Analysis #2: Formal Analysis

Cinema is very interesting because there are so many things that can be accomplished with it.  Most films created are usually to tell a story.  But some films aren’t created for this reason.  Instead, they are created to show the audience the process of filmmaking.  Filmmakers want the audience to focus more on the process it took to create the film, rather than on the plot of the film.  Breathless, a film that was created in 1960, has good examples of displaying “materiality” of film.  Jean-Luc Godard produced something that was different and not what the audience was used to seeing.  There was a reason for this change in cinema.

Breathless used techniques that the audience wasn’t used to seeing.  Two main techniques used were jump-cuts and direct address.  Jump-cuts occur when a cut is made and it doesn’t match with what is currently being shot.  A continuous shot is interrupted and the shot seems out of place.  In a direct address, the actors break character and directly address the camera to speak to the audience.  Using these techniques makes the audience view the film in a different way.  Instead of paying attention at the plot, the audience would realize the techniques used because they catch the attention.  Since these techniques are different from the usual techniques that the audience is used to seeing (such as long takes and no improvisation), the audience realizes the process.  They notice the difference.  The narrative becomes less important and the filmmaking process is emphasized more.  Breathless displays this in many scenes.

Breathless begins using these techniques right away.  In the second scene, Michel is seen driving off in the car that he had just stolen.  While he makes an assertion that the cars behind him won’t pass him, jump-cuts occur to show how he passes all the cars.  While the audience is busy trying to figure out Michel’s situation, the jump-cuts make them react and realize the actual main focus.  The audience notices that something isn’t normal.  It shows them that the narrative film they were used to seeing doesn’t always have to be done that way.

In this same scene, direct address is used as well.  Michel first lets the audience know that he likes France.  After saying this statement, he looks directly at the camera and says, “If you don’t like the shore, if you don’t like the mountains, if you don’t like the city, then get stuffed.”  Once again, the audience isn’t used to seeing techniques like this, especially seeing the actors break character.  They are being exposed to seeing something different in cinema, rather than the same techniques used all the time.

Filmmakers wanted the spectators to see the process of filmmaking and to see how films didn’t have to follow a certain pattern or specific rules.  They didn’t have to be manipulated and they wanted to show to the audience that films could be created in whichever way the person wanted.  There were no specific guidelines to follow.  During the time that Breathless was created, a film movement began which originated in France.  The French wanted change and cinema was used to symbolize that they wanted this change.  That is why different techniques were used and that is why the audience was exposed to something that they hadn’t seen before.  It sparked change.

The goal of filmmakers during this time period was to initiate change.  I think that it was achieved because filmmakers during this time period began to produce something different.  Before this year, films still followed the usual narrative.  But during this year, something changed.  Films were shot with such a low budget and the traditional narrative film was broken.  There was now improvisation in films, direct address and jump-cuts.  To me it seems like the goal was achieved through the new techniques that were developed.  It symbolized exactly what filmmakers wanted it to symbolize: change.

Breathless definitely initiated something new during the 1960’s.  Jean-Luc’s techniques influenced other directors to make change in their production as well and thus, impacting cinema overall.  The techniques made the audience aware that just because they were used to seeing films use the same techniques over and over, every film had to be like that.  They made them aware of other types of films that could be produced and that it was perfectly fine if it seemed unusual.  The plot isn’t always what is essential in a film, the filmmaking process is.

Comments (3)

Breathless

Breathless is the first French film that I have ever watched.  It was interesting to see how the story developed.  Michel seems to be your typical bad boy who goes around stealing from people and runs away from the police.  He thinks too much of himself and seems to make everyone else seem like they’re not worth anything since he is so rude.  He also doesn’t seem to care about anyone else but himself.  As long as he is safe, he could care less about what happens to everyone surrounding him.  Also, you can see clearly how he takes his role of being a male very seriously.  He is always giving orders to other people, especially Patricia.  But you never see him take orders from other people.

The plot of the movie doesn’t seem to be anything new.  What makes it interesting is the way it is told and the techniques that are used.  I liked how the film contained humor in it.  It kept me interested to see what was going to happen next.  One of the parts that shocked me the most was when Patricia went out to call the police to tell them where Michel was.  I thought that she wasn’t going to do that, considering that she did love him.  And I didn’t expect Patricia to go back to Michel and tell him what she had done either.  One of the reasons for why I liked this movie, you never knew what to expect.

Breathless also contains a lot of jump-cuts.  The shot would be showing one thing and then all of a sudden, we found the camera shooting something else leaving the audience to just digest this and to keep up with what was happening.  Even though it used jump-cuts, it never got me lost.  It seemed to fit in perfectly with the movie.

Like most of the other films that we have seen in class, I enjoyed watching this film a lot.  I liked that it kept me interested because you just never knew the next thing that Michel would do, who he would steal from or who he would attack.

Comments

Psycho

Wow! I absolutely loved this movie! It was the first time that I saw it and when professor Herzog showed excitement over those of us who didn’t watch it, I was more anxious to see it. Alfred Hitchcock used really good techniques to keep the audience attentive at what was going on. I loved all the long shots with no dialogue that he had. It kept the suspense going and it had me anxious at what was going to happen next.

I also liked the way that Alfred Hitchcock developed the story. The beginning of the film made it seem like the main character of this story would be Marion. The film starts off with her and Sam in a hotel room. She’s the one who steals $40,000 and the one that the police officer keeps following. We’re all focused on her thinking that the plot is about Marion getting away with $40,000. All to turn out that Norman is actually the main character and that Marion is simply one of his victims.

The shower scenes is definitely one scene that stood out to me. I loved that unlike today’s horror movies, Psycho isn’t so exaggerated. In the shower scene, you never actually see the knife stab Marion. It’s just constant cuts back and forth between the knife and Marion’s body. Today’s horror movies try so hard to make it real that it simply ends up looking so exaggerated. Also, even though this scene showed a murder occurring, you don’t see gallons and gallons of blood. We just see it mixed with the water but it’s not so much. And the music! It went perfectly with everything that was occurring.

This movie didn’t seem like it was too complicated to shoot. But the way it was shot was awesome. All those low angle shots to show the birds in that room were great. And then the close-ups on the eye were also good. I loved the overall plot of this story. I didn’t expect for Norman to have a double personality since throughout the film we always heard the “mom’s” voice. Hitchcock had me thinking that the mother did in fact exist. The explanation from the psychiatrist was also a good detail to include. It made everything make sense.

Definitely one of the best films out there!

Comments (17)

Analysis Project #1: Shot-by-shot Breakdown of a Scene

Scene: The scene I chose was from the movie “The Lady Eve”. I chose a scene from the beginning which was when Charles was just arriving on the boat from his expedition. This is the scene where Jean throws an apple at Charles as he is climbing the rope ladder.

Shot 1: 5 seconds

Framing: Long shot
Camera Placement: Straight on
Description: A boat is shown in the sea. A mountain is in the background but it’s a little blurred out. Most of the frame shows the sea and the sky. The boat seems to be small since it’s taken from a long shot.
Lighting: Even amount of light throughout the frame.
Sound: Diegetic. The motion of the water is heard but it’s not too loud.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 2: 2 seconds

Framing: Medium shot
Camera Placement: Low angle
Description: Steam is coming out from the top of the boat. Again, a majority of the shot shows the sky and a pipe from the boat.  
Lighting: Even amount of lighting.
Camera Movement: Still
Sound: Diegetic sound. Coming from the pipe of the boat.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 3: 2 seconds

Framing: Medium shot
Camera Placement: Low angle
Description: Water is coming out from another pipe on the boat.
Lighting: Even amount of light.
Camera Movement: Still
Sound: Diegetic. Again, coming from the pipe of the boat. The sounds of the boat are made to make a signal to the ship that this boat is arriving.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 4: 2 Seconds (Same as shot 2)

Shot 5: 2 Seconds (Same as shot 3)

Shot 6: 5 seconds

Frame: Medium-long shot
Camera Placement: Shot slightly from below
Description: The shot shows a woman pointing down at the person who is arriving. The rest of the group looks down towards where the woman is pointing. They all show happy facial expressions which indicates that they are excited about the new person that is arriving. The group of people is all dressed up: Women have their dresses or skirts while men have their suits on. This shot doesn’t focus on anyone specific yet. It really just shows the arrival of Charles on to the boat.
Sound: Diegetic. A woman screams “There it is!” as we continue to hear the sound of the boats. Also we hear a whistle being blown by one of the men on the ship.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 7: 2 seconds

Frame: Long Shot
Camera Placement: Shot slightly from below
Description: The seamen throw down the rope ladder to help Charles and his body guard get to the other level of the boat.
Camera Movement: Still
Sound: Diegetic. The signals of the boat are still being heard and the group of people that are already on the ship is heard as well.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 8: 1 minute

Frame: Continuous Medium-Long Shot
Camera Placement: Straight on
Description: This shot begins with a group of people watching Charles arrive onto the boat. The group is made up of different families and each family is talking about Charles’ arrival. They keep looking down onto the sea to when Charles gets on the boat. As the camera begins to move, it slowly begins to move up to another level of the boat. On this level, we find Jean and her father watching down as Charles is arriving. Jean expresses hope that Charles is a rich man. Both Jean and her father are wearing white, representing that they are of higher class. As they are talking about Charles, another man comes out. Apparently, he found out information about Charles and informed Eve that “he is dripping with dough”.
Camera Movement: Begins moving from right to left and then moves upward. Then the camera stays still.
Sound: Diegetic. The group of people that is awaiting Charles’ arrival is heard talking. We can also briefly hear the sound of the water as well as whistle being blown. Towards the end of this shot, the conversation between Jean and her father is also heard.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 9: 3 seconds

Frame: Close-up
Camera Placement: High angle
Description: The man that had informed Jean that Charles was rich had a paper to show it. This short shot is a close-up of the paper that he had. It reads “Pike’s Pale: The Ale That Won For Yale”.
Camera Movement: Still
Sound: Diegetic. The whistles are heard in the background and the man reads what the paper says.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 10: 10 seconds

Frame: Long Shot
Camera Placement: High angle
Description: Charles’ launch is shown arriving. He’s still wearing the outfit from his expedition. The launch is approaching the boat and Charles is then seen beginning to climb up the rope ladder.
Sound: Diegetic. The water flow is heard as the launch is arriving to the boat. More whistling is heard as well.

Shot 11: 4 seconds

Frame: Medium-long shot
Camera Placement: Shot slightly from below
Description: Jean has an apple and decides to aim it at Charles. By doing so, she wants to catch his attention. Jean’s father tries to stop her but he isn’t successful. Jean throws the apple down the boat.
Camera Movement: Stays still throughout the shot.
Sound: Diegetic. Jean’s voice is heard as she wonders what will happen when she throws that apple to Charles.
Straight cut to the next shot.

Shot 12: 7 seconds

Frame: Long Shot
Camera Placement: High angle
Description: Charles begins to climb the rope ladder as the apple hits him on the top of his head. Charles reacts and looks up to scream and see who was the person that through the apple at him.
Camera Movement: Still
Sound: Diegetic. The sound of the water is heard again as well as Charles’ voice when he yells back.

Breakdown:

I chose this scene because this is where Jean and Charles had their first contact in the movie. I notice that in this scene, the director uses a lot of long and medium-long shots. Throughout the film, long and medium-long shots are used very often as well. I think that this is done because the director wants to show not just the main focus, but everything that surrounds the characters. For example, in this scene we see the boat from far away and are able to see that the boat has different levels. Clearly, this shows that people that are in upper-class are on a different level of the boat. When Jean is having a conversation with her father, it isn’t shown up close so that we are able to see behind them. The door is shown that when the man comes out, we see him arrive. Every aspect of the background is shown.

I think that Sturges chooses to not show many close-ups so that he can show everything that is within that scene. If we were to always see close-up throughout the film then that wouldn’t give us an idea of where the main characters are located. Having long shots and medium-long shots shows us where the characters are located and what other minor characters are in that scene besides the main characters are there. It shows how much privacy the main characters have within that scene.

Comments (1)

Umberto D

I found Umberto D to be an interesting film.  Though the story itself doesn’t really tell anything interesting, it was still a film that kept me interested.  I liked the fact that the person who played the main character was an unprofessional actor.  He did a really a good job in his role and it’s hard to believe that he is unprofessional.  He seemed to know which facial expression went with which scene and his way of acting seemed so natural.

The concept of the film didn’t really seem to show something exciting.  It really showed the life of a poor man who was just trying to get money to be able to stay in his room.  It also showed how a girl was pregnant and didn’t even know which one of the two soldiers was the father of her baby.  Both soldiers were denying it as well.  These topics are what can happen in everyday life, yet an entire film was able to be made based on these topics.

I also noticed that unlike other films, the pacing of this film was slow.  There were scenes that could have been cut down to a few minutes but instead, it was sort of stretched out.  For example, there was the scene where Maria woke up and started with her duties.  She was simply making coffee, yet the scene was a little over five minutes.  Why was this scene made so long?  I think it was to show how Maria was reflecting about everything that was going on in her life and how she really couldn’t do anything about it.  She was pregnant, she didn’t know who the father was, she couldn’t go back to her own home because her father would beat her, and she had no money to go anywhere else.  She was also trapped to stay in that house doing the same chores over and over and she really couldn’t do anything about it. She could have also had a feeling of worriness, because she knew she had to leave that place eventually yet she had no idea where to go.

So as I mentioned before, I enjoyed watching this film though the topic of the film didn’t show something exciting. It showed an average life yet the director was able to make a film out of it. I thought that was great!

 

Comments (6)

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane is by far the best movie that I have seen in the History of Cinema class.  It was an excellent film that was made and I think that for it’s time period, it seemed to be very advance with the technology.  The techniques used were also very good.  The scene that I selected was when Charles is with the dancing girls.  When he is dancing with the girls, the two other men begin to have a conversation with each other about Charles.

One technique that I noticed was used was that Wellles likes to use a lot of reflection.  I noticed that while the two men were having their conversation, Charles appeared in the reflection of the window.  The reflection was placed right in between the two men.  When Charles didn’t appear in the reflection of the window and the camera angle moved, his actual face would appear.  And again, it would be placed right in between the two men while they were having their conversation.  I think that this technique was used often to emphasize who the important person was in that particular scene.  This technique wasn’t used only in this scene.  It was used throughout the entire movie as well.

Another technique that I noticed was used had to do with the way Welles would place his characters.  They would be placed in sort of levels.  There would be one person all the way in the back, one more towards the front, and another one even closer to the camera.  And even though they were placed in different levels, people are still able to see all of the characters there.  Welles also uses a lot of close ups throughout the film.  And when he really wanted to focus on just one character, he would blur out the rest of the background and do close ups on the character he wanted to emphasize.

All of the techniques that Welles uses in his film serve a purpose.  It keeps the audience interested with what is going on in the film. Personally, I liked all of the techniques he used because it was a way to remind us who the characters were talking about and to point out which one were even more important.  It also kept me focused on the film because like I mentioned, I thought the film had a good use of techniques and technology.

Comments (1)

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