Gestalt Theory and Film

In conceptualizing his epoch-making monograph on “Film as Art”, Rudolf Arnheim was directly influenced by Gestalt theory in Berlin. In his main discussion of the Gestalt theory of film – the completion of which coincided with the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany – Arnheim proposed the thesis that “the very properties that make photography and film fall short of perfect reproduction can act as a necessary mold of artistic impression”. Thus artistic vision comes from the difference between “real image” and “artistic image”. What Arnheim considered to be a starting point for a “material theory” of film has been pursued in psychological concepts of film as a medium of psychological experience or expression. Contemporary Gestalt concepts of film (like “psychological morphology” in Germany) operate both on the specific (“material”) characteristics of film reception and on the Gestalt means of artistically made movies.