Towards a Psychological Theory of Close-ups

  • Per Persson


TOWARDS A PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY OF CLOSE-UPS: EXPERIENCING INTIMACY AND THREAT This article takes a functionalist perspective to cinema. It is insufficient only to describe textual features without awareness of how these function in co-operation with cultural-psychological-behavioural structures in the spectator. It is the experience of cinema a reception study seeks to elucidate. It is maintained that threat and intimacy are two generally widespread spectatorial effects of close-ups. The reason why these effects emerge might be explainable from a theory of personal space, which in social psychology refers to the intimate sphere surrounded by every individual regulating distance behaviour in interpersonal situations. This behavioural pattern is said to have two functions. In the protective function an intrusion into personal space warns the individual about potential threats and generates protective behaviour (backing off, leaving the situation). In the communicative function manipulating distance during conversation (for example by letting someone into your...