During this viewing we were introduced to the genre of the experimental film, meaning that this storyline had various different plots within it making it hard to keep up.
There were various different characters, each with their own background story that somehow related between themselves. I didn’t quite understand the film’s concept as I am not used to watching films that are so much character driven that it comes a point that the rest of the story isn’t almost as important as it should be.
On this note, I conclude this personal assessment of mine with the notion that this specific genre isn’t for everyone and it won’t cater to everyone’s tastes, and it didn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it might.
Today we were introduced to the theatre of horror which originated in France called the “Grand Guignol”. It had a very big following and it was the place where artists felt they had the creative freedom to express and enact stories that they felt the need to show the world. It was from this theatre that the first films of the Silent Era based themselves off of, both using characteristics of melodrama and the representation of evil. But that’s for another time.
Vladimir Propp’s character types was one of the other elements introduced to us in this class and helped me to be able to acknowledge, in each film I see, which function or stereotype each character fits into. Whether it be the princess, the false hero or even the dispatcher. Every single character in History falls automatically within one or the other category in Propp’s seven character functions. It was useful to me because it made it easier in future research to understand the story, and it’s characters, a lot more in depth.
From this class, I mostly took a new found interest in shot composition and camera movement. As well as an understanding of the various different types of existing shots.
Today we were introduced to the idea of mise-en-scene, which basically consists in the composition of a scene with the props, actors, lighting, costumes, makeup, sound, sets and everything in between.
You might say that this is what happens all the way from the befogging of a film production to the very end of it. It’s what makes a scene believable. It’s what makes us believe fully in what we are shown on screen. It’s what makes us believe that Jeff’s (James Stewart) roller coaster ride of thinking that one of his neighbors committed murder just by spying on them from the building across. Now who would believe in such a story from a man who apparently likes voyeurism? Well, that’s the magic of the cinematic decisions, made by the director, in order to make his character’s ordeal seem as real as possible and if the staging of anything in it were off in even the slightest inch then it would make the experience of it feel fake. The mise-en-scene is what makes or breaks a film. We need to consider the time period, the costumes, the accents, the way of speaking, the posture and the look of a specific scenery for it to be a successful venture. You don’t want to see a sound cable in the background of the French Revolution of 1789, right?
This was a very enlightening class as to what is fundamental before the filming of a movie even begins.
In this lesson we talked about the differences between story and plot and had a recap of the 3 Act Structure, which we also had already talked about more fully in Screenwriting (MDA 1800). But my favorite part of the class was when we got into talking about Classical Hollywood filmmaking. We talked about the various characteristics, and stereotypes, of the movie genres of the time and how we can always identify certain aspects within the film that immediately label it as a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Having already done some research myself, I found the topic of the Pre and Post Code era, quite enlightening.
We then moved over to what is considered diegetic and non-diegetic sound within a picture. And the fact that the relationship between image and sound is a very important one, for it can make a greater impact on the viewer when the two are combined correctly. Sometimes when we hear a specific sound or music in a particular scene, it might trigger in different people different types of emotions, and both of them might actually be right. The “trick” here is the subjectiveness inherent to the sounds we hear in a film. Someone might think that that sound is what actually brings forth the meaning of the movie, when another person might not understand why that sound was even there at all.
Basically, in this class I further expanded my knowledge of that fantastic era, that lasted until mid-1950’s. I also now better understand the subtle meanings of a film’s diegetic sound in regards to how it enhances the scene at hand and finally, the differences between the story of the film and its various plotlines.
Yesterday me and and the rest of people from my course, attented a Sound Editing workshop instead of our regular class. Here we were introduced to the new editing software used at the university, Final Cut Pro. And we learned the essentials of sound, such as bit depth and the human threshold of hearing, amogst others.
But what I mainly learned from this lesson was how to work around the basic functions of importing a sound file to the software program and the different settings we need to pay attention to when doing our own editing in the future.
This was the very first film we saw in our course in the Screenwriting module and here are my thoughts about it:
The story consists of a prostitute named Kelly, played by Towers, who runs away from a man who’s endangered her safety. Her fleeing inadvertently led her, two years later, to a town where “people are clean” as previously mentioned by Captain Griff. Griff, played by Eisley, is the police enforcement of the neighborhood and is struck by Kelly the moment she stepped on the sidewalk from the bus. This leads to a whole different and complicated “relationship”, of sorts, between the two. Bickering amongst two people with huge prides, is unavoidable. But of course this only adds to the underlying sexual tension they have for each other. We see her falling in and out of love with Griff and her growing infatuation with Grant, the most eligible bachelor in town, with whom she wants to start a life with. The life she never thought she deserved. We see her conflict with this, as well as her admittance that she is indeed in love with Griff, even though they could never have a future together. But undoubtedly, the main plot line of the film, is the journey that Kelly makes from being a low level prostitute to becoming a respected nurse for handicapped children. A far fetched idea, I know. But it works. In my opinion, that is. The various levels of human nature and emotion that are portrayed, primarily, by Towers is what makes the movie for me. Also, visually, the way the story is portrayed to the audience, is of such audacity and passion that you cannot help but get sucked in to this world where prostitutes should be given a second chance in life even though they might kill someone and never go to court for it.
Oh well, the world isn’t perfect.
The very first viewing of a film we had was Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, and what better way to start then with this film? This was my first time watching this well known masterpiece in classical cinema, so I was quite excited. Our teachers told us that this would be a good time for us to start learning how to take notes of the movies we would watch as it will only help improve our writing skills. And since I always loved to write and having done quite a few movie reviews myself in a personal blog, I was quite eager to do it. So I wrote. A lot. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was hardly a consistent piece of work yet I felt proud of how much I was able to take from the film and during the obvious “having to write in darkness” part.
So from this class, I learned that we should always write down anything and everything that we might think relevant to the film at hand. It might not be correct but at least you gave yourself enough liberty to do it.