Ideology in Film 1

Unit Ten
Facts about Ideology
Ideology is a body of ideas reflecting the social
needs and aspirations of and individual, group,
class, or culture
Ex) politics, social issues, morality, ethics
They are slanted, given the ideas of the director
We can classify films into three groups of varying
Facts about Ideology
Neutral- Light entertainment films where issues/ideologies are
superficial and not the main point of the movie
Implicit- The protagonist and antagonist represent two conflicting
sets of values. However, what he characters stand for is inferred
and the moral is not really spelled out
Explicit- These films aim to persuade us one was or the other. They
are highly slanted. Examples are political films, many
documentaries, or political films.
History of Ideology
Originated from the time of the French Revolution
The word was first coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796
Ideology was then continued on by Karl Marx and Friedrich
The concept of ideology was further expanded on by Italian
Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) with his
finding of the term hegemony, which states that the power of
ideology stems from consent
History of Ideology in Film
Gransci’s idea of hegemony can be seen in the use of film;
films with ideologies require the consent or agreement of its
viewers in order to make a connection between ideas and
the viewer
Film director legend Alfred Hitchcock introduced his own
ideologies in his films, a notable example being his theme of
“voyeurism,” or looking into other people’s lives without them
knowing. This can be seen in how he portrays his audiences for
his films as “peeping toms,” reflected in his famous movie
“Psycho,” during the scene of Norman Bates peeping on
Marion Crane.
One of the most infamous examples of ideology in film can be
seen during the rise of the Soviet Union to spread the idea of
Ideologies were used in propaganda films and individualism
was considered the “villain” of the films, while the community
and working class was portrayed as the “hero” (explicit films)
History of Ideologies in Film
In the early 1920 to the mid 1950s, ideology was apparent in
western films as the concept of good vs. evil; the protagonist
represented goodness by his cleanliness and good manners
while the antagonist was the manifestation of evil, seen by his
ugly features and cruel actions.
Now in present-day films ideologies can be reflected by the
characters’ own beliefs and mindsets
Ideologies in Films
Left wing vs. Right wing:
Right Wing: A set of ideological values, typically conservative in
emphasis, stressing such traits as family values, patriarchy, heredity
and caste, absolute moral and ethical standards, religion, veneration
for tradition and the past, a tendency to be pessimistic about the
future and human nature, the need for competition, and
identification with leaders and elite classes, nationalism, open market
economic principals, and marital monogamy
Ideologies in Films: Politics
Left Wing: A set of ideological values,
typically liberal in emphasis, stressing such
traits as equality, the importance of
environment in determining human behavior,
relativism in moral matters, emphasis on the
secular rather than religion, an optimistic view
of the future and human nature, a belief in
technology as the main propellant of
progress, cooperation rather than
competition, an identification with the poor
and the oppressed, internationalism, and
sexual and reproductive freedom.
Ideologies in Films: Politics
In many films the ideologies of left wing vs. right wing can be
apparent through many different forms, some more
transparent than others
Soviet Union films were often disguised propaganda, filled
with political nuances and ideas. An example would the
animated short “The Millionaire,” released in 1963 by V.
Bordzilovsky. Within the short, the message of the evil of high
social class is disguised in a humorous cartoon about a dog
who inherits its owner’s money
More examples of
ideology in film
Environment vs. Heredity- The idea that one’s behavior is directly
influenced by external forces, such as our physical and mental
situations versus character being largely genetic and inherited. This
ideology can be seen being explored by the film “The Iron Giant.”
Iron Giant: You Are Who You Choose To Be
Mulan's Choice
Relative vs. Absolute- Films displaying these ideologies show
families or individuals with strong feelings on making judgments,
such as an individual having loose and adjustable morals and
beliefs as shown in the film “The Dark Knight” by the villain TwoFace ; on the other side there are individuals who must follow strict
moral codes for the rest of their lives, as shown in the Disney film
Mulan: You'll Bring Honor to Us All
The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent
More examples of
ideology in film
Outsiders vs. Insiders- Leftists identify with the poor and often
romanticize rebels and outsiders, while rightists often side with the
Establishment, or people in leadership. An example in film of these
ideologies would the “The Hunger Games.”
Rebellion of District 11
Feminism- Ever since the 1960s, the idea of feminism and female
empowerment has been seen in many films, with strong female
protagonists capable of handling anything that their male
counterparts can. Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow in “The
Avengers” is one such character. Another example of female
empowerment is the “Hurt Locker,” not because there is a strong
female character, but because the director, Kathryn Bigelow,
showed the film industry that a female director is as skilled at
creating stellar action films as males.
Merida's Archery
Black Widow Kicks Butt
More examples of
ideology in film
Homosexuality- Inspired by other revolutionary groups such as
feminism, the homosexuality movement accelerated forward in the
world of film. As a result of the movement, many actors and
directors have decided to make movies addressing the topic to the
rest of the world. One notable movie of this topic is “Brokeback
Brokeback Mountain: Lovers
Cooperation vs. Competition- Leftists believe that social progress is
best achieved by working as a community, while people on the
right support the belief that true progress comes from open market
principles and that competition brings out the best in everyone. An
example of a movie that shows cooperation as ideal is “Finding
Nemo,” in the fishnet rescue scene; similarly, the film “Pirates of
Silicon Valley” shows competition as the driving force of success.
Finding Nemo Net
Silicon Valley
Works Cited
"Film_and_ideology." Film_and_ideology. Web. 18
Sept. 2014.
CONTEMPORARY MEDIA." Film and Ideology by
John Hess. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.
"Ideology." Ideology. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

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