A Political Economic Analysis Of "Sahara" And "Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe". High Distinction.

3136 words - 13 pages

A political economy approach to film places films within the context of the world and the market in which they are produced, enabling the study of how this context affects all aspects of a film - its production, distribution and reception. Ignoring this context in favour of a purely text-based approach can lead to a skewed analysis of a film. A political economy approach can be multidisciplinary, and inevitably includes considerations of film as a text in the overall analysis. Most importantly, a political economy approach allows for the recognition that cinema has two functions within global capitalism - an economic one, and an ideological one. While films (and film companies) have an economic value and exist to make profit, they also exist to "reproduce the world of the dominant ideology"1. This essay will draw on the school of thought developed by Walter Benjamin and elaborated by Jean-Luc Comolli and Jean Narboni, and focus on Sahara and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from here on, referred to as Narnia) to demonstrate both the economic and ideological functions of film within our society, how the content and the aesthetic aspects of films are a result of the dominant ideology from which they have emerged, and hence, how a narrative analysis can be complimented by a political economy approach by enabling us to interpret the ideological codes embedded within a film.Political economic film study can be defined as the study of films in the context of the industrial, capitalist structure. Where a narrative-based analysis of a film relies on defining the film as a text, cinema as a culture, the production of meaning, cultural value and using analysis and interpretation to gain an understanding of a film's values, a political economic approach views films as commodities, cinema as an industry, labour as a key component of production and puts emphasis on distribution, exhibition and consumption and the profit motivation of producing films. Janet Wasko comments:'Although analyzing the political economy of media is not sufficient to fully understand the meanings and impacts of media products, to many it is an indispensable point of departure. Especially for popular culture production, economic factors set limitations and exert pressures on the commodities that are produced (and influence what is not produced), as well as how, where, and to whom these products are (or are not) distributed.'2Although they are often described as art forms, films, essentially, are commodities "produced by labor and exchanged according to the laws of the market"3 and by film companies whose objective is to make profit. Sahara (2005, Breck Eisner) is exemplary of this, but is particularly interesting, as it failed to produce a profit. The leaked documents, including the film's budget, that were used in a 2007 court case involving the film's producers and the original novels' author show how the economic factors are crucial in determining...

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