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Innis College Courses
Charlie Keil

Film Form 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Film is governed by principles. Assumes that perceivers of art are actively engaged. They detect patterns and make sense of them. Second it assumes that the artwork actively draws us into these activities. Art and its perceiver exist in an active interdependent relationship. Work of art is not random and unordered, but is presented actively on screen. Form: Definitions and Operations What is Form? The manner in which the parts fit together to make a whole. It involves systems. Just as the relationship between the artwork and perceiver is codependent, so are the different elements as part of film form. Systematic interrelatedness. “Overall system of relations that we can perceive among the film elements in the whole film.” (Film Art, p. 55) Definition must always combine both the artwork and its beholder. Form is the dimension of the artwork where its relationship with the perceiver occurs. All art strives for a total experience. Viewers constantly holding hypotheses, art fills these expectations. Every film relies on form. Audiences rely on form. We expect patterns to occur. If the audience has no idea what is going to occur they would not be able to focus. When art creates boundaries it encourages us to watch it in a certain way. For example, leaving an open ending confuses our conventional way of viewing. Part of this course is experiences unconventional elements in film. No art is totally formless. It may not be according to a familiar system, but it is not formless. Form governs response (emotional reaction, intellectual assessment) Context (formal choices: music, narrative, camera angle, etc.) determines how we respond. An artwork should not be reducible to one meaning. The HOW is more important then what the film is about. Form is the ongoing shaping of how the material is presented. There is a range of meanings in artwork. CITIZEN KANE  About a man who wants love, has love, looses love, etc. but this does not do justice to the film.  The formal choices in the film reinforce the idea that a man is not reducible. The multiplicity of perspectives shows this. Why are some films more respected than others? Why is Romeo and Juliet for example held up as a greater love story than others? - Because some have more formal complexity than others The process of how a film creates the meanings that it does is more important than the meaning itself. Principles of Film Form Five Principles Guiding Film Form: 1. Function 2. Repetition 3. Variation 4. Development 5. Unity/Disunity They direct the patterns and relationships that guide a films form. Function: Any given function of an element in a film can be multiple. For example, “rosebud” in the movie Citizen Kane is a psychological touchstone in the story, it is a mystery for the viewer, and it is a tool in the narration. Repetition: Necessary for the viewer in narration, in visual images, and other elements. For example, the function of the repetition of newspaper headlines, statues, in the film, help to describe nature of the representation of characters in the film. Sometimes parallels, sometimes contrast… Variation: Keeps viewer intrigued. In citizen Kane the same setup in each interview, which helps the viewer focus on the difference in the content of each interview (Susan‟s reluctance versus other character‟s eagerness). Development: Elements often change in an artwork, which helps to confirm the dynamism of formal processing. First interview with Susan is at night, she is reluctant; second interview during day she is more cooperative. Unity/Disunity: Viewers like when elements fit, however sometimes film present some misplaced elements, however this does not mean form no longer exists. There is still a systematic logic to disunity. Principle of unity is being employed differently. Different Formal Systems Two Large Scale Formal Systems: Either a narrative system, or a non-narrative system OR Style - film specific elements Narrative is always affected by style; Style and narrative are mutually reinforcing At the beginning of Citizen Kane, we are given a series of disconnected images. Given enough information to think all of these images have something in common, but not enough to know how. For ex. Opening sequence with the light in the window, why are we drawn to the light in the window. An example of a stylistic element is the placement of the light in the window in the frame. Think about it bitch. Stylistic images like this aid in the build-up to the “ah-ha” moment. Narrative Principles and Construction 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Narrative should not be confused with fiction. Because not all fiction films are narrative. Fiction and narrative are NOT wholly synonymous Narrative logic essential to understanding the story being told Narrative Logic and The story/Plot Distinction Casualty must be defined for story to make sense, to link plot together. Narrative: a “chain of events linked by cause and effect occurring in time and space.” (Film Art, p. 79) Story: entire narrative of the film, including events depicted and inferred Plot: events as they occur or are presented in the film; what we construct from what is provided Plot: events as they occur or are presented in the film; actual arrangement of narrative as film makes it available to us. What the filmmaker crafts from the story For example, we infer that the trip to Armenia took place a year before the events in Toronto (Egoyan in his home). Citizen Kane Plot: consists of the pieces of information presented at different breakfast seatings, the Story: the marriage is deteriorating. Most obviously there is an ongoing process of “hypothesis formation” where you take what the plot gives you and try to process it into a story. **Arguably the greater the deviation between story and plot, the more work the viewer has to do As a formal system, narrative depends upon the viewer constructing story from plot. Calendar and Citizen Kane, story and plot are NOT synonymous Diegesis: created story space of the film; narrative films depend on a fictional world. Most of the elements depend on diegesis. Non-diegetic material does not belong to created story space. Examples of Non-Diegetic material: voice over, “The End”, credits, fireworks Story: presumed and inferred events, explicitly presented events Plot: explicitly presented events, added non-diegetic material Causality in Narrative Causality binds together narrative events; characters serve as primary casual agents. Films play with cause and effect to stimulate viewer interest. In Calendar, the film refuses to reveal the final effect of his wife‟s confession Effect preceding cause example is when a detective finds a dead body at the beginning of a mystery film. The protagonist is presented in a particular instance of disarray, and the cause of this disarray is then presented if the viewer continues watching. Time in Narrative Organized according to three temporal factors 1. Order – placement of narrative events with regards to chronology 2. Duration – how long does the story/plot/running time of the film last? 3. Frequency – do story events recur? *** Disagreement with Textbook: story is Kane‟s entire life, plot duration in Citizen Kane point of Kane‟s death to end of the search. Textbook argues differently say plot and story last roughly same amount of time. Plot in Calendar is very similar to story, the events that occur through the entire generation of the film. Narrative Patterns Always be aware of how the film is structured narratively, via the plot The journey, goal oriented (for ex. finding the treasure) Loosely defined, no exact goal (for ex. road trip!) The Calendar‟s plot is marked off temporally and spatially (calendar and location of the churches, isolation in Toronto apartment) Close attention to structure of narratives, what kinds of invitations are given to viewer. Having a similar beginning and ending allows you to contemplate what has changed, what is different. Mise-en-Scene 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Stylistic System Style involves the patterned and systematic use of elements from the following categories: i. Mise-en-scene – putting in place ii. Cinematographic Properties iii. Editing iv. Sound Mise-en-scene means, “put into place” and involves everything placed before the camera: Setting (décor, props); Costumes/makeup; Figure Expression and Movement (performance; staging) and lighting. These elements are adopted from theatre, but change in medium has the potential to transform these elements substantially. (for ex. ability to show an entire freeway, as opposed to a section). Expressive quality of objects on stage is different then in film. They have a bigger expressive capacity because film can play with size of the objects, etc. The actors are acting for a camera as opposed to a live audience. Lighting, and other elements can also be played with. **There is a range of functions different m-e-s elements can preform. What is emphasized and how? AND what is the function of these elements? Category #1: SETTING Nature and origin of the set does not dictate its effect. You can have what seems to be a stylized real location, or a constructed, artificial location. Verisimilitude - degree of realism that invites your belief in what you see. Just realistic enough so you believe in what you see. Constructed sets attempt to appear as real sets and some real sets that attempt to appear constructed. (For the ladder, example is the costume matching set; this is not a realistic element) A. DECOR  PROPS: Western for example, key objects like the hat and gun are meant to be remembered. Another example is the paper weight, in Citizen Kane Category #2: COSTUME/MAKEUP Can themselves be props. Coordinated to work in concert with the setting. Can provide important story information. Category #3: FIGURE EXPRESSION AND MOVEMENT A. Modes of Performance: Don‟t limit yourselves to thinking actors are only “acting”, they can be used in many different ways. Blank expression of Kane‟s mom in Citizen Kane while Thatcher gives a more animated playful expression. B. Staging: How the actor is placed and arranged in space. Category #4: LIGHTING How illumination appears on the screen, works in conjunction with cinematographic properties.  Quality - intensity o Hard Lighting (stronger shadow, harder edges) o Soft Lighting (diffusion effect)  Direction - Where the light appears to becoming from o Front Lighting o Side Lighting – tends to sculpt the image o Back Lighting – foreground objects much darker o Under Lighting – lights from below (“ghost story” lighting) o Top Lighting – creates shimmer effect  Source o Visible/diegetic source of lighting o Key light(chief source of illumination, adds to intensity of visible source of light) o Fill Light (makes up for key light; more use, softer the image becomes) o Proportion of fill to key is quite high) o Low key lighting = less key, sharp edges and long shadows (FILM NOIR)  Colour o Effect is created by changing something on the light source When analyzing a film do not concentrate on mise-en-scene elements to the exclusion of other stylistic aspects. Cinematographic Properties 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Just as many mise-en-scene employed elements originally found in the theatre cinematographic properties derive largely from photography. *Cinema moves in ways photography cannot. 3 distinct components of Cinematographic Properties 1. The Photographic Image 2. Framing - Boundaries of the Image 3. Duration of the Image 1. The Photographic Image  Range of tonalities (includes film stock)  Speed of Motion  Perspective (includes lens choice)  Special Effects [next term] Range of Tonalities: how the choice of film stock effects look of a film and audience‟s response (effect)  Washed out grainy stock: if film is low budget, they couldn‟t afford betters tock. If in a documentary, film seen as “authentic”, Or for ex. the news real in Citizen Kane made to look real  Technicolor process: creates particular mood and sensibility (as seen in Meet Me in St Louis) A particular film stock, in conjunction with light levels and lens choice, can produce specific focusing effects. Speed of Motion: essential uniformity of speed (filming, shooting, projection). How speed of motion appears in the finished film “depends on the relation between the rate at which the film was shot and the rate of projection” (Film Art, p. 172) Old films before sound, they are sped up because they were cranked. Some films will deliberately create a discrepancy between shooting and projection. Mise-en-scene at hand of camera Perspective: focal length of a lens (distance from lens‟s center to the point where light rays converge to form a point of focus) can drastically alter viewers perception, contained within frame. Lens range: i. Wide-angle (short-focal-length; less than 35mm; „fish-eye‟ effect, exaggerated depth) (Citizen Kane) ii. Normal (middle-focal-length; 35-50mm) iii. Telephoto Lens (long-focal-length; flattens out perspective, what is real distance or depth is collapsed) (Midnight Cowboy) iv. Zoom – not popularized till late 50s - 60s. Approximates camera movement (of lens, not camera body itself), changes scale of shot while bringing object into closer view. Perspective does not change. **Depth of field: actual amount of space that any given lens can produce in sharp focus. (Unlike deep space, a mise-en-scene property, it is a property of cinematography)  Wide-Angle Lens has greater depth of field. If everything is in equal focus, multiple planes of focus, this is a considerable amount of „depth of field‟.  If focus shifts, depth of field is limited, because still it goes from unequal focus to equal focus. Deep Space but limited depth of field: Boudu Saved from Drowning Rack Focus: Not simultaneously in focus, therefore limited depth of filed 2. Framing: frame size and dimensions (includes aspect ration and masking) Onscreen and offscreen space Frame Dimensions and Shape:  Widescreen - no sustained use of this until 1950s  Masking (includes iris) – many different shapes  Split-screen – often used for comical effect Alteration of stock and lens has resulted in variety of frame sizes, also you can adjust masks for lens. The frames of the image serve as borders, designating the onscreen space; beyond them exist six zones of possible offscreen space. You always have onscreen space, always possibility of offscreen space beyond what you can perceive Angle, Level, Height and Distance of Framing Angle  Straight on Angle (Rules of the Game 1939)  High Angle (Citizen Kane 1941)  Low Angle (used typically to depict power of the subject, however in used in Citizen Kane 1941 to show powerlessness)  Canted Angle (The Conformist 1970) Height  Low Camera Height (Early Summer 1951) Shot Scale – not always possible to tell what the shot scale is  Extreme Long shot: can‟t see human figure amongst landscape (Days of heaven 1978)  Long Shot: human figure seen prominently  Medium Long Shot: human figure seen from knee up  Medium Shot: human figure seen from waist up  Medium close up: chest up  Close up: the face or an object same size as face featured prominently in shot  Extreme Close up: one prominent body part or particular detail Analyzing Frame: What is the function of the different angle, height, or shot scale? Mobile Framing Movement of the camera can render the image‟s frames mobile; Camera can move from fixed position on axis, or move freely in space.  Panned – on fixed horizontal axis (straight across)  Tilt – vertical movement on horizontal axis  Tracking shot - mounted on a track, d1olly or crane. Can go anywhere you can imagine. Sensation on screen is quite different. How to tell difference from zoom: you should feel yourself moving in space. With a track, literally lay a preset track, more prescribed movement; dolly has more flexibility. If camera moves above the camera into the air, this extends mobility of the camera to n up and down motion, then there is a crane. Track to pan as crane to tilt.  Deliberate shaky hand held camera to promote realism  Steady camera extremely smooth (seen in The Shining)  Aerial Shot **There can be combination, a track and slight panning adjustment, but track is DOMINANT 3. Duration of the Image: the province of cinematographic properties as long as that duration is uninterrupted. Discrepancy between story and film duration proves that it is not only a product of editing. Long Take: a shot which exits for a considerable amount of time (typically in excess of 30-45 seconds) without any break in filming (Do not confuse with long shot which has to do with shot scale not duration) Necessary condition for extensive figure movement, however they are sometimes deliberately static. Sequence Shot: long take which possesses its own internal logic and seems self sufficient. An entire sequence of a film happens in one take. ** Challenge for a filmmaker. Shows that film is a time dependent medium. Requires the filmmaker to gamble the capacity of that shot. ***Protects integrity of performance i.e. in dance numbers. The Long Take Examples:  Story/plot duration exceeds screen duration: Lone Star (1996)  A static long take/intensifying the mise-en-scene: Citizen Kane (1941)  Long take with extensive mobile framing: Children of Men (2006) Editing 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Editing is both additive (shots are strung together) and subtractive (one shot must give way to another). Edting affects the structure of the presented material rather than actual content of image.  Types of Transtitions  Dimenstions of Film Editing o Graphic relations o Rhythmic relations o Spatial relations o Temporal relations Types of Transitions: 1. (Straight) Cut 2. Fade-out/Fade-in 3. Dissolve: remains of the first shot linger into next shot (overlap) 4. Wipe 5. Iris-out/Iris-in Dimensions of Film Editing Editing can control four different kinds of relations between a shot and shots that follow: 1. Graphic Relations  Editing can emphasize similarities or differences in graphic relations from shot to shot. Contrast or repetition in shots is highlighted by editing  Anything within a shot that is noticeable.  Graphic Match: deliberately emphasized link between an aspect of shot A and a similar aspect of shot B 2. Rhythmic Relations  Determined by the temporal duration of the shots; brief shots edited together typically create a quick tempo (staccato effect) 3. Spatial Relations  Editing can create relationships among spaces that don‟t really exist  For ex. Exterior of a building shown, and then the interior  Called “creative geography” by the Russians  Crosscutting: allows editing to forge a relationship between two (or more) separated spaces (Often a temporal relationship as well, or causality) 4. Temporal Relations  Most films shown in linear sequence, however it is not uncommon for timeline to be mixed up  Flashbacks or Flash-forwards: jumble the temporal order  Elliptical: compress time/duration. Takes out unnecessary narration  Overlapping: extend time/duration Continuity Editing Designed to ensure that editing does nto disrupt the smooth progression of images, a system of editing principles has been devised to produce continuity Works to minimize any breaks in time and space that might disturb the narrative flow Mise-en-scene elements and cinematographic properties can also be controlled to ai in ensuring continuity, but editing is permanent a. Spatial Continuity  180-degree rule: One observes this rule by filming all action on one side of an imaginary axis that bisects the shooting space. Retention of 180-degree rule is essential to ensuring the viewer‟s easy comprehension of spatial relations  Obeying the 180-degree rule helps to ensure the viewer‟s easy comprehension of spatial relations.  Filmmakers build on the 180-dgree rule by employing numerous other procedures o Establishing shots o Shot/reverse shot o Eyeline match//glance-object cut o Match on action  Continuity editing is explicitly designed to disguise its own operations b. Temporal Continuity  Manipulation of temporal order and duration tends to be limited, and clearly conveyed as such Alternatives to Continuity Editing Various film forms deliberately do not employ continuity editing principles. For example in Avant Garde films, French New Wave filmmakers. How might filmmakers deliberately flout continuity principles?  Emphasize discontinuity on the graphic level  Break the 180-degree rule  Create impossible matches  Draw attention to ellipses Jump Cut: involves (arbitrarily) excising a portion of time and space between shots so as to emphasize the cut. Different from discontinuous editing, which pieces together different shots that don‟t logically follow or go together. Sound 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Film existed for around 30 years before sound added. Prior live music such as orchestra, piano would accompany the moving pictures. Sound is possibly the element that people recall the best, however many regard it as secondary to video images. Many films are dialogue heavy, which depends on people listening, arguably more important because people can divert their yes away from the screen, relying on what they hear. Notoriously difficult to identify. Despite the important role sound plays within any film‟s formal system, it is extremely difficult to analyze (sound cannot be „frozen‟ in time, as the image can; oftentimes, individual elements of sound cannot be distinguished one form another). - Most realistic element - Resists analysis The Functions of Sound Sound can function as a cue directing viewer attention.  For ex, point in Meet Me in St. Louise when crystals chime, and Judy garland starts humming/singing. 1. Acoustic Properties i. Loudness (volume and perceived distance) ii. Pitch („highness‟ or „lowness‟ of sound) iii. Timbre (tonal quality) 2. Selection, Alteration & Combination Films typically make use of three types of sound: speech, music and noise (or sound effects) and may employ and one type exclusively or in combination with others. With the image track, sound is not simply reproduced but represented – even in the simplest sound may be a result of extensive blending of different sounds, subject to mechanical alteration. Because sound is often mixed, volume pitch and timbre can all be modified within the mix. There is a modification of aural elements, choose to highlight one sound. Dimensions of Film Sound A. Rhythm – contributes to the pace and accenting of sound; sound‟s rhythm can interact with the rhythm produced by the other aspects of style. All matters of sound can have rhythm, from living means or machines. Speech pattern, music, speed of sound etc. B. Fidelity – relates to the faithfulness of a sound to its perceived source; it is assured that the sound heard originates from its purported (depicted) source. Gap between sound you expect to hear and what is actually heard, comedic affect. Must have genuine belief that sound is coming from perceived source. C. Space – three types of spatially determined sound-image relationships i. Diegetic/non-diegetic (does the sound originate from the created story space or not?) Examples:  Diegetic sound: character from a film speaking  Non-diegetic sound: music playing over a scene (not coming from a source in the created story space),  Voiceover narration can be diegetic** if the narrator is somehow related or had some attachment to the given characters. If the narration is omnipresent then it is non- diegetic.  Just because something is off-screen, does not necessarily mean it is non-diegetic. ii. Onscreen/off-screen (does the sound originate from a depicted source or not?) iii. External/internal (is the sound produced physically by elements from within the story space or does it originate from within a character‟s consciousness?) Any sound can be defined according to each of these sound-image relationships (e.g. when you see and hear a door slamming on screen, it is diegetic, onscreen and external). D. Time – temporally determined sound-image relationships to be understood in terms of viewing time (screen duration) and/or story time and plot time: i. SCREEN DURATION: Synchronous/asynchronous (is the sound running in sync with the image track vis-à-vis viewing time, or not?) ii. STORY/PLOT DURATION: Simultaneous/ non-simultaneous (does the sound issue from the same temporal moment as the image in terms of story and plot, or does the sound occur within a different timeframe?) With non-simultaneous sound, the sound may be occurring at a time earlier in the story the image onscreen or later. ** Non-Simultaneous Sound: a. Sound occurs earlier in story than image does (e.g. sound from past appear on soundtrack while character in present remains on image track) b. Sound occurs later in story than image does (e.g. character‟s voice in present remains on soundtrack while images from past appear on image track) Sound bridge – a device that relies on non-simulataneous sound to link two successive actions by bleeding over the sound from one timeframe onto the imagery of another. The fluidity of sound as a component of film style means that its use may often change categorical distinctions. The diegetic sound may often interact with the non-diegetic. Style 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM The Concept of Style Style is the selection of various medium specific elements and the deployment of these elements for particular purposes in a systematic fashion. Style can be used to identify the artworks of individuals or groups of artists. We can recognize artists by their stylistic choices. What constitutes a film‟s style? Need any given film‟s style be uniform throughout its running time? How does one analyse film style? Analyzing Film Style 1. Identify the stylistic elements employed (and which ones are not) 2. Identify the dominant elements. What is their effect on the other elements?  elements often aid each other, longer takes allow for more mobility in framing 3. Explain how the elements interact. 4. Propose patterns that are generated through the interactions you have observed. Identify the functions they serve. **For assignment this week: Film you‟re seeing is from 1913, cusp of development of continuity system, but this system is not fully developed. Do not say stuff like “they did not figure it out yet, what a shame” think about it as a filmmaker trying to make a spatial and temporal world, so that it is comprehensible. Classical Style: involves the systematic deployment of various elements, all working together in an interdependent manner, to enhance understanding of the narrative. It is a norm of filmmaking practice; some filmmakers deliberately deviate from this form. Narration 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Narration is…  process by which story information is made available to us  process whereby story information is made available via the plot.  process whereby plot and style interact to promote viewer‟s construction of the story  the distribution of story information, facilitated by the arrangement of selected narrative events (plot). The distribution of that information will happen in a unique way because of the stylistic choices made. How does the plot render story information?  STYLE (selection of medium specific elements, and the deployment of elements in a systematic fashion) Plot provides pattern, while style provides realization. Categories of Distribution A. Knowledge (range and depth): how much information does the narration profess to possess? Narration actually possesses all knowledge, however what does it choose to “pretend” to possess.  Range: restricted (limited to one character) or unrestricted (broader than that possessed by any one character). Can be determined by asking, “Who knows what when?” o For example “A Man Escaped” is restricted narration. Most films are not like this, instead they gravitate between two poles, where there are key moments where you are given info the characters don‟t know (dramatic irony) o Knowing laughter or Surprised laughter; Surprise and Suspense`  Depth: Subjective or Objective (do we know a character‟s thoughts and/or perspective or not? Do we share the character‟s point of view; do we see what she thinks?) B. Communicativeness: communicative (does the narration „willingly‟ supply information when it is available?) or uncommunicative (does it withhold information deliberately?)  For example, Calendar is uncommunicative because we don‟t explicitly see the photographer talking to the escort service for his psychosexual drama. If the narration were communicative, it would not be as restricted. C. Self-consciousness: Does the narration announce recognition of its own address to the viewer? How overt is the process of information delivery? Dynamic camera work displays self-consciousness (emphasizes the drama of the movement). “Means of presenting information to the viewer.” When the camera has a “life of its own” then there is greater self- consciousness to the narrative.  Narrative information in end scene of Citizen Kane (dramatic music, search for sled, close-up of rosebud): unrestricted, highly communicative, and very self-conscious. Movie does not end at rosebud, however it ends with image of “NO TRESPASSING” and “K” in front of Xanadu – leaves you knowing nothing, again. **Linking style to narrative strategies. Documentary 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Documentaries often adopt a form of organization that differentiates then from narrative films; when they do, that form is typically:  Categorical – breaks down subjects into parts or types of parts (systematic)  Rhetorical – presents an argument and lays out evidence to support it *some do organize themselves as narratives (as opposed to these non- narrative systems) Narrative or lack there of is NOT a definition for documentary. Not all narratives are documentaries, but documentaries can be narratives. (narrative – chain of events together by causal logic) A Documentary is…  a film that explores the world  the representation of actual events and people on screen  a film that tries to educate or persuade viewers about something that exists in the world  a film that offers up a representation of real, existent things in the world  a film in which what is seen and heard is not created for the film but resembles what you and I might have seen and heard had we been present when the events occurred. Fictional Cinema:  a sequence of sights and sounds that create a self-contained, imagined world  but these can (and do relate to the world we know  however, fictional cinema does require a willing suspension of disbelief at some point  factual material (when used) is often subordinated to the fictional exigencies of the text Documentary:  Involves a series of sights and sounds that refer to the pre-exiting world outside of the text  It cannot e a purely fictional form  There is an attempt to represent something that is part of the pre- existing world  It may contain fictional elements, but they must be subordinated to some systematic record of the intrinsic world we know Documentaries do more then just document. They are not neutral records of the events they record. It is the “creative treatment of actuality” – John Grierson (The National Film Board of Canada) About our expectations and beliefs about what documentary should do Viewing the Documentary Documentaries make claims about the world that we assume to be true assertions. A documentary is a work that could, in principle, be perceived to lie. Documentaries have an “institutional framework” – you know before you watch that it is going to be a documentary. Time and the “Indexical Quality” of the Documentary Image In terms of time, documentaries are assume to be a record of time involved in their making. We believe in the documentary image because that image appears to be an index of what happened; reality leaves its imprint on that image, much like a footprint in the sand. Believability of documentary has different emotional impact. For example death in documentary is a much different effect then death in fictional film. Animation 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM The only difference between Hollywood and independent films is funding. Independent films can still be conventional. Animation through production levels, and relation to live action. - they differentiate from live-action for two main production reasons: 1. Animated films tend not to use photographically-rendered imagery  Imagery may be drawn, Molded out of clay, Out of paper, Scratched on celluloid, Digitally created  Leads people to perceive these films differently than live action 2. Movement is created through the succession of distinct, single-frame images  Even if the image comes from photographic images, things still don‟t move as they would in real life “Animation is not the art of drawings that move. But rather the art of movements that are drawn. What happens between each frame is more important than what happens on each frame.” – Norman McLaren “cell animation” – filming different scenes with slight movement in each one. Movement only comes once they‟re strung together. Different than live- action. In animation, in-animate objects can move, but not in reality. Therefore these things do not exist beyond the film realm (mickey mouse compared to Tom Hanks). Leads people to approach animation differently than live-action. When animation attempts to look like real world, that usually involves parody, because we recognize immediately that it is NOT real. For example thriller with clay penguin. **The unique nature of animation‟s creation of movement invites a distinct response from its viewer. Avant-Garde & Experimental 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Hard to define cause the can be just about anything. What can be described is their “means and aims” Experimental films are made outside the mainstream of film production. Avant-Garde filmmakers typically view themselves as independent, self- expressive artists. These films virtually never enter into the realm of commercial distribution, not made with the intention of making money. They are aimed at a limited, specialized audience (like poetry). Objectives 1. Abandonment or radical questioning of narrative a. Many not remotely narrative (abstract) refuse that films are made for story-telling b. Some may adopt some, but change them so that film becomes challenged. Deforming narrative seen in Short Fuse (different shots could have formed a narrative in a different context. Here they are just “fragments” of a narrative) 2. Exploring the potential of the medium a. Short Fuse systematically creates a film based on rhythmic and graphic properties. May rely on totally formal properties. b. Film has capacity to show us the world on visual variation; many avant-garde films explore this by rearranging everyday objects c. Testing out different filters; challenging how we see things on the screen. Screen Velocity‟s purpose is to systematically deform what you see. 3. To shock, to disturb, or to question social norms a. Does not have same limitations put on commercial films. They can question and make radical claims using radical means. b. Sometimes filmmakers aim to alienate EVERYONE (including avant- garde film goers) 4. To construct personal mythologies a. Because they know less people will see the films, avant-garde filmmakers tend to make them more personal. These films often operate as a mediation on the medium (in terms of its potential for artistic expression, its defining capacities, or its status as an instrument of vision). The Classical Film 9/20/2011 9:15:00 AM Hollywood Classicism Not limited to American films however, strongly associated to Hollywood, and the studio era between 1920-1960 Films marked by predictability and consistency. Many critics contribute this to the construction of films done by studios. The “magic of movies” involves the studios doing a lot of work behind the scenes to produce „magical‟ films. The highly developed formal system in which Hollywood films tell their story; done in a way to seem effortless, though a lot of effort goes into them The goals of the classical film is “to deliver the story as powerfully as possibly without interrupting the flow of the intrusive marks or signs that might betray the fact that the story is itself a product of careful construction.” The classical style = elaborate system to belie its own existence Principles of Classicism Strong correlation exists between the regulated manner of production typical of the studio system and the formal principles that studio-based filmmakers adopted. Limited number of companies who adopted similar method of making feature-length films. There was unified purpose between studios, so it was easy to make sure producers honored production standards. General Characteristics of Any Classical Art 1. Decorum 2. Proportion 3. Formal harmony 4. Respect for tradition 5. Self-effacing craftsmanship (i.e. tale over teller) 6. Mimesis (i.e. imitation of an assumed reality) 7. Cool control of the beholder‟s response Seven Features of The Classical Film 1. Stringent limits on individual contributions o Emphasis is on production procedures and product, over contributor. Most duties assigned to departments, and even the role of the directors is interchangeable. Everyone seen as a „cog in a wheel‟. For ex. the great film Gone With the Wind had 3 directors o The strength of Hollywood‟s method during this period insists consistency in the films of the time. Depends on a SYSTEM 2. Telling a story (economically and effectively) as the basic concern o Diminishes importance of competing. Visual always governed by narrative. Story being told is focus over how the film looks. This does not mean visual is unimportant, just it should never overpower narrative. Viewer doesn‟t ask “look at that shot” but instead “what is happening now?” Work should never call upon itself o No pausing, no ellipses, nothing to confuse the story. All elements should serve evident function. Citizen Kane pushed this limit, because many stylistic attributes called to themselves. 3. Basic attribute of unity o All elements should work together towards a common goal o Unity from scene to scene 4. The film purports to be ‘realistic’ and satisfies standards of verisimilitude o Believable and/or probable o Sets designed in a way to meet standards of believability, but not exceed that. 5. Overt stylization to be avoided o Satisfies need for verisimilitude. o Don‟t telegraph to the viewer that the work is not constructed at all for the viewer. Technique is MYSTIFIED. The mechanisms of film are not apparent, don‟t remind the viewer that what is seen is delivered through technique. Style serving narrative only (NOT style serving style) Continuity editing is KEY 6. The film should be immediately comprehensible and unambiguous o Every viewer should be able to comprehend the purpose of each moment in the film in the story. There could be subtext but on the level of what is presented, everything should be clear 7. The film possesses a fundamental emotional appeal o Classical films are designed as commercial enterprises, also conceived as pleasurable. No attempt to shock viewer, because they are dependent upon being dependable and predictable entertainment. Viewer should understand AND enjoy. The Systematic Nature of the Classical Film Classical films rely on formal conventions to ensure a consistency of narrative and style. Style is subservient to the narrative, which is most important in delivering the story of a film. Classical narratives are fueled by causality, supplied by the actions of goal- oriented protagonists. Cause and effect chain of narrative is dependent upon protagonist meeting antagonists. (EQUALIBRIUM) Thwarted desire propels the narrative forward, but the imposition of deadlines and the scheduling of appointments shape story time. Must seem as though characters are pushing narrative forward (as opposed to the screenwriter/director/production) The systematic nature of the classical style operates to facilitate viewer orientation; to foreground character; and to ensure comprehension of the narrative For example, in The Kid Brother, Harold (protagonist) has three demonstrated goals: getting the girl, defending his father‟s name and get the town‟s funds back. Harold‟s actions resolve this conflict at the end, which is expected and provides a “feel good ending”. He cannot be inexplicably heroic; the character attributes must be established at the beginning, but not so much to overwhelm narrative with realistic attributes (keep classical characters 2D; easy to understand – Kane is not 2D enough, no one can figure him out). Pressure for Harold to find money in time is key in the narrative of the film (forces him to rush off). Emphatic pleasure because loose ends tied up (gets the girl, wins father‟s affection, etc. = COMMERCIAL APPEAL) In Psycho, the failed appointment of the detective, causes the victims sister and lover to go looking at the Bate motel (failure ALSO pushes the narrative along) STYLE of Classical Narratives depend on: 1. Viewer Orientation  Backgrounds designed to seem realistic to maintain verisimilitude.  Space is homogeneous and undistorted.  Continuity editing!!  Silent classical films lasting for several years, once sound was introduced efforts made to still maintain verisimilitude, sound effects must be TRACED 2. Centrality of Character 3. Comprehension of Narrative Classical style is an elaborate system of procedures designed to be self- effacing. A Flexible Cinema, An Ideological Cinema Classical cinema is designed to capture audience interest. Sociologically designed to interest a large group of people Andre Bazin: “[The Hollywood system] has been able, in an extraordinarily competent way to show American society just as it wanted to see itself.” In the classical system designed to make the ideological positions adopted seem as „natural‟ as the style adopted? “Hollywood cinema confirms the theoretical speculation that ideology is most effe
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