Media Studies Intro to Cinema

A qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, US, 1967)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 11:00 am on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

 I didn’t expect to enjoy Bonnie andClydeas much as I did, but it was a great movie. I loved so many different aspects of the movie and the movie was just so well made. I really enjoyed how the movie started out, by introducing the characters with pictures of their family and a little written biography of them. I thought this was very interesting, because I had yet to see a film in our class that started out this way. I also LOVE the music. The music for each moment in the movie is perfect especially in the chase scenes where it turns into this fast paced western music.

 

One scene I thought was a little awkward was the scene at the beginning of the movie, after she sees Clyde trying to steal her mothers car and she gets dressed and runs down the stairs. The way Arthur Penn chose to frame that scene was strange for me because it was such a  low angle shot and all you can really see is the silhouette of Bonnie coming down the stairs. It seems strange because I feel like I have never seen this angle in a movie, and it just seems a bit vulgar since it seems like the camera is looking up her dress, although we cannot see anything because everything is very dark.

 It’s very easy to see how sexually charged Bonnie’s character is. Her sexuality is apparent in the opening scene when she is laying there naked on the bed, everything about her just screams sex. The fact that she’s naked in  her house, the way the camera zooms in to look at her eyes is all very sexual. It’s also very apparent the moment afterClyderobs that little store in her town with a gun, and they run off in the car to an open grassland. The whole ride there Bonnie is just kissing on his neck, and as soon asClydestops the car she wants to have sex with him. It’s a funny scene because he rejects her saying , “Hey slow down. Hey, cut it out! Alright, I might as well tell you right off alright now I might as well tell you right off I ain’t much of a lover boy. Ain’t nothing wrong with you ,I ain’t never seen no percentage in it. Nothing wrong with me I don’t like boys!” It interesting to see how she feels so insulted when he rejects her. It seems as if he’s just put a blow to her ego. It’s interesting to see how Bonnie almost defines herself by her sexuality, and is so forward about it withClyde.

 I really enjoyed this movie because it show this crime doing couple, and its cute to see that they love each other no matter how bad the other is. In fact it is very intriguing for them to do crime together, and I think this is what’s so appealing about the film. I think people sometimes wish to escape with their loved ones and just do whatever they want. The fact that this film advertises this sort of freedom in breaking the law is very intriguing to an audience, especially to those who are always abide by the laws and have always wanted to experience something like this. I love the relationship Bonnie andClydehave, because it’s based on the adrenaline rush they get from being with one another, and that’s what makes them fall in love so deeply. I think this movie also shows the good side of the bad guys, showing us Bonnie’s family, showing that she is human and cares about her mother just like everyone else does. Also the fact thatClydeis just so damn charming, and how much he really cares for Bonnie. I think that throughout the whole movie, we are rooting that they never get caught, because the audience feels like they have been through so much with them. The way that they die in the end is just so brutal, but I cannot argue that it was a good ending. I think this movie, like many others influence and fuel American’s love with crime and violence ridden movies.

 

Avant Garde Film

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 9:39 am on Sunday, December 4, 2011

 I am so glad that Professor Herzog decided to show us Avant Garde Film. I absolutely loved watching these films because they were so different, and showed us different perspectives on film-making. Some of them were a little dull, like Mothlight by Brakhage. I enjoyed hearing the audio of why he chose to do such a film more than the actual film itself. The experimental film that really intrigued me the most was Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943). I really enjoyed this film because it took me away, and quite honestly gave me a good scare. The nun looking figure that keeps walking up the side of her house with a mirror as a face is such a clever way of portraying how strange things are in a dream. Although this is what creeped me out the most, it was one of the aspects of the movie which I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed the part when she is going up the stairs and it seems as if her world is turning sideways, because Deren did this so effectively just by tilting the camera to achieve the effect. In the video Deren was also very interesting to watch, as she goes through the dream state. There is so much repetition of the knives, and the same situation happening over and over again. The music is also VERY creepy. It gives the movie this creepy effect, especially because some of the sounds don’t go with what’s going on at the moment. Also the fact that we don’t get to see her face until a few minutes into the movie creates this curiosity and creepiness as to who it is that we are following. This film being about dreams, may just be a film done well enough to give me nightmares.  

Photo retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S03Aw5HULU

The other film that really impacted me was the documentary film made by the Maysle brothers about the Rolling Stones called Gimme Shelter . The short clip that we saw in class really impacted me. The clip showed how an Hells Angel stabbed a man to death because he had pulled out a gun while the Rolling Stones were presenting on stage. This clip just caught me by surprise because when you first see the footage of the fight going on, you initially don’t think anything of it, just another brawl. The Maysle brothers decide to stop showing the concert and zoom in on the footage and show McJagger what really went on in that little brawl in the audience and they captured an Angel stabbing someone. The reason why this footage impacted me so much was because we see the moment when a man’s life was taken. It’s scary to see how cold blooded the Hells Angel was about stabbing this man, but then again I can also understand that maybe he was just doing it in self defense since the man did have a gun. I think the fact that the Maysle brothers caught a moment on film is great, because that’s what film-making is about. That scene just took my breath away, and makes me tear a little bit to see that such someone’s murder was caught on film.

Analysis Project #2: Formal Analysis of Black Girl (Ousmane Sembene, Senegal, 1963)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 9:01 am on Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Male Gaze.

The Male Gaze is so normalized in our culture, that some people aren’t even aware of it unless it is pointed out to them. The movie Black Girl has a very discreet male gaze and that’s why I chose this movie, because it doesn’t obviously stand out like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.  The movie is about a woman fromDakar,Africawho takes care of a French family’s children. When the family decides to move toFrancethey invite her to go, and she agrees.  Soon after she arrives she finds that her life will not be what she had imagined it to be, and the French family who treated her so nicely in Dakar are treating her more like a slave of the house in France. The movie is filmed and directed by Ousmane Sembene, a male Senegalese director. Although it is less apparent in this film than other films such as Psycho, we are able to see instances where the male gaze is prominently present.

In a sense, I very much respect the way Ousmane Sembene treated this film because he put a lot of care and thought into how Diouana would be portrayed as a woman as well as an intellectual character . For the most part, Sembene did a good job on not depicting Diouana as a sexual object. I will argue that this film has a male gaze, but Sembene gazes in a very respectful way. He doesn’t treat Diouana as a sexual object. He doesn’t portray her as an object to be threatened by, although the woman of the children she is caring for does feel threatened by her. But, of course there are instances where we see his male gaze through the lens. There are a few scenes in the movie in which the audience watches Diouana get dressed in her bedroom. In one of those scenes she gets undressed taking off her shirt, and we are able to see the side of her breasts. This, of course, is very obviously portraying Laura Mulvey’s concept of “To-be-looked-at-ness” because we are seeing her body, her physical figure which to heterosexual men is an aphrodisiac in itself. On the other hand, the reason why I argue that Sembene allowed us to watch Diouana getting undressed, but in a respectful way is because she has her back towards the camera. We are not getting a full frontal view of her body, which is in a way is hiding her sexual nature yet letting us get a glimpse of it at the same time. One purpose of this scene is show the ritualistic nature of getting undressed every night, and the same repeated thoughts that go on in her head as she is doing so. Yet again, the audience cannot deny that this view of Diouana is coming from a male gaze, but the audience definitely doesn’t get the peeping tom feel that we do in Pyscho. The positioning of the camera which is straight on, and the long shot also makes the audience feel like we are equal to her, we are not looking down at her or looking up. We are in a sense observing and not peeping; just hearing her thoughts are just having a conversation with her, and she is telling us her thoughts while getting ready to go to bed. Also the brief amount of time she is naked which is about 30 seconds, also gives us a sense of the lack of privacy she has.

Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OZJucKuk5w&feature=related   at (11:05)^

 As the movie progresses we see a flashback of Douiana with her boyfriend back inDakar, and there is a moment of direct sexual contact with her boyfriend in the movie. It is very quick short take at a direct angle. They are standing outside about to take a picture, when her boyfriend puts his arm around her and grabs her breast.  Diouana goes on to explain that she didn’t approve of his gesture. In this scene she refutes the fact that she is a sexual object by walking away from him after he grabs her breast. Why does he feel that he can go ahead and touch her sexually in public? Is it a sense of ownership? Is it because he couldn’t help himself? Why does Semebene even choose to put this scene in the film? Perhaps because he wants to show that Diouana is considered a very attractive woman in Dakar Africa. Or perhaps he wants to portray the sexual nature man. Although Mulvey talks about the male’s gaze and having a fascination with looking at women, this scene reinforces the male gaze because her boyfriend is actually acting upon the fact that he sees her as a sexual object.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpy5B25ei7s&feature=related (9:40)^

In the same flashback Ousmane shows Diouana in his bedroom. We see a shot of Diouana laying in bed with her boyfriend looking at ELLE magazine. Then the boyfriend gets upset with her because she wants to go toFrance, and he gets up. It cuts to a shot (long take) of him  taking a drink and smoking a cigarette, and then it cuts back to a shot of Diouana taking off her hair and her shirt. Again we get a mere glimpse of her breasts in a bra. Her boyfriend quickly puts down the cigarette and begins walking towards her, then the shot blurs out and that is the end of the scene. Here Diouana is directly portrayed as a sexual object. In fact, she is portraying herself as a sexual object, because willingly wants to sleep with her boyfriend. Although in this scene she is not directly exposing her body, she is very suggestive by taking off her clothes and to a certain extent, the smile that she has on her face although that shot is a very short take. Again Sembene was respectful in the sense that he didn’t show the couple in act of intercourse.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpy5B25ei7s&feature=related (13:11)^

After that scene, it cuts to a shot of Diouana laying in bed in France. The positioning of the camera at the high angle looking down at her makes the audience analyze and really look at her body laying in bed. The camera starts by filming her feet, and goes up along the length of her body. This scene seems to be a continuation of what happened in the scene before where she was going to have intercourse with her boyfriend and is now laying in bed after it is all over, except she is laying in a bed in France.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpy5B25ei7s&feature=related (14:06)^

In Laura Mulvey’s article she also mentions that women are something that men feel threatened by, but instead in this film we are seeing that Diouana’s female patron is the one who is threatened by her because of her sexual nature. She is always bothering Diouana about the way she dresses, and telling her to change her clothes because she doesn’t need to be so dressed up to be cleaning. This in a sense reinforces a Male Gaze although it is coming from a woman, because she is objectifying Diouana to being a sexual and being a threat to her marriage. The patrons jealousy in a way empowers Diouana because it suggests that she has some kind of power in the way she dresses that in turn may make her husband interested in Diouana.

As we see, although this movie may not be so obvious as others, there are a good few instances where the male gaze reinforces this patriarchal view of women through the way Ousmane Semebene chose to shoot some of his scenes. Sembene treated the film with care, he did not overtly sexually exploit Diouana, but we can see were the male gaze just comes right through the lens and is clearly visible to the audience.

 

Works Cited

Mulvey Laura. Film Theory and Criticism : Introductory Readings .Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44.

 http://medst144f11.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2010/10/mulveyVisualPleasure.pdf

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1960)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 8:05 am on Monday, November 7, 2011

Psycho is a psychological thriller. This movie is very creepy and yet so interesting at the same time that you cannot take your eyes off the screen. One of my favorite elements of the film is the music. The music creates this tension that I love because it keeps me on my feet, wondering what’s going to happen next. Another thing I noticed about this film is that it was similar to Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Summer, because this movie contains a narrative ellipsis with Marion Crane at the beginning of the film. Hitchcock allows us to build a relationship with this character only to have her murdered midway through the movie. It’s obtrusive, but it serves a purpose to guide us into the rest of the film where we are introduced to the real star of the show, Norman Bates. It’s a very creative and stylish way of introducing the real protagonist of the movie by murdering the woman who we thought to be the main character. Another very interesting characteristic about Hitchcock is the way he plays with women and voyeurism in this film. He uses the film to make a statement about women, and sort of suggests that treating women in such a violent horrific way is an aphrodisiac for him. The voyeurism is also very interesting, because he brings to light something society looks down upon and putting it into a movie. It’s interesting to think how people who are peeping tom’s reacted when seeing this movie, whether or not they felt more comfortable knowing that they aren’t the only ones who peep. Movies like this give us a glimpse into the chaotic inner workings of his mind, and that’s why I love this movie because it challenges the types of movies society is used to. It gives society something to think about, especially opening up the public’s eyes to different types of minds, ones that the world may think of as strange and unusual. I also like how Hitchcock brings this Freudian psychoanalysis to the audience at the end of the film, looking into Norman Bates’ mind. The movie is tantalizing and the ending is totally unexpected. I bet that no one would have expected that such a deep problem could be rooted into such a relatively young man’s mind such as Norton. I would have never expected this film to end the way it did, and I have to say the ending was awesome.

Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, US, 1956)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 5:41 am on Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Written on the Wind is a very interesting movie in terms of relationships. Mitch Wayne meets Lucy Moore, who later becomes his best friend Kyle Hadley’s wife.  The whole situation is strange because Mitch is obviously attracted to Lucy, yet Kyle still makes a move on her. It’s interesting to see that although Kyle is his best friend, he makes a move on her without even seeing or considering that Mitch may be attracted to Lucy. It shows a sense of selfishness. After Lucy marries Kyle it seems as though she happy only for the beginning of the relationship, but towards the end she starts to realize that Kyle is a compulsive alcoholic. I didn’t expect her to marry Kyle so soon, and found it strange that they were even together because they just didn’t seem like the right fit. Another relationship that is also very interesting is the relationship that Hadley’s sister has with Mitch. She is very manipulative, and is a sort of femme fatale of this movie. She will go to any extent to get Mitch, including sabotaging her own brother’s relationship with Mitch. She makes Kyle believe that Mitch is getting with his wife, because if she can’t get with Mitch then she’s going to make his life impossible. It’s also weird to see Mitch that doesn’t want Marylee since she is a very attractive woman. This just goes to show that looks aren’t everything. It also shows this recurrent theme that goes on in daily relationships, that most often when a woman is lusting for a man the man is disinterested in her. But the minute the woman stops her showing interest in a man, the man will chase after her. This movie makes for a very interesting psychological study of relationships between people, between best friends, best friends and their partners, and best friends and their families.

 

Photo retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBCay2SKIsY

Shot-by-Shot Analysis Project of Umberto D.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 12:00 pm on Friday, October 14, 2011

 Scene Analysis: from Umberto D. (director:Vittorio De Sica, Dear Films, 1952)

11 shots in the street where Umberto walks to a plaza and makes his dog collect money in a hat (3:02).

Shot 1 (16 seconds)

Framing: Long Shot, Long take.

Camera Placement: Straight on keeping Umberto in the middle as the focus of the frame.

Composition: Umberto is walking with Flike (his dog) on a sidewalk which is slanted downwards, symbolizing his path to the bottom point in his life. Strong diagonal from middle portion of the frame towards the bottom right of the frame. Soft focus.

Lighting: Everything is well lit in the scene because it is daytime outside, and we are able to see the sidewalk with the people of the community walking past him and stores in the background, and columns in ruin on the other side of the street.

Depth of Field: Deep.

Camera Movement: The camera pans to the right to follow Umberto as he walks down the sidewalk, and then stops to focus on him.

Sound: Dramatic sad music.

 

Shot 2

Framing: Long shot which moves into a Medium Shot, Long take.

Camera Placement: Slightly High Angle, from the top of the sidewalk    .

Composition: Umberto stops at the bottom of the ledge to sit and reflect on his thoughts while he pets Flike and rubs his head as a motion of having distressed thoughts. He also puts his hand out in a cupped motion as if he is asking for money.

Lighting: Daylight and everything is still well lit.

Depth of Field: Deep.

Camera Movement: The camera stays still on Umberto for a moment capturing this moment of distress he is having.

Sound: Dramatic sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 3

Framing: Close up, Short take.

Camera Placement: Straight on slightly to the right.

Composition: Umberto is in right of the frame and is still at the bottom of the ledge with his hand out thinking to himself. Then we see a man approaching from behind with the stores in the background. Sharp focus on Umberto in the foreground. Camera is in opposite position from previous shot.

Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

Depth of Field: Shallow, only Umberto is in focus now. The man in the background is blurred.

Camera Movement: The man is background is walking around the ledge from the left of the frame towards the right of the frame and downwards towards Umberto.

Sound: Dramatic Sad music.

 Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 4

Framing: Medium Shot, Short take.

Camera Placement: High angle on top of the sidewalk.

Composition: The man who walks past thinks that Umberto is putting his hand out as a gesture to ask for money, but is confused when Umberto turns his cupped hand upside down. The man realizes that he does not want money so the man continues to walk on his way.

Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

Depth of Field: Deep. The man and Umberto are both in focus.

Camera Movement: The man stops next to Umberto to give him the money but then slowly walks away towards the bottom right of the frame.

Sound: Dramatic sad music.

 Straight cut to next shot.

 Shot 5

 Framing: Close up, Short take.

 Camera Placement: Straight on, slightly to the right.

 Composition: Umberto is taking a breath in angst.

 Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

 Depth of Field: Shallow.

 Camera Movement: The people is the background are walking up the hill towards the right of the frame.

 Sound: Dramatic Sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

 Shot 6

 Framing: Long Shot, Long take.

 Camera Placement: High Angle, Straight on.

 Composition: Umberto goes to hide by the columns while he puts his hat into Flikes mouth so people who walk past can put money in the that. People who walk past look at the dog.

 Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

 Depth of Field: Deep.

 Camera Movement: Umberto running behind the column.

 Sound: Dramatic sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

 Shot 7

 Framing: Medium Shot, Short take.

 Camera Placement: Straight on slightly to the left.

 Composition: Umberto is hiding behind the columns and looking around to see if anyone can see him, because he feels embarrassed to have to ask for money on the street using his dog Flike.

 Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

 Depth of Field: Deep.

 Camera Movement: Umberto moving his head to look around.

 Sound: Dramatic Sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

 Shot 8

Framing: Medium shot, Short take.

Camera Placement: Low Angle.

Composition: Flike is holding the hat in his mouth, and looking at Umberto that is hiding behind the columns. People pass by and look at Flike.

Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

Depth of Field: Shallow, only Flike is in focus.

Camera Movement: Flike moving his head to look at Umberto.

Sound: Dramatic Sad music.

 Shots 7 and 8 rotate simultaneously for a few seconds until Umberto’s friend comes into the picture.

Straight cut to next shot.

 

 Shot 9

 Framing: Long to Medium Shot, Medium take.

 Camera Placement: Low angle, slightly to the right.

 Composition: We see Umberto’s friend walking down the sidewalk approaching Flike.

 Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

 Depth of Field: Deep. Everything in the shot is in focus.

 Camera Movement: The man walking down the sidewalk.

 Sound: Dramatic Sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 10

Framing: Medium Shot, Short take.

Camera Placement: Straight on, Slightly to the left.

Composition: Umberto sees his friend walking down the sidewalk, and has a look of shock on his face.

Lighting: Daylight well lit.

Depth of Field: Deep.

Camera Movement: Umberto turning his face.

Sound: Dramatic sad music.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 11

Framing: Long Shot, Medium take.

Camera Placement: High angle.

Composition: He doesn’t want his friend to realize that he has put Flike to ask for money on the sidewalk, so he quickly runs to Flike so the man doesn’t realize what he is doing.

Lighting: Daylight, well lit.

Depth of Field: Deep.

Camera Movement: Umberto running towards Flike and the man.

Sound: Dramatic sad music. Umberto greeting the man as well as the man asking what Flike is doing out on the street. 

This scene outlines Umberto’s situation by the long take at the beginning of the scene. Sica uses long takes to emphasize important things throughout the film. At the beginning he uses a long take to show all the men protesting to increase their pensions. He also uses long takes to emphasize when the maid is doing things in the kitchen to show repetitiveness in her daily routine. This scene he uses the long take to emphasize his downward demise and the psychological toll it is taking on him because he has no money. The long take show him essentiallysymbolically hitting rock bottom as he walks down the sidwalk.

In this scene we see the tragic position Umberto is in because of his lack of money, the director outlines this by showing many shots with downward angles. His walk down the sidewalk symbolizes a decline in his situation, and the ruins in the background also symbolize how quickly his situation is deteriorating. He is the only person standing near the ruins while all the other people in the scene are near the stores in the background, or simply just walking past him. Most of the shots are the same, but one shot which is positioned a little bit differently is when his friend comes into the picture towards the end of the scene, and camera is positioned looking a little upwards to him, as a symbol of hope that this friend of his could lend him some money. The use of these angles as well as Umberto always looking down show how saddened he is by his financial situation, as well as how embarrassed he is to let people see him “begging” for money that he puts his dog Flike to try and get some money for him. He prefers not to ask money than ask for it because it shames him too much.

 

All pictures retrieved from :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB6sFmNTi-Q&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB6sFmNTi-Q&feature=related

Blog Challenge #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 6:33 am on Thursday, October 6, 2011

In what ways can you see the historical and political context of post-war Italy reflected in Umberto D? Think not only about the narrative, but about the pacing, and the use of mise-en-scène….

In Umberto D. we are able to see post war Italy reflected in a couple of ways throughout the film. We can see that there are many people who are left without a lot of money, as the film does start out with men protesting to increase their pensions. This shows a political aspect in the movie in regards to pensions and how pensions were rewarded to people after they worked their whole lives for it.  Umberto D. is victim to the economy of post war Italy and is left with little to nothing to survive on after working many years for the government. Throughout the film we are able to see some of the poverty that many of Italians fell victim to. For example there is one scene in which Umberto is in a feeding hall, and has to hide to give some food to his dog or else his dog will not eat. We also see Umberto trying to sell a watch for money, as well as all his other belongings to try and keep up with his rent. The scene in which Umberto is in the hospital, the man who is lying next to him says that “This ward is better than a hotel”. This man tried to use the hospital system to get some free food, because people were hungry during these hard times after the war. We also see the strain of money when Umberto asks other men for money, and all they can do is change the subject or turn around and walk away because they have no money to offer him. The strain of money is the key object that shows the post war Italy’s economy and political state. 

Double Indemnity, Paramount, 1944

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 11:42 am on Monday, October 3, 2011

Double Indemnity resonated so well with our class because it reflects a style that is used in modern times. The dark mysterious film noir intrigues people, because of sense of doing something bad is always thrilling to audiences. Another reason why so many people liked this movie is because Walter is narrating throughout the whole movie. This was something relatively new to cinema at the time, and the fact that he keeps our ears engaged with what we are seeing throughout the whole movie is very entertaining. In Paul Schraders article Notes of Film Noir he says notes characteristics of film noir and says, “Gangsters sit in the offices at middaywith shades pulled and the lights off” (57). This is very characteristic of this movie, and although this is not a gangster movie, there are many shots of Walter in in a room where the shadows of the shades are reflected off his body, giving the scene a very chiarscuro type of feel.  In the article Schrader also says, “the narration creates a mood of temps perdu: an irretrievable past, predetermined fate and an all enveloping hopelessness” (58). From the beginning of the move we already know that Walter has killed Mr. Dietrichson, letting us know his fate, but not everything in between. This movie is also interesting because of this, since it starts off with the ending scene, and backtracks to the very beginning to tell the audience the story. He is left hopeless in the end because Phyllis betrays him, and the “all enveloping hopelessness” is very evident in the first few scenes.   Schrader also notes that, “The film noir’s techniques emphasize loss, nostalgia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity; then submerge these self-doubts in mannerism and style” (58). The charactertistic that Walter lacks clear priorities is very evident in this film because he goes on to kill Mr. Dietrichson for a woman he barely knows, and worse yet what exactly her intentions are with him. This movie is so intriguing because of the stylistic uses of film noir to emphasize the secrecy of crime, the passion, and demise of man who fell for a woman’s trap.

Blog Challenge #1: Observing Citizen Kane

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 12:00 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2011

Important trends in this film are lighting and positioning of characters. We can see the use of lighting in the beginning of the film in the scene where the reporters are trying to find out what rosebud means, and we can also see the use of positioning when Mr. Kane hits Susan Alexander when she says that he just bought her, and he never gave her anything meaningful besides money. The positioning and lighting changes when a certain person is shown to be in power or powerless and I will demonstrate this trend in this scene. The scene I chose was the scene in which Jim Getties exposes to Mr. Kanes wife that Mr. Kane is having an affair with Susan Alexander.

The use of lighting and the positioning of each person in this shot is very deliberate. We see the man in the dark who says “Mrs. Kane I don’t suppose anyone would introduce us, I’m Jim Getties”. We can see that Jim Getties is in the dark because he knows Mr. Kane’s secret, and is therefore the bearer of bad news. It is essentially because of him that Mr. Kane’s marriage with his wife will end, and his affair with Susan Alexander will be in the papers. We can see by the positioning of Susan Alexander that she is in the middle of the whole situation, and the only person she has to lean on is Mr. Kane and that’s why she is looking up at him.

 

In this next scene we are able to see that Jim Getties and Mr. Kane are at a standoff, looking at each other straight in the face, and now that are both in the dark and we see Mr. Kane’s wife in the middle. Mr. Kane doesn’t want Jim Getties to expose his affair, and is therefore looking at him straight in the face as a warning. The fact that Mr. Kane is taller and is looking down at Mr. Getties also symbolizes a sense of power that Mr. Kane is trying to exert on Mr. Getties to not expose his secret by tossing out a threat saying “I’ll break your neck”, but Mr. Getties remains unmoved.

In this next shot we how the director plays with the placement and size of the characters on the screen. In this scene Mr. Kane is left in the back and seems smaller than all the other people in this shot. At this moment he is left powerless, while Mr. Getties explains to his wife that he is going to publish a story about Mr. Kane’s affair with Susan Alexander. In this shot Mr. Getties holds the most power and is therefore facing the audience and he is very well lit.

In the next shot we can see that Mr. Kane is holding all the power. In this shot Mr. Kane’s wife, Mr. Getties, and Susan Alexander’s eyes are all on him. We can also see this by the high angle of the shot, which is placed right above and behind Mr. Kane’s left shoulder. This shot is important because he determines the fate of his marriage, as well as what will appear in the papers tomorrow. This shot is so important because it is a decision making moment. The director shows with great accuracy a moment that many people experience, when waiting for an answer to a critical question.

This next shot we are able to see that Mr. Kane has his back to the camera, while Mr. Getties face is in full view and is very well lit. This shot shows the audience that Mr. Getties is going to expose all of that which Mr. Kane didn’t want exposed to the world. In this scene the audience is the people who read the newspapers, and he has his back towards us because he doesn’t want us to see what’s going on in his personal life.

The last shot is very important on Mr. Kane running after Mr. Getties down the circular stairs while he is screaming at him, because it symbolizes in a very literal way that his life is going in a downwards spiral.

Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, US, 1941)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Francesca Scaturro at 7:21 pm on Saturday, September 10, 2011

Barabara Stanwyck is a great actress in the movie Lady Eve. She is very funny, seductive, and playful in this role. We are able to see her act out very serious scenes, and also acting out comedic scenes as well. We are able to see how she “plays” with Charles and toys with his mind. One scene in particular was quite funny, in which Jean tells Charles about all the men she’s been with before him. It’s quite surprizing to see how promiscuous she was before marrying Charles, and its surprizing that they allowed a woman on screen to talk about how many people shes been with in such a big production. This scene is also funny because it starts out by Charles telling Jean what distinguishes a man from a beast, the ability to understand and to forgive. She asks him to repeat himself, because she knows that he will need to be able to forgive her for her past and who she’s been with. Everytime she mentions a new man’s name they cut to the scene of the train blowing steam out of the top, with a loud noise. The train is shown to emphasize Charles’ surprize everytime he hears a new name, and the way the directors put this scene together makes it very funny and enjoyable to watch.

picture retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ba8kJI496Y

 

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