Busy Bodies. Supporting Characters in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Stefanie Diekmann

6.15 PM

Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien

IFK Lecture Room 

Reichsratsstraße 17, 6th Floor 

What does it mean to be a supporting character in narrative cinema? Such figures are generally created to appear in various scenes and to contribute to the on-screen goings-on without ever being at the focus of the plot or the interaction. However, what exactly is it that supporting characters contribute to the interaction or to the plot, why has this contribution not been investigated more thoroughly, and why is the standard appreciation of a supporting character usually limited to the act of transforming them (if only temporarily) into protagonists? This lecture will investigate the function, dynamics and economy of supporting characters in classical Hollywood cinema through a closer reading of films including To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942), All About Eve (J. L. Mankiewicz, 1950), and The Country Girl (George Seaton, 1950), all centered on the backstage dramas of a theater production, and all linking the function of supporting characters to a specific profession.

Stefanie Diekmann is interested in visual images, their documentary function, and the relationship between different media. She also contributes regularly to art and film magazines. Currently she is ifk Senior Fellow.


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Lieven Gevaert Centre
KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts
Blijde Inkomststraat 21 pb 3313
B-3000 Leuven

Lieven Gevaert Centre
UC Louvain, Archéologie et d'histoire d'art
FIAL - Place Blaise Pascal 1 bte L3.03.13
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve