The Early Comedy Of Role Reversal

The Lady Eve (1941), by writer-director Preston Sturges, tells the story of a smart young woman (Barbara Stanwyck) who is a professional gambler. She meets a rich young man (Henry Fonda) aboard an ocean liner. She determines their fate they fall in love. When he learns that she is a gambler, he breaks off the relationship. Ashore, filled with the desire for revenge, she dons a British accent and visits his home. She convinces him that, because she looks so much like the first woman, she must be...

The unity of sound

The remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) is commendable for its use of style to triumph over substance. If Psycho is the ultimate audience picture, filled with killing and nerve-wrenching unpredictability, The Man Who Knew Too Much is almost academic in its absence of emotional engagement despite the story of a family under threat. Having witnessed the killing of a spy, Dr. McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife Jo (Doris Day) are prevented from telling all they know when their son is...

International Perspectives

Griffith was the first great international filmmaker and that the drop in European production during World War I helped American production assume a far greater international position than it might have otherwise. It should not be surprising, then, that in 1918 Griffith and his editing innovations were the prime influence on filmmakers around the world. In the Soviet Union, Griffith's Intolerance was the subject of intense study for its technical achievements...

Editing Concerns

Beyond understanding the characteristics of the genre he is working with, the editor must focus on the target of the humor. Is it aimed by a character at him- or herself, or does the humor occur at the expense of another Screen comedy has a long tradition of comic characters who are the target of the humor. Beyond these performers, the target of the humor must be highlighted by the editor. If the target is the comic performer, what aspect of the character is the source of the comedy It was the...

Style for its own sake

It is not always the case that style supports the narrative. Often style is presented as a substitute for a weak narrative or is, in the view of the director, a necessary overmodulation simulating the thematic extremes of the narrative. To be specific about style, we need only look to films such as Fellini Satyricon (1970) or Cornel Wilde's Beach Red (1967) to see style overwhelming the content. On the other hand, in each case, the style spoke to the director's view of ancient Rome or about...

Radio

Whether film or radio was a more popular medium in the 1930s is related to the question of whether film or television is a more popular medium today. There is little question today that the influence of television is broader and, because of its journalistic role, more powerful than film. The situation was similar with radio in the 1930s. Radio was the instrument of communication for American presidents (for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats) and for entertainers such as Jack Benny...

The Return Of Miseenscne

As a style, mise-en-sc ne is associated with Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941) and Touch of Evil (1958), with Max Oph ls in Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) and Lola Mont s (1955). These filmmakers, building upon the work of F. W. Murnau in the 1920s (The Last Laugh, 1924), essentially moved the camera to avoid editing. The elegance of their camera movement recorded performance and added a more subtle editorial direction. In Welles' case, a sense of aesthetic virtuosity was created in the...

Altman the freedom of chaos

Robert Altman is a particularly interesting director whose primary interest is to capture creatively and ironically a sense of modern life. He does not dwell on urban anxiety as Woody Allen does or search for the new altruism a la Sidney Lumet in Serpico (1973) and Prince of the City (1981). Altman uses his films to deconstruct myth (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 1971) and to capture the ambience of place and time (The Long Goodbye, 1973). He uses a freer editing style to imply that our chaotic times...

The Technological Revolution

Film and video, the two most technology-dependent art forms of the twentieth century, have witnessed a profound acceleration in change, the shift from analog to digital-driven technology. The implications are enormous. In pre-production, computer software is available for pre-visualization of scenes. Color and design opportunities, in essence computer animation, deepens the predictability of the potential elements of an image. During production, nonlinear editing allows for rapid assemblies...

Experimentation with sound

Francis Ford Coppola's entire career seems to have been driven by a need to innovate and to find artistic solutions to narrative goals. Early in his career, he used music to suggest that You're a Big Boy Now (1966) was more than a story of one teenager, but rather like George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973) the story of an entire generation. In The Conversation (1974), he elevated the sound effect to the equivalent of dialogue. The film's lead character is a private investigator who...

An Early Dialogue Sequence

As stated earlier, the very first dialogue sequences were visually structured to facilitate the actual recording of the sound. Consequently, the mid- to long shot was used to record entire dialogue sequences. As the technology developed, more options complemented the midshot approach to the dialogue sequence. But as important as the technology proved to be, the creative options developed by directors were equally effective in broadening the editing repertoire of the dialogue sequence. By...

Amplification

The process of amplification can expand the realism of the film to embrace emotional as well as physical realism, or it can alter the meaning of the visuals to suit the intended vision. The process, then, is not so much emphasis as it is expansion or alteration. Perhaps no task of the sound editor is more important than the decision about physical realism versus emotional realism. The opposite extremes are present in two cinema verite documentaries. Roman Kroitor and Wolf Koenig's Lonely Boy...

Evolution of pace in filmmaking

Eisenstein opened the door on the issue of pace and a wide variety of filmmakers walked through that door. King Vidor effectively used pace to build an aesthetic tension in the march through the woods sequence in The Big Parade. Walter Ruttmann used pace to capture the energy of the city in Berlin Symphony of a Great City. And Frank Capra used pace to energize his dialogue-heavy narrative in You Can't Take it With You. The great leaps forward, however, would await the 1950s. In that decade,...

The Role Of The Editor

It is an overstatement for any one person involved in filmmaking to claim that his or her role is the exclusive source of creativity in the filmmaking process. Filmmaking requires collaboration it requires the skills of an army of people. When filmmaking works best, each contribution adds to the totality of our experience of the film. The corollary, of course, is that any deficit in performance can be ruinous to the film. To put the roles into perspective, it's easiest to think of each role as...

The Case Of The Thin Red Line

Terry Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) is a war film about the battle for Guadalcanal. War films, whether they focus on a battle, a war, or a patrol that is a minor piece of a war, have a beginning, middle, and end. The end or resolution addresses whether the main character survived or did not. The tone of such films usually varies, ranging from patriotic films such as Guadalcanal Diary (1942) to the antiwar polemic of films such as Too Late the Hero (1970), a Pacific war film made while the...

Feminism and antinarrative editing

Although some female directors have chosen subject matter and an editing style similar to those of male directors,5 there are a number who, like von Trotta, have consciously differentiated themselves from the male conventions in the genres in which they choose to work. For example, Amy Heckerling has directed a teenage comedy from a girl's perspective. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) breaks many of the stereotypes of the genre, particularly the attitudes about sex roles and sexuality....

Intensity the closeup

In Notorious (1946), Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) marries Alex (Claude Rains) in order to spy on him. She works with Devlin (Cary Grant). Alex is suspected of being involved in nefarious activities. He is financed by former Nazis in the pursuit of uranium production. He is the leading suspect pursued by Devlin and the U.S. agency he represents. Alicia's assignment is to discover what that activity is. When she becomes suspicious of a locked wine cellar in the home, she alerts Devlin. He suggests...

Cinema verit

The wide screen forced filmmakers to give more attention to composition for continuity and promoted the avoidance of editing through the use of the foreground-background relationship. Cinema verit promoted a different set of visual characteristics for continuity. Cinema verit is the term used for a particular style of documentary filmmaking. The post-war developments in magnetic sound recording and in lighter, portable cameras, particularly for 16 mm, allowed a less intrusive filmmaking style....

Action

Because film is a visual medium, movement, which was originally the novelty of the medium, has naturally become its showpiece. Nothing better illustrates the power of movement in film than the action sequence. Action sequences are a key reason for the success of the Western and gangster genres. Whether it features a chase, a showdown, or a battle, the action sequence has a visceral appeal for audiences. This type of sequence is not confined to the genres where action seems natural, however....

The Elevation Of Cinema Verite

Cinema verite, beginning with its ideological underpinnings in the work of Dziga Vertov (see Chapter 1), has been principally viewed as affiliated with the documentary. Indeed, together with the personal documentary and the educational-political documentary, cinema verite is one of the 3 principal ideologies of the documentary. Its affiliation with the dramatic film dates from the 1960s the British kitchen sink dramas, the New Wave films of JeanLuc Godard, and the docudramas of Peter Watkins...

Word About Film Examples

When Reisz's book was published, it was difficult to view the films he used as examples. Consequently, a considerable number of shot sequences from the films he discussed were included in the book. The most significant technological change affecting this book is the advent of the VCR and the growing availability of films on videotape, videodisc, and now on digital versatile disc (DVD). Because the number of films available on video is great, I have tried to select examples from these films. The...

Innovations in Documentary I

Too often in the past two decades, the announcement has been made, The documentary is dead. But stubbornly it has not come to pass. The reason, principally, is the documentary's flexibility. For so long associated with educational and political goals, the documentary has more recently aggressively embraced the entertainment impulse that has swept through broadcast news and reality programming. Less obvious but no less important is the documentary's hold on past generations. Its affiliation with...

Changes In The Use Of Narration

Although narration is totally absent (by definition) in cinema verite, it is a formative presence in the other genres of documentary. Narration, as one of the three layers of sound (dialogue and music are the others), is a very powerful tool. As we will see in our discussion of Clement Perron's Day After Day (1965) in Chapter 28, The Sound Edit and Creative Sound, narration has the capacity to alter the meaning of the visual. The classic role of narration, the Voice of God, was essentially...

Randomness upon pace

One of the remarkable elements of editing is that the juxtaposition of any grouping of shots implies meaning. The pacing of those shots suggests the interpretation of that meaning. The consequence of this is seen in microcosm when a random shot or cutaway is edited into a scene it introduces a new idea. This principle is elaborated where there are a number of random shots in a scene. If edited for effect, the combination of shots creates a meaning quite distinct from the sum of the individual...

Imitation and Innovation

In this chapter, we explore a new phenomenon, the movie whose style is created from the context of movie life rather than real life. The consequence is twofold the presumption of deep knowledge on the part of the audience of those forms such as the gangster films or Westerns, horror films or adventure films. And that the parody or alteration of that film creates a new form, a different experience for the audience. This imitative and innovative style is a style associated with the brief but...

The Closeup And The Long Shot

Griffith created a pattern of fragmentation of shots that differentiated long shots, or shots that established location and context, and close-shots, or shots that were emphatic, emotional, and intense. Eisenstein built on Griffith's innovations by using the juxtaposition of images to create conflict. In effect this meant a polarization of the kind of shots used, with Eisenstein using more close-ups than had been the practice. Those directors who sidestepped mise-en-sc ne and chose to be...

Innovations of Sound

In the era of digital Dolby sound, a logical question to pose is whether the technical innovations in sound, which have been considerable, have led to a new aesthetic, or at least to a number of innovations that broaden the sound repertoire. The answer is no and yes. Before we discuss those innovations, it's useful to look at how we have gotten to where we are in sound. As mentioned earlier, the earliest use of sound in film quickly progressed from novelty to creative deployment in the work of...

Leni Riefenstahl And olympia

It would be simple to dismiss Leni Riefenstahl's work as Nazi propaganda (Figure 3.9). Although Riefenstahl's Olympia Parts I and II (1938) are films of the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin and hosted by Adolph Hitler's Nazi government, Riefenstahl's film attempts to create a sensibility about the human form that transcends national boundaries. Using 50 camera operators and the latest lenses, Riefenstahl had at her disposal slow-motion images, microimages, and images of staggering scale. She...

Past Reliance On Linearity

In the period where film and video narratives were popular cultural forms intended for the largest mass audiences on an international as well as national level, linearity as a narrative principle was critical. The codes of linear narrative the goal-directed main character, the antagonist so superior in his counter-goal as to make a hero of the main character, the linear plot veering from point to counterpoint with an accelerating speed, and, of course, the inevitable resolution which justified...

The Wartime Documentary Imagination And Propaganda

The remainder of this chapter provides a more detailed examination of Humphrey Jennings's Listen to Britain (1942). It explores how Jennings edited his film to be more than a record of everyday life in war-torn Britain (Figure 21.1). Figure 21.1 Listen to Britain, 1942. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive. Figure 21.1 Listen to Britain, 1942. Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive. Listen to Britain was one of many documentaries made during World War II. The most...

Innovations in Documentary II

Fahrenheit 9 11 (2004), by Michael Moore, represents a watershed in documentary film history. On one level, having earned almost 200 million, including ancillary revenue, it is the most commercially successful documentary of all time. Earnings rivaled the vast majority of dramatic films made in 2003. On another level, however, the film demarks the adoption of dramatic-entertainment values as opposed to the educational-informational values more often associated with the documentary. Fahrenheit 9...

Interior life as external landscape

The premise of many of Resnais's narratives that the past lives on in the character was very much the issue for both Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. They each found different solutions to the problem of externalizing the interior lives of their characters. When Fellini made 81 2 in 1963, he was interested in finding editing solutions in the narrative. In doing so, he not only produced a film that marked the height of personal cinema, he also explored what, until that time, had been...

The importance of feeling states

One of the central features of the MTV style is the importance of creating a definite feeling state. This is not an issue of the need to challenge the primacy of plot. Rather it begins with the close relationship of the MTV style with music. Music particularly without lyrics synthesizes human emotion. The brain processes sound. It was Bergman who faster than images stated the goal of the film experience it should be like music. This equation of music with heightened emotional experience was...

The Sound Edit and Clarity

In the picture edit, the rough assembly begins the process of narrative clarification. The goal at the end of the rough picture assembly is a clear narrative in which performance and story progression can be evaluated. The goal of the rough sound edit is equivalent to achieve believability of performance and a progressive sense of the story. Issues of dramatic emphasis and metaphor are left for the fine cut for sound as well as visuals. The fine-tuning of the sound edit is discussed in the next...

Role Reversal

In 1982, Blake Edwards wrote and directed Victor Victoria. In the 40 years between The Lady Eve and Victor Victoria, the balance between the verbal and visual elements of comedy shifted. Today's films have a much greater variety of visual humor. Victor Victoria is the story of a young performer, Victoria (Julie Andrews) who is not very successful in 1930s Paris until she meets a gay performer, Toddy (Robert Preston), who suggests that she would improve her career if she pretended to be a man...

Dreamstates subjectivity and motion

Perhaps no film of Hitchcock's is as complex or as ambitious as Vertigo (1958), which is the story of a detective, Scottie (James Stewart), whose fear of heights leads to his retirement (Figure 6.2). The detective is hired by an old classmate to follow his wife, Madelaine (Kim Novak), whom he fears is suicidal, possessed by the ghost of an ancestor who had committed suicide. She does commit suicide by jumping from a church tower, but not before Scottie has fallen in love with her. Despondent,...

Alexander Dovzhenko Editing By Visual Association

In his concept of intellectual montage, Eisenstein was free to associate any two images to communicate an idea about a person, a class, or a historical event. This freedom was similar to Vertov's freedom to be playful about the clash of reality and illusion, as illustrated by the duality of the filmmaking process in The Man with a Movie Camera. Alexander Dovzhenko, a Ukra-nian filmmaker, viewed as his goal neither straight narrative nor documentary. His film Earth (1930) is best characterized...

Artificial Reality

To understand this imagined reality more deeply, its best to consider the operational choices different filmmakers have used to achieve an imagined reality by pushing artifice. Consider five options as pathways to what I will call artificial reality. These pathways are the use of video rather than film, the use of constructed artifice, the use of the imagined over the observational, the use of spectacle, and the use of special effects. Each of these options is clearly artificial. At times, the...

The wide screen

To give some perspective to the wide screen, it is important to realize that before 1950 films were presented in Academy aspect ratio that is, the width-to-height ratio of the viewing screen was 1- -1.33 (Figure 7.1). This ratio was replicated in the aperture plate for cameras as well as projectors. There were exceptions. As early as 1927, Abel Gance used a triptych approach, filming particular sequences in his Napoleon (1927) with three cameras and later projecting the images simultaneously....

Sequencesmemorandum

This chapter uses a single film, Memorandum (1966), to examine the documentary. Memorandum was produced at the National Film Board of Canada. Donald Brittain and John Spotton directed it, and Spotton also photographed and edited the film. The documentary examines the Holocaust from a retrospective point of view. The film centers around the visit of a concentration camp survivor, Bernard Lauffer, to Bergen-Belsen, the camp from which he had been liberated 20 years earlier. In April 1965, Lauffer...

The Case Of Listen To Britain

The British war documentary ranged from direct, narration-driven films such as Desert Victory (1943) to the nonnarrative treatment of Listen to Britain. Jennings's treatment of a Britain under assault from the air and under threat of invasion was unhurried and indirect. As Alan Lovell and Jim Hillier write, It is a most unwarlike film. Its basic motivation is a balance between menace (to a culture rather than to material things) on the one hand and harmony and continuity from the past on the...

The Artists Of Nonlinear Narrative

The contributions of Porter, Griffith, and Vidor to the history and practice of film editing is that they created a series of editing choices that underpinned linear narratives the close-up to articulate clearly the goal of the main character, a cutaway to provide an analogy for what the character was thinking about, and pace to provide an emotional rhythm for the clash of the main character's goal with the barriers to that goal. All these choices, including extreme long shots, camera...

The Personal Documentary

The personal documentary is different from the social political documentary or the cinema verite documentary. The cinema verite documentary, which is rooted in the philosophy of filmmaking of Dziga Vertov, suggested that the great strength of the documentary and of film was its capacity to capture real life events as they happen. For Vertov, this represented the highest aesthetic of the medium. The result is films such as The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), which was the inspiration for a...

Obliteration of time and space

In order to create feeling states and to downgrade plot and its importance, the filmmaker must also undermine the gestalt impulse to make sense of what we see. To put in another way, the viewer will organize a pattern of sounds and images into a progression of thought, an applied linearity, even if one is not available on the surface. To counteract the impulse to organize those images and sounds into the narrative that may not be present, the filmmaker must challenge the impulse more deeply....

Breaking expectations

Perhaps no filmmakers represent as great a break from expectations as a trio of filmmakers with the independent filmmaking spirit Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Oliver Stone. In his work in Raging Bull (1980), Martin Scorsese uses a metaphor to create a style. This tale is of a man whose aggression was so great that prizefighting was simply an extension of his life. The metaphor Scorsese borrows is from opera. Many nineteenth-century operas included a ballet within the opera. Using the music...

Mixing Genres

Since the 1980s, writers and directors have been experimenting with mixing genres. Each genre represents particular conventions for editing. For example, the horror genre relies on a high degree of stylization, using subjective camera placement and motion. Because of the nature of the subject matter, pace is important. Although film noir also highlights the world of the nightmare, it tends to rely less on movement and pace. Indeed, film noir tends to be even more stylized and more abstract than...

Conclusion

The silent period, 1885-1930, was an age of great creation and experimentation. It was the period when editing, unfettered by sound, came to maturity and provided a full range of options for the filmmaker. They included considerations of visual continuity, the deconstruction of scenes into shots, the development of parallel editing, the replacement of real time by a dramatic sense of time, poetic editing styles, the assertive editing theories of Eisenstein, and the asynchronous editing styles...

Rhythm

In general, the rhythm of a film seems to be an individual and intuitive matter. We know when a film does not have a rhythm. The jerkiness of the editing draws attention to itself. When the film has an appropriate rhythm, the editing appears to be seamless, and we become totally involved with the characters and the story. Of course, intuition alone is not enough. Some practical considerations help determine an appropriate length for particular shots within a sequence. The amount of visual...

Became Directors

One of the more interesting career developments in film has been the transition from editors to directors. Two of the most successful, Robert Wise and David Lean, are the subject of this chapter. Is it necessary and natural for editors to become directors The answer is no. Is editing the best route to directing Not necessarily, but editing can be invaluable, as demonstrated by the subjects of this chapter. What strengths do editors bring to directing Narrative clarity, for one Editors are...

Melding past and present alain resnais

Hiroshima Mon Amour Movie

For Alain Resnais, film stories may exist on a continuum of developing action the present , but that continuum must include everything that is part of the main character's consciousness. For Resnais, a character is a collection of memories and past experiences. To enter the story of a particular character is to draw on those collective memories because those memories are the context for the character's current behavior. Resnais's creative challenge was to find ways to recognize the past in the...

Theoretical issues concerning sound

The theoretical debate about the use of sound was a deliberate effort to counter the observation that the sound film was nothing more than a filmed play complete with dialogue. It was an attempt to view the new technology of sound as a gain for the evolution of film as an art. Consequently, it was not surprising that the first expression of this impulse came from Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Grigori Alexandrov. Their statement was published in a Leningrad magazine in 1928.1 Eisenstein, Pudovkin,...

Peckinpah alienation and anarchy

Sam Peckinpah's career before The Wild Bunch 1969 suggested his preference for working within the Western genre, but nothing in the style of his earlier Westerns, Ride the High Country 1962 and Major Dundee 1965 , suggested his overwhelming reliance on editing in The Wild Bunch. The-matically, the passing of the West and of its values provides the continuity between these films and those that followed, primarily The Ballad of Cable Hogue 1970 and Junior Bonner 1972 . Peckinpah's later films,...

Dramatic time and pace

In real time, the killing of Marion Crane would be over in seconds. By disassembling the details of the killing and trying to shock the audience with the killing, Hitchcock lengthened real time. As in the Odessa Steps sequence in Potemkin, the subject matter and its intensity allow the filmmaker to alter real time. The shower scene begins with a relaxed pace for the prologue the shots of Crane beginning her shower. This relaxed pacing returns after the murder itself, when Marion, now dying,...

The case of Tampopo

The MTV style was used to create a chaotic context for the main character in Saving Private Ryan. The result is to pose the question How will he survive rather than the traditional question about the main character in a war film Will he survive In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the MTV style realigns our expectations of the kung fu adventure film. And in Life Is Beautiful, the MTV style reiterates the central theme of the narrative. In each case, the MTV style has had a relation to the...

Film Continuity Begins

The pivotal year in Porter's work was 1903. In that year, he began to use a visual continuity that made his films more dynamic. Melies had used theatrical devices and a playful sense of the fantastic to make his films seem more dynamic. Porter, impressed by the length and quality of Melies's work, discovered that the organization of shots in his films could make his screen stories seem more dynamic. He also discovered that the shot was the basic building block of the film. As Karel Reisz...

The Case Of The Ice Storm

Ang Lee's The Ice Storm 1997 takes place in upper-middle-class suburban Connecticut. The time is 1974 just prior to Nixon's resignation. The narrative focuses on two families, the Hoods and the Carvers. Both have two teenaged children. The families are dysfunctional in the sense that no one seems to be able to help one another. Consequently Ben Hood and Janie Carver are having an affair their children Wendy Hood and Mikey Carver are trying to echo their parental units. The others in the...

On Editing II

In the last chapter we explored the characteristics of the MTV style in editing. Whereas linear narratives proceed by focusing a viewer's identification with a main character, the MTV approach proceeds using a less specific focus. Consequently, pace, subjectivity, and the close-up are not used to build an identification with the main character. In the MTV style, they are used to generate a less specific intensity. Pace and subjectivity in general are not used to move us up a dramatic arc...

Camera Placement And Pace The Intervention Of Subjective States

Numerous filmmakers have used a subjective camera placement and or shifts in pace to alert us that the narrative has shifted into a subjective or dream or unreal state as opposed to the in-the-world, real state that has preceded it. Beginning with Georges Melies, best known for his film A Trip to the Moon 1902 , subjective states have been a narrative concern and creative challenge. Luis Bunuel simply ignored the distinction between the objective and subjective from his first film, Un Chien...

Notesreferences

Paul Swann, The British Documentary Film Movement, 1926-1946 Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 1989 , 9. 3. Richard Meran Barsam, ed., Nonfiction Film A Critical History New York E. P. Dutton, 1973 , 99-100. 4. Richard Dyer MacCann, World War II Armed Forces Documentary 1943 , in Nonfiction Film Theory and Criticism, Richard Meran Barsam, ed. New York E. P. Dutton, 1976 , 139. 5. Alan Lovell and Jim Hillier, Studies in Documentary London Martin Secker and Warburg, 1972 , 105. 7. Quoted...

The Contemporary Context

Action has exploded recently in the U.S. film industry. It seems that the more action a film has, the more successful it is. Advances in technology and special effects have played a role here however, the renewed popularity of action movies has meant the development of a cadre of directors who are the Siegels and Hathaways of their day. Action sequences have become far more important and expensive than they were in the time of Siegel or Hathaway. These directors have become the most successful...

Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers, from a story by Quentin Tarantino, tells the story of two mass murderers, Mickey and Mallory Knox Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis . The film begins with a killing spree, moves back to their meeting and their three-week sweep through the Southwest. In those three weeks, they kill 52 people. They are captured, after being snakebitten, while looking for snakebite serum in a drugstore. Their captor, Detective Jack Scagnetti, seems as pathological as the two young killers....

Basil Wright And night mail

Night Mail 1936 , produced by John Grierson and the General Post Office film unit and directed by Basil Wright, was certainly purposive, and it used sound particularly to create the message of the film. The film itself is a simple story of the delivery of the mail by train from London to Glasgow, but it is also about the commitment and harmony of the postal workers. If the film has a simple message, it's the importance of the job of delivering the mail. The sense of harmony among the workers is...

Dialogue

As mentioned earlier, dialogue can also yield results beyond the literal content of the words. In Richard Lester's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 1966 , when Sudellus Zero Mostel speaks loudly and his master's son, Hero, whispers softly in response, the shift in tone immediately tells us something about each character. The same is true of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane 1941 . When Kane and Leland speak, the tone, pitch, and loudness variations tell us about their relationship and...

Herzog Other Worlds

Stanley Kubrick was not alone in using an editing style to create a psychological context for a place or a character. Werner Herzog created a megalomania that requires conquests in Aguirre The Wrath of God 1972 . Aguirre the Spanish conquistador is the subject of the film. Even more challenging was Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser 1974 , the nineteenth-century story about a foundling who, having been kept isolated, has no human communication skills at the onset of the story. He is taken in...

Constructing A Lucid Continuity

Seamlessness has become a popular term to describe effective editing. A seamless, or smooth, cut is the editor's first goal. A seamless cut doesn't draw attention to itself and comes at a logical point within the shot. What is that logical point It is not always obvious, but viewers always notice when an inappropriate edit point has been selected. For example, suppose that a character is crossing the room in one shot and is seated in the next. These two shots do not match because we haven't...

Matching Flow Over A

What is the best way to show action without making the continuity appear to be mechanical Every action has a visual component that can be disassembled into its various parts. Having breakfast may mean removing the food from the refrigerator, preparing the meal, laying out the dishes, eating, and cleaning up. If a scene calls for a character to eat breakfast, all of these sundry elements would add up to some rather elaborate action that is probably irrelevant to the scene's dramatic intention....

The Nonlinear Narrative

Nonlinear storytelling has been a factor at least since Luis Bunuel's Un Chien d'Andalou 1929 . Although unusual and the exception to the rule, it is by no means unimportant, as a film such as Orson Welles's Citizen Kane 1941 attests. However, to understand the notion of nonlinearity, it is important to first define the linear narrative. One feature of the linear narrative is its reliance on plot and upon our involvement with the main character. A second equally important feature of the linear...

Questions Of Ethics Politics And Aesthetics

Documentary filmmakers go out and film events that affect the lives of particular people. They film in the place that the event occurs with the people who are involved. They then edit the film. Questions immediately arise. Would the truest representation of the facts be obtained by simply stringing all of the footage together, or is some shaping necessary As soon as the shaping process begins, ethical questions arise. Is the event honestly presented Does it accurately reflect the perceptions of...

The case of ang lees Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

The set piece as a challenge for filmmakers is as old as Griffith's Intolerance 1916 . The set piece has ranged from sensational to more purposeful intentions. The attack on the train in Lean's Lawrence of Arabia 1962 is spectacle attuned to mythmaking. The cornfield sequence in Hitchcock's North by Northwest 1959 , on the other hand, is almost academic in its confident approach to the chase. Ranging in between we have the final shootout in Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch 1969 and the car chase in...

The General An Early Action Sequence

Buster Keaton's The General 1927 is set during the Civil War Figure 17.1 . Johnny Gray Keaton is a railroad engineer who attempts to enlist when the war begins. He is refused. His girlfriend, Annabelle Marion Beck , views the rejection as a result of his cowardice. Most of the story relates to a Union plot to steal Gray's train, which is called the General, and take it north. Johnny Gray is outraged when the train is stolen. He pursues the Union men to recapture the train. Unbeknownst to...

Leans

Like all directors, David Lean had particular ideas or themes that recurred in his work. How he presented those themes or integrated them into his films is the artful dimension of his work. Lean made several period films and used exotic locations as the backdrop for his stories. For him, the majesty of the human adventure lent a certain per spective that events and behavior are inscrutable and noble, the very opposite to the modern day penchant for scientific rationalism. Whether this means...

Dziga Vertov The Experiment Of Realism

If Eisenstein illustrated an editing theory devoted to reshaping reality to incite the population to support the revolution, Dziga Vertov was as vehement that only the documented truth could be honest enough to bring about true revolution. Vertov described his goals in the film The Man with a Movie Camera 1929 as follows The Man with a Movie Camera constitutes an experiment in the cinematic transmission of visual phenomena without the aid of intertitles a film with no intertitles , script a...

Frank Capra And why we fight

Frank Capra, one of Hollywood's most successful directors, was commissioned by then-Chief of Staff George C. Marshall to produce a series of films to prepare soldiers inducted into the army for going to war. The Why We Fight series 1943-1945 , seven films produced to be shown to the troops, are among the most successful propaganda films ever made. As Richard Dyer MacCann suggests about the films, They attempted 1 to destroy faith in isolation, 2 to build up a sense of the strength and at the...

The Case Of Happiness

Todd Solondz's Happiness 1998 is a portrait of a suburban family, the Jordans. The story focuses on the parents, Mona and Lenny Jordan their adult daughters, Joy, Helen, and Trish Bill Maplewood, a psychiatrist, and the husband of Trish Jordan Billy, the son of Bill and Trish Maplewood Andy, Joy's boyfriend and Allen, a patient of Bill Maplewood. The prism for the narratives is relationships love relationships, relationships of desire, parent-child relationships, and sibling relationships. The...

The Picture Edit and Pace

Once the rough assembly is satisfactory, the question of narrative clarity has, to a certain extent, been satisfied. Shots flow from one to another and suggest continuity. What is still lacking is the dramatic emphasis of one shot relative to another. This is the role of pace, which is fine-tuned in the second editing stage. The product of this stage, the fine cut, is the culmination of all of the editor's decisions. At the end of the fine cut, the choices have all been made, and the sound...

Multipurpose Dialogue

Mike Nichols was very creative about the editing of his dialogue sequences in The Graduate 1967 . In the first dialogue sequence, Benjamin Dustin Hoffman confesses to his father that he is worried about his future. The entire scene is presented in a single midshot of Benjamin. When the father joins the conversation, he enters the frame and sits out of focus in the foreground. More typical is the famous seduction scene in which Mrs. Robinson Anne Bancroft proposes an affair to Benjamin. This...

Early experiment in soundalfred hitchcocks Blackmail

Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail 1929 has many of the characteristics of the earliest sound films. It was shot in part as a silent film and in part as a sound film. The silent sequences have music and occasional sound effects. These sequences are dynamic the opening sequence, which shows the apprehension and booking of a criminal by the police, is a good example. Camera movement is fluid, images are textured, and the editing is fast-paced. The sound sequences, on the other hand, are dominated by...

The case of Life Is Beautiful

Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful 1997 is unusual in that its set pieces are concept-driven and their pace has almost no role in their effectiveness. They are, nevertheless, an example of the MTV style. Rather than looking to the historical examples mentioned earlier in this chapter, it's more meaningful to look at Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times 1936 and Woody Allen's Sleeper 1975 . Like those comedies, which were built up around the persona of the actor-director, Life Is Beautiful is a fable...

A dramatic punctuation the sound cut

Hitchcock found a novel way to link the concepts of trains and murders in The 39 Steps 1935 . Richard Hannay Robert Donat has taken into his home a woman who tells him she is a spy and is being followed she and the country are in danger. He is woken up by the woman, who now has a knife in her back and a map in her hand. To escape a similar fate, he pretends to be a milkman, sidesteps the murderers who are waiting for him, and takes a train to Scotland, where he will follow the map she has given...

International Advances

The year 1950 is a useful point to demarcate a number of changes in film history, among them the pervasive movement for change in film. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the growth in achievement and importance on an international level. Just as Hollywood experimented with the wide screen in this period, a group of British filmmakers challenged the orthodoxy of the documentary, a group of French writers who became filmmakers suggested that film authorship allowed personal styles to be...

Suspense the extreme long shot

In Foreign Correspondent 1940 , Johnnie Jones Joel McCrea has discovered that the Germans have kidnapped a European diplomat days before the beginning of World War II. The rest of the world believes that the diplomat was assassinated in Holland, but it was actually a double who was killed. Only Jones knows the truth. Back in London, he attempts to expose the story and unwittingly confides in a British politician Herbert Marshall who secretly works for the Nazis. Now Jones's own life is...

Preserving Screen Direction

Screen Direction The Direction

Narrative continuity requires that the sense of direction be maintained. In most chase sequences, the heroes seem to occupy one side of the screen, and the villains occupy the other. They approach one another from opposite directions. Only when they come together in battle do they appear in the same frame. Maintaining screen direction is critical if the film is to avoid confusion and keep the characters distinct. A strict left-to-right or right-to-left pattern must be maintained. When a...

Subjective Point of View

The use of subjective camera placement has already been mentioned, but subjective camera placement alone doesn't account for the power Lean's sequences can have. The burial scene in Doctor Zhivago illustrates this point. In 32 shots running just over 3 minutes, Lean re-created the 5-year-old Yuri Zhivago's range of feelings at the burial of his mother. The sequence begins in extreme long shot. The burial party proceeds. Two-thirds of the frame are filled by sky and mountains. The procession is...

The case of In The Mood For Love

Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love is ostensibly a very simple love story set in 1962 Hong Kong. Overcrowding leads 2 young couples to rent rooms with other families. The man, Chow Mo Wan, works in a newspaper office. The woman, Su Li Zhen, works as a secretary for the head of a business. We never see his wife or her husband, but eventually we understand that his wife and her husband have been carrying on an affair. The marriages dissolve, and Chow Mo Wan and Su Li Zhen begin their own affair....

Luis Bunuel Visual Discontinuity

Chien Andalou Bunuel Dali 1929

Surrealism, expressionism, and psychoanalysis were intellectual currents that affected all of the arts in the 1920s. In Germany, expressionism was the most influential, but among the artistic community in Paris, surrealism had Figure 1.29 The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929. Still provided by British Film Institute. Figure 1.29 The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929. Still provided by British Film Institute. Figure 1.30 The Man with a Movie Camera, 1929. Still provided by Moving Image and Sound...

Sergei Eisenstein The Theory Of Montage

Intellectual Montage Eisenstein

Eisenstein was the second of the key Russian filmmakers. As a director, he was perhaps the greatest. He also wrote extensively about film ideas and eventually taught a generation of Russian directors. In the early 1920s, however, he was a young, committed filmmaker. Figure 1.12 Mother, 1926. Still provided by Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archives. Figure 1.12 Mother, 1926. Still provided by Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archives. Figure 1.13 Mother, 1926. Still provided by Museum of...

The case of Saving Private Ryan

Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan is a traditional war film framed by a modern prologue. The former Private Ryan, with his wife, children, and grandchildren, visit the American cemetery where so many who died on D-Day and in its immediate aftermath are buried. He is there to visit the grave of Captain John Miller who died on the rescue mission that saved his life. The body of the narrative focuses on D-Day and the mission to save Ryan, after the War Department receives word that his three...

Matching Action

To provide cut points within shots, directors often ask performers to introduce body language or vocalization within shots. The straightening of a tie and the clearing of a throat are natural points to cut from long shot to close-up when there is no physical movement within the frame to provide the cut point. Where movement is involved, here-to-there is a trick directors use to avoid filming an entire action. When an actor approaches a door, he puts his hand on the doorknob when he greets...

Robert Flaherty And man of aran

Man Aran Film

Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran 1934 closely resembles a commercial film. In this fictionalized story of the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland, Flaherty used actual islanders in the film, but he created the plot according to his goals rather than basing it on the lives of the islanders. Man of Aran tells the story of a family that lives in a setting where they are dwarfed by nature and challenged by the land and sea. Flaherty used two shark hunts to suggest the bravery of the islanders, and...

The Case Of Magnolia

Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia 1999 functions as a nonlinear drama but, as in the case of Anderson's other films, it also functions as a movie about moviemaking a constructed reality , or more broadly the media. In the case of Magnolia, the prologue consists of narration. A skeptical nar rator describes in detail 3 remarkable coincidences from the past. Each is framed as a past how-done-it as opposed to a who-done-it. Each incident ends in a death the first a murder, the second an accident,...

A simple introduction parallel action

Strangers on a Train 1951 is the story of two strangers who meet on a train one is a famous tennis player Farley Granger , the other is a psychopath Robert Walker . Bruno, the psychopath, suggests to Guy that if they murdered the person who most hampers the progress of the other's life, no one would know. There would be no motive. So begins this story of murder, but before the offer is made, Hitchcock introduced us to the two strangers in a rather novel way. Using parallel editing, Hitchcock...

Imaginative Documentary

As discussed in Chapters 7 and 25, realism is the basis of the documentary. When a documentary is edited, the footage of an event is made to conform 10 an interpretation of the event that, within the parameters of sponsorship, is truthful. The greatest expression of this characteristic of the documentary is found in cinema verite works. What if the filmmaker's goal is to reveal an insight or an interpretation that wouldn't be available from a straightforward editing of the footage What if the...

D W Griffith Dramatic Construction

Griffith is the acknowledged father of film editing in its modern sense. His influence on the Hollywood mainstream film and on the Russian revolutionary film was immediate. His contributions cover the full range of dramatic construction the variation of shots for impact, including the extreme long shot, the close-up, the cutaway, and the tracking shot parallel editing and variations in pace. All of these are ascribed to Griffith. Porter might have clarified film narrative in his work, but...

Levels of meaning the cutaway

In The 39 Steps, Hannay is on the run from the law. He has sought refuge for the night at the home of a Scottish farmer. The old farmer has a young wife that Hannay mistakes for his daughter. When the three of them sit down for dinner, the farmer prays. Hannay, who has been reading the paper, notices an article about his escape and his portrayal as a dangerous murderer. As he puts down the paper at the table, the farmer begins the prayer. The farmer, suspecting a sexual attraction developing...

Providing Adequate Coverage

Directors who do their work properly provide their editors with a variety of shots from which to choose. For example, if one shot features a character in repose, a close shot of the character as well as a long shot will be filmed. If need be, the props in the shot will be moved to ensure that the close shot looks like the long one. The background and the lighting must support the continuity. Similarly, if an action occurs in a shot, a long shot will be taken of the entire action, and later a...

Contents

Acknowledgments for the Fourth Edition xi Introduction to the Fourth Edition xv I HISTORY OF FILM EDITING 1 3 The Influence of the Documentary 53 4 The Influence of the Popular Arts 71 5 Editors Who Became Directors 81 6 Experiments in Editing Alfred Hitchcock 97 8 International Advances 128 9 The Influence of Television and Theatre 148 10 New Challenges to Filmic Narrative Conventions 159 II The MTV Influence on Editing I 184 12 The MTV Influence on Editing II 196 14 The Appropriation of Style...

Alfred Hitchcock

Few directors have contributed as much to the mythology of the power of editing as has Alfred Hitchcock. Eisenstein and Pudovkin used their films to work out and illustrate their ideas about editing, but Hitchcock used his films to synthesize the theoretical ideas of others and to deepen the repertoire by showcasing the possibilities of editing. His work embraces the full gamut of editing conceits, from pace to subjective states to ideas about dramatic and real time. This chapter highlights a...

Objective anarchy jeanluc godard

Perhaps no figure among the New Wave filmmakers raised more controversy or was more innovative than Jean-Luc Godard.6 Although attracted to genre films, he introduced his own personal priorities to them. As time passed, these priorities were increasingly political. In terms of style, Godard was always uncomfortable with the manipulative character of narrative storytelling and the camera and editing devices that best carried out those storytelling goals. Over his career, Godard increasingly...

Sound time and place fritz langs M

Fritz Lang's M 1931 , although made only two years after Hitchcock's Blackmail, seems much more advanced in its use of sound, even though Lang faced many of the same technological limitations that Hitchcock did. Like Blackmail, Lang's film contains both dialogue sequences and silent sequences with music or sound effects. How did Lang proceed In brief, he edited the sound as if he were editing the visuals. M is the story of a child murderer, of how he paralyzes a German city, and of how the...

The dynamics of relativity

When Akira Kurosawa directed Rashomon 1951 , he presented a narrative story without a single point of view. Indeed, the film presents four different points of view. Rashomon was a direct challenge to the conventions that the narrative clarity that the editor and director aim to achieve must come from telling the story from the point of view of the main character and that the selection, organization, and pacing of shots must dramatically articulate that point of view Figure 8.1 . Rashomon is a...