by Julian Spencer
There’s a very different air in the room when a screening begins: “Our feature film today, a revolutionary work in silent film…” Already, sporadic blips of white electronic light begin to pervade the otherwise uninterrupted darkness of the theater as students prepare alternative entertainment to the silent spectacle on screen. Whispers run through the crowd. I hear a neighbor ask: “Why can’t we just watch a normal movie?” Even if a score accompanies a work, there’s no denying that a lack of dialog makes a movie a much less appealing choice for a filmgoer; when is the last time you sat down to watch a Chaplin for family movie night?
by Grace Park
Peterson proposes analyzing film by first fitting a global schemata, like a narrative, to the film, then working outward to increasingly more open-ended, local schemata, like metaphors. Peterson structures his method of film analysis by breaking down avant-garde film into minimalism and assemblage; found footage falls under assemblage and is defined as “heavily edited collection of footage from disparate sources, with an emphasis on juxtapositions of disparate images.” That juxtaposition includes the order of the images, the audio overlaid with footage, and special effects. In found footage films, seemingly unrelated images are made meaningful in the context of each other. As Abigail Child explains in her interview, found footage editing involves taking apart each source’s narrative by removing its internal links, then combining the footage with clips from other sources to allow the mind to link together a new narrative. This approach of reading meaning into found footage contrasts directly with Sontag’s claim from last week that film should be felt more and analyzed less.
by Renato Corghi
Reading 1: Montage as the Foundation of Cinematography by Lev Kuleshov
Purpose: Lev Kuleshov makes his purpose for writing this piece clear: to familiarize reader with the work of the Kuleshov group. More specifically, he is relating the process by which he developed his theory about montage and what his findings were. He breaks this process down into separate chronological stages.
by Jacob Benigeri
Moonlight is a film directed by Barry Jenkins and is based off the play In Moonlight Black Boys look Blue, written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Moonlight was both a critical and a commercial success, grossing $65.2 Million and winning three Academy Awards. Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a young sensitive African American, who feels pressured to conform to the hyper masculine norms in his Miami environment by hiding his sexuality and personality. The film is divided in three chapters, Little, Chiron, and Black. The three chapters show the how Chiron evolves as a character, and does so effectively by casting three different actors for each stage of his life. Little is about the lost young boy who deals with other kids who bully him, Chiron is predominantly about him dealing with his mother’s addiction and discovering more about his sexuality, and finally Black is where Chiron has completely repressed his real self and portrays himself in a hardened, stereotypical gangster facade. The actor, Trevante Rhodes, who plays adult Chiron summed up one of the most important points of this film in an interview when he said “films like this, allow you to understand that life is a growing process and it’s important to understand that that’s okay.” The film is predominantly about growth and Chiron’s struggles with being different, how he becomes okay with who he is.
It’s easy to interpret a painting. You might say, “the boy’s stance in this piece is a symbol of his lost innocence,” or “the triangle represents the futile project of man to escape his own death.” But Susan Sontag would ask us to re-evaluate these statements, as for her, they demonstrate not an understanding of a work of art, but an evasion of it.
What exactly does this mean? In her famous essay, “Against Interpretation”, Sontag clarifies: “In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comfortable” (5). Interpretation is, then, a reductive process… When we make art legible to us by disassembling it into digestible parts, we miss it entirely. Naturally, this dissection leaves a work of art incapable of being viewed as a whole—and thus, as Sontag argues, of being enjoyed for what it is and what emotions it could elicit within us. In this bog of interpretation, something like the the glitz and glamour of the parties in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, are transfigured: we disallow them from making us feel, from captivating and enthralling us, because we know that they are nothing more than signs of the corruption and decadence of the American Dream.
By Jake Fauske
New developments in film, as in many veins of technology, take time to build momentum. The moving picture itself first wowed small audiences at the tail end of the 1800’s, and yet not till the early 1900’s did audiences receive grand, edited story pieces such as The Great Train Robbery. It took time for this new form of entertainment to gain its foothold, just as it subsequently took time to ease audiences into the dialogue of a “talkie” and inevitably, as discussed here today, bringing the rainbow into the movies.
Today we take for granted how movies give us a realistic view into an untold story. Though the characters, places, and plot points may be unfamiliar, because of the color provided on screen, the movie could be a window into real events. Everything on screen COULD be real, though it is almost always movie magic. Life isn’t black and white, and it is through the introduction of Technicolor that film finally began to take strides forward towards truly recapturing reality. Of course, the process took time to perfect, and needed to be pitched to the industry.
By Nick Nowicki
We will first focus on “Photograph and Screen” in which Stanley Cavell discusses the different “realities” and “worlds” that viewers are presented in paintings, photographs, and films. The painter chooses a world to show his audience: one that may not exist in reality and is limited by what is present on the canvas. Photographs, on the other hand, are strictly images of the world. So, any question the viewer might have about what is obstructed in the frame or what lies outside the frame have definite answers. Cavell claims that the “implied presence of the rest of the world and its explicit rejection, are as essential in the experience of a photograph as what it explicitly presents,” (Cavell, 24). What do you make of this claim?