Aristotle (Poetics) : 6 Elements/Principles

Structure :

1. Plot

2. Character

3. Thought

Texture :

4. Language

5. Music

6. Spectacle


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Theory of Spectatorship
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Opsis [W] Opsis comes from the ancient Greek for "appearance, sight, view" ...



Film & Video Directing (Spring 2004): textbook Grammar of the Film Language by Daniel Arijon

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Aristotle's use of the term opsis, as Marvin Carlson points out, are the "final elements of tragedy" as outlined by Aristotle, but "receive no further consideration". [2] Aristotle discusses opsis in book 6 of the poetics, but only goes as far as to suggest that "spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet" [W].


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Spectacle = SHOW

Shakespeare - Theatre with Anatoly
All languages of stage can be placed into three categories. This gives us the "how."
a. visual means
b. verbal (includes aural) means
c. kinesthetic means

SPECTACLE is the last principle in Aristotle's Poetics, defining the drama' essence. Show, we say. Or - film!

Is it structural or textural principle? "Form" or "meaning"?

The process: from the text to the show: HamletDreams, secret life of the live show.

Tasks and production periods: pre-production and production (see Film Production)

Visualization of Drama (use UAF shows). Conflict, ideas (meaning) --> forms.

Director's Mind and Eye: vision!

Why do I need to stage this show TODAY? History and our present. Our problem and eternal issues. Personal (why this is important? maybe most important). Social frame of references.

Concept: idea of interpretation (new meaning). Director as a first spectator.

Director and Actors, Actors and Text. Cast Idea.

Problems as creative challenges. Artistic Choices: Right and Wrong. Strong choices. "No-choice choice" = mis-directing.

Idea > Concept > Text > Design > Actors > Spectacle
The Product
Lesson #
60 or 90 min

1. review (previous class)

2. overview

3. new key terms & definitions

4. viewing film segments

5. issues & topics

6. questions, discussion, analysis

7. in class work

8. feedback

9. improv & games

10. reading

11. homework

12. online, journals

13. quiz

Links homework

Class Project (after the midterm)

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare


Spectacle is a sum of many languages: performance, directing, designs (set, costumes, light, sound, prop).

What is "mise-en-scene"? Blocking: between text, set (space) and actors.



Who is your favorite film director? What is your favorite movie? Describe the camerawork style in it.


Aristotle serves as the intro to many classes (even in the upperdivision courses I have to have a review to know that the students do know the basics). Only by the end of this class I understood that Spectator and spectatorship should and could be the central categories for THIS course!

Film = Theatre + Art + Music

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