Spectatorship and Identification in "Sleepless in Seattle".

Essay by happyhardcoreUniversity, Bachelor's September 2005

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Spectatorship in the cinema refers to the relationship between a film (its content, and how this content is portrayed), and the film's viewer (or spectator). The use of the term 'relationship' in cinematic spectatorship applies to the way a spectator acts in response to the content they see in the film. Filmmakers, when creating a film, are often looking for a specific response from their audience. For instance, the director of a horror film, such as Wes Craven's "Scream" (1996) and William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" (1973), attempt to make their audience scared, while directors of comedy films, for instance; Billy Madison (Tamra Davis, 1995) and "Mrs. Doubtfire" (Chris Columbus, 1993), make these films with the intention of making the audience laugh. This idea of a specific response from the audience, which is encouraged by a film is referred to by Hayward in 'Key Concepts in Cinema Studies' as a 'preferred reading' of a text (333).

Cinematic identification is a device used by filmmakers to encourage an audience to become more involved in the narrative and plot, and in doing so, encourage spectatorship. There are two types of cinematic identification; primary and secondary. Primary identification involves an audience's, or spectators, identification with the entire film as a whole. Secondary identification involves the audience or spectator identifying, or relating to, a specific character, or even a number of characters. The concept of spectatorship does not just apply to cinema, but across many media formats, including television, even books. The film "Sleepless in Seattle" (Nora Ephron, 1993) encourages spectatorship and identification of its audience with use of numerous devices.

"Sleepless in Seattle" maintains a number of Hollywood ideologies. An ideology is a system of beliefs shared by a particular social group. So a Hollywood ideology is a system...