Humour in Film as a Method of Expression


Film Studies Benjamin Fondane Interwar Cinema Tararira Film Humour in Film Lost Movie Comedy Argentinian Cinema French Filmmaker

How to Cite

Baltag, V. (2021). Humour in Film as a Method of Expression. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(3), 98-109.


Living in a social world, we experience feelings and react to others’ feelings as they appear to us. For instance, we have all smiled since we were babies. The first “genuine” social smile typically occurs sometime between weeks 6 and 8, as a response to recognizing someone very special: Mom or Dad (Kail, V., Robert & Cavanaugh, John C., 2019). We see, we are happy, we smile. We are born with the desire to be happy.

Humankind has searched for different revelations of happiness, and this is how humour was born. From ancient times to the present day, humour has been an instrument of communication, a social behaviour that is an integral part of mass media and social interaction. Humour provides a reciprocal influence. It is a way to interpret information as well as a specific media that can be used to convey this information. What happens to the media once it is "infected" by humour? Does humour necessarily satisfy the need for entertainment? Can humour have a "serious face"? Is it true that "Humour is always a monopoly of the semi-literate" (McLuhan, 2016)?

This essay will explore the above-mentioned topics from the perspective of the humour applied in motion pictures, during the interwar era. It will specifically discuss the genre of satire using as a case study the humour found in Latin America during that time as evidenced in the movie Tararira, the film of Benjamin Fondane produced by Falma Film in Buenos Aires in 1936.


Abel, R. (1988). French film theory and criticism: A history/anthology, 1907-1939. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Andrews, D. (2013). Theorising Art Cinemas: Foreign, Cult, Avant-Garde and Beyond Austin. TX: University of Texas Press.

Armstrong, J. K. (2016). The history of ‘the laugh track’ says much about what the makers of television thought of their audiences [BBC Culture]. Retrieved from

Attardo, S. (1994). Linguistic theories of humor. Berlin; New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Avruch, K. (1998). Culture and Conflict Resolution. Washington DC: USIP Press.

Bakker, G. (2003). Entertainment Industrialized: The Emergence of the International Film Industry, 1890–1940. Enterprise & Society, 4(4), 579–585. doi: 10.1093/es/khg044

Beeny, L. (2009). The use and effects of humour in mediation (MA thesis). Portland State University, Portland.

Beray, P. (2006). Benjamin Fondane, au temps du poème [Benjamin Fondane, in the time of the poem]. Verdier.

Biancorosso, G. (2008). Sound. In P. Livingston & C. Plantinga (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film (pp. 260–267). London: Routledge.

Culpeper, J. (2001). Language and characterisation: People in plays and other texts. London: Longman.

Duma, D. (2018). Hypothesis on Tararira, Benjamin Fondane’s Lost Film. Close Up: Film and Media Studies, 2(1), 19–26.

Fernando, S., & Octavio, G. (1976). Towards a third cinema, movies and methods: An anthology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Finkielman, J. (1970). The Film Industry in Argentina: An Illustrated Cultural History. London: McFarland&Company Inc.

Fondane, B. (1929). “Presentación de films puros” ["Pure film presentation".]. Síntesis (Artes, Ciencias y Letras), (28. (In Spanish)).

Fondane, B. (1933). Cinema 33. Cahiers Jaunes, 4.

Fotiade, R. (1997). Pictures of the mind: Artuad and Fondane’s silent cinema. In S. Levy (Ed.), Surrealism: Surrealist Visuality (pp. 109–124). Edinburgh: Keele University Press.

Hanania, R. (1995). Midnight flight: One family’s experince of White Flight and the racial transformation of Chicago’s South Side (an online novel). Chicago: Ray Hanania.

Horton, A. (1991). Comedy/cinema/theory. Oxford: University of California Press.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2019). Human Development: A Life-Span View. Cengage Learning.

Martin, A. (2008). The psychology of humour. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

McCreaddie, M., & Wiggins, S. (2009). Reconciling the good patient persona with problematic and non-problematic humour: A grounded theory. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 46(8), 1079–1091. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2009.01.008

McGee, P. (1979). Humour, its origin and development. San Francisco: Freeman.

McLuhan, M. (2016). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Create.

Palmer, J. (1994). Talking humour seriously. London: Routledge.

Partington, A. (2006). The Linguistics of Laughter: A Corpus-Assisted Study of Laughter-Talk. London: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203966570

Richardson, M. (2006). Surrealism and Cinema. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Rist, P. H. (2014). Historical Dictionary of South American Cinema. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ruggiero, G. (1999). A Cultural History of Humour: From Antiquity to the Present Day. Edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1977. xii plus 264pp.). Journal of Social History, 32(3), 695–697. doi: 10.1353/jsh/32.3.695

Swart, S. (2009). “The Terrible Laughter of the Afrikaner”—Towards a Social History of Humor. Journal of Social History, 42(4), 889–917. doi: 10.1353/jsh/42.4.889

Turan, K. (2002). Sundance to Sarajevo: Film Festivals and the World They Made. In Sundance to Sarajevo. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press. doi: 10.1525/9780520930827

Zimmerman, Y. (2014). The avant-garde, education and marketing: The making of non-theatrical film cultural in interwar Switzerland. In M. Hagener (Ed.), The Emergence of Film Culture: Knowledge Production, Institution Building and the Fate of the Avant-Garde in Europe, 1919-1945 (pp. 199–226). Oxford: Berghahn.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.