Visualizing Violence in Contemporary Film : A Regression of "the Civilizing Process"?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Farida GADELHAK, Cairo University , Faculty of Arts, Egypt
This paper will explore visual representations of violence in contemporary movies (as Brave Heart, The Passion of the Christ, Kingdom of Heaven,….) in order to analyze the apparent paradox between a current context- which seems to privilege combat at a distance , considered as more “respectable”, and more “civilized”-, and a medium’s discourse - where direct violence is widely, extensively shown .And while media discourse tends to occult violent images, movie discourse seems to have adopted a “voyeuristic” tendency. Is it just a sort of nostalgia for fierce emotions that were experienced by our civilized societies in the past? Probably not. Through a semiotic analysis, this paper tries to question the relationship between the real world and a fictional one, focusing attention on the phenomenon of proliferation of direct violence in cinema, especially in films whose topics deal with conflicts and wars, and where protagonists are divided into two opposite groups: “the good guys” versus “the bad guys”, “us” versus “them”, “the civilized people” versus “the barbarian people”. The film industry is producing a huge number of violent scenes that remain in viewers’ minds, and may afterwards affect their behavior, reflecting negative impulses. Through decrypting discourse mechanisms in several cinematographic examples, the research aims to explore the impact of such representations on “the civilizing process”, for a better understanding of “civilization” as a notion.