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How is the temporal composition of audiovisual images linked to different modes of affectivity? This volume examines this question with reference to screwball comedy. Films belonging to this classical Hollywood genre from the 1930s and 40s present fast-paced conversations full of repartee, wordplay, and linguistic acrobatics. Comedy and exhilaration are primarily shaped by how gestures, facial expressions, voices, and speech acts are embedded temporally in the cinematic image. In screwball comedies, the act of sensing is often fashioned in a contrastive-comical manner: interactions rife with strife and anger are made perceptible as the elegant dance of a couple’s movement. From such a perspective, Greifenstein inquires into the pivotal connection between movement and affectivity and fundamentally interrogates the relationship between speech acts, acting, and the film image. The book shows that the spectators’ feeling of elation and enjoyment in experiencing screwball comedies is tied less to narrative action than to the films’ aesthetic-expressive orchestration, timing, and embodied meanings.
Sarah Greifenstein, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).
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