Munsterberg and Arnheim
Munsterberg and Arnheim have very similar views of cinema, art and the perceptions involved with viewing reality and art. Both theorists came from times when film was in need of defense as an artistic medium, and both came from the school of Gestalt psychology. These were big influences that led them both to form similar ideas on art, aesthetics, mental perception, reality, and film.
The purpose of art for both Munsterburg and Arnheim is the aesthetic qualities of the work itself, the consciousness of the medium itself and a lack of focus on the content of the medium. The use of the medium as an end in itself, a self contained work of beauty, is the characteristic of true art. Andrews explains by giving examples of works from other mediums that would not be considered real art, such as striptease in dance (Andrews 27). Munsterberg and Arnheim are in agreement here, but diverge when it comes to what exactly are the material elements of film. Munsterberg sees this as the mental process that takes place within the minds of the viewers while Arnheim believes it to be the negative qualities that film uses in order to differ and distance itself from reality (Andrews 28). These aspects of film, which Arnheim takes as the form of the medium, are similar to and overlap the properties that Munsterberg, as well as Arnheim, describe which distinguish cinema from reality and in turn justify its classification as a medium of art.
To be art, according to both Munsterberg and Arnheim, the medium must not strive to reproduce reality and must utilize and focus on those elements that draw attention upon itself rather than the content (Arnheim 183; Munsterberg 411). Andrews connects these thinkers to Kant and his ideas that the mental world, the noumenal, is where true beauty and true art resides (Andrews 21). It is the unique elements of film which remove reality and relate most closely to the mental realm that make it art. These elements are...