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Psychological time

The use of filming devices that, in the continuity of a motion-picture narrative, suggest not chronological time but time as it is perceived by a character's mind.

Psychological time is a term referring to the use of filming devices that, in the continuity of a motion-picture narrative, suggest not chronological time but time as it is perceived by a character's mind. A dissolve (see above) for example, most commonly reveals a passage of time when used within an ongoing scene. The dissolve, by tradition, serves to include intervening time and action. If however, a dissolve rather than a cut is used in continuous uninterrupted action, its unconventional placement carries psychological implications. Subjectively inspired psychodramas by experimental filmmakers, such as Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) by Maya Deren, often exploit the psychological dissolve for a mind's-time effect. Psychological time can also be suggested by the repeated use of a piece of the action. The condemned traitor's final, desperate effort in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) to reach his wife is conveyed in psychological time by a repeated telephoto shot of the man running down the road to his home. He appears suspended in time and place, which in fact he is; shortly after these shot repetitions, the viewer discovers that the traitor's entire flight has been a fantasy revealed through extended use of psychological time. Particularly engaging and sometimes bewildering use of psychological character perception occurs in Memento (2000), a film about a man who is searching for his wife's murderer. The search is complicated by the fact that the man has lost his short-term memory. Events come and go on the screen without their meaning being clear at the first revelation. Psychological time is a distinguishing element in Shane Carruth's 2013 experimental science-fiction film Upstream Color. Avoiding a well-made narrative structure, the plot of Upstream Color centers on a man and woman who are targets of parasitic engineering and whose lives dissolve into mental and psychological disarray. Time is rendered in abrupt, discontinuous fragments, with daily reality intermingling with mental apparitions and abstract imagery.

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Psychological time
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Last modified on April 17 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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