Film Studies Week Nine Final exam preview and assignment guidelines. Non-Fiction Film Abstract Film Documentary Film Directors Norman McLaren and Jennifer Baichwal
Difference between criticism and reviewing Originally distributed by Scott Knight, Bond University, Queensland
You need to substantiate your argument via concrete references and specific examples involving format devices such as editing, acting, and dialogue (without summarizing).
This will develop a theme, at the expense of a general overall impression of the film’s worth (reviewing).
Opinion is present (a critique may imply that a film succeeds in an important task through formally appropriate means), but opinion only prompts or motivates the criticism, it does not begin and end it.
A provocative, clear theme developed in relation to specific, cinematic qualities -- lighting, acting, camera angle or movement, editing, the juxtaposition of images and sound, the role of dialogue or pace etc. allows an interpretation of the film to emerge that acknowledges both the actual texture of the film and your experience of it.
Systematic Mise en Scene Analysis 15 pt. Systematic Mise en Scene Analysis Yellow stars … review points
Dominant. What is our eye attracted to?
Lighting Styles and Key: High-key, low-key, painterly, linear?
Shot and Camera Proxemics: What type of shot? How far away?
Shot Angles. High, low, neutral.
Colour values. What is dominent colour? Colour symbolism?
Lens/filter/stock. How do these distort or comment on photography?
Subsidiary contrasts. What are the eye-stops after the dominant?
Density. How much visual information is packed into the image? Is texture stark, moderate, or highly detailed?
Continued next screen
“ Photographic considerations”
Systematic Mise en Scene Analysis 15 pt. Systematic Mise en Scene Analysis 9. Composition. How is the 2-D space segmented and organized? What is the underlying design? Visual Weight, Balance, Symmetry. 10. Form. Open or closed? Does the image suggest a window that arbitrarily isolates a fragment of the scene? Or is it self contained? 11. Framing. Tight or loose? How much room do the characters have to move around? 12. Depth. On how many planes is the image composed? Does the background and foreground comment on the midground? 13. Character placement. What parts of the framed space are occupied? 14. Staging positions.Which way to they look vis-à-vis the camera 15. Character proxemics. How much space between characters? Continued …
Review … Mise-en-scene review Point #9 Composition
Principles of Design
Balance: Weight, Position, Arrangement.
Emphasis: (Focal Point and Hierarchy)
Visual Weight Where you position a mark on a page affects its visual weight. In visual perception different areas of the page carry more weight, for example, the centre of the page is very powerful. Point #9 Composition, review
Balance -- Symmetry Where the visual elements are evenly distributed on either side of an imaginary vertical axis, like a mirror image. Equal distribution of weight on either side. Point #9 Composition, review
Review … Mise en scene review Point #8 Density “ How much visual information is packed into the image? Is texture stark, moderate, or highly detailed?” Density of texture refers to the amount of visual detail in a scene. How much information packed in and why. Tied in closely to factors of set design. Some images are stark, some are densely textured.
Review … Mise en scene review Point #10 Form “ Open or closed? Does the image suggest a window that arbitrarily isolates a fragment of the scene? Or is it self contained?” Open/closed is loosely related to the concepts of realism and formalism. In general realist filmmakers use open forms where aleatory techniques produce spontaneity and directness. Formalists lean toward closed and artistically formulated.
Review … Mise-en-scene review Point #12 Depth “ On how many planes is the image composed? Does the background and foreground comment on the midground?” What are the depth planes? Foreground, middle, rear, background, for example and how do they play off each other.
Review … Mise en scene review Point #14 Staging Positions “ Which way to they look vis-à-vis the camera” An actor can be photographed in any of five basic positions, each conveying different psychological undertone. Full front, quarter turn, profile, three-quarter turn, back to camera.
Styles and Types (Modes) of Films REALISM CLASSICISM FORMALISM Documentary F I C T I O N Avant-Garde Manufactured Landscapes Boogie Doodle Mon Oncle Antoine Men With Brooms waydowntown NB. These are not airtight categories and often overlap. styles Types (modes)
Non -Fiction Films The term nonfiction commonly applies to documentary cinema but also avant-garde film. These two modes -- documentary realism and avant-garde formalism both start from a suspicion of the use of spectacle and narrative in fiction films to involve spectators in a world of fantasy and illusion. Thoughts? The distinction between fiction and nonfiction is not always easy to make.
Avant Garde Films (Experimental) Avant garde films either do not tell stories or tell stories that are highly personal and simulate inner thought. The objective is to explore the formal properties of film as a medium and the ways these properties can be used to evoke inner experience of artists. Many avant garde filmmakers value chance and spontaneity in their movies and avoid scripts.
Norman McLaren — Auteur . From http://www.nfb.ca/portraits/norman_mclaren/en/ “ As an animator and filmmaker, Norman McLaren was a poet, for whom images, color, sounds and music had special resonances which he was capable of exploring in their entire range and magnitude. Today, more than fifty films remain as evidence of his gifts.” In 1941, at the invitation of John Grierson, who had become Canada's first Government Film Commissioner, McLaren joined the National Film Board. Over his career, he made 59 films, most leaning towards experimental animation, with music as an important element.
Russian Constructivists In art and architecture, constructivism was an artistic movement in Russia from 1914 in favour of "pure" art with no social function which used designs influenced by, and materials used in, industry. Prominent constructivists include Antoine Pevsner, Naum Gabo and Kasimir Malevich. Below is Malevich’s “Black on White.”
Boogie Doodle (Norman McLaren, 1940) Norman McLaren literally does what the title says, to a fast paced boogie woogie tune he intertwines the movement on screen and the rhythm of the soundtrack, giving us a Boogie Doodle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgJ-yOhpYIM From imdb Blinkity Blink (Norman McLaren, 1955) The surreal story of a bird and its cage with both their conflict and union. Synchromy (Norman McLaren, 1971) The film's soundtrack is an original musical composition produced with synthetic sound - through photographing unusual geometric shapes and running them through an optical sound head.
The Documentary Mode The documentary mode depends on the assumption that film images provide evidence of a state of affairs that exists in the world outside the film. That it’s “true.’ However no documentary is simply an objective representation of facts. Key question for the great documentary filmmakers … How do I create a convincing interpretation of reality without distorting the evidence?
Documentary: Ways of Storytelling* How does a film director take an idea, issue or actual event and turn it into a film that is interesting to watch? How are images and sound manipulated to heighten impact? How does the choice of narrator or storyteller affect the tone of the story being told? * From Constructing Reality series of documentaries by the NFB -- available in our U of L Library. This six-video anthology of documentaries explores questions central to media education.
Documentary: Shaping Reality Documentaries are constructions rather than transparent windows into “reality.” The focus here is on choices which need to be made in the process of constructing and editing films: images, words, sound effects, music and silence -- the tools that filmmakers use to create an experience for the audience.
Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006) 90 minutes http://www.playbackmag.com/articles/magazine/19980907/22971.html Best Documentary – 2007 Genie Awards Best Canadian Film – Toronto International Film Festival Best Canadian Film & Best Documentary - Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Nominated for Grand Jury Prize- Sundance 2007 Edward Burtynsky is internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of nature transformed by industry. Manufactured Landscapes follows Burtynsky to China, as he captures the effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution. This film leads us to meditate on human endeavour and its impact on the planet.
Questions: Manufactured Landscapes Think about the “layers” of investigation. What ethical issues are raised? Where is the “cinematography” or photographic aesthetics on the style continuum? Comments on the “Production Design?” What art direction decisions were made? When does it become about the filmmaker and the audience? What’s the bias? Is there one? Does the juxtaposition of these sequences in split screen bring new information to the art of filmmaking? Does the filmmaker create a convincing interpretation of reality without distorting the evidence?
Questions: Manufactured Landscapes Is there such a thing as a completely candid film? What difference does the presence of the camera make for those who are under its scrutiny? Should the filmmaker be an uninvolved fly-on-the-wall who records life as it happens, or an engaged participant?