Film and telephony: the evolution of cinematic communication

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University of Alabama Libraries

The effects mobile technologies have had on world culture are profound. The accessibility to interpersonal communication in nearly any environment has created a society driven by instantaneous access to information. For the purposes of this study, the cinema was used as a lens through which to view the effects of not only mobile technology, but also telephony as a whole. Sixteen films from three film genres (horror, gangster, and action/adventure) were examined to understand the effects that telephony has had on cinematic narrative. The films chosen, in the order discussed below, are When a Stranger Calls; (1979), Scream; (1996), When a Strange Calls; (2006), One Missed Call; (2008) Scarface; (1932), G-Men; (1935), The Big Sleep; (1946), Goodfellas; (1990), The Departed; (2006), Die Hard; (1988), Die Hard 2; (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance; (1995), Speed; (1994), The Bourne Identity; (2002), The Bourne Supremacy; (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum; (2007). Specific scenes from each case study were broken down to understand the variations in film narrative made possible through different communication media. Each genre is approached from a historical standpoint, with the earlier films in each category using older methods of communication (e.g., telegraph, telephone, walkie-talkie, and pager) and the latter examples relying heavily on the cell phone. This thesis examines the case studies from a genre and narrative theoretical standpoint, while also discussing cultural issues in conjunction with literature focused on the effects of innovations and mobile technology. This analysis explains the effects that telephony has had on the cinema. Telephony has been an essential component of film narrative going back to the silent era and it is imperative to understand how these two widely used forms of technology have evolved together.

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Film studies, Mass communication