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Looking At Movies (An Introduction to Film)

Looking At Movies (An Introduction to Film)

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Looking At Movies (An Introduction to Film)

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  1. Looking At Movies(An Introduction to Film) Second Edition Richard Barsam (Powerpoint)

  2. CH 1. What is a Movie?

  3. Looking at Movies • Our goal is looking at movies rather than just passively watching them. • Identifying the major components of film form and the “language of movies”. • Exploring the grammar of cinematic language

  4. Form vs. Content • Content: the subject of the artwork • Form: the means through which that subject is expressed. • A form is the overall system of relationships among elements that make up the whole film. e.g. Wizard of Oz(1939) -narrative elements + stylistic subsystem (colors) + (music) • Film form may make us perceive things anew by shaking up our accustomed way of hearing, seeing, feeling and thinking.

  5. Patterns • We search for patterns or progressions in all art forms • As we watch a movie, we become aware that the director has organized the work around structural principles. • We see patterns employed in D.W. Griffith’s classic Way Down East(1920) through parallel editing. {page 9}

  6. Buzz Words • Content- The subject of an artwork. • Form- The means by which a subject is expressed. The form for poetry is words; for drama, it is speech and action; and for movies, it is pictures and sound.

  7. Form and Expectations • Film form may make us perceive things anew. • Film form may shake us out of our accustomed way of hearing, seeing, feeling and thinking. e.g. A what follows? B---AB-you made a formal assumption. What follows AB? ABC? or ABA? • Form is a concrete system of patterned relationships e.g. Narrative Form-a chain of events in a cause- effect relationship occurring in time. • In Psycho, Hitchcock uses a “MacGuffin” an object that is of vital importance to the characters in his movie. The $40,000 (a “MacGuffin”) Marion steals sets up our expectations. What happens to that “MacGuffin” when Marion is murdered?

  8. Principles of Film Form • Movies manipulate space and time in unique ways. • Movies depend on light. • Movies provide an illusion of movement.

  9. Q. Which is the best description of the difference between content and form? • Content is the meaning of the movie, and form is what happens in the story. • Content refers to a movie’s look, and form refers to its genre. • Content is the subject of an artwork, and form is the means through which that subject is expressed. • Content refers to individual scenes or shots, and form refers to the movie as a whole. • None of the above.

  10. Movies Manipulate Space and Time • Movies render the dynamization of space and the spatialization of time......Erwin Panofsky, film theorist {page 11} • The motion picture camera and its lens are the key factors in manipulating space • The camera mediates between the exterior (the world) and the interior (our eyes and brain)

  11. Movies and Space & Time II • The movies unique ability to manipulate space and time is poignantly portrayed in: • Sergei Eisenstein’s “Odessa Steps Sequence” from Battleship Potemkin(1925) {page 12} • Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film adaptation of Henry V{page 13} • Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush(1925) {page 15}

  12. Movies Depend on Light • Lighting is responsible for the image we see on the screen e.g. Expressive use of light in: • Grapes of Wrath, (1940;Ford) {page 16} • Third Man, (1949;Reed) • Citizen Kane, (1941;Welles) • Double Idemnity, (1944;Wilder) • Lighting is a fundamental characteristic of film art

  13. Photography • Movies are a natural progression in the history of photography (“writing with light”) • Camera Obscura: Literally, “dark chamber”. Before the advent of photosensitive film, this device helped create life- like drawing. • Development of the negative by William Talbot and subsequent refinements in technology (Daguerre) that led to plastic rolls of film by Eastman (1889) with a gelatin emulsion.

  14. Figure 1.1 Camera Obscura

  15. Series Photography • Records the phases of an action • On May 4, 1880, using an early projector known as the magiclantern and a revolving disk called a zoopraxiscope, Briton Eadweard Muybridge’s famous series of photographs displaying a horse in motion were demonstrated to the public for the first time.

  16. Series Photography II • In 1882, Marey, a French physiologist, made the first series of photographs of continuous motion with the fusilphotographique (a form of chrono-photographic gun) replacing Muybridge’s multiple camera setup with a single camera capable of taking consecutive pictures of live action.

  17. Q. The intermediary step between still photography and cinematography is • Chronotography. • Series photography. • Chrono-photography. • Fusil photography. • Revolver photography.

  18. Motion Picture Photography • In 1891, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, working with Edison researchers, invented the Kinetograph (the first motion picture camera) and the Kinetoscope (a peephole viewer) • The first motion picture housed at the U.S. Library of Congress was Dickson’s “Edison Kinetoscopic Record of Sneeze”(1894) later popularly referred to as Fred Ott’s Sneeze (DVD)

  19. Motion Picture Photography II • In 1893, Edison made films inside his primitive studio known as Black Maria • In 1889, George Eastman began mass-producing celluloid roll film, also known as motionpicturefilm or rawfilmstock on which a rapid succession of still photographs known as frames can be recorded. • On one side of the perforated acetate strip is an emulsion with silver halides; the other side is a non-reflective backing.

  20. Motion Picture Photography III • The strip of film is perforated with sprocket holes that allow orderly movement through the camera, processor, and projector • Stage 1: shooting: camera exposes film to light • Stage 2: processing: negative is developed into a positive print. • Stage 3: projecting: final print is run through a projector

  21. Figure 1.2 The Motion Picture Camera

  22. Figure 1.3 Standard Film Gauges

  23. Motion Picture Photography IIIA • 16 fps (frames per second) for silent film • 24 fps for sound-creates the illusion of movement • Silent cameras were often hand- cranked from 12 to 24 fps.

  24. Motion Picture Photography IV • Today, cameras and projectors are powered by precision electric motors that ensure perfect movement of the film. • Digital technology replaces the mechanics but the role of light is unchanged. • A film’s format is its gaugeor width which is measured in millimeters (mm).

  25. Q. The first motion picture camera was the • Kinetoscope. • Zoopraxiscope. • Kinetograph. • Camera obscura. • Cinématographe.

  26. Motion Picture Photography IVA • Formats: 8mm, super 8mm, 16mm, super 16mm, 35mm, super 35mm, 70mm, IMAX (3X70mm) • Filmstocklength = number of feet (meters) or number of reels • Film stock speed= (Exposure Index) sensitivity to light

  27. Motion Picture Photography V • Digital technology uses an image capturecomputer (camputer) rather than a film camera and records to computer hard disks, flash memory cards, diskettes, or magnetic tape. (Tape seems to be on the way out.) • Many filmmakers ACQUSITION on film and edit on computer. • Digital projectors are slowly replacing film projectors.

  28. Q. Which of the following technologies makes movies possible? • Optics • Chemistry • Electricity • Precision machinery • All of the above

  29. Q. Which of the following film stocks is most often used for professional film production? • Super 8mm • Super 16mm • 16mm • 35mm • 65mm

  30. Movies Provide an Illusion of Movement • “Movies” is an abbreviation for the phrase moving pictures and the movement on the screen is an illusion made possible by: • Persistence of Vision: process by which the human brain retains an image a fraction of a second longer than the eye records it. • PHI Phenomenon: illusion of movement created by events that succeed each other rapidly. • Critical Flicker Fusion: a single light turns on and off so fast that it appears as one light.

  31. Movies Provide an Illusion of Movement II • During the early Silent Era movies were called flicks because the projectors ran at slower speeds than were necessary to sustain this illusion; hence there was a flickering image onscreen. • Andy and Larry Wachowski’s The Matrix(1999) developed new technology that resembled Muybridge’s experiments by using 120 still cameras mounted in a roller coaster-style arc to better create the illusion of super-slow motion.

  32. Realism and Antirealism • Two basic directions for all cinema: • Realism – French filmmakers August and Louis Lumiere (1895 – 1905) established an interest in the actual or real – viewing things as they really are. • Antirealism (opposite of realism, formalism) – French filmmaker George Méliès’s interest in fantasy, abstract or fantastic. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

  33. Realism and Antirealism • Today, many movies mix real and fantastic e.g. Donnie Darko (2001: Richard Kelly) {page 25} • Portrait paintings as examples: • The Hon.Frances Ducombe (1777) by Thomas Gainsborough {REALISM} • Nude Descending A Staircase, No.2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp.{ANTIREALISM} {page 26}

  34. Verisimilitude & Cinematic Language • Verisimilitude: when a movie convinces you that things on the screen are “really there” and that things could be just like that. e.g. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) people, places and things look, sound and move in believable and convincing ways. • Cinematic Language: the accepted systems, methods or conventions by which the movies communicate with the viewer. Filmmakers have a language based on shots arranged into scenes and sequences that make up a system (a movie) that provides us with meaning.

  35. Q. “A convincing appearance of truth” best defines • Fantasy. • Suspension of disbelief • Verisimilitude. • Naturalism. • Cinematic convention.

  36. The 2 Levels of Film Level One: The Essence of Film • At its most basic level the moving image is a symbolic representation of being and time and its structure is an event. • If he were living today, Plato might replace his rather awkward cave metaphor about human consciousness with a movie theater, with the projector replacing the fire, the film replacing the objects which cast shadows, the shadows on the cave wall with the projected movie on the screen, and the echo with the loudspeakers behind the screen. • The essential point is that the prisoners in the cave are not seeing reality, but only a shadowy representation of it. The importance of the allegory lies in Plato’s belief that there are invisible truths lying under the apparent surface of things which only the most enlightened can grasp.

  37. The 2 Levels of Film Level Two: Editing as Dialogue not Monologue • The purpose of the editor is to maintain a dialogue (a conversation) between the film, its audience and that unique piece of time (beginning, middle, end) that the audience watches the film. • Audience Film  Time • You avoid the control that the monologue model implies.

  38. Essential Film Slang • Mediation: a key concept in film theory, literally to mean the process by which an agent or structure, whether human or technological transfers something from one place to another. e.g.1. The movie camera influences our interpretation of the movie’s meaning by selecting and manipulating what is seen. e.g.2. Realism, no matter how lifelike, always involves mediation and thus interpretation. • Verisimilitude: when a movie convinces you that things on the screen are “really there” and that things could be just like that. • Cinematic Language: the accepted systems, methods or conventions by which the movies communicate with the viewer. Filmmakers have a language based on shots arranged into scenes and sequences that make up a system (a movie) that provides us with meaning.

  39. Types of Movies • Narrative Films • Nonfiction Films (Documentary Film) • Animated Film • Experimental Films

  40. What is Narrative? • At its simplest level, a movie’s narrative is the telling of its story. • The storytelling impulse runs through motion picture history. • From 1916 on, the United States became the number one supplier of movies in the world market, a position it has held ever since. • Hollywood’s success was based on telling stories clearly, vividly, and entertainingly. The techniques of continuity editing, set design, and lighting that were developed during this era were designed not only to provide attractive images but also to guide audience attention to salient narrative events from moment to moment. • Kristin Thompson, Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique.

  41. Evolution of Narrative Form • By 1908 the cinema had risen from the status of a risky commercial venture to that of a permanent and full-scale, if not yet a major and respectable, industry. • In that year, there were ten thousand nickelodeons and one hundred film exchanges operating in the United States, and they were supplied by about twenty “manufacturers” who churned out films at the rate of one to two one-reelers per director per week. • A similar situation existed on the Continent and in Britain, and by the time Griffith entered the cinema, the studios or “factories” of the Western world could scarcely keep up with the public demand for new films. David Cook, A History of Narrative Film

  42. Hollywood Narrative Structure • Even before the first talkie, Hollywood had established the basic feature-length narrative structure and film techniques that would dominate the industry for the next century. • Feature-length films typically include characters who overcome obstacles and conflict in pursuit of goals, and they follow the pattern of a three-act structure, with rising action in the latter third of the story and strong closure at the end. • Film historian Kristin Thompson notes that Hollywood filmmakers seek to avoid obvious plot “holes,” or unexplained or motivated elements, and that “the most basic principle of the Hollywood cinema is that a narrative should consist of a chain of causes and effects that is easy for the spectator to follow. This clarity of comprehension is basic to all our other responses to films, particularly emotional ones”

  43. Q. Narrative is a) the main event within a movie b) the overall connection of events within the world of a movie. c) the arrangement or order of parts of a movie d) the entire formal system of a work of art. e) the main element manipulated by filmmakers to create a movie

  44. Genre Genre refers to the categorization of fiction films by the stories they tell or the ways they tell them. • Genres are defined by sets of conventions-aspects of storytelling such as recurring themes and situations, and aspects of visual style such as décor, lighting, and sound • Genres have provided a consistency to filmmaking since its beginning • Genres are a flexible concept and frequently overlap

  45. Fifteen Genres 1. Action: (or adventure) movies that involve characters in fast-paced events, fights, chases, violence e.g. James Bond, The Terminator (1984) The Matrix (1999) 2. Biography: (or biopics) movies that tell the life stories of well known people. e.g. Malcolm X (1992), Ray (2004) 3. Comedy: Stories that make us laugh and end happily. (also Black Comedy) e.g. Borat (2006), Annie Hall (1977) Super Bad (2007)

  46. Fifteen Genres (II) 4. Fantasy: tell stories about characters and events we can only know through the imagination. e.g. Wizard of Oz (1939), Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), Harry Potter movies 5. Film noir: French for “black film”, the term refers to highly stylized crime films whose characters tend to be cynical, disillusioned and loners. e.g. Maltese Falcon (1941) and neo-noir Chinatown (1974), Blood Simple (1984) No Country for Old Men(2007)

  47. Fifteen Genres (III) 6. Gangster: stories of the underworld often overlap with action, biopics, film noir e.g. Little Caesar(1931), Bonnie and Clyde(1967), The Godfather(1972), The Departed(2006) American Gangster(2007) Eastern Promises(2007) 7. Horror: stories using suspense and surprise to scare or terrify e.g. Bride of Frankenstein(1935), The Excorcist(1973), Saw(2004) 8. Melodrama- stories that incorporate real life events that build to exaggerated emotional behavior and often relate to “women’s issues” and are sometimes called “tear-jerkers”. e.g. Way Down East(1920), Gone with the Wind(1939), Far From Heaven(2002)

  48. Fifteen Genres (IV) 9. Musical: tell their stories with characters that express themselves through song and dance, as well as spoken dialogue. e.g. West Side Story(1962), Singin’ in the Rain(1952), Chicago(2002) 10. Mystery: (or crime or detective movies) Tell stories of the suspenseful work of detectives and police. e.g. The Maltese Falcon(1941), Zodiac(2007)

  49. Fifteen Genres (V) 11. Romance: stories of “boy meets girl” have morphed into “boy meets boy” and “girl meets girl” as well. e.g. Camille(1936), Rebecca(1940), Casablanca(1942), Brokeback Mountain(2005) 12. Science Fiction: stories of using science for exploration, discovery, experimentation or extraterrestrial invasion. e.g. Thing to Come(1936), 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968), War of the Worlds(2005) Blade Runner (1982)

  50. Fifteen Genres (VI) 13. Thriller: stories that generate excitement through suspense about what happens next and often overlap with other genres. The thriller is categorized by the effect it has on us. e.g. The Spiral Staircase(1946), Psycho(1960), Memento(2000) 14. War: stories where the war is the major action of the film, e.g. Saving Private Ryan(1998) or is the background for the action, e.g. The Best Years of Our Lives(1946), “war is hell” films Apocalypse Now(1979), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)