Full Text

Realism in Film and Photography

Theo van Leeuwen

Subject Art
Communication Studies » Visual and Non-verbal Communication

Key-Topics film

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


From its very beginnings, photography was understood and experienced in terms of its capacity for realism. “It is not merely the likeness which is precious … but the sense of nearness involved in the thing … the fact of the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever,” wrote Elizabeth Barret in 1843 (quoted in Sontag 1977 , 183). Soon it would be used to record events and document many aspects of the world, not just in people's family albums, but also in science, medical training, police work, military reconnaissance, and many other spheres of activity. Yet photography also developed into an art form, with highly allegorical tableaux vivants that “combined the sensuous beauty of the fine print with the moral beauty of the fine image” (Mike Weaver, quoted in Wells 2000 , 262). In the twentieth century both these aspects of photography would continue to develop: documentary photography and →  photojournalism with masters such as Erich Salomon, Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank; and photography as a form of modern art with, for instance, the formal, quasi-abstract landscapes of Edward Weston and the nudes of Bill Brandt. In a similar way film started both as a medium for capturing reality and as a new form of theatre (→  Film as Popular Culture ). As the Lumière brothers sent cameramen across the world to record sites of interest including The Grand Canal of Venice , ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top