Audiovisual Violence and Editorial Manipulation: The Relationship Between Violent Image-Content and Violent Image-Form

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


The principal aim of this thesis is to critically investigate conceptual and theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of violent audio-visual media, moving beyond the conventional foci on aesthetics, media effects, realism and so forth that have dominated scholarship regarding “film violence”. Film studies scholars routinely focus on violent act(s) depicted onscreen (what I refer to as image-content). In such discourse, the formal aspects that underpin the image-content are often ignored or demoted; for example, when formal aspects are referred to, they are used as a way of substantiating or developing points about narrative content. Furthermore, by prioritizing image-content and conflating content with form, scholars who describe images as ‘violent’ often ignore the wider conceptual problems and tensions that arise out of the relationship between image-form and image-content. This thesis explores those tensions by examining the work of contemporary filmmakers and audio-visual artists.

I posit that the prevailing conception of “film violence” is inadequate. Image-content—fictional representations of murder, for example—are usually prioritized as the main source of “violence” because such acts are inherently disruptive (they disturb at moral and social levels). Consequently, it appears that the prevailing scholarship is routinely sidetracked into discussions of spectacle. I argue that it is possible to develop scholarly discussion of “film violence” by expanding our conception of violence. Rather than prioritizing violence depicted in films (image-content), it is also necessary to account for the violence done to film: manipulations of image-form, including processes such as film editing, effects work, narrative construction, and institutional regulation. The thesis moves from a micro-level analysis of prevalent editorial and structural impositions—controlled montage, serial flash editing, digital glitch, conventions of documenting real-events—to wider macroscopic concerns related to discourses of censorship and regulation. In doing so, our conceptual understanding of ‘violence’ in contemporary audio-visual media is interrogated and reassessed.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Jones, Steve, Supervisor, External person
  • Sexton , Jamie , Supervisor, External person
Award date31 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


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