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Man vs. the Machine
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  1. Man vs. the Machine HUM 3280: Narrative Film Fall 2012 Dr. Perdigao September 5, 2012

  2. Theming Modern Times appearing almost a decade after sound was introduced Idea of modernization, place of tradition, old forms Charlie Chaplin’s statement to filmmaker Jean Cocteau that film is like a tree—when shaken, leaves fall and it reveals its essential form (http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1656-modern-times-exit-the-tramp) In the 1930s, a fear that his art was becoming “passé”; place of pantomime in new film culture Little Tramp character in last appearance, final bow Film not silent but without dialogue Singing waiter Finally speaks but in made-up song, after forgetting his lines Original film was scripted with dialogue through department store scenes but abandoned

  3. Framing In a review of the film for the New Republic, Otis Ferguson writes, “It is a feature picture made up of several one- or two-reel shorts, proposed titles being The Shop, The Jailbird, The Watchman, and The Singing Waiter.” (http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1656-modern-times-exit-the-tramp) Little Tramp as everyman, a “fragile soul wounded by a cruel, uncaring world”(http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1656-modern-times-exit-the-tramp) Tramp never to speak but does in Modern Times “Chaplin seems to be drawing a connection between his awareness of the Tramp’s obsolescence—and, potentially, his own—and fears about the mechanization of modern life and its potential for crushing the common man, whom the Tramp has come to symbolize. His apprehensions are writ large in Modern Times, transmuted from a lone filmmaker to all of humanity: it is the machine that is mankind’s true opponent, deadening the senses and twisting flesh into steel.” (http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1656-modern-times-exit-the-tramp) Innocence vs. experience New pastoral?

  4. Biographing Chaplin born in London in 1889 Worked in factory, fear of printing machine led to image of machines devouring men in film Images drawn from early experience, Detroit automobile assembly lines, and dishwashing machine he saw in a Los Angeles restaurant (http://course1.winona.edu/pjohnson/h140/modern.htm) 1913—work with Mack Sennett for Keystone studios, from Keystone cops to new comedic forms Life in review: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0416.html Hollywood premiere of Modern Times on February 11, 1936—at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre One of Disney’s Silly Symphonies opened as short before the film

  5. Biographing Modern Times lawsuit due to claims by company Films Sonores Tobis that Chaplin plagiarized René Clair’s film A Nous la Liberté Clair helped to drop suit, claiming he too had borrowed from Chaplin over the years

  6. Depression Era Filming Transformations in gender roles and family life—13 million workers unemployed Women’s new roles Gone with the Wind’s representations—household servants and field hands as well as Scarlett O’Hara’s role Idea that Hollywood failed to represent the Depression, address its politics Escapism versus realism Fantastic as extension of the real, not total escape Placed against The Grapes of Wrath (1939) Breakdown of the family in both Treatment of the past and ideas about the present Place of industrialization, in the South; Scarlett as businesswoman Oz and the spectacle of capitalism? Following the yellow brick road Depression-era values upheld

  7. Politicking Depression-era films: Modern Times, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz Chaplin’s support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, New Deal—attack on capitalism Film banned in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, considered Communist propaganda Glimpses of Chaplin’s politics—in “Factory Worker” pitted against system Active role during WWII in American Committee for Russian War Relief Chaplin’s politics under scrutiny—file created by J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI House of Un-American Activities Commission began investigating Hollywood figures for Communist sympathies; Chaplin called to testify but fails to show up three times Chaplin barred from reentry to the US after he left for London for premiere of Limelight in 1952

  8. Politicking The Great Dictator (1940), “talkie,” parody of Hitler A King in New York (1957): deposed king sent to US, subjected to McCarthy-esque hearings Returns to US in 1972 to receive Academy Award for lifetime achievement

  9. Key shots From Anatomy of Film: Close-up (CU) (52) Close shot (CS) Extreme close-up (ECU) Long shot (LS)/full shot (FS) Extreme long shot (ELS) Medium shot (MS) Medium close-up (MCU) Establishing shot (ES) Two-shot Three-shot Shot/reverse shot Over-the-shoulder shot High-angle shot (or God’s eye shot or bird’s eye shot) (54): camera positioned above subject Low-angle shot: camera positioned below (55)

  10. Perspectives From Anatomy of Film: Objective shot (56): what the camera sees Subjective camera: what the character sees Point-of-view (POV) shot: point of view of the character Often paired but distinction in presenting character’s thoughts through subjective camera, a “one-sided take on reality” (56) Pan Swish pan “momentary blur” indicating “sudden change or transformation” (60) Tracking shot/dolly shot/crane shot (depending on device) (61) Zoom Focal length as “distance from the center of the lens to the point where the image is in focus” (63) Zoom in or zoom out Freeze frame representing stasis (63)

  11. Measuring time From Anatomy of Film: Scene can be one shot or many shots, one unit of action (64) Sequence as “group of shots forming a self-contained segment of the film” (64) Difference is there can be scenes within a sequence but not sequences between scenes (64) Linear sequence offers connections between incidents as “links in a chain” (65) Elliptical linear sequence when details are omitted to force viewers to make connections (66) Associative sequence links scenes by an object or series of objects (67) Montage as series of shots American montage from 1930s and 1940s films where “time is collapsed as shots blend together, wipe each other away, or are superimposed on each other” (68), uses dissolves

  12. Splicing From Anatomy of Film: Cuts Rough cut/director’s cut/final cut Straight cut “one image instantaneously replaces another” (69) Contrast cut “images replacing each other are dissimilar in nature” (69) Parallel cutting/crosscutting/intercutting “presents two actions occurring simultaneously” (70) Jump cut “break in continuity that leaves a gap in the action” (70) Form cut “cut from one object to another that is similarly shaped” (70) Match cut “one shot complements or ‘matches’ the other,” establishing continuity (70)

  13. Transitioning From Anatomy of Film: Transitions bridge scenes Fade-out light decreases (71) Fade-in light increases (71) Dissolve “gradual replacement of one shot by another,” establishing continuity (72) Synecdoche or metonymy as literary equivalents (73) Form dissolve “merge two images with the same shape or contours” (74) Wipe (used in movies in 1930s and 1940s, 1970s and 1980s in television news programs; similar to curtain dropping in theatre [75]) Masking shot/iris shot “everything is blacked out except what is to be seen telescopically” (76) Irising in (“opening up the darkened frame” [76]) Irising out (“darkness seeping into the frame” [76]) Editing Continuity editing

  14. Fragmentation and disunity From Anatomy of Film: Sergei Eisenstein’s Theory of Montage: idea of collision rather than connection Emphasis on contrast and conflict, “visual conflict of images” (80) Rhythm Time Space Tone Theme

  15. Establishing shots Mise-en-scène (“staging of a play” or film [86]) Framing Tight framing “subject appears to be confined within the horizontal and vertical borders of the frame, so that there is not even a hint of offscreen space,” feeling of oppression (88) Canted shot “frame looks lopsided” (88) Iconography consciously evoking a famous painting or person from another era (91) Deep focus “foreground, middle ground, and background” are “equally visible” (93) Shallow focus “foreground is more distinct than the background” (93) Rack focus background is a blur and foreground sharp and then switches, a way to “conceal a character’s identity until the filmmaker is ready to reveal it” (93) Long take (“shot that lasts more than a minute” [95]) Steadicam, handheld camera