"Bigger Than Life": The Close-up and Scale in the Cinema


ACLS Fellowship Program


Modern Culture and Media


This project investigates the way in which cinematic screen size and its corresponding scale have figured in the negotiation of the human body’s relation to space in modernity. It focuses its intensive analysis on the close-up, because it incarnates most visibly the issues surrounding the magnification of images, giganticism, and spectacle in mass culture of the twentieth century. The close-up is analyzed in relation to the violation and fragmentation of the human body, the special place of this shot in film theory, the excessiveness and exuberance of the historical discourse on the close-up, the fascination with the human face and its link to intersubjective processes, the organization of space in film, and exhibition values historically associated with the cinema.