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Literature and Cinema Unit 1 The Language Of Film: Signs And Syntax
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The Language Of Film: Signs And Syntax
LITERATURE AND CINEMA
Very Short Type Question & Answers
1. What is film, according to James Monaco?
Ans: According to James Monaco, film is not a language like English, French and Mathematics.
2. What are the five channels of information in film?
Ans: There are five channels of information in film – Image, Noise, Sound, Space and Time.
3. What can be sound?
Ans: Sound can be actual or commentative, synchronous or asynchronous, parallel or contrapuntal.
4. What are the two ways of editing film?
Ans: There are two ways of editing film: overlapping and end to end.
5. What is the use of montage?
Ans: Montage can be used to: create a third meaning out of the original two meanings of adjacent shots or communicate a lot of information in a short time when shots are woven together.
6. What is Découpage classique?
Ans: Decoupage classique is the classic Hollywood style of construction.
7. What does Hollywood demands?
Ans: Hollywood demands a cut shortly after the climax of a scene, modern directors tend to like to maintain the shot long after the climax.
8. Define Parallel montage.
Ans: Parallel montage means alternating between two stories.”
9. What does James Monaco say about films?
Ans: “Poetry is what you can’t translate. Art is what you can’t define. Film is what you can’t explain.
10. What are the twin concepts of Film syntax?
Ans: The twin concepts of film syntax are time and space.
11. What are the three compositional codes?
Ans: There are three compositional codes’; the plane of the image, the geographical place and the depth of perception.
12. How Montage can be used?
Ans: Montage can be used to: create a third meaning out of the original two meanings of adjacent shots or communicate a lot of information in a short time when shots are woven together.
13. What is mise en scène in a film?
Ans: Mise en scène, pronounced meez-ahn-sen, is a term used to describe the setting of a scene in a play or a film. In other words, mise en scene is a catch-all for everything that contributes to the visual presentation and overall “look” of a production. When translated from French, it means “placing on stage.”
15. What does mise en scene literally mean?
Ans: This obviously French term comes from the Theatre and it literally means “placed on the scene.” With that in mind, you can think about what may be placed on a scene in a theatre production.
16. What are the elements of film language?
Ans: The elements of cinematic language include camera angles, focus and movements, mise-en-scene, lighting, sound and music, editing and performance.
18. What is the concept of film syntax?
Ans: Time and space is the twin concept of film syntax.
19. What are the elements of film language?
Ans: The elements of cinematic language include camera angles, focus and movements, mise – en – scene, lighting, sound and music, editing and performance.
20. What is Cinematic Language?
Ans: Cinematic language is the methods and conventions of cinema that are used to communicate with the audience.
21. What are the elements of Cinematic Language?
Ans: The elements of cinematic language include camera angles, focus and movements, mise-en-scene, lighting, sound and music, editing and performance.
22. How to use Cinematic Language in your screenplay?
Ans: Be considerate of all the types of cinematic language even if you are not directly writing them. Always ask yourself what you are trying to portray in the scene that you are writing and analyze if all the different parts of your scenes are essential to the point and meaning of your screenplay overall.
23. What are the five channels of information in film?
Ans: There are five channels of information in film – Image, Noise, Sound, Space and Time. Sound can be actual or commentative, synchronous or asynchronous, parallel or contrapuntal (connected or opposed to the image).
24. What are the two ways of editing film?
Ans: The two ways of editing film are overlapping and end to end.
25. What awards are given for films?
Ans: Some of the major awards given for films are the Academy Awards, the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, and the Caesars.
Short Type Question & Answers
1. What are the five elements that make up mise en scene?
Ans: The key elements of mise en scène are:
(b) Production Design.
(e) Hair and Makeup.
(f) Film Texture.
2. What is film language?
Ans: Film language is a method of narrative expression, which promotes the development of narrative and plot. Film languages are very important methods in filmmaking, when used properly they make a film successful. Film languages are very important methods in filmmaking, when used properly they make a film successful
3. What do you mean by cinematic language? Explain.
Ans: Cinematic language is the methods and conventions of cinema that are used to communicate with the audience. This is often also referred to as visual storytelling, although this is only one part of cinematic language. Emotions and ideas are expressed in cinema visually through all types of techniques such as lighting, performance, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and more.
When understanding cinematic language, it is useful to consider the conventions of literature that are used to convey meaning and communicate with the reader. For example, literature often uses literary techniques such as symbolism or narration to portray meaning and communicate plot, characterization or themes. The same is done in screenwriting, but with cinematic techniques.
A montage can represent a cunning plan coming together or a singular experience had over different time periods. Lighting and colour can be used to indicate the mood of a scene. Pacing and dialogue can convey atmosphere. Clothes can convey character and themes. This is cinematic language.
4. What is montage?
Ans: Literally, it means ‘putting together’. It involves the question of ‘how to present’ what has been shot. Montage and Editing mean the same, except the latter apparently means ‘cutting out’ rather than ‘putting together’. American cinema uses the word ‘editing’-traditionally being an organized industry that relies on set-patterns of ‘cutting’ to tell a story. European cinema uses ‘montage’-essentially putting together’ to create something from the raw footage. This is a philosophical distinction. As far as the craft is concerned, montage or editing do the same – modify time for presenting the story.
5. What is a film?
Ans: A film, also called a movie or a motion picture, is a series of still photographs on film projected onto a screen using light in rapid succession. The optical phenomenon known as persistence of vision gives the illusion of actual; smooth, and continuous movement.
6. What are the different types of films?
Ans: Films can be classified as documentaries, experimental films, animated films, and fictional genres such as westerns, comedies, thrillers, and musicals, among many others.
7. What are some of the major film festivals?
Ans: Some of the world’s major film festivals are the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech Republic), the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, the Sundance Film Festival, the International Film Festival of India, the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Venice Film Festival.
8. What is a Film? Discuss.
Ans: Film, also called motion picture or movie, series of still photographs on film, projected in rapid succession onto a screen by means of light. Because of the optical phenomenon known as persistence of vision, this gives the illusion of actual, smooth, and continuous movement. Film is a remarkably effective medium in conveying drama and especially in the evocation of emotion. The art of motion pictures is exceedingly complex, requiring contributions from nearly all the other arts as well as countless technical skills (for example, in sound recording, photography, and optics). Emerging at the end of the 19th century, this new art form became one of the most popular and influential media of the 20th century and beyond. As a commercial venture, offering fictional narratives to large audiences in theatres, filma was quickly recognized as perhaps the first truly mass form of entertainment. Without losing its broad appeal, the medium also developed as a means of artistic expression in such areas as acting, directing, screenwriting, cinematography, costume and set design, and music.
Long Type Question & Answers
1. What are the essential characteristics of film?
Ans: In its short history, the art of motion pictures has frequently undergone changes that seemed fundamental, such as those resulting from the introduction of sound. It exists today in styles that differ significantly from country to country and in forms as diverse as the documentary created by one person with a handheld camera and the multimillion – dollar epic involving hundreds of performers and technicians.
A number of factors immediately come to mind in connection with the film experience. For one thing, there is something mildly hypnotic about the illusion of movement that holds the attention and may even lower critical resistance. The accuracy of the film image is compelling because it is made by a nonhuman, scientific process. In addition, the motion picture gives what has been called a strong sense of being present; the film image always appears to be in the present tense. There is also the concrete nature of film; it appears to show actual people and things.
No less important than any of the above are the conditions under which the motion picture ideally is seen, where everything helps to dominate the spectators. They are taken from their everyday environment, partially isolated from others, and comfortably seated in a dark auditorium. The darkness concentrates their attention and prevents comparison of the image on the screen with surrounding objects or people. For a while, spectators live in the world the motion picture unfolds before them. Still, the escape into the world of the film is not complete. Only rarely does the audience react as if the events on the screen are real – for instance, by ducking before an onrushing locomotive in a special three-dimensional effect. Moreover, such effects are considered to be a relatively low form of the art of motion pictures. Much more often; viewers expect a film to be truer to certain unwritten conventions than to the real world. Although spectators may sometimes expect exact realism in details of dress or locale, just as often they expect the film to escape from the real world and make them exercise their imagination, a demand made by great works of art in all forms.
The sense of reality most films strive for results from a set of codes, or rules, that are implicitly accepted by viewers and confirmed through habitual filmgoing. The use of brownish lighting, filters, and props, for example, has come to signify the past in films about American life in the early 20th century (as in The Godfather  and Days of Heaven ). The brownish tinge that is associated with such films is a visual code intended to evoke a viewer’s perceptions of an earlier era, when photographs were printed in sepia, or brown, tones. Storytelling codes are even more conspicuous in their manipulation of actual reality to achieve an effect of reality. Audiences are prepared to skip over huge expanses of time in order to reach the dramatic moments of a story. La battaglia di Algeri (1966; The Battle of Algiers), for example, begins in a torture chamber where a captured Algerian rebel has just given away the location of his cohorts. In a matter of seconds that location is attacked, and the drive of the search-and-destroy mission pushes the audience to believe in the fantastic speed and precision of the operation. Furthermore, the audience readily accepts shots from impossible points of view if other aspects of the film signal the shot as real. For example, the rebels in The Battle of Algiers are shown inside a walled-up hiding place, yet this unrealistic view seems authentic because the film’s grainy photography plays on the spectator’s unconscious association of poor black – and – white images with newsreels.
2. What are the qualities of Film image?
Ans: The primary unit of expression in film is the image, or the single shot. The attribution of magical properties to images has a long history. This association is well documented among many primitive peoples, and it is even reflected in the term magic lantern as a synonym for the film projector. Any image taken out of the everyday world and projected onto a screen to some extent appears to become magically transmuted. This magical quality helps to explain the enthusiastic reception accorded such early films as La Sortie des usines Lumière (1895; “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory”), which were merely photographic records of commonplace scenes in France in the 1890s by the French film pioneers the Lumière brothers.
Intensity, Intimacy & Ubiquity: The qualities of intensity, intimacy, and ubiquity have been singled out as the salient characteristics of the motion – picture image. Its intensity derives from its power to hold the complete attention of the spectator on whatever bit of reality is being shown. Outside the theatre, a person’s attention is usually dispersed in the endless surrounding reality, except for sporadic moments of concentration on what is selected for closer scrutiny. In the cinema one is compelled to look at something that not the viewer but the filmmaker has selected, for reasons that are not always immediately apparent. This quality of intensity becomes most noticeable when the camera remains fixed on something for a longer time than seems warranted, and spectators gradually become acutely conscious of their loss of volition over their own attention. This technique is not often used but is very effective when used well.
The intimacy of the film image is related to the camera’s ability to see things in greater detail than the eye can. This ability is demonstrated in long-distance shots through a telephoto lens as well as in close-ups. At the beginning of the Japanese film Suna no onna (1964; Woman in the Dunes), for example, a pervading theme of the film is indicated by shots of grains of sand many times enlarged.
The impression of ubiquity-being everywhere at once – is achieved in part by the camera’s apparent freedom to move from place to place or to approach or withdraw instantaneously. No less important to this illusion of ubiquity is the effect achieved by editing, which allows countless images representing a long, elaborate action to be presented in a comparatively short film or sequence, such as that exemplified by the opening of The Battle of Algiers. The geographic and temporal authority of the image even permits credibility to be given to sequences representing the past, the future, and dreams.
Particularity: Other equally important characteristics of the film image may be singled out. One of these is its particularity. The language of words lends itself to generalization and abstraction. In themselves, words such as man or house do not suggest a particular man or a particular house but men and houses in general, and more abstract terms such as love or dishonesty have even less-precise associations with specific things. Motion pictures, on the other hand, show only particular things – a particular man or a particular house. In this way a film image may be less ambiguous than the language of words but also less evocative, less likely to be enriched by imagination, association, or recollection. Despite its particularity, however, the motion-picture image may also be ambiguous in that it shows but does not explain. It does not in itself tell what it means, and people instinctively search for meanings in images. This is why commentary is thought to be essential in tying down precise meaning in educational films. On the other hand, many evocative documentaries, from Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922) to Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997), abjure commentary, thus forcing the spectator to take in the remarkable and untranslatable specific sights and sounds they collect. The particular insistence of given photographed objects also explains why the juxtapositions of montage are so effective-the spectator compulsively searches for the reason behind a particular sequence of images.
Neutrality: Another characteristic of the film image is its neutrality. The world people see around them is strongly influenced by their emotions and their interests. A plumber fixing pipes in a museum may not see the masterpieces around him or her, while an angry person may hear an insult where none was intended. The camera and the microphone, however, are thought to reproduce images and sounds without feeling. Although focus, directionality, and other technological factors limit what can be seen and heard, audiences are prepared to believe that the motion picture itself is nonhuman or even superhuman in its passive reception of information. Courts of law, for example, are more likely to accept film as evidence of an occurrence such as a bank robbery than they are to accept an artist’s sketch or a journalist’s report of the same incident. When a film appears to be charged with emotion, it is usually because the director has carefully manipulated the images to give this illusion. In everyday life, the eyes follow the mind; in the cinema, the mind follows the eyes.
3. What are the characteristics of the medium?
Ans: Four characteristics may be stressed as factors that differentiate the motion – picture medium, either in degree or in kind, from other mediums for works of art: luminosity, movement, realism, and montage.
Luminosity: The intense brightness of the picture projected by powerful light onto a coated screen in itself transforms the most mundane element of reality. The appeal of a luminous picture is attested.by efforts of advertisers to achieve luminous effects in posters and displays. The luminosity of the motion-picture image also results in a considerable range of tone, between the brightest highlight and the deepest black. In both black-and-white and colour films, the most delicate gradations in the image are therefore possible.
Movement: As a feature of the motion picture, movement is so obvious that its central importance is sometimes forgotten. The motion picture has much in common with the graphic arts, but the added dimension of movement transforms it, allowing a narrative or a drama to unfold in time in a way no other graphic art can. Both in filmmaking and in film appreciation, movement must constantly be borne in mind: composition in the motion picture is kinetic rather than static. It is not a single colour but the cumulative effect that matters, not a single situation but a developing plot. The composition within any frame, or exposure, of a motion picture is as important as the relationship of that frame to those that precede and follow it.
Realism: Another essential element of the motion-picture image is that it gives an impression of reality. Whether in a drama enacted expressly for the camera or in a documentary film of an event at which the camera just happened to be present, this feeling of realism deriving from motion picture photography accounts for much of the force of motion pictures. Animated films, which lack this element of photographic realism, tend to be taken as fantasies.
The attempt of the motion picture to reproduce three – dimensional reality on a flat screen presents the same problems and opportunities that are encountered in still photography and in painting. The standard camera lens, in fact, is constructed to produce visual effects precisely similar to those achieved by painters using the principles of perspective that were developed during the Renaissance.
Cinematic realism is most fully heightened when the images are accompanied by synchronous sound, whereby a second sense, hearing, ratifies what the eyes see. Although reproduced sound can be manipulated with regard to distance, timbre, clarity, and duration, in combination with photographed moving images, it forcefully brings alive its subject as present in a way unavailable to the other arts of representation.
Montage: Perhaps the most essential characteristic of the motion picture is montage, from the French monter, “to assemble.” Montage refers to the editing of the film, the cutting and piecing together of exposed film in a manner that best conveys, the intent of the work. Montage is what distinguishes motion pictures from the performing arts, which exist only within a performance. The motion picture, by contrast, uses the performances as the raw material, which is built up as a novel or an essay or a painting, studiously put together piece by piece, with an allowance for trial and error, second thoughts, and, if necessary, reshooting. The order in which the segments of film are presented can have drastically different dramatic effects.
Several major contributions to the theory of montage were made by Soviet directors. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Soviet films were encouraged for their propaganda value, but film stocks were scarce. Soviet directors carefully studied the films of D.W. Griffith and other masters to make the most effective use of their own meagre resources. One of those early Russian directors, Lev Kuleshov, conducted an experiment involving identical shots of an actor’s expressionless face. He inserted it in a film before a shot of a bowl of soup, again before a shot of a child playing, and still again before one of a dead old woman. An unsuspecting audience, asked to evaluate the actor’s performance, praised his ability to express, respectively, hunger, tenderness, and grief.
Sergei Eisenstein, who excelled both as a director and as a teacher, based much of his theory of film on montage, which he compared to the compounding of characters in Japanese writing. The character for “dog” added to the character for “mouth,” he noted, results not merely in “dog’s mouth” but in the new concept of “bark”; similarly, film montage results in more than the sum of its parts: Still another great Russian director, Vsevolod Pudovkin, also stressed the importance of the carryover in the spectator’s mind. Only if an object is presented as part of a synthesis, he said, is it endowed with filmic life.
Three types of montage may be distinguished- narrative, graphic, and ideational. In narrative montage the multifarious images and scenes involve a single subject followed from point to point. In a fiction film, a character or location is explored from multiple angles while the audience. builds a comprehensive image of the situation being explored or explained. Graphic montage occurs when shots are juxtaposed not on the basis of their subject matter but because of their physical appearance. Some avant-garde works depend on the spectator’s ability to match the graphic relations of assorted images, such as the people, the objects, and the shapes of numerical and alphabetical figures in Fernand Léger’s Le Ballet mécanique (1924) or the torpedoes, swimming seals, and blimps in Bruce Conner’s A Movie (1958). In graphic montage, cutting usually occurs during shots of movement rather than ones of static action. This cutting on motion facilitates the smooth replacement of one image by the next. In ideational montage, two separate images are related to a third thing, an idea that they help to produce and by which they are governed. In Stachka (1924; Strike), for example, the director Eisenstein, to whom the theory of ideational montage is credited, effectively conveys the idea of slaughter by intercutting a shot of cattle being butchered with shots of workers being cut down by cavalry.
These three types of montage seldom appear in their pure form. Most ideational montage proceeds on the basis of the graphic similarity of its components, as does narrative montage when relying on graphic cutting to cover its movement. Similarly, the graphic matches between torpedoes, seals, and blimps in A Movie ultimately construct an idea of movement toward explosion and destruction. Besides the complications brought about by the intermixing of these types, the addition of the sound track multiplies the possibilities and effects of montage. Eisenstein and Pudovkin referred to such possibilities as “vertical” montage, opposing it to the “horizontal” unrolling of shot after shot. Because sound permits, the establishment of relations between what is seen and heard at each moment, the film image can no longer be said to be a self-contained unit; it interacts with the sound that accompanies it. Sound relations (including dialogue, music, and ambient noise or effects) may be built in constant rapport with the image track or may create a parallel organization and design that subtends what is seen. In all, montage appears to be the most extraordinary factor differentiating the motion picture from the other arts, and it is the one often singled out as the basis of the medium. Nevertheless, many films, including those of Mizoguchi Kenji of Japan, Roberto Rossellini of Italy, and Jancsó Miklós of Hungary, rely not on montage but on the medium’s unique qualities of luminosity, movement, and realism to convey their power and beauty.
4. Write about shooting angle and point of view.
Ans: Shooting angle and point of view: Another element in motion picture language is the shooting angle. In common language, the phrases “to look up to” and “to look down on” have connotations of admiration and condescension in addition to their obvious reference to physical viewpoint. In one sense or another, children, dogs, and beggars are often looked down upon, while the preacher in a pulpit, the judge on the bench, and the police officer on a horse are looked up to. Even a slight upward or downward angle of a camera is enough to express a mood of inferiority or superiority.
Upward or downward shooting angles lead to questions of objectivity and subjectivity. In most motion pictures, both for variety and for breadth of treatment, the camera’s viewpoint switches from one character to another and sometimes is associated with none of the characters but merely looks on. The camera may take the viewpoint of the heroine, looking with dismay at the villain as he breaks into her room; in this case, an upward camera angle gives a subjective impression of her fear. Similar subjectivity may be seen in a shot of buildings reeling in the way they might appear to a drunken man, as in the German classic Der letzte Mann (1924; The Last Laugh), or in a rapid camera movement from a window to the pavement below to express a thought of suicide, as in the Italian Neorealist film Umberto D. (1952).
Occasionally an entire motion picture may be shot from one person’s point of view, often with a personal narration accompanying the images. Rarely does this point of view literally take over the optical view of the character for an extended period. (One noted exception is the 1946 film directed by the actor Robert Montgomery, Lady in the Lake, in which the camera actually plays the main character. The entire film is seen from the camera/character’s point of view so that the audience sees only what the camera/character sees. The movie is an interesting experiment in the use of subjective camera, but it is considered an artistic failure.) More often voice-over, music, or other elements are combined with shooting angle to render a particular character’s feelings throughout a film. Alfred Hitchcock is generally considered the master of point of view, controlling (and eyen misguiding) viewer sympathy.
Extreme upward or downward angles are too far removed from ordinary experience to have many applications motion pictures, but they may express exceptional situations-a sick man on his back, a baby’s or a dog’s point of view, a woman in a pit or in a coffin, a spy covertly looking down on an enemy meeting. As with scale, the shots that precede and follow alter the effect of the shooting angle. Upward angles are stronger following a level or downward-looking camera, and vice versa.
5. What should be the camera movement?
Ans: Framing, scale, and shooting angle are all greatly modified by the use of camera movement. Filmmakers began experimenting with camera movement almost immediately after the motion-picture camera was developed. In 1897 photographers employed by August Lumière and Louis Lumière floated a cinematograph, the combination camera projector devised by the French brothers, in a gondola through Venice to give viewers all over the world a dynamic view of that much-painted city.
One of the simplest and most common movements is to turn, or pan (from the word panorama), the camera horizontally so that it sweeps around the scene. It can also be tilted up or down in a vertical panning shot or in a diagonal pan, as when it follows an actor up a stairway. Panning was possible quite early in film history, but methods of physically conveying the camera itself through a scene developed more slowly. Initially the camera was mounted on a dolly, truck, or other hand-propelled wheeled vehicle to facilitate smooth movement. Later, tracks were laid for the dolly or truck to ride on, providing even smoother, more effortless motion. Trucking, dollying, and tracking can even be combined with panning in a complex movement that may require the adjustment of focus or aperture en route. One such camera movement that is often used imitates the gaze of a traveler who turns in a moving automobile or train to focus on a stationary point of interest.
Often commercial vehicles, such as trolleys, automobiles, or aero planes, are used to transport the camera; the relatively jerky ride they supply simulates real movement more accurately than does the steady motion provided by a specially designed apparatus. Nevertheless, the film industry has long sought equipment that would allow the camera (and the viewer) to weave in and out of action in the most ethereal way. The crane, which facilitates aerial movement, was developed in the late 1920s, replacing the jerry-built movable platforms, the slings, and the sleds that ingenious directors, such as Abel Glance (for Napoléon, 1927) and Marcel Herbier (for L’Argent, 1929), both in France, had devised to achieve vertical or elevated swinging movements. Numerous special camera supports were developed in the later 20th century, many of which were originally developed for use on medical and scientific films.
Equipment developed in the 1970s and ’80s could be operated from a distance with electronic viewfinders, allowing the camera to follow vigorous continuous action with an ease and intimacy that had previously been unknown, as in the pre credit sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The look and style of film art is constantly changing as technological advances increase the mobility of the camera and consequently the flexibility of the spectator’s viewpoint.
Regardless of the level of technical capability, the effect of camera movement depends on the context and the pace of movement. At a deliberate pace the camera can explore a scene and reveal significant details. If it is raised well above the ground, the movement has a dreamlike power, and, when combined with slow motion, it may give a somnolent impression or express recollection or hallucination. The camera movement may end dramatically on a dagger, on a gun half-hidden in an assailant’s hand, or on a suspicious bulge in a pocket. It may link the hero walking in the garden and the heroine watching him with loving eyes from a window. It may bring a dramatic surprise, as in the American western Stagecoach (1939), when director John Ford had the camera, mounted high above a rocky defile, move slowly from the stagecoach below to reveal a band of Indians waiting in ambush.
On the other hand, the camera may simply turn away from a scene to leave the remainder to the spectator’s imagination, as when it withdraws from a torture scene or from a love scene. In filming a conversation, the director may turn the camera from one speaker to the other, thus animating the scene with movement and showing the expression of the speaker, or listener, more closely than would be possible with a static two shot. Camera movement can even be used to change the scene to a distant place, to a different period of time, or to an imaginary world.
Very rapid camera movements may express a sudden surge of emotion or a contemplated action, as in the suicide from Umberto D. (1952). In The Rains Came (1939), as the heroine realizes with horror that she has drunk from a glass that may be contaminated with typhus, the camera rushes forward to a close-up on the fatal glass, shining in the darkness. These movements are often effected without physically moving the camera, by means of a zoom lens, a lens of variable focal length that simulates the effect of moving toward or away from a subject by increasing or decreasing the size of the subject as the focal length changes. Although a zoom shot is generally smoother than a tracking shot, it always results in pictorial distortion.
To zoom in from a distance to a close-up, the focal length of the lens is changed from, for example, 18 mm to 125 mm. The former length curves the picture anamorphic ally on the sides, giving great depth to the background, while the latter tends to flatten the background. All objects within view are enlarged at the same rate. Tracking in from a distance to a close-up requires careful adjustment of focus, but depth and dimension appear more realistic.
Camera movement is one of the key indicators of the presence of a narrator. When the camera moves independently of the action, the narrator can be thought of as hovering above the action, poetically reacting to it or commenting on it. When the camera moves instead to keep the action in view, to follow as many elements as possible, the narrator can be thought of as a reporter investigating but not commenting on what is seen. The documentary tradition, particularly since.1959, when lightweight cameras and tape recorders first permitted extended handheld filming, represents this investigative function of cinema and of camera movement.
Directorial styles may be catalogued on the basis of an overall predilection for linking elements in a scene via cuts (montage) or camera movement. Eisenstein has already been cited as a master of montage. One of the directors most acclaimed for the expressive use of camera movement is Japan’s Mizoguchi Kenji. Although Mizoguchi was not beyond making strongly rhetorical points by juxtaposing shots, the overall impression his films convey derives from the use of a seemingly floating camera to join not only elements within a scene but also the scenes themselves. In Guest (1953) the hero, seduced in a hot spring by a beautiful ghost woman, moves screen right to join her, while the camera pans left across the pool and then tracks along the ground. The shot dissolves imperceptibly into one in which the camera pans up to reframe the couple picnicking in an extreme long shot.
The magical mixture of spaces and the conflation of time sensuously express the erotic imagination to which both the hero and the audience have fallen prey. Mizoguchi is known as a mise-en-scène director, one who is primarily concerned with the relationships within a shot rather than those between shots. His films rely on long takes, camera movement, and the expressive use of elements within the film frame to convey mood and emotion. The possibility of movement was so important to Mizoguchi that at the end of his career he invariably directed from a crane, even during static scenes.
6. What is the role of Cinematographer?
Ans: Cinematographers remain largely unknown outside the motion picture industry even though their contribution sometimes matches that of the director in importance. Although the director has ultimate control over the visual image, the cinematographer actually records that image on film, translating the director’s ideas and creating the atmosphere and the look of the film. The association between the cinematographers and the processing laboratory is also of highest importance, because the cinematographer often spends hours there after shooting, checking the negative. On most feature films a camera team (often consisting of a director of photography, a cameraman, and an assistant cameraman) shares the responsibilities.
Cinematographers are responsible for exact framing, sometimes for screens of more than one type. They also must decide upon the use of masking, the choice of lens, the camera angle, and the control of camera movement. They must either keep the focus sharp or put all or part of the picture out of focus if this effect is required. Cinematographers also control slow motion or accelerated motion. With early hand-cranked cameras, the camera operator simply slowed down or cranked faster, but later special controls and cameras were developed. Trick photography was once effected by simple manipulation of the camera: magical transformations were made simply by stopping the camera and changing the scene, and the impression of backward motion was achieved by turning the camera upside down and reversing the film. More-elaborate processes now at the cinematographer’s command involve laboratory technicians as much as the camera crew. Many effects require the actors to perform against a background of previously prepared film. The cinematographer must be in command of all these processes. The best cinematographers give a motion picture a visual style that is uniquely their own.
7. What is editing? Explain.
Ans: The process of trimming and piecing together lengths of film in order to make an artistically concise and complete motion picture is certainly the most obvious technique of film language and the one most often discussed. The terms editing, cutting, and montage are often applied interchangeably to the process. In montage the emphasis is on the juxtaposition of ideas resulting from this process; cutting stresses the physical work with the actual strips of film; and editing encompasses both. A single shot (i.e., the length of film exposed at one time, without interruption, by one camera) makes a visual and aural record of some segment of the physical world; by effective editing, this record can be taken apart, restructured, and shaped into an imaginative world or a discourse about the world. While all viewers presumably notice that a film is made up of a number of scenes, few realize that even relatively sedate fiction films contain on average approximately 600 cuts, one every 10 seconds. Editors strive to hide their work by cutting on action, so that the movement of a character’s arm in one location flows into another such movement elsewhere, masking the change of shot. More important is the principle by which an editor anticipates the spectator’s line of inquiry. By releasing information just as the spectator needs it, the editor constructs a natural drama whose seams are invisible.
Probably the most common convention of this sort is the “accordion” sequence, wherein, for example, a drawing room conversation between two people is introduced in an establishing shot of the setting and the actors. The editor will cut to a full shot of the actors once they begin their dialogue, because their speech gives them prominence over the setting. To help viewers understand the nuances of the dialogue, the editor will move in for a medium shot, showing both characters from the waist up. While many directors and editors stop here, Hollywood has traditionally gone in even closer, using alternating close-ups of each character (generally from over-the-shoulder shots) to convey innuendos and reactions. In the earlier days of cinema, an editor was likely to back out of the sequence in the reverse order, going from close-up to medium shot, to full shot, and finally to long shot, thus making the structure of the sequence resemble the in-and-out movement of an accordion. As audiences have increased in visual sophistication, some of these “logical” steps have fallen away.
Unforgettable moments in films are often made possible through shocking juxtapositions. When an initially smooth progression is disrupted by a quick cut to a close-up, as in the Halloween series of horror films, the effect can be startling and frightening. In such cases the editor insists upon a strange or important connection in a scene.
Beyond rendering scenes in unobtrusive or striking ways, editing connects scenes into sequences and larger units. It serves as a system of punctuation. In the standard Hollywood film a straight cut between two scenes suggests that the scenes are close in space or time, whereas other more visible forms of transition signal more distant relations. The picture may fade out and fade in, the screen being left dark for a moment. Or it may dissolve, or mix, to a new scene, one image showing on top of the other for a moment. The filmmakers may use other devices, such as a wipe (i.e., a line moving across the screen that wipes out the preceding image while introducing the next), irising (gradually reducing the old image from the edges to a pinpoint size and then expanding the new one in the reverse way), or a turnover (in which the entire screen seems to turn over, with the new image seeming to appear on what was the reverse side).
The director may introduce creative touches in cutting. The German-born director Max Ophüls, for example, connected the separate episodes of La Ronda (1950) by means of the musical leitmotif of a hurdy-gurdy tune. In Vivre as vie (1962; My Life to Live), Jean-Luc Godard, one of the outstanding French New Wave directors of the late 1950s, introduced chapter headings marking the heroine’s step-by-step involvement in prostitution and, ultimately, her murder, as if it were a didactic 19th century novel. In his British film The Thirty-nine Steps (1935), Alfred Hitchcock, probably the greatest director of suspense films, cut from a woman’s scream to the similar sound of a train whistle, an effect so dramatic that it was frequently imitated thereafter.
Editing permits highly dramatic effects that could never be staged in a single shot. In the American western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), for example, the title characters are seen cornered by lawmen on a high cliff overlooking a river, into which they make an almost suicidal leap to their escape. Actually, the shots involving the two leading actors on the cliff and those of the dives were filmed weeks apart, and they involved different crews and even different rivers, yet the audience readily accepts the illusion created by the editing. The Stunt Man (1980) takes such editing as its very theme. The main character is engaged in the rigged dangers and tricks involved in making a movie, while the audience is fooled by the greater tricks of the film that it is watching. Editing opens up a bagful of ingenious tricks of substitution, tricks that allow a marvellous or tragic experience to appear as a natural occurrence in the filmed world.
The common illusionistic experience of motion pictures depends on editing for its force and excitement, but editing can play an even more important role in films that bypass or refuse the illusion of realism. The use of graphic and ideational montage demonstrates that some filmmakers purposely flaunt the fabrication involved in motion pictures. Many films incorporate extraneous material within their fictions in order to set the illusion of the story they tell against the hard reality of other types of images. In Warren Beatty’s Reds. (1981), for example, interviews with “witnesses” to the events portrayed in the film open, and occasionally interrupt, the story in order to validate the fiction being recreated as history. Conversely, in films such as Zelig (1983) and Forrest Gump (1994), editing techniques are used to interject fictional characters into historical footage in order to emphasize the narrative’s sense of time and place. Editing permits the juxtaposition of very different kinds of material for a variety of rhetorical effects.
Like camera work, editing is a function that is ordinarily hidden from the audience, but it is vital to the finished picture. It is the editor’s job to judge the length of each shot, choosing the exact moment to end a segment on the basis of the amount of detail it contains, its scale, its dramatic impact, and its context in relation to the shots that precede and follow it. The impact of the finished film depends on how well edits are made.
The director generally views the day’s rushes (i.e., advance prints of the film shot that day) and, in consultation, selects what is to be used. Some directors spend a good deal of time in the cutting room; others spend none at all. Often the editor is influential in rearranging shots, discarding them, or even ordering reshooting or additional shooting. An important factor in the work of the editor is the cutting ratio-the proportion of film shot to that used in the final film. Some directors shoot as little as 3 times as much as is required, while others may shoot 10 times as much or even more. In its widest sense, editing includes mixing the sound and correlating it with the visual film.