FILM 2120 Intro to Cinema
FILM 2120 Intro to Cinema FILM 2120
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Date Created: 04/17/16
04-04 I. Introduction to Alfred Hitchcock A. Evolution of Hitchcock’s critical reputation Before the auteurists began to focus on Hitchcock, he was as best known as a solid craftsman and at worst he was known as morally objectionable creator of trash Personally widely recognized Commercially successful compared to Welles Work was not taken too seriously Considered to be a single creator of his films “Hitchcock: The First 44films”—Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer: first book on the study of Hitchcock and his work Hitchcock’s films by robin woods Hitchcock by François Truffaut B. Summary of Hitchcock’s career Three standing periods: early British films, early Hollywood, late Hollywood “The Trouble with Harry”-1956 Was not a one note maker in style or genre Early period: Britain 1920-1939 Blackmail The man who knew too much The thirty-nine steps Made movies primarily for middle class audience Only a few are thought to contain the style to classic Hitchcock Middle Period: Hollywood First: Rebecca Focus on women stories: female stars Shadow of a doubt Notorious Rope: seemingly shot in one very long take; tons of camera movement; elaborate staging Flashy attention getting style Later period: Hollywood Period most studied by auteur critics Strangers on a train Rear window Vertigo North by northwest Psycho The birds Marnie He also has a TV show: Alfred Hitchcock presents C. Hitchcock’s public persona Became a brand name Also well known for cameo appearances—in the composer’s apartment in the rear window Life boat cameo—in the newspaper His name was used to market his films The auteur critics began to label him as a great artist II. Plots and narrative patterns in Hitchcock’s films A. Ordinary people plunged into danger Usually naive, innocent They have unique skills that puts them in a danger spots— Notorious The innocent person usually gets mixed up in an unfortunate circumstance—the man who knew too much Pure coincidence drags them into a danger position North by Northwest—1959; pure coincidence; he spends the rest of the film proving his innocence The “Wrong Man” variation The hero is suspected of a crime and must prove his innocence Also made a film call the wrong man—based on a true story North by Northwest: framed by the spied; running from the spies and the police B. Transference of guilt Interchangeability of guilt Even though the protagonist is the innocence they still hold some responsibility North by northwest: drew the dead guy out Doubling: refers to establishing parallels and similarities between the protagonist and the antagonist and once it is established, guilt is then transferred from the antagonist to the protagonist Shadow of a doubt: Charlie admires his uncle who turns out to be a serial killer and keeps it a secret. Near the end, he is trying to kill someone else. By keeping his secret, she will be partly responsible for his future crimes C. “Sweetness and Light Merely Cover Up That Chaos World” Tension between the surface normality of the world and the psychosis underneath that surface Pattern grows often under the fact the innocent people are often shaken by what is beneath the innocent surface Ex: familiar objects can become threatening and become suspicious Suspicion—1941; placed a lamp in the glass of milk to point out that it is poisoned Common location become a location for danger Ex: mount Rushmore, a school playground Shadow of a doubt: safe haven where the threat is bough by the uncle; comes from within the family—danger can come from a place close than we can expect 04/06 I. Narration in Hitchcock’s films A. Range of narration Most unifying element Manipulates the range of narration in order to create suspense Unrestricted narration: suspense reaction Restricted: Surprise Ex: The man who knew too much-1956 Witnessed to several characters with various knowledge Almost completely unrestricted Suspense results from our knowing what is going to happen, but not how Ex: rear window Jeff’s apartment Purpose of unrestricted narration serve a purpose of sense because we know Jeff is in danger, but not Jeff Ex: the birds Playground: shift in narration is used to produce surprise rather than suspense Narration characterized by restricted vs unrestricted narration B. Depth of narration Perceptual and mental subjectivity Ex: spellbound Ex: vertigo: subjective narration Flashy techniques to know the mental stablility of the character Perceptual subjectivity is more common through point of view shots Careful transition from restricted to unrestricted narration is the most important characteristic of a Hitchcock film Manipulates the range and the depth of narration II. Style in Hitchcock’s film A. POV editing: rear window Important because Set in one location Protagonist is immobile Need it to make it more interesting Creates important parallels: the scene where lisa is in thorwald’s apartment and lonelyhearts attempts suicide Both crying for attention The connection between us and jeff through powerlessness and we both want the same thing to happen Transference of guilt also implies to the viewers and it coincides with Jeff’s view Ex: rope-1948 Moving camera that Hitchcock exploits B. Innovative sound Ex: blackmail: first British part-talkie; first to have long dialogue sequences Emphasis on the word knife through mental subjectivity Ex: Dial M for Murder Shot in 3d not viewed in 3d Compliments his objective The bird: no non-diegetic music at all C. Virtuosic visual style Developed especially after coming to the US Conveying essential narrative information through his flashy techniques Works against the classical Hollywood ideal Murders scenes are frequently stylized Ex: Topaz Violence of act is hinted through flashy device Flashiness is used to restrict out knowledge and the view of the action Ex: Strangers on a train The moment of murder is shot using an exaggerated low angle and distorted in a victim’s eye glasses—very showy and attention getting, but blocks out view 04/11 I. Introduction to genre studies: major approaches Cat People: Jacques Tourneur Horror A. Definition/Classification Genre: a field of familiar conventions that filmmakers can draw on when making films and that audiences can draw on when trying to sense of films. Convention shared by filmmaker and viewers Common American genres: western, detective films, gangster, suspense, family melodrama, screwball/romantic comedies, war, musical, action and adventure, sci-fi, horror Setting? no country old men: western? Setting does not really help us describe a certain genre Formal elements? the big combo: film noir? Do all suspense movies share the same elements: sounds etc…? Effects? Written on the wind: melodrama? Some genre can be defined by emotional effects Any single genre is a loose overlapping theory Core/periphery model Psycho was not known as a horror film at first Genre are often classified by the audience and the filmmakers B. Conventions (narrative, thematic, stylistic) Elements repeated from film to film Narrative: Plots/situation, characters Gangster film often revolve around the rise and fall Stagecoach: John Ford; 1939 Scream Cabin in the woods Depend on the idea that everyone is familiar with what is going on and what to expect Thematic General meanings that are summoned again and again Themes that are bit more specific Ex: sci-fi: deal with technology as a boon or a potential threat The man who shot liberty valance; John Ford Ex: horror: tampering with nature; sexuality (ex: Dracula) Stylistic Iconography: visual images that through repetition come to reproduce a certain meaning; Conventions made tangible on the screen through mise- en-scene Gun in western: honor Gun in horror: dangerous Icon can be a character, costume, motifs, objects etc… Sounds: action film: dense sound tracks; horror: dynamic range, low pitch sound effects, silence for long periods followed by a spike Ex: western: placement is important that is enhanced by camera works Good guys: wear white hats; bad guys: wear black hats C. History/Stages of genre evolution (Thomas Schatz) 1. Emergence Experimental On rare occasions genres sprouts from real life Conventions are still being worked out Ex: western began early 1900s: The Great Train Robbery: Edwin Porter 2. Development Classic, refinement, baroque Classic stage: conventions are understood by the audiences and filmmakers and they start to adapt it Ex: Stagecoach: John Ford; combination of a standard western plot with better production values, bigger stars, and hella action Ex: My darling clementine: John Ford; classic western scene; poker scene; 1946; nearly attains a sense of perfection Refinement: embellishments Western: Point in which the western hero starts to question that cowboy’s intentions; hero might get fed up of civilization Baroque: marks the beginning of extreme self- consciousness Baroque: extreme Parity and spoofs of the genre Push the conventions to the point of absurdity Ex: for a few dollars more; compare it with my darling clementine; takes the convention of two gun fighters and pushes them to absurd extreme All four stages are not distinct but overlapped Hybrids: cross genre mixes; mixes two or more genres Subgenres: subsets, subcategories, not linked to a particular period of time Cycles: short term fad D. Social function/affect Genres means something to the audience 04/13 Intro to genre studies: major approaches 1. Definition/classification: what makes a bunch of films genre? 2. Convention: what are the conventions of any given genre? 3. History: how do genres change over time? 4. Function/affect: why are people drawn to genres? I. Andrew Tudor on Horror Published monsters and mad scientist Studied horror films Effective approach should consider the audience’s perception, one that they might not be aware of Tudor: Horror’s general plot structure 1. Instability introduced to a stable situation 2. Threat to stability is resisted (longest) 3. Threat removed; stability is restored (shortest) Threat Supernatural v. secular External v. internal Autonomous v. dependent Secure horror: horror comes from outside; outside the community or our world It can be defeated Leads until the 1960; until psycho comes out Paranoid horror: we produce the monsters Psycho Precise in defining the basic convention A. Horror’s conventions B. Horror’s primary historical pattern II. Secure v. paranoid horror A. The universal horror cycle: secure horror The German expressionist influence Visual style Historians claim that the horror movies first emerged in German studios The cabin of Dr. Caligari; Germany 1922 They more not meant to be horror; they were art films Ex: Dracula: browning, Universal, 1931 Filmed before in Germany called Nosferatu in 1922 His destruction as a desirable outcome- the world is now seen safe Early 1930s Sense of classis horror comes from this period Secure horror: threat is external and autonomous; it can be defeated; expert characters play a central role in defeating the monster; a return to stability and order is seen as desirable; we are more afraid of losing control than we are afraid of control itself B. Psycho: paranoid horror The most influential catalyst in creating paranoid horror No clear boundary between the monster and reality No expert characters to destroy the monster Even if there is an expert character, the usually fail In psycho: the detective, the psychiatrist- although is powerless to cure him Paranoid horror: a return of normality and order is not as desirable; threat may not be defeated; threat is secular/human: sub-genre- the insanity subgenre; doubtful about outcomes and social order; the roots of the monster are in our society C. Cat people: Tourneur, RKO,1942 Val Newton’s horror film unit at RKO First of a series of 9 horror films that was produced by Val for RKO One monster after another approach Focused less on the monster The director was given the title
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