History of cinema II


VERTIGO
April 27, 2010, 12:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

             What I love about the film the most is the title – VERTIGO- it sounds so poetic and so different from every day language. According to dictionary VERTIGO – is often used (incorrectly) to describe a fear of heights, but it’s more accurately a spinning sensation that occurs when one is not actually spinning. It can be triggered by looking down from a high place but this aloe does not describe vertigo.

Hitchcock perfectly applied to that term in his film by obtaining an actual spinning sensation when Scottie runs the stairs after Madeline to rescue her and when he looks down everything spins around. We see that twice in the movie, but for the second time Scottie overcomes his fear of heights. Hitchcock got that effect by using the dolly and the zoom simultaneously. It looks very effective and so real.

Alfred Hitchcock is well known for being a master in bringing the suspense in his films. In Vertigo we deal with both suspense and surprise the same time. Suspense is presented in the whole film through the action and great music that perfectly emphasizes it in addition.

Moreover, the uncanny effect also brings out the suspense and the surprise when Madeline who is obsessed with Carlotta Valdez comes to art gallery and stares at her portrait. We have a close up of the flowers that she brought with her and the same flowers from the portrait and the same type of hair style. These were my closest observations and facts that stood out the most for me.



Alfred Hitchcock
April 23, 2010, 1:27 pm
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In an interview with Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut who was working as a reporter for
Cashiers du Cinema that time, questioned Hitchcock about his techniques used in films. From a fifty – hour long interview we find answers to key points such as:
• The circumstances attending the inception of each picture
• The preparation and structure of the screenplay
• Specific directorial problems on each film
• Hitchcock’s own assessment on the commercial and artistic results in relation to his initial expectations for each picture
Despite of the fact that Hitchcock was one of the greatest directors, Truffaut got the impression that he is just a normal person with natural feelings and emotions; “His assessment of the achievements and the failures was genuinely self- critical, and his account of his doubts, frustrations, and hopes was completely sincere” (Truffaut). Hitchcock is a master of bringing the suspense to the film and getting pictures that have no gaps and flows. The suspense is being achieved by the audience on the highest level that results in being curious why, or how come did it happen.
Another technique that made Hitchcock so successful is “keeping banality off the screen”. I believe it’s a sort of art not meant for every director. Hitchcock just cannot bore viewers because they automatically participate in the film. In addition to his success, there is this technique of choosing the right scenarios and clarity which, according to Truffaut “is the most important quality in the making of a film”. Clarity is characterized by:
• Fragmentation of the shooting
• The cutting
• The montage of a film
This one of a kind director “chooses to express everything by purely visual means”. What Truffaut means is the fact that Hitchcock is able to show “emotions as suspicion, jealousy and envy through dialogue”. I have to admit that this is an incredible art/skill that some directors have and the others don’t and that is why they fail. Hitchcock “is the most complete film-maker of all”, like Truffaut says, because he has a class, he has a style of screen signature that makes him recognizable. He is a master of:
• Creating a specific dramatic mood without recourse to dialogue
• Leading us from one emotion to another at the rhythm of our own sensitivity
• Conveying to the viewer that one of the two characters dominates, is in love, or is jealous of the other.
In the second part, the actual interview, Hitchcock explained his sense of moral fear that he developed while being young. He was always afraid of physical punishment that is why he had a special ability/vision of showing fear in his films that was very unique.
From the interview we also learn about his carrier form the beginning. I find that reading very interesting and very helpful in understanding Hitchcock’s carrier.

Tania Modleski looks at Vertigo from different perspectives. Mainly, from the cycle of Women Who knew too much, Femininity By Design, “reveals the fascination with femininity that throws masculine identity into questions and crisis”. I got from the article the idea that female is portrayed as a dominant role who can control men. When Scottie starts to follow Madeline he becomes obsessed with her. She gets a power over Scottie, however, she “appears to be possessed by ancestor from the past, Carlotta Valdez, whose portrait hangs in the art gallery” (Modleski, p.88). Modleski tries to say that woman has a great power thanks to attributes such as appearance (natural beauty), ability to seduce men sexually. When Scottie completely falls for Madeline and realizes that she has a problem, he tries to help but his fear of heights/ vertigo prevents him from saving Madeline. After her death his obsession is even bigger because when he meets Judy he tries to recreate Madeline by dying her hair, putting the same clothes that Madeline wore. At the end I think that the gears change their shifts because Scottie empowers Judy when he realizes that she played him.
In general, men and women become weak towards opposite sexes in terms of love and desire that drives that feeling. However, I agree with Modleski that; “woman is posited as she whom man must know and possess in order to guarantee his truth and his identity, does not exist, then in some important sense he does not exist either, but rather is afaced with the possibility of his own nothingness” (Modleski, p.91). What she means by that is the fact that man and woman cannot function in the society without each other.



Ozu- Looking at the Family
April 9, 2010, 1:09 am
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I see the film from different perspectives. I look at the family as an important value these days. We are so busy with our every day lives that we sometimes forget about our closest ones. It was nice to slow down for a moment while watching “Early Summer” to see and appreciate strong ties between members of family. Sometimes it’s not only about action in the film but the psychology of it.
I really like the film because it made me realize that family always comes first.



Film Noir
March 5, 2010, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

          

  It is pretty confusing fact that there is no set definition of film noir, because there are

 many factors that contribute to the definition. All I could easily guess is the fact that film noir

 means black film with lots of crime in it. However, from Schrader article I found out that film

 noir is neither a style nor genre; it is defined by tone. Moreover, film noir is a period of film

 history considered as the best in Hollywood. The four factors that define film noir according to

 Schrader are worth mentioning; they are:” The danger of Knight’s Liveliest Art method is that it

 makes film history less a matter of structural analysis, and more a case of artistic and social

 forces magically interacting and coalescing”.

               The expressionist lighting used by German and East Europeans had a big impact on film

 noir and the particular techniques that evolved from that special period. Some of them are:

  • The majority of scenes are shot in dark light, usually night time
  • Characters faces are blacked or hidden within shadows
  • A lot of physical action
  • Love of romantic narration

 Film noir is divided into three phases: wartime period (1942-‘46) – phase of the private eye and

 the lone wolf, post-war realistic period (1945-’49) – includes problems of crime in the streets,

 political corruption and police routine and final phase (1949-’53) – period of psychotic action

 and suicidal impulse.

 Women in Film noir that article fascinates me because a woman has always such an impressive

 role in a film noir and always so powerful. Finally, a woman is portrayed as a mystery but can

 add so much to it like the sexuality or intrigue. I believe a woman has so much to offer in a film

 noir. It is the stronger sex that can fool the opposite one. Finally, a woman is not only a typical

 housewife but a seductive lover or mysterious murder and she is the leading/ main character in

 the film and finally she is independent. Moreover, she terrorizes and she is the subject of fear.

 Few of the greatest actresses of film noir are: Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell or wonderful

 Marilyn Monroe.

       In film noir specified for woman’s role there is a certain pattern/style that “indicates a similarly

   homogenous cultural attitude, and is only possible within an isolated time period, in a particular

 place, in response to national crisis of some kind”. What’s more, “the world viewed in film noir

 is hopeless, paranoid, claustrophobic, doomed, predetermined by the past without clear moral or

 personal identity”.

            According to Janey Place “film noir is a movement, and as such is remarkably

 stylistically consistent”. ‘Spider woman’ in film noir is portrayed as a sexually dangerous

 operated woman with a power like Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”. All types of women

 in this style of cinema are recognized by their actions/motifs. Moreover, iconography plays a

 major role as well in description of the character: cigarettes, long legs, dark make-up, hair color.

 These cues also highlight the female power over the men.

          Film noir also portrays woman as a femme fatale, woman who has a specific goal and the

 power to reach it no matter what. In addition, “the insistence on combining the two

 (aggressiveness and sensuality) in a consequently dangerous woman is the central obsession of

 film noir…”. On the opposite of being evil, the bad one, there is this archetype of woman as a

 redeemer; truly loving and understanding woman. Of course there are always two sides of

 woman; good and bad one, but men prefer the bad girl because she is more fun. She knows how

 to be sexy and seductive, she knows what she wants. I heard this quote in one of the modern

  movies when a guy says: “ I prefer a type of woman who has 20 percent of an angel

 and 80 percent of a devil”, and I agree with this quote. This just proves that guys like strong

 women who are “bad girls”. The opposite side of women is preferred by a smaller number of

 men which drags to the conclusion.

          In conclusion, women that are portrayed in film noir as “bad girls” fascinate  men and  

 make them fantasize more about them.



Citizen Kane
March 4, 2010, 4:18 pm
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         What occurred to me when reading the interview by Peter Bogdanovich with Orson Welles

was the fact how big “Citizen Kane” is as a movie and how important it is for people studying

 film. The film is considered to be the greatest of all times thanks to its music, cinematography

 and narrative structure. It is so perfectly made that the interview assures me how well Welles

 combined everything together. From Welles’s answers we see how important the movie is for the

 director and how much it matters to him. We also tend to get to know the side aspects of the

 film: technical and general.

 He mentions people thanks to whom the film was made in the interview when later Carringer

 gives them more attention. These people are: Mankiewicz, Ferguson, Herrmann and Toland.

 He had good relations with all of them but with Toland, the cinematographer the relation was

 special. The whole attention in Carringer reading is devoted to Toland.

 He is the second most mentioned after Welles. Toland had huge impact on the movie thanks to

 his new style that he developed during making “Citizen Kane” and the technique such as “… an

 increase in depth of field is brought about by shooting with a wide-angle lens and narrowing the

 aperture setting” (Carringer, p.10). Moreover, Toland moved with the progress of

 technology and used high quality equipment in his films such as new model of camera, the “self-

 blimped”, BNC (generally speaking a device that eliminated the need for the blimp).

 There are practically no close-ups in the film because theatrical gestures and mannerisms in long

 takes make continuous scenes almost like on the stage.

 Additionally, the use of light in “Citizen Kane” also contributed to the success of the film.

 Toland used two types of lighting; the crisp, high intensity, daylight and expressionistic type.

 “The two styles of lighting express the polarity which is central to the experience of Kane”

 (Carringer, p. 22).

                 In conclusion, even though Greg Toland didn’t collect any awards for “Citizen Kane”

 from the Academy back then, the film remains very successful and is considered the greatest of

 all times.

My favorite scenes from the film are opening scene

 Watch opening scene:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AczT1Cp-m7A&feature=related

 and closing scene:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyJAytr1ebc&feature=related

Also the scene with a falling globe is very good and very symbolic. Bruce Kawin in

 the book “How movies work” ( book from the class Media 200; I highly recommend), says that:

 “the globe itself is an image of a self-contained world”. What’s more Kawin explains that: “The

 ending of the film lets us know what “ Rosebud” literally meant, but by implication it also takes

us back to the image of the globe: an isolated and innocent universe. The globe is a symbol of

 Kane’s desire to hold the world in his hand and make it do his bidding, as well as the symbol of

 his longing for a simple life”. I used Kawin’s utterance because I totally agree with him and his

 words are perfect in analysis of this scene.

 I also want to mention that the film’s title has always puzzled me until I found the answer in

 Kawin’s  explanation. “ The film’s title shows Kane’s desire to be an ordinary citizen but also

 identifies him with Cain, the social outcast, and Kubla Khan, the emperor who built the mythical

 Xanadu”.




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