2011Archive

Dec 09

 

The male gaze was a very popular theme that occurred in films throughout the fifties and sixties.  This consisted of the camera constantly being shown on women, making them appear sexual and more than just an ordinary person.  The women shown are beautiful and flawless, and propped up on pedestals.  Laura Mulvey argues that there’s a specific way the camera shows the scene and how the camera acts as the spectators eyes looking at the female.

A scene that greatly stood out to me during our class viewing was the Alfred Hitchcock shower scene from “Psycho”.  Well let me tell you why this scene basically stood out to me.  Ever since I was a child I was terrified of the shower and possibly having a killer murder me in the shower with a knife.  Don’t ask me why, its just something I guess I constantly dreamed about. Watching this scene was almost like watching my own nightmare come true on screen.  I really couldn’t believe that I was watching it with my own eyes right in front of me.  I’ve heard the music before and people make references to this scene but I’ve never actually seen it put together.  Let me tell you, I was scared shitless watching this scene, hearing that music and actually seeing this murder scene infused with chocolate syrup on the walls really did not make my situation any better.  Oh, and by the way I refused to take a shower back at my dorm after this movie, because I was all alone, the roommates had left for the weekend, I truly had a fear of Mrs. Bates coming after me.  So thank you Hitchcock for making me become a psycho and turning me into a crazy lady more terrified of dying in the shower than I ever was before.  Okay I just wanted to state that before I got into this scene analysis, enough about me let me dig into this. definitly

Besides the fact that I was terrified of seeing my nightmare come true on screen, I thought this scene was great.  It really practiced the idea of the male gaze. In Laura Mulvey’s essay she states that  “In film women are typically the objects, rather than the possessors, of gaze because the control of the camera (and thus the gaze) comes from factors such as the as the assumption of heterosexual men as the default target audience for most film genres”. This theory is exactly exemplified in “Psycho”.   For about one minute the camera was deeply focused on the actress taking a shower.  There was no dialogue but clear actions of turning on the water, washing her body, the whole nine yards.  The showing of her bare body allows the audience to understand the male gaze.  Its almost as if the camera was the male and the lens acts as his eyes, which stare at her bare body.  Finally in the background you can see a dark shadow of some sort.  You then realize that the bathroom door is opening and someone has just walked in.  Ten seconds later the shower curtain whips open and Mrs. Bates is standing there stabbing the poor woman to death. During the scene we don’t see the face of the killer but we can tell its Mrs. Bates due to the hair and clothing.
The camera techniques during this scene were incredible.  I couldn’t believe all the different shots in a matter of thirty seconds.  The shots varied from high, low, to medium, and close-ups.  Janet Leigh’s acting might have been terrible, but the camera techniques made up for it.  Right before the killer is about to open up the shower curtain, the camera zooms and pans over to the left and makes a rack focus to direct the audience’s attention.  The killer then starts to open up the shower curtain then the camera focuses on the silhouette of her.  She has a shadow covering her body which protects her identity as she stands in a position with her arm up in the air with a huge chef’s knife ready to kill.  Then the camera quickly switches over to Marion showing her face of shock and horror.  After this the camera is constantly moving back and forth from Ms. Bates to Marion showing the action from both perspectives.  Periodically the camera will move positions to up above the shower rod giving an aerial view.  During the aerial shots, the camera captures the full naked body of Marion and how she’s trying to fight back by pushing away the killers arm with the knife. Ms. Bates seems to be stronger in which she tries to completely force her body into the shower.  This exemplifies that the woman is weak and only useful for her good looks and physical appearance, but nothing else.  Other times the camera just focuses on her flat stomach.  Once Ms. Bates seems to be finished with Marion, she runs out of the bathroom and her body slowly drops to the floor showing the traces of blood all over the bathtub.   All of these shots truly support the theme of the male gaze due to the specific camera techniques.

 

I couldn’t write about “Psycho” without analyzing the music.  Even thought the music in particular doesn’t truly have any connection with the male gaze, it just helps the scene make it that much better and more intense.  The first few times of viewing the scene on YouTube I had to mute the sound because the music terrified me that much.  The high pitch ostinatos in the violins are truly very creepy.  As soon as Ms. Bates rips open the shower curtain and the camera focuses on her body just standing there with a knife, having that music enhances the scene immensely.  I found a clip that shows the scene with and without the music.  Everything stays the same, even the sounds of Marion yelling, the stabbing of the knife, and the water droplets of the shower.  0:18 seconds compared to 1:29 seem to be completely different just because of the music.  That music adds a great amount of effect to the horror and killing.  The same thing occurs at 0:42 and 1:54 when Marion’s hand is sliding down the bathroom tiled walls.  The music suddenly switches from the repetitive high pitched sound to a deep slow duration with the celli and bass going against a descending line down the scale from the violins.   This musical score composed by Christopher Palmer truly enhances the scene and the idea of the male gaze.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81qweiWqyTU

 

The male gaze is almost like the saying “a peeping Tom”.  A pepping Tom is basically a male who follows and watches naked woman.  Norman bates and the idea of the male gaze in “Psycho” is exactly the same thing.  Norman Bates watches Marion through a hole in the wall as she gets ready to take a shower.  As Marion is in the shower the camera continues to stay on her even while she’s trying to fight off Ms. Bates.  Simple actions done by the cameras techniques give off an eerie feeling, allowing the audience to grasp a better understanding of the situation.

Nov 01

This may have been on of the worsts movies I have ever seen.  Besides from Early Summer ( in which I fell asleep for because of the Japanese music and text that put me to sleep during my own screening on my laptop).  Anyways…. What kind of movie is Invaders of the Body Snatchers?   I honestly did not understand the whole beginning and why there was a dead man laying on someones dinning room table, it just didn’t make any sense to me.  All of a sudden these seedpod thingy’s were shown and things started to fall in to place with the plot.  Although, I thought the idea of viewing a sci-fi / scary movie was  good to get us in the Halloween spirit.

I cant say I hated it because there was one part/ idea of the movie that I liked.  I thought the part when the main characters are spying out the window on the people of the town was very significant.  I thought it was pretty awesome that hundreds of people came out of nowhere to gather and listen to the directions of distributing the rest of the pods to family members and friends in other cities.  Having the trucks come in with huge loads of theses things and people grabbing them, and disbursing about five mins later was very cool, but it hardly seemed like anything happened.  I think the reason why I like this part because it greatly reminded me of the film “The Truman Show”.  Especially the part when Truman tried to leave the town to be “Spontaneous” and the road was clear.  All of a sudden he took  a turn, and there was a copious amount of cars, hours of potential traffic.  The cars and people in them came out of nowhere just like the towns people in ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.  Another scene in “The Truman Show” that was relate-able to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was when Truman was trying to escape.  This  movie has characters acting to be the same and all their surroundings are fake and perceived as perfect. The supporting characters in both movies try to do everything in their might to keep the main characters stuck in their town.  When Matthew Donnell tries to escape to tell other people about the sea pods the towns people are programmed to chase him and stop him from telling the unknown about the truth.  A very similar situation occurs in “The Truman Show”.  When Truman is getting a hint about this make believe world that he lives in and that every minute of his life has been broadcasted on television, he tries to escape and get over his fear of getting over the bridge that leaves the town.  On the other side the “GOD” like producer plans a forest fire and nuclear leak at the plant to stop Truman from going anything further and from never escaping this world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9lBvg5clr0 ( Spontaneous)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUKCW08_8Og ( Driving over the bridge)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLvWRNX2IJI ( Main Siren)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie1iJpS5qn4 ( Town scene1:00-1:20)

I noticed this connection between the movies right away.  If there was no connection like this , which made me think and ponder several ideas in my head, I probably would of fell asleep because I disliked the movie that much.

Oct 21

Rock Hudson

Okay first off… did anyone else realize that Rock Hudsons characer Mitch looks just like actor Jason Segel??… or should i sayy Jason Segel resembles Rock… either way, they really look alike, I couldnt believe it.

 

 

I have mixed feelings about this movie, but in particular I LOVED IT!.  In the begining It was so boring and honestly didn’t make any sense.  I didn’t understand why they went to Miami and then 5 minutes later Kyle and Lucy were married?  I honestly thought Lucy and Mitch were going to have something rather than Lucy falling for Kyle.  I thought the movie was going to have no plot and turn meoff just like the Japanese film Early Summer did to me.  (which by the way i fell asleep while viewing it on my laptop).

All of a sudden there was a bit of excitment in the movie when Marylee was introduced and ever since the Hadley’s had the party.  I was really intrigued by all the colors of the costumes and set design, and of course the music :D.  At the party Kyle finds out he cant inpregnate his new wife, right here is where Kirk really Camps the film with soap opera drama.  Kyle goes off the deep end and starts to drink again.  I really thought this was hysterical because i feel like if this was a real life situation the husband and wife would talk about it with one another but instead it was more of kyle ruining himself having the “poor me poor me” mentality.

Now Marylee makes the situation worse because she’s in love with Mitch and she does everything in her power to woo him.  Once she sees Mitch taking Lucy for a ride in the car, she poisons Kyle by telling him that the two are having an affair.  Oh did i mention that the big Mr. Hadley unexpectadly died and Kyle is already upset from that.  So not only can he not have kids, his father died, and now he’s finding out from his evil sister that his wife is having an affair with his best friend.  Well when they get back Lucy finds out that she’s pregnant and tried to tell Kyle the great news.  He right away became upset thinking that it was someone elses baby not his so he hits Lucy and hurt her.  This part right here was so over done becuase it was just a hit.  I mean yea im sure it hurt but she was so overreacting, her husband was drunk im sure he didnt hit her that hard.  Anyways Mitch comes running up stairs to save Lucy and fight Kyle, he threatens to kill him if he ever comes back.  The next scene is when Kyle buys another bottle of alcohol to get completely trashed.  I loved how Kirk used flashback in the opening scnene but only showed very minimal of what actually happens.  At this part the scene re occurs but shows complete details of the shooting.  I think my favorite part of this film is when Kyle finds the gun and Mitch is trying to reason with him.  Mitch seems like he isnt afraid of anything, Kyle could of killed him right there on the spot but i guess Mitch is brave enough to encounter a drunken mess with a gun and talk to him…best friend or not, i wouldnt.  Marylee comes into the situation becuase shes obviously there to make the situation worse and because shes always up Mitch’s ass.  So my favorite part is when the camera goes back and forth Kyle and Mitch talking.   But when the camera went to Kyle it wasnt just him it was all the Hadley’s.  Him, Marylee and even the huge portrait of his father hangning on the wall in the background.  Even though he died, It almost looked like he was actually there in person.  It was the Hadleys vs. Mitch 3-0..So  unfair.  Here Douglas portrayed the idea of being an outsider.  Mitch was the the one being left out, defending himself, solo.   I thought this part so soooooooooooooooo significant i really couldnt believe how perfect the filming worked out.  It was such a great illusion it really blew my mind away, and right here is where i absolutely fell in love with this movie.

So back to the fact that Kyle and Lucy got married.  I had no clue they were even together or that he proposed to her untill later on in the movie.  I feel like director meant to do this because the same thing happened with the death of mr. Hadley.  He fell down the stairs, but it wasnt exactly established that he died untill there was a wreath on the gate with a black ribbon and then stated later on in the film.   He could just got really hurt.  There was no funneral or wake or casket or anything that really symbolizes death to make the audience understand.  For two huge events that occur in the movie, why did Sirk make it very deceiving?  without these events there would be not plot to the movie.  Everything would be veryyy different!  I guess we had to just figure everything out for ourselves and really think.  And i think that was Sirk’s point, he wanted us to really dig deep and pay attention to the moive rather then him just giving everything away.

Okay im done blabbing, So yes i really enjoyed this movie and thought it was great!!!!

Oct 17

         Double Indemnity (1944):

                Shot  1. Long shot, higher view off the balcony looking down at the character and her actions.  Non-diegetic music.

                Shot  2. Medium shot, the camera starts to level off rather than being higher up looking down like before.  Phyllis leaves the foyer            and walks into the living room.

                Shot  3.  Close up,  Phyllis finishes shutting off all the lights. Then a strong close up on the cloth in her hand.  She un ravels It and puts a gun under the couch.  Still Non-diegetic music.

                Shot  4. Close up on Phyllis’s face lighting a cigarette and she stops for a second to hear the car door shut knowing its Walter.  She then continues with her actions.

                Shot  5.  Medium shot, camera zooms out as Phyllis sits in a chair and Walter enters.   The  pattern use of shadows is in this shot.  As Walter enters, a complete silhouette of  his body appears on the wall instead of actually seeing him.  No music at all in this scene

               Shot 6.  Long shot, Walter walks into the living room.  Music starts up again.  He stops in a specific spot and stays “hello baby”.  Here the shadow of the horizontal lines appear on him.  Music strikes up again, the audience thinks its non-diegetic but it becomes diegetic because Walter all of a sudden asks “What’s that music?”… she responds with “Radio up the street”. 

[The scene continues, but my analysis will end here.]

There are many aspects that are involved with pulling apart a scene.  Techniques like editing, framing and camera movement are considered as the most important or the most used.  One of the best techniques used in a scene from “Double Indemnity”, is the use of music.  Music is constantly portrayed in many other parts of the film and truly has a strong effect on the audience.

Many directors use music as a technique, especially in action films.  For example If one watches the 1991 “Robin Hood: Prince of the Thieves” they will understand how the importance of music is shown and heard throughout the movie.  The majestic sound coming from the lower brass instruments and trumpets give off a feeling like no other.  When the movie first starts, one automatically obtains that glorifying feeling when the music plays during the beginning rolling credits.  The score written by Michael Kamen helps the audience understand what’s occurring in the film and to set a specific mood and tone.

watch?v=1AxVTvrD3HY

Billy Wilders’ directorial decisions on this film were impeccable.  In this scene especially, he used specific techniques to get certain ideas across to the audience.  The music in this scene is a perfect match with the actions taken place. (1:33:40-1:35:11) Before the scene starts, Walter announces “But what I didn’t know is that she had plans of her own”.  Right after, the music starts and Phyllis begins her actions in shot one.  She plans to leave the door unlocked for Walter and shut off all of the lights to make it completely dark.  The deepness of the string instruments including violins and celli set the mood of the scene.  The music is quite slow and eerie giving a suspicious feeling.  In the next shot, the music tends to get a little faster and higher in pitch.  As Phyllis is done with all of her necessary procedures there’s a sudden close up and change in music.  It continues to get faster and higher until it reaches a certain point. This allows the audience to sit on the edge of the seats, not knowing what’s going to happen becoming concerned of the situation.  All of a sudden the gun is shown and the music becomes deep and dark.  The 16th notes on the lower octave of a piano and the celli give a feeling that something bad just occurred. Not only did the music spell out murder, but those exact notes made a connection to the Broadway musical “Oliver!”  When Bill Sykes is about to kill Nancy the same feeling ran through my body, receiving chills from hearing such a terrifying set of notes. (London Bridge – 1:39:38- 1:40:42) As well as the interlude before Mr. Fagan sings “Reviewing the Situation”.   (Mr. Fagan – 1:24:35 – 1:25:07) In all situations, the music tells the viewers to be shocked and think about what is going to happen next, practically falling out of the chair.

The music attracts the audience and assists them on how to feel at that specific moment.  This scene was a perfect example of how the music is extremely significant.  Not only does it help the audience understand what’s going on and to enhance the entertainment, but in particular it interacts with the characters.  What this means is that the music in the scene starts out non-diegetic.  Non-diegetic sound is music or noises that are not heard inside the movie by the characters.  They are either voice over’s, orchestral scores, and mainly for the audience.  A sudden change hits the screen as Walter enters the room.  The sound goes to Diegetic allowing the characters to partake with the background sound.   One would expect him to say something about the situation after being concerned when he enters to make sure none is home.  No, he unexpectedly changes the mood and said “what’s that music”…Phyllis answers with “radio up the street”.  The whole time, the soft, sweet music seemed it was non-diegetic until the characters both responded to it.  This shot is not only significant because it normally does not occur in films, especially ones like this one, but it sends a message to the audience about their true characters.  It almost seems to be that the “fourth wall” has been broken and the actors aren’t focused enough.  Or maybe the director wanted us to think that there was no true acting, and everything was real.  Billy Wilder might have wanted the viewers to think that the scene was true and authentic by adding in the sound change, making the conflict as believable as possible. 

watch?v=qPOcR087uxM

 

Miklos Rozsa did an outstanding job with composing the original score for “Double Indemnity”.  The music reflects throughout the film and becomes very influential.  The scene above is not the only part that’s ascertainable due to the music. Scenes encompassing the film are supported greatly from the music, because of its strong force.  The main characters, Walter and Phyllis finally execute their plan to kill her husband.  Mr. Dietrichson realizes she’s driving down the wrong street and the cue for dark and heavy music appears.  The music is a clue, enacting like the literary device foreshadowing.  It hints to the viewers that a horrible event is about to take place.  While the music is about to hit its climax, the camera makes a close up to Phyllis’s face.  Wilders decision was pure perfection.  The camera didn’t need to show the action occurring, the close up on her face and the gloomy music explains it all.  (50:30-51:10)  Double Indemnity’s opening credit scene was a clue that the music in the rest of the film will be very influential.  The man walking closer and closer to the camera with the deep brass and timpani in the background foreshadowed the rest of the movie due to the music.  Right there the audience members can feel the mood that the director is trying to set and the music was the best way of doing it.

Sep 22

Wow! Citizen Kane was awesome, I didn’t except it to be but it was.  Orson Welles was so ahead of his time with the various techniques that were used; and that are still being used till this day.  A common technique that was used throughout the film were patterns.  I noticed many reflecting objects and mirrors.  But, I must say that my favorite technique was the use of the flashback.

Flashingback into important scenes in Kane’s life really helped me grasp a better understanding of his character.  The main one that I think was the most significant was the flashback to his childhood.  The scene showed him as a young child running around in the snow.  Then his mother and father were inside bickering about something.  Another man was with them making them sign papers of some sort.  Even though the main action is between the adults in the scene, outside the window where Kane is playing with his sleigh is the main focus.  In the scene the sleigh seems to be very important and it seems that the character has an emotional attraction to it.  As the young boy is taken away, the sled is left behind.  The film shows time passing by and the snow just collecting on top of it.  At first I wasnt to sure as to why this happened, but then realized it was a source of foreshadowing. 

Later on in the movie the main character constanly talks about something called “Rosebud” I think I spent the whole movie trying to figure out what “Rosebud” could be.  Possibly the snow globe he drops and shatters on the floor during his death, maybe his child, maybe his wives, or his mother.  I then realized when reporters and detectives were burning things in his house, it was the sled.  On the sled the name that was hand painted on was “Rosebud”.  It all came together for me. Since the sled was “Rosebud” I then made the connection that the sled symbolized his childhood and his innocence before he became rich and his life changed greatly.

Another foreshadow from the flashback technique that I observed was something his father said.  When Mr. Thatcher was taking away his son because his mother didnt want him near his fathe anymore the dad stated that he will become rich one day.  He then said he will become the richest man in the world.  Now, Kane was only about 8 years old at the time.  I feel that those lines were so significant because that trully did come true and being  a rich man shaped Kane’s character.

In both instances where “Rosebud”  was left outside in the snow and melting in the fire pit, the camera zoomed in on it for several seconds.  I feel like the director wanted to really get the point across to the audience of the importance of that sled.  It was almost scary to see the camera slowly zoom in on the sled when the snow piled on and when the name was dripping off in the fire.

So overall this film was great! I enjoyed wathcing it.  There were so many important things that were occuring but I feel that the technique of flashbacks and foreshadowing were the greatest.

Sep 11

Watching Public Enemy last friday really drew me into the class.  The film was very intriging and enjoyable.  It was pretty awesome to see that these two poor guys put their mind to becoming rich.  One minute they were walking around the streets and the next they were in high end clubs with expensive clothes, woman, drinks etc.  Some may disagree but I liked that the main character died in the end.  It gave a good ending and a stop to the maddness.  It showed that even though he was wealthy and was able to “beat the system” he couldn’t do it forever.  Theres an end to everything and his lifestyle was put to an end. 

I feel that this film was the start of a whole new genre.  After this film, great hits like “The Godfather” “Scarface” and “Good Fellas” were created and had a very similar concept.  I can see the comparasions between Tom Powers and Michael Corleone from “The Godfather”.  They both started out innocent, having no relation with the mob.  All of a sudden once they get involved they cant be stoped, and theyre the ones killing people now.  They’re the ones that people have to look out for. 

 

Sep 08

Welcome to Qwriting.org. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Film History