Ian is currently engaged in research for a Film PhD by practice at Lancaster University .
Research Title: Collective Memory: Exploring the phenomenology of Dementia patients through documentary film and reconnecting them to past memories.
What is collective memory?
Collective memory is the term for the memories of a group of people who have collected them through shared social experiences.
The term “Collective Memory” was first advanced by Hugo Van Hofmannstal in 1902. (Olick and Robbins, 1998: 106)
French philosopher and sociologist Maurice Halbwachs analysed and advanced the concept of the collective memory in the seminal book La mémoire collective (1950)
Durkheim discussed how each new generation is connected to the past; as they are taught about history, memories carry forward. Durkheim focused more on social memory. He also asserted that as a people we needed to have a connection to prior generations, and that we seek to repeat previous actions in order to relate to the past.
Russell Kilbourn in his book Cinema, memory, modernity: The representation of memory from the art film to transnational cinema said, since its inception, cinema has evolved into not merely a ‘reflection’ but an indispensable index of human experience – especially our experience of time’s passage, of the present moment, and, most importantly perhaps, of the past, in both collective and individual terms.
Cinema can become embedded into the collective memory of people and society, across boundaries and cultures. Individuals collectively remember, forget, and recall events, people, places, has been a prominent topic of research on collective memory. However, the notion of collective memory as a socially generated common perception of an event itself has been introduced and studied only recently. (R. García-Gavilanes) The relationship between film and collective memory is under-researched, unlike films that have memory central to its narrative for example amnesia, collective memory and Cinema has been largely ignored as a research subject.
Film viewing list – Experimental Film
The production of Experimental Film as a representation of memory
There are many examples of films that have human memory central to the narrative, the examples below have some credibility in Psychological fact according to the neuroscientist Steve Ramirez. (BU Today 2018)
Memento is one of the most realistic accounts of amnesia — the inability to form or recall our personally experienced events
Inside Out is a Pixar classic that zooms into a child’s brain and lets us see her memories form, change, and evaporate over time as she matures
The Bourne Trilogy (which starts with The Bourne Identity) is a fast-spaced action series about Jason Bourne, an agent with amnesia who knows how to win any fight, but doesn’t remember who he is or where he came from.
Inception is a mind-bending film on implanting and extracting memories in the brain, done with high-octane drama and a twisting, dream-like storyline.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is perhaps the most famous memory erasure movie ever. Would you erase the memory of a loved one after a breakup if it eased the pain?
Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 — a classic and instant-classic — tackle the concepts of implanting memories in human-like robots.
The Matrix is another classic. “I know Kung Fu,” says Neo, after having martial arts skills uploaded into his brain. The movie tackles the philosophical questions of brains, free will, uploading information onto the brain, and how this changes us forever.
Total Recall has the main character going into a machine where he can live out any reality or fantasy that he sees fit. Things get blurry, however, when reality and fantasy start to blend and force viewers to ask themselves: if our subjective reality feels real, then does it matter if it’s real or not?
The digital revolution in archival media opens up access to previously unknown images and provides the possibility that these images could broaden and transform collective memory. (B. Fabos)
BU Today. (2018). 8 Brainy Movies That (Almost) Get Neuroscientist Stamp of Approval | BU Today | Boston University. [online] Available at: http://www.bu.edu/today/2018/ramirez-listicle/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].
Bettina Fabos (2014) The Trouble with Iconic Images: Historical Timelines and Public Memory, Visual Communication Quarterly, 21:4, 223-235
Avant-garde Films that lived through time. film viewing list
Meshes of the Afternoon – Alexandr Hackenschmied, Maya Deren – 1943
Dog Star Man – Stan Brakhage – 1961-1964
Scorpio Rising – Kenneth Anger – 1963
Julien Donkey Boy – Harmony Korine – 1999
The Heart of the World – Guy Maddin – 2000
Inland Empire – David Lynch – 2006
Documentary film viewing list
Land of Promise - British Documentary Film Movement 1930 – 1950 (BFI. 4 Disk DVD Boxset) 40 films by Directors; Paul Rotha, Humphrey Jennings, Ruby Grierson, Basil Wright and Paul Dickson.
Film & Memory (Top 25 film viewing list)
Rashôman (1950), Akira Kurosawa
Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959), Alain Resnais
Vertigo (1958), Alfred Hitchcock
Wild Strawberries (1958), Ingmar Bergman
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Michel Gondry
Three Colors: Blue (1993), Krzysztof Kieślowski
The Mirror (1975), Andrei Tarkovsky
Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), John Ford
Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles
How Green Was My Valley (1941), John Ford
Memento (2000), Christopher Nolan
The Tree of Life (2011), Terrence Malick
2046 (2004), Wong Kar-wai
Solaris (1972), Andrei Tarkovsky
Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Alain Resnais
The Sweet Hereafter (1997), Atom Egoyan
The Thin Blue Line (1988), Errol Morris
Certified Copy (2010), Abbas Kiarostami
8 1/2 (1963), Federico Fellini
The Manchurian Candidate (1962), John Frankenheime
The Act of Killing (2012), Joshua Oppenheimer
La Jetée (1962), Chris Marker
The Remains of the Day (1993), James Ivory
Mulholland Drive (2001), David Lynch
Admin, 2015. Avant-Garde. Film Theory. Available at: http://filmtheory.org/avant-garde/ [Accessed April 10, 2019].
Anon, British documentary. BFI Film Forever. Available at: https://shop.bfi.org.uk/dvd-blu-ray/documentaries/british-documentary.html [Accessed April 10, 2019].
Holt, R., 2015. Top 25 Films on Memory. Image Journal. Available at: https://imagejournal.org/top-25-films-on-memory/ [Accessed April 28, 2019] Continue reading "Film viewing list"
Collective Memory Film a Reading List
Collective Memory Film a Reading List
Reading list for collective memory, film and dementia. This list will be added to over the year.
Ashuri T (2007) Television tension: national versus cosmopolitan memory in a co-produced television documentary. In: Media, Culture, Society 29 (1): pp. 31-51.
Assmann J (1995) Collective memory and cultural identity. In: New German Critique 65: pp.125-133.
García-Gavilanes, R. et al., 2017. The memory remains: Understanding collective memory in the digital age. Science Advances. Available at: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/4/e1602368.full [Accessed March 22, 2019
Halbwachs M. (1992) On Collective Memory. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
John W. Berry, Ype H. Poortinga, Marshall H. Segall, Pierre R. Dasen (2008) Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2nd edn., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Olick, Jeffrey and Robbins, Joyce. (2003). Social Memory Studies: From “Collective Memory” to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices. Annual Review of Sociology. 24. 105-140. 10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.105.
Olick, Jeffrey K.; Vinitzky-Seroussi, Vered; Levy, Daniel (2011). The Collective Memory Reader. Oxford University Press.
Kilbourn, Russell J. A. Cinema, Memory, Modernity: The Representation of Memory from the Art Film to Transnational Cinema. Routledge, 2013.
Neiger M, Meyers O and Zandbert E (2011) On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age. UK, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan Publishers.
Whitford, Steve. “From Practice to Praxis: Reflections on Filmmaking Pedagogy in the Age of Creative Industries.” Cinema Journal - Teaching Dossier (2018): n. pag. Print.
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