The Use of Cinematic Devices to Portray Mental Illness
AbstractCreative practices that deal with the representation of mental illness potentially have significant social value and relevance; one of these practices is filmmaking and narrative cinema. A film that has recently increased awareness of mental health issues is Silver Linings Playbook (2012). It deals with a family coping with the return of their son, who is being treated for bipolar disorder. “The film gave a fresh face and voice to this issue,” said Patrick Kennedy, cofounder of the brain-research organization One Mind for Research (Levin). It garnered multiple awards with the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence receiving an Oscar for her performance. She used this opportunity to speak out on issues around mental health, “It's just so bizarre how in this world if you have asthma, you take asthma medication. If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medication. But as soon as you have to take medicine for your mind, it's such a stigma behind it" (Paine). As a media form, ‘conventional’ cinema bears the weight of narrative and genre conventions, both inherent in audience expectations and the filmmakers’ desire to ‘entertain,’ whilst breaking even at the box office. Media critics of the anti-stigma discourse are increasingly bringing our attention to stigmatizing portrayals. However, there are few resources available for filmmakers regarding ‘how’ to approach faithfully portraying mental illness in the dramatic format of narrative cinema. This research therefore sets out to explore the representation of symptoms associated with mental illness in film, by citing research and commentary relevant to a body of existing films and including specific filmic devices. The findings reveal the fact that there is a significant need for further research into how filmmakers might more faithfully portray symptoms of mental illness in conventional cinema.
How to Cite
Authors who submit articles to this journal agree to the following terms:
1. Authors are responsible for ensuring that any material that has influenced the research or writing has been properly cited and credited both in the text and in the Reference List (Bibliography). Contributors are responsible for gaining copyright clearance on figures, photographs or lengthy quotes used in their manuscript that have been published elsewhere.
2. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License that allows others to share and adapt the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
3. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository, or publish it in a book), with proper acknowledgement of the work's initial publication in this journal.
4. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (see The Effect of Open Access or The Open Access Citation Advantage). Where authors include such a work in an institutional repository or on their website (i.e., a copy of a work which has been published in eTropic, or a pre-print or post-print version of that work), we request that they include a statement that acknowledges the eTropic publication including the name of the journal, the volume number and a web-link to the journal item.
5. Authors should be aware that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License permits readers to share (copy and redistribute the work in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the work) for any purpose, even commercially, provided they also give appropriate credit to the work, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. They may do these things in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests you or your publisher endorses their use.