Can you help me create a list of example of "Immersion Cinema"?
October 19, 2012 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me create a list of example of "Immersion Cinema"?

I just read Chuck Klosterman's article on the film "Room 237" which introduces the term "Immersion Cinema". I'm trying to create a list of other examples of this type of cinema.

"It's based on the belief that symbolic, ancillary details inside a film are infinitely more important than the surface dialogue or the superficial narrative. And it's not just a matter of noticing things other people miss, because that can be done by anyone who's perceptive; it's a matter of noticing things that the director included to indicate his true, undisclosed intention. In other words, it's not an interpretive reading — it's an inflexible, clandestine reality that matters way more than anything else. And it's usually insane."

The first thing that came to mind was Jay-Z's "On to the next one".
Of that list I think the video that best fits the criterion is this video. But, I would prefer talking--I think hearing someone voice is pretty crucial to the process.

Any help is much obliged!
posted by codybaldwin to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe check out Zizek's A Pervert's Guide to Cinema
posted by dydecker at 6:38 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Roger Ebert said this about Miyazaki's films a couple of times. This is from his review of "Spirited Away":

Not fond of computers, he draws thousand of frames himself, and there is a painterly richness in his work. He's famous for throwaway details at the edges of the screen (animation is so painstaking that few animators draw more than is necessary).
posted by jbickers at 6:59 PM on October 19, 2012

The "director's cut" of Bladerunner has a bunch of stuff like that in it. But that's because it tells a different story than the original theatrical release. (Fans of the movie know that the "director's cut" is the only true version to see.)

I could describe some of it, but it would be spoilers. Memail me if you want details.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:57 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would suggest you watch "The Hamster Factor", about the making of 12 Monkeys.
posted by cardioid at 8:21 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Coen Brothers' films are great for this concept. Try "A Serious Man" or "Barton Fink".

Also, Lynne Ramsey's "We Need to Talk About Kevin".
posted by effluvia at 8:39 PM on October 19, 2012

The phrase in the article is "Immersion Criticism," not "Immersion Cinema." From the rest of your question, it seems like you're not looking for films like "The Shining" which could be viewed through the lens of Immersion Criticism, but films like "Room 237" which are themselves works of Immersion Criticism. Is this correct?

If so, you might want to check out some of Mark Rappaport's films: Rock Hudson's Home Movies, From the Journals of Jean Seberg, and Color Me Lavender.
posted by Awkward Philip at 9:30 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for... Are you looking more for the conspiracy-theory-esque interpretations that makes big leaps in logic based on perceived patterns/shapes throughout a film? or more realistic analysis of details that the director obviously added?

For the latter...
Synecdoche, New York would be the equivalent to The Shining, except way more about the details and symbolism being at the heart of the film.
Articles like this would be the equivalent to Room 237 in that it highlights these details and puts them together with a hypothesis (that is very probable).
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:04 PM on October 19, 2012

There are a few different approaches that allow a film to have an undisclosed but important subtext.

A film can be a Roman à clef, literally "a novel with a key," where nonfictional characters or events are evoked within a fictional framework where their real-world counterparts are never referenced. Orson Welles, for example, never mentions William Randolph Hearst in Citizen Kane, and the film can be enjoyed without the viewer knowing who it is truly about. Perhaps there's also hidden meaning to the name Rosebud. The Master is a recent example of a plausible Roman à clef.

A film can be coded, where stylistic choices within a film (performances, readings, editing choices, timing) can comment on issues present in a film, such as gender, race, or sexuality, that are not explicitly discussed in the story itself. The films of Douglas Sirk, which were considered banal and overwrought at the time of their release, are now considered to be masterworks of ironic criticism. See also The Celluloid Closet.

Any number of science fiction or horror films are clearly allegorical without being particularly explicit about that allegory. Godzilla is about nuclear war. Planet of the Apes is about race relations. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man is about, uh, puberty. The Matrix is chock full of religious allegory. They Live has such a potent political allegory "hidden" in an alien invasion film that Jonathan Lethem wrote an entire book about it.

(The entire "Deep Focus" series of books focus on similar critical interpretations of these types of films.)

Finally, there are a rare group of films where symbolism provides an interwoven but separate narrative. Barton Fink, mentioned above, is one of the best examples of this - colorful occurrences that seem only tangentially related to the story come together to form a symbolic framework that provides a counterpoint to the movie's textual discussions of high and low art. Similar frameworks can be found in most of the Coens' movies. The films of Richard Kelly also tend to contain a tangle of symbols that form into what can be a completely separate narrative to the already labyrinthine plots of those films.

There's lots more out there, but that's all I can do for tonight.
posted by eschatfische at 12:55 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's based on the belief that symbolic, ancillary details inside a film are infinitely more important than the surface dialogue or the superficial narrative.

This is exactly how I read 2001: A Space Odyssey (not that there's much surface dialogue to begin with, but the sci-fi plot about alien-designed evolution accelerators is just a cover story).
posted by mediated self at 7:12 AM on October 20, 2012

In high school a couple of my friends watched Donnie Darko obsessively, like twice a week, convinced they were going to crack the code.

Also, I could see the films of Wes Anderson lending themselves to this sort of analysis, due to the sheer amount of visual data and detail in the frame, and the sense that everything is arranged carefully and deliberately.
posted by mediated self at 7:20 AM on October 20, 2012

Some of Nicholas Ray's films might fit the bill from your description. Oddly enough, one of the first films that popped into my mind was Can't Hardly Wait, which is not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but features a TON of stuff going on in the background that reflects the American teen culture of its time.
posted by Rykey at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2012

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