Introduction to Film Studies 1: Hollywood Cinema Lecture One: A Vocabulary of Cinematic Techniques
The Birth of Cinema • The Lumiére Brothers demonstrate their cinematograph: 28th December 1895, Paris • Culmination of scientific developments over the C19: • The discovery of ‘persistence of vision’; • The Zoetrope; flip books • The magic lantern; • The Praxinoscope
The Birth of Cinema Kodak’s strip film Edison’s Kinetoscope Cinema as a sideshow attraction/novelty value Camera trickery: Georges Méliès The birth of narrative: The Great Train Robbery (USA 1903: Edwin S. Porter)
D.W. Griffith: ‘Father of Film’ • Combining narrative techniques: cross-cutting, shot distance • “America had effected, within a few brief years, the artistic maturing of the cinema. This was, practically speaking, the single-handed achievement of David Wark Griffith’ – David Robinson, World Cinema (London: Methuen, 1981), p.56. • “He put beauty and poetry into a cheap and tawdry sort of amusement”, Erich von Stroheim in Robinson, World Cinema, p.56.
Cinematic Technique:Camera Position • Static shot (tableaux) • Panning (vertical or horizontal) • Angles (high/low/tilted) • Distance (close-up, wide shot) • Zoom • Movement (tracking, crane, helicopter) • Steadicam
Cinematic Technique:The Photographic Image • Framing and composition • Black and white, or colour • Lighting (chiaroscuro) • Depth of field (deep focus)
Cinematic Technique:Mise-en-scene • A theatrical term • ‘What is in the scene’ • Figure composition • Set design or location • Props • Costume • Make-up
Cinematic Technique:Editing • Linear editing • Continuity • Matching eye-lines • Pace • Condensing or expanding time • Non-linear editing • Jump cuts and shock edits
Cinematic Technique: Sound • Diegetic • Displaced diegetic (voice-over) • Non-diegetic • Music – underlining • Score vs. Recorded music • Effects
Cinematic Technique:Special Effects (SFX) • Slow-motion or speeded-up motion • Superimposition – blue screen, back projection, matte shots • Digital imaging
Practical Film Analysis • Breaking a film into sequences • Close textual analysis – finger on the pause button! • How is technique used? • What is the effect on the spectator? • What is the film-makers’ intention?
Citizen Kane • Orson Welles: background in theatre and radio; War of the Worlds broadcast; RKO; collaboration with Greg Tolland; learnt by watching films • The film’s reception: William Randolph Hearst; iconic critical status; Is this the best film ever made? • Style over substance? Just how many different techniques does Welles use in Citizen Kane