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From the cinema of attractions to the cinema of narrative integration, part 1. Lecture 4. How and why did filmmaking practice shift from a cinema of attractions in the pre-1908 period to a cinema of storytelling in the post-1908 period?.

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From the cinema of attractions to the cinema of narrative integration, part 1


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    1. From the cinema of attractions to the cinema of narrative integration,part 1 Lecture 4

    2. How and why did filmmaking practice shift from a cinema of attractions in the pre-1908 period to a cinema of storytelling in the post-1908 period?

    3. In order to answer that question we need to understand the following: • What constitutes, at the level of form, the cinema of attractions? • What constitutes, at the level of form, the cinema of narrative integration? • What historical and economic factors explain the shift ? • Why does the shift occur around 1908?

    4. Formal innovations 1: from 1895-1903From the single shots to multiple shots, from still camera to moving camera • Single shots • Actualities, direct address, violate “the fourth wall” • Ex: Lumière, Edison • Moving camera (tracking and panning) • The “phantom” ride films (tracking) • Ex: Lumière: “Leaving Jerusalem” 1896 • Multi-shot “phantom” ride (tracking) • Ex: G.A. Smith: “The Kiss in the Tunnel” 1899 • Panning • Ex: Porter: “Life of an American Fireman” 1903 • Ex: Porter: “The Great Train Robbery” 1903

    5. Formal innovations 2: • Multi-scene films • Shot transitions • Dissolve • Ex: Méliès: “A Trip to the Moon” 1902 • Straight cut • Ex: Williamson: “Stop, Thief!” 1901 • Vertical wipe • Ex: G.A. Smith: “Mary Jane’s Mishap” • Pull focus • Dream transition • Ex: G.A. Smith: “Let me Dream Again” 1900 • Scene Dissection • Cut-in, masking, point of view shots • Ex: G.A. Smith: “Granma’s Reading Glass” 1900 • Camera repositioning • Ex: G.A. Smith: “The Sick Kitten” 1903 • Ex: G.A. Smith: “Mary Jane’s Mishap” 1903

    6. Formal innovations 3: • Multi-scene films (cont.) • Screen direction • Ex: Méliès: “A Trip to the Moon” 1902 • Mental subjectivity (rendering interiority) • Dreaming and visions • Set within a set • Ex: Zecca: “History of a Crime” 1901 • Photographic superimposition • Ex: Porter: “Life of an American Fireman” 1903 • Ex: “Mary Jane’s Mishap” 1903 • Perceptual subjectivity (creating ‘sensual impact’) • Ex: Hepworth: “How it feels to be run over” 1900

    7. Formal innovations 3: Perceptual Subjectivity:Hepworth: “How it feels to be run over”

    8. Formal innovations 4 • Multi-scene films (cont.) • Tricks • Stop motion substitution • Ex: Méliès: “A trip to the moon” • Ex: Hepworth: “Explosion of a motor car” • Ex: Porter: “The Great Train Robbery” • Ex: Williamson: “The Big Swallow”

    9. Context for understanding trick films • Issue of theatricality (see Tom Gunning 1991) • Theatricality IS NOT THE SAME AS attractions • Features of theatricality: • Invocation of the proscenium stage • Distance between camera and filmed action (i.e. long shots) • Frontality • Artificial sets • No scene dissection; each scene corresponds to a single shot

    10. Theatricality A Trip to the Moon, 1902

    11. Theatricality Nero. Or the Fall of Rome, 1909

    12. Context for understanding trick films • Issue of theatricality (see Tom Gunning 1991) • Theatricality IS NOT THE SAME AS attractions or “cinematic spectacle” • Méliès case (see André Gaudreault 1987) • narrative cinema does not begin with Méliès; he should not be considered the “father” of narrative cinema • Méliès was not a theatrical filmmaker • Méliès exemplifies the cinema of attractions

    13. Méliès wrote in 1932: “In this type of film (fantasy films, flights of imagination, artistic, diabolical, fantastical or magical films), the most important thing lies in the ingeniousness and unexpectedness of the tricks, in the picturesque nature of the décors, in the artistic lay out of the characters and also in the main ‘hook’ and the grand finale. Contrary to what is usually done, my procedure for constructing this sort of film consisted in coming up with the details before the whole; the whole being nothing other than the ‘scenario’” (quoted in Gaudreault, 1987)

    14. Formal innovations 4: Méliès

    15. Formal innovations 4: Méliès

    16. Formal innovations 4: Méliès

    17. Formal innovations 4: tricks: Hepworth “Explosion of a motor car” 1900

    18. Formal innovations 4: tricks: Porter “The Great Train Robbery”

    19. Formal innovations 4: tricks

    20. Formal innovation 5: Cross-cutting and storytelling • Temporality and simple succession editing (e.g. chase film) • How to indicate the idea of “meanwhile” in film? • Gaudreault argues there are four ways: • Simultaneous action occurring in the same field (requires a wide shot) • Simultaneous action existing in the same frame • Ex: opening shot “Life of an American Fireman” • Simultaneous actions presented in succession • Ex: “Life of an American Fireman” (repeated action edits, a.k.a. temporal overlap) • Ex: “Rescued by Rover” • Ex: “The Great Train Robbery”: cross-cutting or simultaneous action in succession? • Cross-cutting of simultaneous action

    21. Simultaneous action occurring in the same field Nero. Or the Fall of Rome, 1909

    22. Simultaneous action existing in the same frame

    23. Simultaneous actions presented in succession

    24. Simultaneous actions presented in succession

    25. Simultaneous actions presented in succession

    26. Simultaneous actions presented in succession