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Psycho (1960)

On Novemeber 10th, we watched Psycho. Though I thought this was going to be filled with gruesome horror scenes, there weren’t many of those until the end when we saw the mother’s skeleton. The film was filled with techniques to aid in increasing the suspense and a prominent level of foreshadowing.

Two techniques were used throughout the film to build suspense. These were sound and light. The sound throughout the whole movie was dark and suspenseful. This helped foreshadow the shower scene and the scene with the mother’s skeleton being shown.  Also, throughout the movie, there was very little light, except the shower scene of course. Most, if not all of the scenes leading to the shower scene were somewhat dark, leading up to the vividly lit shower scene. This change in lighting portrays the importance to the shower scene.

There is a strong representation of human conflict in the scene where Marion and Norman are eating in his office. First off he tells Marion, “I think we’re all in our private traps.” At this exact moment, I think I had a feeling that Norman was his mother and he lived with a split personality disorder.

A few questions that remained with me the whole film were if the dead animals in Norman’s office were a symbol, or perhaps foreshadowing what was to come? Also, what was the significance to Norman telling Marion, “you eat like a bird”? Could it be that he was foreshadowing that he was going to kill her, like he killed the stuffed birds in his office?

Written On The Wind (1956)

On November 3rd we watched Written On The Wind a drama/romance directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956. Although I felt this film progressed too slowly for me, I was able to spot some truly significant cinematographic techniques used by the director.

Firstly, I noticed that this film started in a way unlike any others that we watched before. This film started from the end and went forward, which I found to be an unusual way to start a film, but it still made sense and was enjoyable for the most part. At the beginning of the film I noticed a calendar flipping its pages. This was used to symbolize the manipulation of time and show time progression. I think this is key in a film that begins in such a way because this is what shows the audience that you have started the film from the end. The flashback at the beginning of the film also aided in portraying the unconventional start of the film.

The next thing that became apparent to me in this film was the portrayal of the femme fatal throughout the film and the “tempting” themes of the film. Lucy was always shown wearing revealing clothing throughout the film. I remember, there is one scene where Lucy is shown wearing a red dress and sitting in her red car. I believe red is the color of the femme fatal in this film because red is such a bold and daring color. Also, the “tempting” themes of the film become apparent in the scene where Lucy opens the door, leaves the part, and steps into a private room to speak with Mitch. I think this portrays temptation because, again it seems daring and bold that a woman would leave a party and enter a dark room with a man. This is especially significant considering this was unconventional during those times. Also, I think, if I’m not mistaken, that anything insinuating something sexual was deemed “un-lady like” during those times.

By the end of the film, I was left with some questions. First, what was the significance of the number twenty-one throughout the film? Also, why was there a shot that seemed as if the director pointed the camera into a mirror? What was the significance of that shot? Lastly, what did the line: “about your marriage: you have my condolences” indicate? Was it supposed to be sarcastic?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Right after the midterm, we viewed Invasion of the Body Snatchers directed by Don Siegel in 1956. At first, I did not really think I was going to enjoy Invasion of the Body Snatchers because it was kind of a Sci-Fi movie, but after the first ten minutes or so I realized this isn’t just any ordinary sci-fi movie, it is filled with horror, action, and thrill.

The first thing I noticed while watching this film was that the use of shadows every time a dead person was unveiled. Could this be foreshadowing what they would become? Could it just be added to the film for the sole purpose of creating more mystery? I think it’s a little of both because while it does create mystery, we don’t really know what the people turn into until later on.

The second thing I noticed was the use of frame within a frame throughout the movie. Whenever there was a door within the picture, there was a window as well. The director probably used this technique in order to create more space. This is easily seen in the scene where Miles walks out the door onto his porch/greenhouse and sees dozens of green pods spread out. Before he discovers the green pods, we see the door and many windows, and only after that does the director focus on the dozens of green pods because he has already created the sense of space in the viewers’ minds.

I think the lighting aided the film in a major way. Because the film was meant to be mysterious, almost every shot was dark. Again, this lighting can be viewed in the scene where Miles is gazing at the dozens of green pods on his porch/greenhouse. The lighting in the scene is dark enough so that it adds mystery, but not too dark since we can still see the green pods.

Overall, I rooted for Miles and Becky the whole movie because they are the only ones who did not want to accept change and it’s not just because they were being hardheaded, but they felt it was wrong for them. They withstood the peer pressure of giving in till the end, and eventually Becky gave in. But that just proves Miles to be a very strong character in the film. Even when he went to that doctor’s office outside of town, they looked at him as if he were crazy but he never gave up until they believed him.

Film Analysis – Memories of Underdevelopment (1969)

The film I chose for my analysis piece is Memories of Underdevelopment. The film is a drama directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea in 1969. The scene I am analyzing is the one in which Sergio walks out the door onto his patio and begins to gaze at the street through a telescope. This experimental film technique of the telescopic view allows the director to characterize Sergio.

The clip begins with Sergio exiting his room and entering his patio through a door. This door creates what we call frame within a frame because the use of rectangular frames shows a much larger area. We then go on to see him looking through a telescope, and here something extraordinary, unlike anything ever seen before this time period, occurs. This would be the telescopic view. The telescopic view is an experimental film technique created not by looking through the lens of a camera, but by looking through the lens of a telescope, therefore limiting the onscreen space. It allows for a circular view of the subject or subjects. Because the telescope is focused on the street and seems distant from Sergio, whom we just saw up close, it provides the audience with the thought that Sergio could be separating himself from the rest of Cuba. This, in turn, tells a lot about his character. Because we see that he is on a patio and looking down below, we could say that he is powerful, and reclusive.

After looking out into the street, Sergio then moves the telescope through what we can call a newsreel kind of view, in which he gazes over the city at such a fast pace that we barely catch a glimpse of the whole thing. The next line Sergio says explains exactly why the director chose to incorporate that newsreel kind of view into the scene. He says, “Here everything is the same.” By Sergio saying this, we understand that it was not essential for the audience to see all of the different places in the city that he was gazing at because they were all pretty much the same in Sergio’s view. So, seeing the first view of the street was enough for us to envision what the rest of the city was like. This again, enables the director to characterize Sergio as someone who is bored with his surroundings, and bitter about it. The characterization of Sergio is key to the film as a whole because the whole film revolves around his character and the development of his story.

This film portrays many cinematographic elements that appeared in the 1960’s. Firstly, as Sergio is looking through the telescope down on the street, he doesn’t say anything but just watches people and their activities. This kind of filming refers to the new realistic documentary style of filming that came about during this time period. This style is defined as “filming people in their natural environments, and letting events unfold before the camera.” This is also the type of style Dziga Vertov would call “film truth”. Another new element we see when he gets a close up of the lady laying down on the beach chair would be the zoom lens. This is a new type of lens that came out during the 1960’s that allowed for a director to provide close-up shots of far away objects. Lastly, and most importantly, seeing the surroundings through the eye of a telescope was fairly new as well. This ties in with the loose shooting styles that came about during the 1960’s. Before, we would be able to see the surroundings only through a rectangular camera lens, which would provide us with a larger focus area. But now, with the telescopic view, we are able to minimize the focus into a mere oval shaped view.

The new experimental and radical filming and editing techniques that were presented during the 1960s definitely aided this director and many more to come in making their films more complex and intricate.

Extra Credit Clip Analysis 3 – Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Different Clip)

http://movieclips.com/XcKs-breakfast-at-tiffanys-movie-ten-dollars-at-tiffanys/

The clip Ten Dollars at Tiffany’s from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s is quite intriguing. The Academy Award winning film Breakfast at Tiffany’s is directed by Blake Edwards and distributed by Paramount Pictures in 1961. The use of frame within a frame, deep focus, and a close up allows for the scene to not only be more dramatic, but also appear to have more depth.

Upon the characters’ entrance into the Tiffany store, we are able to see a revolving door in the background and many counters in the foreground. The use of such a technique called frame within a frame, or the use of rectangular frames to show a much larger area, permit the audience to view the store much larger than it is and provide the viewers with more off-screen space. Off-screen space can be identified as the world that exists beyond the frame. The director Ozu, also used this framing technique in his earlier Japanese films. The use of this framing technique aids this clip in seeming more dramatic and insinuating more than is shown. For example, as Holly (Audrey Hepburn) walks through the revolving door and says, “Don’t you just love it?” and when asked “love what?” by her company answers “Tiffany’s”, it enables the viewers to make a generalization that all Tiffany’s stores are organized with a revolving door entrance and many counters filled with jewelry, when in fact they are not, some have sliding doors, some have numerous floors, etc.

The use of such a technique called deep focus, or, a shot that allows the viewers to see the near and far equally clear, permits the audience to see the whole Tiffany’s store and not only the part of the store our characters are in. This in turn creates off-screen space, because viewers like ourselves are able to imagine that the store continues on past what we see in the camera lens. Deep focus is crucial to this scene because it permits the viewers to ponder the idea that the store Tiffany’s might symbolize Holly’s dreams and fantasies, due to its vastness.

By the end of the scene, we see a close-up of both Holly and her company as they walk of the screen. This again provides us with the off-screen space because we see them walk out of the camera view but we have no idea where they went. By the dialogue though, we can infer that they went to pick out Holly’s present. This close-up is detrimental to this scene because we can infer that maybe the realization Holly makes about Tiffany being expensive can carry out to a realization about her own life.

As you can see, dramatization seems to be everything in this clip. Everything we see seems to be bigger than it is and seems to somehow symbolize something else. I believe the director needed to film using these techniques in order of aiding with the process of characterizing Holly and slowly unfolding her story.

Extra Credit Clip Analysis 2 – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

http://movieclips.com/Cz5No-breakfast-at-tiffanys-movie-the-only-chance-at-real-happiness/

The clip “The Only Chance At Real Happiness” from the film Breakfast At Tiffany’s is quite intriguing. The Academy Award winning film Breakfast at Tiffany’s is directed by Blake Edwards and distributed by Paramount Pictures in 1961. The use of constantly changing camera movements and jump cuts help the viewers to characterize it as a film of the early 1960’s.

At the beginning of the scene, the camera is placed stationary at ground level and allows us to see Holly (Audrey Hepburn) throwing a cat out of a taxi and the cat is walking slowly towards the camera, after which we see the cab drive away. The cab driving away also creates off-screen space because we know that the cab has left but we don’t know to where it left.

After the cab leaves, we are left watching an empty street and then the director uses a jump cut to link the shot of the empty street to the close up of the cat’s face. This jump cut is important because it let’s the viewers link what they just saw happen, Holly pushing the cat out of the cab, and the cat ending up where it does outside alone in the cold, pouring rain. The jump cut works as what Gordon Harvey would call “stitching” in an academic essay. It’s necessary for that jump cut to be present in order for the audience to feel the abandonment the cat feels when we see its face.

A short while after this close up shot of the cat, we see Holly alone in the cab crying. You could tell the scene was filmed with a handheld camera inside the car because the front frames, and windows of the car are not visible through the camera lens. The director used this technique in order of capturing the moment’s intimacy. If the director had filmed with a stationary camera outside of the car we would not be able to be so close with Holly and kind of feel bad for her because she’s crying, also it would lack intimacy.

During the 1960’s many directors used aesthetics such as handheld cameras, and jump cuts to enhance their films. Blake Edwards is just one of the many who successfully did this.

Extra Credit Clip Analysis 1 -West Side Story

I found the clip “The Rumble” from the film West Side Story directed by Jerome Robbins in 1961 to be very interesting. The use of tracking, close ups, the use of light and off-screen space allows the director not only to get full coverage of the fight, but also to portray the fear instilled on everyone’s face.

Throughout the fight, the camera always moves. This is called tracking, or the movement parallel to the action at equal distance. One prime example of this is the camera shooting from in back of one of the characters and as he is hit and walks backwards, the camera seems to be moving backwards with him. This allows for that shot within the scene to seem more intimate because at first we are following only the two boys that are fighting, only after that do the rest of the boys step in.

The use of close ups help illustrate the fear that fills the boys’ faces as they are fighting. For example, when the boy is stretching out his hand in an attempt to make a peace offering, the camera closes up on his face and we see an apprehensive expression. This might tell the viewers that the boy is nervous about whether or not the other gang is going to accept his peace offering.  The brief moment of silence between when the peace offering is proposed and when it is declined also adds to the tension of this scene.

I also noticed the use of light and off-screen space in this scene. Every time there are boys fighting in the middle of the “fighting ring” so to call it, the shot is brightly lit, seeing everyone’s faces and their expressions equally, even the boys in the background. Also as the boys are moving about fighting, the loser of each fight seems to fade out into off-screen space. This fade-out, I believe, is how the director makes us aware that the certain boy lost the fight to one of the other boys.

This scene is a perfect example of films made during the 1960’s. First off, we can tell this was filmed during the 1960’s because tracking was an utterly new technology. Also, the aesthetics of films during the 1960’s involved a great deal of violence. Due to the radical political climate, social awareness became more prevalent and issues such as gangs and violence, like in the movie became widespread among US studio films.

The Public Enemy (1931)

Hello everyone,

So even though we viewed Public Enemies a couple of weeks ago, I felt that I must strongly convey my mixed feelings towards this film. Public Enemies flourished with scenes that forced you to make connections and think things through. Although I believe I understood the film very well, there are still some scenes I’m foggy about.

The first scene I would like to bring to your attention would be the one where we are shown a few bottles inside a baby’s stroller. This allows us as viewers to make a connection between that scene and Prohibition. During Prohibition, alcohol was not allowed to be kept, sold, traded, etc. Due to this, we see everyone rushing to get alcohol as soon as the ban is lifted. The fact that parents would store alcohol in a baby’s stroller instead of putting the baby itself in it, shows us that Prohibition led to desperation. With that being said, do you believe that the keg placed in the middle of the table in a later scene could be symbolizing the effects of Prohibition as well?

Something that stood out to me in this film were the dramatizing sound effects. The specific one I’m talking about could be found in the scene where the last keys on a piano are played. I believe this was prominently used to symbolize the death of the character that was presented to us in the same scene or the following it.

Now I could go on and talk all about the last scene where Cagney says, “I ain’t so tough.” However, since I did that for my analysis piece, I won’t do it again. I will just mention that it’s amazing how one of the last scenes of a film can reveal the whole theme of the film. This scene does just that; it enforces the underlying theme of humanity.

Film Analysis-The Public Enemy (1931)

The Public Enemy is a classic gangster film directed by William Wellman and distributed by Warner Brothers Studios in 1931. There is one scene in the film that adheres to the memories of all viewers. This scene would be the one towards the end of the film in which James Cagney makes the remark, “I ain’t so tough”, after getting shot by a rival gang. Wellman portrays this scene in a way that characterizes Cagney as a normal human being and teaches us that no matter who we pretend to be, underneath it all, we are all human beings who have the same manifestations. He does this through constantly changing camera movements and setting.

Firstly, at the beginning of the scene we are introduced to the setting of a dreary, rainy night outside the Western Chemical Company. At the beginning of the scene, the rain could be used to foreshadow Cagney’s dim future for the rest of the evening. The rain is prominent throughout the scene and gets even more aggravated as we watch Cagney’s condition worsen due to his wounds, and his character become more and more evidently human. So in this case, the rain could signify the humanity that is brought out in Cagney’s character and the humanity that we all have lying underneath us. Or, it could signify the vulnerability every human being has when they are wounded or ill and how easily destructible they are at that moment in time.

Throughout the scene, the camera movements are constantly changing. As we are introduced to the scene, the camera seems to be stationary, or positioned flat on the ground. This is a technique that later movies and directors use as well. One prime example of this would be Yasujiro Ozu and his film Early Summer which was made in 1951. Directors often use this technique in order to create deep focus or allow us to see objects in the background as clearly as we see the ones in the foreground. Deep focus is important in the introduction of such a scene because it allows us to see the gangsters in the rival gang and the setting of the scene, the Western Chemical Company. This deepens our understanding of the events going on in the scene as well as makes us aware of typical gangster suspicion. Typical gangster suspicion is scen when the rival gang first gets out of their cars and looks around for any immediate danger. This in turn, characterizes gangsters as very careful, watchful people because they are used to the fact that they are always under surveillance or in possible immediate danger. Later on in the scene, the camera movement once again shifts and allows us to see only a very shallow depth of field, or only James Cagney’s face. This is important in aiding the dramatic effect of the words, “I ain’t so tough”, spoken by Cagney at the end of the scene. The fact that everything we see beyond Cagney is blurry shows us that the mental state Cagney is in is not a very fine one. He basically does not know what is going on. The fact that we are allowed to see Cagney’s face in a more profile manner reveals his more humane side.

I do not believe that the impact of the war can really be seen in the film The Public Enemy because the sound seems to be perfectly well balanced, and in sync with the pictures in the film. I do, however, believe that because this is a gangster film it could be seen as post-war. Maybe Americans were so used to seeing the bad side of everyone due to the war, so this film taught everyone that every human being is humane, even soldiers of opposing armies. The popular gangster film genre was also used to distract the focus off of everyone’s financial worries at the time due to the Great Depression as well.

Out of The Past (1947)

Hello everyone,

I realize a blog post like this is long overdue. With that in mind I want to start off saying I loved this movie, it had to be my favorite out of all the ones we have watched so far in this class. One line stuck with me throughout the movie. That would be the one in which Jeff tells Kathie, “You are like a leaf the wind blows from one gutter to another”. I found this quote to be highly intriguing because I see it as a double entendre. On one hand you have Jeff basically calling Kathie a tramp because after she left him, she went back to Whit. On the other hand, you have Jeff telling Kathie that she is two-faced and playing both sides because she tells Jeff what Whit is up to and then turns around and tells Whit what Jeff is up to. For this reason I think Kathie is the perfect “femme fatale”.

One thing I did not quite understand was the constant reference to fishing throughout the movie. Is fishing supposed to be a symbol for something? My guess would be that fishing could symbolize Jeff’s escape when things get rough. I say this because when he runs away and is hiding with the deaf kid, for example, he goes fishing and I can see how fishing would calm somebody down. In that scene he looks at peace. Or maybe this is how he copes with his arguments with Kathie. In one scene he is seen fishing as soon as he finishes talking to Kathie. I believe it depends on the viewpoint, because this is one of those things that can be interpreted in about a hundred different ways, just depends on the person who is analyzing it.

I also noticed the significance lighting plays throughout the whole film. For example, during the flashback, the lighting became brighter. This could have been done in order to portray the “realism” of the scene. Usually when you backtrack into your thoughts, your memory is hazy, but by making the lighting brighter, it looks more surreal and less like it is a recollection of your memories. Another scene where this change in lighting can bee seen is the scene that the camera closes up on Jeff’s face. In this scene, the lighting fades off toward Jeff’s eyes. This is done to portray mystery, and shadiness. I believe this was an important lighting change to make because in the beginning of the movie we don’t really know much about him or his character.

 

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