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Film and Genre Lecture Notes part 2

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Film Studies
Philippa Gates

Visual Style and American Westerns Part 1 – Visual Style 1. Mise-en-scene - composing the image/scene - translation: putting into the scene  setting and décor  costume and make up  lighting  staging and movement o Everything in front of the camera - Interacts with  Cinematography o Shot composition o Angles and camera movement  Editing o Post-production Examples:  Blade runner o Tech noir/sci fi noir o Mise-en-scene allows the sci fi movie to look as thought it could be noir  Citizen Kane (1941) o Kane‟s wife tries to commit suicide  dominance of the drugs from being in the foreground o Lots of low key lighting – lots of shadows 2. Lighting – falls under cinematography  Impacts on mise-en-scene a) Three-point lighting (all of the bellow) 1. Key (brightness) – light but also depth (with shadows) 2. Fill – to fill in harsh shadows 3. Back – separate subject from the background b) High-key lighting 1. Shadows greatly reduced 2. Sometimes halo effect o Creates upbeat mood c) Low-key lighting 1. creates deep shadows o Not necessarily darkness o Creates darker mood 3a. Deep focus – all planes are in sharp focus at the same time  Foreground – middle ground – background  Needed advances in technology = wide angle lens 3b. The Long Take – aka the “Plan-sequence”  A single shot that continues for an unusually long time o Anything over a minute  You need deep focus to make the long take effective o You can choose what to look at vs. being directed by the camera o Important in Yojimbo o Invites a different type of viewing Part 2 – American Westerns (1860s – 1900s) The Genre - Setting: wild west or old west (1865 – 1900) - Visual Iconography: Landscape  Important to develop themes - Themes: Westward expansion/the frontier (overcome environment)  Ranchers vs. Settlers; strong individual and gang replaced by a community  Native Americans vs. settlers; savage replaced by civilized community o Only certain kinds of heroes can tame the west o The myth of the west deices American culture today Genre Cycle  “the major defining genre of the US film industry” o Prolific era = 1930s-60s o A resurgence = 1990s Mark Schilling  The western is to the US repositories of national myths and cultural views Structuralist Binaries of the Western The Individual The Community  Freedom  Restriction  Independence  Institutions  Integrity  Compromise  Self- interest  Democracy Nature Culture  Purity  Corruption  Experience  Knowledge  Pragmatism  Idealism  Brutalization  Refinement  Savagery  Humanity The West The East  America  Europe  Equality  Class  Agrarianism  Industrialism  Change  Tradition  The future  The past Jidai-geki = Japanese period drama  Set in the Edo period (1603-1868)  Not all are samurai films but Yojimbo is a jidai-geki about samurai Samurai Films  After WWII = more action; darker heroes; psychologically scarred o Similar impact as Hollywood films after WWII and film noir Director Akira Kurosawa  1 of the most important and influential filmmakers in film history o Rashomon (1950); Seven Samurai (1954); Hidden Fortress (1958); Yojimbo (1961)  Kurosawa‟s samurai films o Stylized and exaggerated death scenes and violence o Heroes are often loners with violent skills  Inspired by US westerns of the 1950s  And inspired westerns of the 1960s (US and Euro)  Famous for new narrative structure and vantage point  Theme of honor Ques?  Similarities between Star Wars (1977) and samurai or western films o Light saber = samurai sword o Dessert scenes = Luke Skywalker‟s home o Hero‟s come from outside their society to save another o Jedi nights are tied to Samurai traditions of honor o Shootouts – both in westerns in samurai Kurosawa‟s Style Distance: Telephoto lens o Flattens frame and further away from actors  Better performances/less conscious of the camera Multiple cameras o Shot an action scene from different angles Setting and cinematography: Borrowed from the western Motifs:  Barriers o Windows/screens/slats  Weather (sound and visual) o Heighten mood Low Camera Placement: camera at floor level Wipes (editing)  as a transition device  Often hidden by motion Deep focus  every plane in focus Compare characters to film noir characters  Compare protagonist to the townspeople Music – how does western score effect movie? Genre – compare The Star System, Changing Industry and Blockbuster The Star System Part 1 1 half of silent era: (1895 – 1910)  Ststs are anonymous; company more important  1 star = the Biograph Girl; named after the company she worked in movies for o Outed/named in 1909: Florence Lawrence Fan Mags; gossip, news, pictures, home life  20 mags by late 1930s o photoplay (1911 – 1980) Richard Maltby (film scholar)  Film = “commercial aesthetic” o Driven by the need to make money, just artistic enough to keep the audience interested but not confused  Stars = “ guarantee of predictability” o A certain star coincides with a certain genre or theme; Katherine Heigel = Romantic comedy  Promote/ cash in on a star = “star vehicles” o A Film based on the star; choose a actor then choose the plot to go with their film – chooses the actor in order to generate money and viewers Stars = studio owned and managed  Under contract  Had to be „loaned out‟ in order to work for another company o Laruen Bacall, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth  Changed style; hair, eyes, coloring, name – in order to fit the style which would make them big stars Persona and Fit 1. Star persona/type  specific associations = audience expectations  femme fatale; ladies man; everyday Joe; tough guy; girl next door 1. Film Role 2. Film publicity 3. Extra-filmic exposure (personal life/tabloids) 2. Persona meets role  Selective fit: film exploits certain traits associated with stars; ignores others  Perfect fit: the characters traits match those of the stars  Problematic fit: stare image conflicts with character o Off-cast (good) vs. Miscast (bad) Changing Industry Part 2 1. Studio system (1920 – 1960)  a. Industry = monopoly run by „the Majors‟ (all eight)  Big five studios  vertically integrated o Production, distribution and exhibition (all done by the companies themsthves)  MGM, 20 Century Fox, Paramount, RKO, Warner Bros  Little Three studios  not integrated o Just production and/or distribution  Universal, United Artists (distributor only), Columbia  B. Standardization of film production o A production line system; Aka „The Dream Factory” o Because only these 8 could produce film  End of the studio era 1. Paramount decision (1948); „divorcement‟ of theatres  Majors = no monopoly  No guarantee of exhibition of movies; companies had to make sure their films were actually good if they wanted them to be displayed 2. Threat of TV; 1959 = 90% of US homes 3. Move to suburbs; demographic shift  No malls = no ability to watch a movie close to home in the suburbs 4. Rising costs; star want control and more money  Result being crisis = response o 1950s = form; color and widescreen increase o 1960s = content; sex and violence increase  Box office drop 1. Big budged „must see‟ event  Nearly bankrupted century20th fox 2. Classical genres  Musicals  sound of music = hit  Star! = flop  same director and star 2. Hollywood renaissance (1967 – 1975) 1960s = artistic rebirth - Production code  Rating system  1950s = loosen; by 1968 = abandon  frankness re: sex, rise of “counterculture” influence  hippies, drugs, free love - Differentiate from TV  content = sex and violence Industry crisis and social discontent - “Progressive films”  low budget „niche‟ films  Differentiated audience = cult, youth, ethnic o Sex, violence, homosexuality, prostitutions, drugs  The Graduate (1967) $3m  $49m, Bonnie and Clyde (1967) $3m  $24m 3. Corporate Hollywood (1975 – today) – Horizontal Integration  Regressive - Studios bought out by multi national corporations  from studio assembly line to „package‟  studio rents out space to independent producers - Political scandal (Vietnam, Watergate) = “Regressive films”  Secure, traditional, genre films, classical style films  Nostalgia: comic book heroes, childhood innocence o 1972: The Godfather (81m) o 1975: Jaws (130m) o 1977: Star Wars (190m; 260m worldwide) Ancillary Markets  Theatres  DVD  Cable TV  Network TV  Planes  Merchandise, theme parks, video games - In 2010, home video = $18.8 billion/yr industry  more than 2x domestic box office income (Canada and USA) Blockbuster Part 3 Birth of a Blockbuster – What is a blockbuster?  Refers to the kind of success a film may have  Costs a lot of money (usually)  Box office: minimum $100m  Reliance and exploitation of special f/x and technology (spectacle)  Heavily promoted and advertised; early and saturation marketing  Opens simultaneously in many cinemas = saturation release  “Presold”; adaptations, video games, sequels, remakes, comic, stars  High concept; often the one world title sums up content  Merchandising/ancillary markets; profits and advertising  Largest possible audience o Studios = 2 or 3 big films/yr then balance out with smaller films Often High concept Film  Snakes on a plane  Gladiator  Cowboys and aliens  Titanic Sleeper Hit  Low budget, unexpected success Legs  Continues to attract audiences for weeks (longevity)  May be low or high budget film Editing and Buddy Films 10/29/2012 1:34:00 PM Elements of Film Production - Before shooting:  Mise-en-scene  All in front of the camera - During shooting:  Cinematography  How you film - After shooting:  Editing  What do you do with the footage? o Post – production Film and Other Arts - Narrative  literature - Mise-en-scene  Theatre - Cinematography  Photography - Editing; specific to film Clip: Edge Codes (2003) 1. Smoothing over interruptions 2. Meaning through cutting A) Classical Hollywood Style 1. 180 Degree Rule (along the axis of action); important for maintaining relational geography 2. Shot-reverse-shot; for conversations 3. Match on Action (across different shots); People‟s movement guides you from one shot into the next 4. Eyeline Match (across different shots); People‟s look guides you from one shot to the next B) Soviet Constructivism (1920s)  Fragmentation: act for political purpose - Filmmakers:  Lev Kuleshov; “Kuleshov Effect”  Sergei Eisenstein; Soviet Montage o Battleship Potemkin (1925) o Influenced Hollywood o Psych (Hitchcock 1960) Highlights how editing = meaning through cutting PART 1 EDITING Why is editing important?  Stop-motion animation o Shark attack  Objective vs. Subjective „reality‟ o Pleasantville (1998) clip  Change meaning through editing o Shining Trailer spoof vs. The Shining original 1. Graphic relations  Pictorial qualities o Patterns of light, shapes, movement 2. Rhythmic Relations  Shot length/duration o Chase sequence o Music montage 3.
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