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Towards a General Economics of Cinema

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Abstract

James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, constitutes a problem for critical writing on cinema, offering to film theorists an implicit challenge to account for its exceptional status. The film warrants consideration simply because of its enormous commercial success, but the excessive scale of its production and reception also presents certain interesting obstacles to its critical or aesthetic appreciation. Critics and reviewers have claimed to be mystified by the attraction of ‘a special effects romp with laughable dialogue’ and this essay will explore this shortfall in critical response, since it highlights a blind spot in academic and journalistic discourses of film which are unable to account for the cinematic spectacle of Titanic as anything other than a reprehensible device for audience manipulation (Jones 1998, 10). José Arroyo’s account of the film, for instance, published shortly after its release, treats Titanic as representative of the decadence of contemporary commercial cinema that emphasises motion and spectacle at the expense of character and story. Thus, while Arroyo judges Titanic to be ‘among the best big-budget films of the past year’, he also asserts that it is nevertheless a bad film:

Keywords

Aesthetic Appreciation Film Theory Human Sacrifice Contemporary Capitalism Academy Award 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2007

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