The cinema of attraction report and montage eisenstein

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SM2105 Assignment2 …

SM2105 Assignment2
ZHAO Mengchen
SID: 52164563

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  • 1. CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG The Cinema of Attraction Report and Montage Eisenstein SM2105 Assignment2 March 10th 2014 ZHAO Mengchen SID: 52164563 Response Paper on The Cinema of Attraction by Tom Gunning
  • 2. In this passage, the author expounded logically about some heterogeneous characteristics between the early films before 1906 and later films, and extracted the concept of “the cinema of attractions” based on that discussion. Early cinema, as a kind of “cinema of attractions”, directly attracts the attention of audience, arouses curiosity of visual sense and provides great pleasure through exciting visual enjoyment. The Avant-Garde’s interests in early films are also lying in its novelty and innovation. Tom Gunning pointed out that the cinema of attraction did not disappear with the development of the narrative films, on the contrary, they continued to play a huge role in popular films and pioneer film production. First of all, Gunning used Lumiere and Melies to indicate the conception of “the cinema of attractions” which dominates cinema until about 1906 or 1907, this idea prefers to seeing the film less as a way of telling stories, but rather as a way of representing series of landscape to the audience. Of course, Gunning pointed out what exactly is the cinema of attraction, this kind of films, as one specific element of narration film, has the ability to show and demonstrate something. And the most important sign is the relationship between the cinema of attractions and its audience, and the way represents this relationship is actors and actresses directly look at camera constantly, in this way, this action could help the films establish contact with spectators. Later, Tom Gunning used a series of examples of erotic films in which the actresses flirting with camera and the audience to illustrate exhibitionism, which plays an important role in early film production, and in fact, in the earliest years of 2
  • 3. exhibition, the cinema itself was an attraction. Based on telling about the historical and social background of the world at the beginning of the 20th century, the entertainment industry develop enormously and the mass, or you can say, the middle class started to accept this kind of culture, the culture accents direct stimulation rather than pure diegesis, and the more “popular” entertainment attracted the Avant-garde very soon. In addition, the author noted that the word attractions’s springhead is from Eisenstein and his new model for the theater. According to Eisenstein, theater should consist of a montage of such attractions, creating a relation to the spectator entirely different from his absorption in “illusory imitativeness”, and created an attraction which forces the audience accept sensual or psychological impact, this concept highlights the relation between spectators and the film itself, not “diegetic absorption”. The meaning of Montage and Attraction from Sergei Eisenstein is very attractive to me, and I am going to discuss this theory with examples in the second part of my response essay. At the end of Tom Gunning’s article, he identified the development of the cinema of attraction, he said that the appearance of feature films started the true narrativization, the look at the camera becomes taboo and the devices of cinema focused more on characters, their inner world and fiction expression. However, the system of attraction remains an essential part of popular filmmaking no matter how the variety format changed. In conclusion, let me use one sentence from Gunning’s 3
  • 4. passage to end the summary of entire essay of The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde: every change in film history implies a change in its address to the spectator, and each period constructs its spectator in a new way. Above, I have declared that the Montage theory from Eisenstein is very attractive to me. Eisenstein always uses montage in his works, for instance in his film Bronenosets Potyomkin in 1925, when the rebellion happened on the warship, the shots of sailors who are walking down the stairs and people who are beating each other inside the ship were intercut by the director, or, people who are having a speech at the port and the group of sailors’ scene were also intercut and showed up alternately. These things happened in different places at the same time, and we could call it parallel expression. And I would like to analyze one scene instead of the entire film in this work. To Eisenstein, montage can control a wide range of human functions from simple voluntary movements such as swaying to complex ideological beliefs and convictions. In this movie, the massacre scene on the Odessa steps is very classical, and I want to take the episode of Odessa steps where the pathos of the film reaches its climax as my analyzing example. How are the events arranged and presented in this scene? Leaving aside the frenzied state of the characters and masses in the scene, the movement itself is used to express mounting emotional intensity actually. Firstly, there are close-ups of human figures rushing chaotically, then, long shots of the same scene occurred. The chaotic movement is next superseded by shots showing the feet 4
  • 5. of soldiers as they march down the steps rhythmically when the tempo increases and rhythm accelerates. Later on, as the downward movement reaches its culmination, the movement is suddenly reversed, instead of the headlong rush of the crowd down the ladders we see the solitary figure of a mother carrying her dead son who was shot by the soldiers, going up the steps slowly and solemnly through the mass. The shot of the rushing crowd is suddenly followed by one showing a perambulator hurtling down the steps, this is more than just different tempos. This is a leap in the method of representation, from the abstract to the physical. Close-ups, accordingly, give place to long shots. The chaotic rush of a mass is succeeded by the rhythmic march of the soldiers. One aspect of movement like people running, falling down or tumbling down the steps gives way to another – the rolling perambulator. At each step there is a leap from one dimension to another, from one quality to another, until, finally, the change affects not one individual episode (the perambulator) but the whole of the method: the risen lions mark the point where the narrative turns into a presentation through images. Pathos arouses deep emotions and enthusiasm, the sad, nervous and tragic atmosphere was uttered with the rolling down stroller, and this group of montage lens in six minutes uses nearly more than 150 shot lens of only 3 second averagely. In this six-minute, long shots, medium shots and close-ups appeared alternately, the fast shot-lens are the typical characteristic Eisenstein’s montage film. 5
  • 6. Eisenstein believes that this form of montage has the capability to build a new form of cinematography, and a creative narration form as well. Also, this method brought out the term “attractions” as Eisenstein thought theater should consist of a montage of such attractions, creating a relation to the spectator entirely different from his absorption in illusory imitativeness.1 Eisenstein's comparison of government with religion becomes even more apparent when looked at through the terms of his montage form. In a word, Eisenstein’s film and theory conveyed a messaged that when the political revolution and realism are mixed together, it would bring the films freshness and excitement you can never imagine. Reference: The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde, by Tom Gunning Montage Eisenstein, by Jacques Aumont, 1979 Sergei Eisenstein: Notes of a Film Director, by X. Danko, 1959 1 The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde 6