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Lesson 14: The Art Film

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  1. Lesson 14:The Art Film Professor Aaron Baker

  2. Previous Lecture • Documentary -Form -History -Economic Context • The New Documentary • Errol Morris, A Thin Blue Line (1988)

  3. Today’s Lecture • Art-Film Narration -Objectivity -Subjectivity -Authorial Commentary The Edge of Heaven (2007) -Central Station (1998) • History of the Art Film Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960)

  4. Part I: Art-Film Narration Bicycle Thieves (1948)

  5. Hollywood Realism • Everything Fits • Strong Cause/Effect • Protagonists Solve Problems, Achieve Goals • Justice, Love, Reward • Happy Ending

  6. Art-Film Realism • Complexity • World Unknown, Absurd • Episodic Events • Indeterminate Form: -Long Takes -Abrupt Cutting • Viewer Interprets Y Tu Mama Tambien(2001)

  7. Objective Reality • Alienated Characters • Challenge of Communication • Actual Locations • Hand Held Camera • Available Light • Non Professional Actors

  8. Real Time • Slower Pacing • Long Takes • Less Plot Ellipsis of Story Time • E.g. Last Shot of The Edge of Heaven Che (2008)

  9. Less Cause and Effect • Gaps • Chance • No Deadlines • Characters Lack Motives, Clear Traits Mission Impossible II (2000). Racing to stop bioterrorism.

  10. Episodic Structure • Events Occur Randomly • E.g. Yeter’s and Lotte’s deaths • Less Causal Linkage • Parallelisms • E.g. Nejat looking for Ayten in Turkey • Ayten looking for her mother in Germany • We Compare Agents, Attitudes, Situations The Edge of Heaven (2007)

  11. Subjectivity The desert conveys the rejection and dislocation felt by Amelia in Babel (2006)

  12. Form and Character Subjectivity • How we see the film’s world expresses the mental states of characters. E.g. Jump Cut Editing in Breathless Shows Fragmented Identities • Point of View Shots E.g. Ayten driving and on beach at end of TheEdge of Heaven Story Shows Us His Perspective

  13. More Character Than Plot • Self Discovery • “Private Individual’s awareness of fundamental human issues” – Bordwell • Existentialism • E.g. Characters’ Crises in The Edge of Heaven Stanley Tucci’s character chooses creativity over money in Big Night 1996

  14. Ambiguity • Character Subjectivity and • Authorial Commentary • E.g. Extreme wide angle in Do Right Thing: intense feelings of character or filmmaker’s judgment?

  15. Traffic • Blue tint in Cincinnati scenes • Actual Quality Light (Realism) • Expression Judge’s Temperament (Subjectivity) • Authorial Commentary (Character’s Arrogance)

  16. Bordwell: Different Motives Create Ambiguity “A realist aesthetic and an expressionist aesthetic are hard to merge. The art film seeks to solve the problem in a sophisticated way; through ambiguity. . . . . . Put crudely, the procedural slogan of art-cinema narration might be: ‘Interpret this film . . . to maximize ambiguity.’”

  17. Part II: The Edge of Heaven and Central Station as Art Films

  18. Open Ending • Contrasts with Hollywood Resolution/Happy Ending • Questions Not Answers • “The ‘open’ ending . . . of the art cinema . . .will not divulge the outcome” –Bordwell • Clip # 1 from The Edge of Heaven

  19. Director Fatih Akin: “If the characters returned to Germany, perhaps the ending would be neater. But I like open endings.”

  20. Authorial Commentary "I wish you a disturbing evening!" This is how Michael Haneke, who won Best Director award at Cannes in 2005 for Caché (Hidden), introduced his films at a festival in London.

  21. Art Film Auteur • Interviews • Criticism • Festivals • Awards • Marketing Device David Lynch

  22. Journalistic Writing About Fatih Akin Fatih Akin is a German film director of Turkish descent. He was born in Hamburg in 1973 and studied visual communications at the city's College of Fine Arts. He made his first film, "Short Sharp Shock," in 1998 and won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival with his 2004 film "Head- On," which brought him to the attention of international audiences. His latest film, "The Edge of Heaven," won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. From Spiegel Online

  23. Belatedness • Arriving “Late in the Game” • Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom • Art filmmakers know history of cinema (Filmschool, VCRs, DVDS) • “The more you know, the more you understand the gap that separates you from the great tradition, and the more you fret about what you can contribute” --David Bordwell

  24. Response to Anxiety • References, Allusions to Other Films • Films Built from Other Movies As Well As Reality • Show Cinematic Knowledge and Taste

  25. About The Edge of Heaven • “One scene involving children and a firearm seems almost a direct allusion to Iñárritu’s Babel.” --Peter Keough in The Boston Phoenix

  26. Central Station as Art Film

  27. Complexity/Unknown • Rio de Janeiro • Poverty • Dora, Retired Schoolteacher • Josue, orphan • How will they survive?

  28. Episodic Events • Dora Writes Letters • Josue’s Mother Killed • Robbery in Station • Dora Attempts to Sell Josue • Trip to Find His Father .

  29. Objective Reality • Brazil, Fifth Most Populus Country in World • Has One Third of Population in Latin America • Extreme Economic Inequality • Most of Its 200 Million Poor • Dora’s and Josue’s lives represent this condition.

  30. Italian Neorealism • Decade After WW II • Italy Empoverished by War • Real Locations, Available Light • Non Professional Actors • Challenges Faced by Working People Shoeshine (1946)

  31. Central Station in Neorealist Style • Real Locations, Available Light (Central do Brasil) • Non Professionals (Vincius de Oliveria) • Challenges Faced by Working People (Dora’s “Retirement”, Finding Josue’s Father)

  32. Robbery in Train Station • Poverty and Crime • Police Violence As Social Control in Brazil • Realism in Subject, Location and Long Take • Clip # 2

  33. Finding Josue’s Father in Sertao • Escaping the City • Backcountry in Portugese • Dry, desert region of Northeast Brazil. • 67% Illiterate • Per Capita Income $2000

  34. Director Walter Salles on the Sertao “During the location scout, I was surprised. . . .we were ceaselessly invited to sleep over, to share a room . . . some food, by people who barely subsist.”

  35. Subjective Landscape • We see beautiful landscape of Sertao as Dora’s better side emerges • Trip with Josue is her “boundary situation” of self discovery • Please pause to see clip # 3

  36. Art Film Authorship • Walter Salles • MFA University of Southern California • Central Station Nominated Best Foreign Film 2003 • British Newspaper TheGuardian: Salles One of Top 40 Directors in World

  37. Part III: History of the Art Film

  38. Roots in Modernism • 1920s • Expressionism • Surrealism • Workings of the Mind • Form

  39. Critical Discourse • Analysis of Art Film Ambiguity • Journals and Books • College and University Courses • Europe = Art • U.S. = Commerce Critic John Simon

  40. Post WW II Existentialism • Auteur Theory • Director As Creative Individual in Absurd World • Viewer Same Creative Responsibility • College Educated Audience • Art Houses

  41. New Hollywood • Decline of Studio System 50s-60s/Young Audience • Influence of Art Film Style/French New Wave • Bonnie and Clyde (1967) • Independent Cinema

  42. Hollywood Vs. Art Cinema • Continuity • Causal, Spatial, Temporal Clarity • Genre • Utopian • Invisible Style • Gaps • Ambiguity • Less Genre • Realism -Objective -Subjective (Form) • Authorial Commentary

  43. Summary • Art-Film Narration -Objectivity -Subjectivity -Authorial Commentary • The Edge of Heaven (2007), Central Station (1998) • History of the Art Film Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana (1961)

  44. End of Lesson 14

  45. Next Lecture Lesson 15: Adaptation