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Henry Bacon

George Henry Aslak Bacon
Born December 4, 1957, Helsinki

BA and Phil.lic. 1990 (Theatre Studies), PhD 1994 (Theatre Studies) University of Helsinki

Professor of Film and Television Studies, University of Helsinki (2004-)
Head of Projects, Finnish Film Archives 2003-04
Finnish Film Archives, researcher (1999-2003)
Theatre Studies docent, University of Helsinki  (1995-)
Film and Television Studies programme, Study Co-ordinator (1996-), acting Senior Assistant (1994) and acting Adjunct Professor, University of Oulu’s Arts and Anthropology Department (1995-98).

Bacon has also been a University teacher in the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy, as well as a freelance journalist.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research areas: Audiovisual narratology, film’s relation to other art forms, transnational film history, the appeal of filmic violence, the actor in film, and the history of opera.

Awards and achievements
The State Award for Public Information  2006 for Seitsemäs taide – elokuva ja muut taiteet (’The seventh art. Film and other art forms’)
Knight, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland (6.12.2007)

Photo: Mika Federley
Authors: Henry Bacon and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.).
Translated by John Calton, Mira Apell, Anna-Maria Jukarainen and Henry Bacon. Revised by John Calton.

Understanding film and the world

Henry Bacon completed his degree in the University of Helsinki in theatre studies, with musicology as a subsidiary subject. Alongside his studies, Bacon pursued his interests in literature and art. To understand film, it is necessary to study different art forms, because film-making has always co-opted ideas and techniques from other forms of art.  Equally, a considerable grounding in history and society is important for an understanding of the various functions that film can fulfil. All this was necessary when Bacon got down to his first research topic, the films of the Italian aristocrat and cultural figure, Luchino Visconti, who had adopted a Marxist world-view.

It was through Visconti's art that Professor Bacon developed an interest in adaptation: how different forms of art interact with each other and what happens, for example, to a literary work when it is adapted for the cinema. From there on, Bacon began to consider just how a film leads us, the viewers, to create an imaginary world and the story within it. One of the most fascinating dimensions of this process is the actor’s work in building a character and the deliberate cinematic techniques employed to this end.

An essential reference group in Bacon’s research is the international cognitive film researchers' community. Their interest is to find out how observing the world and film interact one with the other. The allure of many films is based on the fact that we are able to watch depictions of events that we wouldn't tolerate in reality. One of Bacon's most challenging projects has been to explain why something as scary and repulsive as violence is so central to our art and entertainment.

Photo: Botschaft von Finnland in Berlin​.​​


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