Thursday, March 21, 2013


 In this artistic technique, a writer, poet, or painter takes common, everyday, or familiar objects and forces the audience to see them in an unfamiliar way or from a strange perspective.The literary theoretical term ‘defamiliarization’ is an English translation for Viktor Shklovsky’s Russian term ostranenie. Shklovsky coined the phrase in 1917 in his essay ‘Art as Technique’. Defamiliarization causes the audience to confront the object on a different level, elevating and transforming it from something ordinary or practical into work that is considered art. Shklovsky points out that Tolstoy’s Kholstomer is an example of defamiliarization because the narrator is a horse, making the work seem strange and “unfamiliar.” So, as I was thinking further on some other applications of defamiliarization in our culture. One example that came to my mind was the movie 300. This film is very intense and a great battle movie, but what made it so interesting to me was learning about the actual filming of the movie itself. The entirety of the film was done in front of a green screen. Thus, almost the whole movie is strictly special effects.
One of the main things that the visual production of this film does to the audience is that it draws their attention to the entire setting of the battle scenes. The characters almost protrude from the screen. The surrounding environment coincides with the mood of the battle. For example, when the Spartan soldiers fight the Immortals, the whole scene is dark, gray, and overcast caused the audience to take into account the entirety of the scene, not simply the fight. It defamiliarizes them to typical battle scenes from other films. Animal Farm is another example of defamiliarization because all of the characters are animals. Defamiliarization not only forces the audience to see Animal Farm as art, but allows the author and audience to distance them from the seriousness of the message so that the piece can be enjoyed as art and does not become just another political rant. This is true of all arts but perhaps particularly so of film since it is not made up of images drawn purely from the filmmaker’s imagination as it is in writing or painting but of images drawn from the world, and captured by a camera.

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