspires, provokes, and refigures our feelings and thoughts about the cinema. The book closely considers the art of film performance, the combined effect of actors' gestures, movements, and expressions, in relation to the viewer's sensitive and creative eye. As discrete moments of performative incarnation onscreen slowly accumulate, actors also become figures of meaning. For many viewers, the screen figures which result from performance are simply called 'characters'. But in thinking about cinema, the words 'character' and 'characterization' signal post-experiential abstractions: when we quickly identify characters or summarize characterization after seeing a movie we are leaping over the emotions felt through our loving attention to the bodies flitting through a film. Such concepts can never replace a careful regard for what actors onscreen are actually doing, moment-by-moment, gesture-by-gesture. Shots to the Heart is finally not too concerned with the narrative machinations within which these gestures are inscribed, and even resists the attempt to assemble these descriptions of performance into a 'full' account of the film as a whole. What Shots to the Heart does is let little moments of performance live on, in writing, as they are strung together alongside performative fragments from other films, in a kind of alternative, cinephilic account of what was felt as actors moved on the screen before us.

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