Passion and Pretense (Berkley Sensation)
Why travel back in time, of course. That is just what Richard Collier does in order to be with the beautiful Elise McKenna, the woman of his dreams. Or does he? Does he really travel back in time, or is it merely the delusion of a desperately ill man who seeks to find meaning for his existence? Does his tenuous hold on life in the present mirror his equally tenuous hold on life at the turn of the century?
Is his death ultimately the only way for these unrequited lovers to be united, at last? This is a beautifully poignant love story in which the longing the protagonists have for each other is palpable. A bittersweet sadness permeates the pages of this book, as Richard and Elise pass through life, each a shadow on the consciousness of the other. One only hopes that they find in the hereafter, what they were denied in this life. This wonderfully imaginative and inventive book draws the reader into its fantastical web. A veritable page turner, it is a classic story of a love which will not be denied.
You will not be disappointed. LLeonora, the daughter of the manor, spends her time helping out around the house and stretching things so that she can help her parents keep up the pretense that they are still wealthy. She is engaged to a London businessman. But when she forms a friendship with the new doctor in town, she begins to question her true feelings. Betty Neels was a prolific British writer. In fact, she published romance paperbacks. Her books feature doctors as the male protagonists, often Dutch, and are very light, "clean", quick reads.
For readers who like Pilcher, this is a little similar, but much lighter. This is the story of a man who loves his truck which is an older model truck. It is written as a diary-each chapter covers about a month. As the year goes by and he works on his labor of love lots of things happen to him. One of those events is meeting a woman and then they fall in love. Among the events of that year were setting his hair on fire and being attacked by wild turkeys and deer-hunting in swamps in northern Wisconsin.
Fans of Michael Perry will love this tale. If this is the first Michael Perry for you, you will enjoy this and want to read his other titles. Vampires live along side us, but they are not the fiendish monsters we are used to. They live as normally as possible and take no real sustenance from humans as they must feed from the opposite sex of their own kind to get true nourishment although we make great snacks from time to time. Selective breeding within the vampire population created the Black Dagger Brotherhood, giving them immense physical and mental strength and rapid healing abilities.
These warrior brothers, though not often related by blood, are a secretive group and only accept new members by vote of the Brotherhood itself. Each brother is powerfully strong and achingly wounded and each requires a very special woman to love them and be loved in return. All rights reserved. Graham, Janice. Berkley, Leigh, Lora.
The Breeds series. Berkley Sensation, Lyles, Whitney. Here Comes the Bride. Berkley Trade, Macomber, Debbie. Buffalo Valley. Mira, Matheson, Richard. Ballantine Books, Neels, Betty. Griffith insisted on the construction of authentic-looking three-dimensional props and sets for his films. He also brought increased realism to the screen by directing the players to act in a restrained, natural, less flamboyantly theatrical style.
The term profilmic refers to the objects placed in front of the camera to be photographed—the actors, sets, props, etc. It is a critically useful term because it calls attention to the difference between objects that exist in the world before they are photographed and these same objects once they have been enframed on celluloid. The choices the director makes in fram-. Griffith was especially sensitive to the impact of the close-up, a shot in which the head and shoulders of a character fill the screen. As noted above, in most film dramas prior to Griffith, the camera stayed back, showing all of the action in long or full shots.
Griffith did not limit his close-ups to the human face. In most narrative films before Griffith viewers had to pick out the significant details of the action from a mass of superfluous and contingent visual information. Griffith performs this job for us. Griffith also understood the dramatic power of pulling the camera back, far away from the action.
Extreme long shots, in which a small human figure is dominated by the landscape, can make characters seem vulnerable to larger forces beyond their control. Also, by incorporating spectacular panoramic shots of landscapes into his films—waterfalls, snowstorms, massive battle scenes—he enhanced his narratives with a grandeur and scope that far exceeded what was possible in even the most extravagantly produced stage dramas.
Not until Griffith came along, however, were shots taken from various distances from the camera systematically com-. By splitting an event into short fragments and recording each from the most suitable camera position, he could vary the emphasis from shot to shot and thereby control the dramatic intensity of the events as the story progressed.
EDITING Once Griffith had taken the first crucial steps of breaking a scene down into numerous shots instead of photographing the action in one lengthy, static long shot , he was faced with the problem of reconnecting the shots smoothly, so that what was in reality a discontinuous sequence of separate shots would appear to the viewer to be a smooth and continuous action taking place in a unified time and space.
He wanted spectators to maintain the illusion of watching a seamless flow of reality and not become distracted or disoriented by jerky edits that called attention to the film medium. In a movement match, for example, if a gesture of a character raising a hand to her face is begun in a long shot, the gesture must be smoothly continued in the subsequent close-up shot so that the viewer focuses on the gesture. The seemingly continuous gesture thus masks the fact that there has been a cut. In a direction match, the direction in which a person or object is moving is kept consistent across the splice.
Passion and Pretense by Susan Gee Heino
That is, in a chase sequence, a character moving across the screen from left to right must continue in the same direction from shot to shot. If the character exits screen right at the end of a shot, he or she must enter from screen left in the subsequent shot. If the character were instead to exit frame right and enter the next shot from frame right, it would appear that she had turned around and reversed direction. Person A would look screen left, while person B would look screen right. By carefully matching his shots in the ways described above, Griffith succeeded in breaking down the action of his narratives into a number of separate shots, creating dramatic emphasis, without drawing attention to the medium or confusing his audience.
In a fade-in, a shot begins in darkness and gradually brightens until the image appears fully exposed. In a fade-out, the opposite occurs: the image slowly fades to black. In an iris-in, a black screen opens from darkness in an expanding circle of light. An iris-out reverses the process. These optical devices allowed Griffith control over the pacing of the narrative a fade or iris effect could be rapid, or very slow and drawn out , and heightened its dramatic effect. When a sad or ominous action ends with a shot that fades to black, for example, the effect is to make the action seem all the more troubling.
Griffith also used these transitional devices to signal that time has elapsed from the end of one sequence to the beginning of the next. While these editing devices do call attention to the medium, they quickly became familiar conventions, and audiences were not distracted by their artificiality. These are editing devices that cue viewers to mentally construe the screen action in a way that greatly increases their mental participation in the story. Griffith especially made dramatic use of the point-of-view or POV shot.
The POV shot is often. The combination of a POV shot followed by a reaction shot is especially powerful because it gives us two ways of identifying with on-screen characters. First we identify with them because we are seeing through their eyes, and then we identify with the reactions we see on their faces. Especially powerful effects can be created when the reaction of the character is unexpected.
For example, a character might see something horrifying, and smile. A cross-cut is an alternation a cutting back and forth from one line of action to another, giving the impression that two or more spatially separated but plot-related events are occurring simultaneously. Although crosscutting appears in rudimentary form in a few early narrative films, the standard narrative practice when Griffith began directing in was to follow the actions of one character or a set of characters in an uninterrupted linear chronology.
Griffith soon realized that more narrative excitement could be generated if he systematically intercut or alternated between two or more narrative threads happening simultaneously, thus thickening his plots by giving the spectator greater knowledge than the characters have.
At the climax of The Lonely Villa , for example, Griffith intercut three spatially separate simultaneous actions: 1 Shots of a mother and her three little girls alone in their isolated country house because the father has been called away on business; 2 shots of three male intruders trying to break into the house; and 3 shots of the father, who, after telephoning home, frantically rushes to the rescue in a borrowed gypsy wagon. Here the crosscutting of the three actions creates tremendous excitement, pace, and suspense, generating the question: Will the father get home before the intruders get to his wife and children?
So much tension is built up by the crosscutting that, when the father arrives in the nick of time, the relief is enormous, even to audiences today. This crosscutting device became famous as the Griffith lastminute rescue, a convention that made failed last-minute rescues the hero does not make it in time to prevent disaster all the more devastating.
Through constant experimentation with this technique, Griffith honed it into an increasingly powerful and complex narrative tool. Griffith became so excited by the potentials of crosscutting that in Intolerance , the film he made after The Birth of a Nation, he told four separate stories, each taking place in different historical periods. At the end of the film, for a grand finale, he cut back and forth between the climaxes of the various tales. Narratives in any medium are rarely innocent. There is always some point to any story. But film narratives, because of their photographic realism, appear on the surface to be presenting events objectively or neutrally.
Apparently unaware of the rhetorical power of his own pioneering film techniques, Griffith believed that the historical events he retold in his blockbuster feature film The Birth of a Nation were objectively rendered—the unvarnished truth. There will be no opinions expressed. You will merely be present at the making of history.
Walthall , the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, the terrorist organization Griffith celebrates in the film for restoring white supremacy during the post—Civil War era. Griffith depicts black men who are not faithful Uncle Toms as dangerous, powerhungry rapists who equate political equality with the freedom to sexually possess white women. According to this logic, the violent overthrow of black power by the Klan at the end of the film is morally justified. To see in detail how Grif-.
Flora reacts to the proposal by running away in terror. When Gus pursues her, she flings herself from a cliff to her death. When her brother discovers her broken body, the strong implication is that Gus has raped and murdered her. She enters from screen left into a small clearing in a heavily forested landscape. Although the spring water she seeks would supposedly be within walking distance from her house, in this shot she seems suddenly transported to a very remote place. The landscape illustrates how well Griffith understood the potential symbolic resonance of the background or setting against which a dramatic sequence is staged in a film.
The forest through which Flora passes on her way to the spring evokes an archetypal dream landscape, the woods of fairy tales and myths where innocent little girls carrying buckets or baskets are likely to meet up with big bad wolves. Flora appears in a long shot, her body tiny in relation to the vastness of the forest.
Here the long shot of Flora functions dramatically to increase our sense of her smallness and vulnerability. The way in which.
Figure 1. The long shot of Flora functions dramatically to increase our sense of her smallness and vulnerability. The dark shadow at the base of the frame functions as foreshadowing. Flora is lit, the light coming from behind her, creates a halo effect around her head. A dark shadow cutting a diagonal wedge at the base of the frame into which she is headed functions as an ominous and literal foreshadowing of the doom she will meet as the result of her entry into the forest.
See figure 1. At this point Griffith might well have continued to follow Flora on her journey to the spring. But at the moment she enters the shadowy portion of the image and before she exits the frame, he interrupts her action with a cross-cut to Gus shot 2 standing by a fence and seeming to peer after her. The cross-cut to Gus sets up dramatic irony, giving the viewer information that the protagonist, Flora, does not have—that Gus is following her into the woods. Thus, in shot 3, when Griffith cuts back to Flora heading deeper into the forest, blissfully unaware of the threat that we know has materialized, he increases our anxiety for her well-being.
A cross-cut back to Gus shot 4 , however, dispels some of the anxiety. Gus seems to have had second thoughts about pursuing Flora and turns back. It is significant that in these two shots Gus shares the frame equally with a slatted fence which juts out diagonally on the left side of the screen.
See figure 2. In a film obsessed with the threat of breached boundaries between blacks and whites, the image of a fence appearing large in the frame as a black man is about to pursue a young white woman into a forest is anything but accidental. Gus is shown to hesitate at the fence, as if the fence represents a kind of societal superego. He hesitates, however, very reluctantly looking back in the direction of Flora even as he seems to turn away from his pursuit.
In shot 5 Griffith cuts back to Flora, who has arrived at her destination: the spring where she is to fetch water for her mother. Here we see Flora in a full shot bending down to fill her bucket. Shot 6 is a close-up of the bucket being filled with spring water. Griffith then cuts back to a full shot of Flora as she finishes her task and wipes her wet hands on her dress. For part of the answer we need only consider the techniques of nineteenth-century novelists such as Charles Dickens, whose literary techniques Griffith often drew upon for inspiration in the construction of his films.
By focusing on the detail of the bucket being filled, Griffith too adds verisimilitude to his fictional world. The closeup of the bucket also gives the action dramatic emphasis. By giving emphasis to this action through the close-up, Griffith. Figure 2. In a film obsessed with the threat of boundary breakdowns between blacks and whites, the image of a fence appearing large in the frame as a black man is about to pursue a young white woman is anything but accidental.
Nothing has happened to her. She can now return home. The close shot of the bucket dipping into the water emphasizes the symbolic resonance of the spring. Springs, with their pure water, are often associated with virgins, but in myths and fairy tales, springs are also associated with the violation of virgins.
At the very spot in the forest where her violation occurred, a spring miraculously appears. Adding to this effect is the female imagery suggested by the close-up—a circular orifice in the midst of heavy foliage. In shot 8 Griffith crosscuts from Flora back to Gus. Gus now appears.
Here Griffith indicates through the location match that Gus has not turned back. He is following Flora. Because we have seen Gus turning back from his pursuit of Flora in shot 4, this shot comes as a shock, illustrating how good Griffith was at manipulating audience emotions through the careful ordering or editing of his shots. He is playing with our expectations: first teasing us to think the danger to Flora has diminished, only to surprise us now with the information that Gus has moved beyond the fence and is still on her trail.
Our knowledge that Gus is in pursuit makes the next series of shots shots 11 through 15 all the more alarming. Flora, rather than going straight home after filling the bucket with water, becomes distracted by a squirrel in a tree. Griffith then cuts back to reaction shots of Flora from a reverse angle, capturing her fascination and delight in observing the forest creature. Small animals like squirrels convey a sense of harmlessness, helplessness, and innocence, and these characteristics spill over onto Flora by association. If Griffith had depicted her as fascinated instead by the sight of a spider eating a fly or two moles mating, the effect would be quite different.
Finally, and most crucially, cutting back and forth between Flora and the squirrel artificially prolongs the moment before the dreaded outcome we all fear, when Gus reveals his presence to Flora. The rhythmic alternation between shots of Flora and the squirrel is suddenly interrupted by shot 16, a cross-cut to Gus emerging, as if from out of a cave, from the murky depths of the forest. Tangled, dead branches fill the top third of the frame. Gus stares intently, crouched and predatory, creating the impression that he is more a wild beast than a man.
Figure 3. Griffith was intuitively aware that as an image gets bigger on the screen, the intensity of its emotional effect grows proportionately. But now, Gus appears surrounded by darkness with an eerily illuminated tangle of dead white branches framing his head, a skeletal configuration associating Gus with death.
The camera has moved even closer to her now, framing her in medium shot, conveying the impression that Gus is moving in on her. Like the squirrel, she too appears in an iris, but now we know that the watcher is not a benign child gazing at a cute forest creature, but an evil stalker staring at a cute little girl. In a foreshadowing of her doom, the screen has darkened within the circular iris that surrounds her. Figure 4. Shot 20 is the most ominous in the sequence. The camera has moved up to a big close up of Gus. Just his face fills the left half of the frame; on the right are the dead tangled skeletal branches.
See figure 3. When a character is sympathetic, a big closeup can increase our feeling of intimacy and deepen our identification with the character. She is laughing and blowing kisses at the squirrel. See figure 4. If we were to see this shot in almost any other context it would connote innocence and joy.
She not only seems terribly vulnerable because we know she is being watched by someone with evil designs, but her actions of blowing kisses and rocking on. This perverse excitement is all the more heightened, we might speculate, because, as Christian Metz observes in The Imaginary Signifier, his influential psychoanalytic investigation into the pleasure and fascination of cinema, we are all voyeurs when we go to the movies.
Griffith gives us the double pleasure of spying on Gus who is hidden in the dark like the film spectator , while Gus is spying on Flora. In fact, as the analysis of the above shots has demonstrated, everything about the way Griffith has portrayed Gus cinematically makes us disavow any association with him.
In the final climactic shots of the film, images of rioting blacks are crosscut with images of the Ku Klux Klan, dressed in white and riding in orderly formations. The drastic contrast Griffith sets up between the way the white heroes and the black villains are depicted seems laughable today, so blatantly does it expose the racist ideology at the heart of this film. But this example, as well as the sequence of shots depicting Gus as an evil beast-like predator of Flora, serves, nevertheless, as a clear illustration of how a film director can, in the direc-.
But placing the blame for the racist representations on one or the other of these two men ignores the pervasive racism in American society in The film came out during a backlash against progress toward racial equality in this country. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true. By projecting18 their lawless sexuality onto black men, whom they can then hate, revile, and punish with impunity, white men are able to protect the illusion that they are pure, lawful and restrained.
Interestingly in this regard, Gus and Silas Lynch, both lawless men who lust after white women, are played by white actors wearing unconvincing blackface. We should never trust film as a transparent reflection of events in the external world and we should especially mistrust the idea that film can objectively re-enact the past.
The Birth of a Nation is clearly not history but a cultural illusion written with lightning, the lightning of the powerful picture language of film articulated by its first master. Eisenstein has created the most powerful and artistic film in the whole world. The film, which recounts a historical incident in the city of Odessa in , primarily featured the people of Odessa as opposed to professional actors and was shot on location. Eisenstein, who was a theorist as well as a filmmaker, explored entirely new principles of film art which took the form well beyond the conventions of realism that Griffith had pioneered.
Eisenstein was born in in Riga, Latvia, into a prosperous middle-class Russian family. But while Eisenstein was immersed in studying for an engineering degree in Saint Petersburg, the world was changing around him. The growing unrest of the Russian people forced Czar Nicholas to abdicate the throne on March 15, The Provisional Government of Kerensky was formed, only to be overthrown by the Bolsheviks, the revolutionary Socialist party headed by Lenin.
In , when civil war broke out, Eisenstein enlisted in the Red Army and never returned to his engineering studies. His father joined the counterrevolutionary White Russians. The Russian Revolution thus liberated not only Russia from the Czars but Eisenstein from engineering and the influence of his father. The germ was there, but only the Revolution gave me. The revolution had killed the past, and artists were seeking radical new means of creative expression.
The innovations Eisenstein brought to cinematic art were very much a product of his being an artist in the heady, idealistic first days of the revolution when the Soviet Union,. Lenin pronounced the cinema the most influential of all the arts. Film, he believed, should do more than entertain: the powerful picture language of the new medium could instruct the illiterate masses in the history and theory of socialism.
Moving pictures, moreover, could be used to mold and reinforce the values of the people so that the Bolshevik revolution would prosper. On August 27, , Lenin nationalized the film industry, and established state film workshops to undertake a systematic, theoretical study of film art. The goal of these workshops was to determine the best methods for shaping the film medium into a powerful tool of instruction and propaganda. As they began to study film systematically in these workshops, Soviet film pioneers were deeply impressed by the emotional effects generated by D. They were especially excited by his crosscutting and editing rhythms.
Kuleshov conducted experiments which seemed to prove that film art did not begin when the cameraman photographed an action enframed the image but when the individual shots took on new meanings as they were arranged in editing. A famous Kuleshov experiment, for example, purported to prove that it was the editing or arrangement of shots that creates meaning in the mind of the spectator, above and beyond the meaning of the content of each individual shot. In the experiment, a closeup of the prerevolutionary cinema matinee idol Mosjukhin was juxtaposed in turn with shots of a plate of soup on the table, a coffin containing a dead woman, and a little girl playing with a toy bear.
According to an account by the Soviet director V. The public raved about the acting of the artist. They pointed out the heavy. But we knew that in all three cases the face was exactly the same. While few filmmakers today would accept the proposition that editing counts for everything in the art of making films, Soviet filmmakers were inspired by their fascination with the effects achieved through editing to create works that opened up new channels of expression for film art. The Proletkult theater where Eisenstein worked after the end of the Civil War was dedicated to promoting culture among the workers and encouraging them to seek artistic self-expression.
The basic precept of the Proletkult theater was that bourgeois culture must be forced to give way to a new, purely proletarian culture. The purpose of art under the new revolutionary order was not to provide intellectual or aesthetic pleasure to the privileged few, but to educate the workers and reinforce their dedication to the values of socialism. The function of art was also seen as an energizer, a force that would pump up the people with the psychic wherewithal necessary for the hard work of building a socialist society.
In this context, the traditional, realistic theater the theater of Chekhov and Ibsen that created the illusion that the spectator was looking in on a slice of real life with the fourth wall removed, would not do. Realistic theater, it was believed, encouraged viewers to become too vicariously involved with the fictional action, a process that, it was thought, siphoned off their revolutionary energies. Eisenstein, who had been brought up on and loved the traditional theater, quickly realized that it was inappro-.
For, if you can get your enjoyment through fantasy, who is going to make the effort any more to find in real experiences what can be had without moving from the theatre seat? He sought a means to intensely affect the audience in a different way from that by which audiences are affected in the traditional theater, that is, not through the fantasy immersion in a realistic theatrical world where meaning and emotion are communicated primarily through the word.
Eisenstein envisioned a political theater in which spectators could be pleasured and thrilled by wondrous circus attractions and spectacles, while at the same time they were instructed in correct political views and values through carefully constructed political satires. While the actors enacted political satires, acrobats performed. As chaotic as it all seemed, there was a method to the madness. The caps were to keep everyone awake and alert. The acrobatics and circus performances both entertained the audience and mirrored and reinforced the emotions and ideas conveyed by the actors.
The grotesque of this style permitted leaps from one type of expression to another, as well as unexpected intertwinings of the two expressions. As we shall see, Eisenstein would exploit more fully the methods of his montage of attractions when he moved beyond theater to film. The influence of his theatrical experiments. The government retaliated by killing hundreds of demonstrators, but the revolutionary spirit was never completely quelled. The unrest, including the takeover of the armored cruiser Potemkin in the port of Odessa by revolutionary soldiers, was understood by Bolsheviks as a precursor to their revolution.
Originally Eisenstein had planned a monumental eight-part work to capture all aspects of the uprisings of , from the Russo-Japanese War to the armed uprisings in Moscow. In the original script, only fortytwo shots had been planned to cover the Potemkin mutiny off the shore of Odessa. It would now center on just one revolutionary episode from the many uprisings of —the mutiny of the sailors on the armored cruiser Potemkin. This one incident, culminating in the fictional bloody massacre on the Odessa Steps, would epitomize the age-old oppression of the Russian people by the corrupt Czarist regime and dramatize the necessity of revolt.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, lines of government soldiers appear at the top of the steps, and begin firing into the crowd. The action of this scene alone is an attraction or spectacle. As filmmakers have always known, violent images have an irresistible attraction for spectators, for the same reason that people find it hard not to look when driving by a highway disaster. While being caught in the line of fire is bad enough, the stuff of nightmares, the last place one would want to be if this were actually to happen would be on a lengthy flight of stairs.
Steps are always a precarious place to be under any circumstances, because they threaten us with loss of balance. Much of the action at the beginning of the Odessa Steps sequence involves images of people losing their balance, tripping, and falling as they desperately try to flee the gunfire. Eisenstein even strapped a camera to an acrobat and had him do a flip to obtain topsyturvy footage that approximated the point of view of someone falling headfirst downstairs.
Thus the first person we see fleeing is a man without legs. We watch him desperately thrusting himself down the stairs supported only by his arms. Soon after, a one-legged man on crutches appears, who negotiates the steps with even more difficulty than the legless man. In quick succession, interspersed with long shots of the crowds of people fleeing en masse, we see a woman with a sick child, a group of elderly men and women, and, toward the end of the sequence, and most pathetically of all, a young mother who has somehow found herself stranded on the steps with an infant in an unwieldy baby carriage.
She is horribly caught between the murderous soldiers above and the endless flight of steps below. Eisenstein compels us to watch in shock and fascination as terrible fates befall the citizens of Odessa. The sick child is shot by the soldiers and falls, his body splayed on the steps. His mother, in her own state of panic, at first does not notice and keeps running. Suddenly aware that her son has fallen behind, she starts back up the stairs to find him. She watches in agony as fleeing citizens trample his body. She picks up the body of her desperately hurt child, but, instead of fleeing, she continues her ascent up the stairs, to confront the soldiers with what they have done.
After a suspenseful build-up, as the mother approaches closer and closer to the soldiers, appealing to them not to shoot because her child is ill, mother and child are brutally shot down, as are a group of elderly citizens who have followed the mother up the stairs to join in her appeal to the soldiers.
The young mother trapped on the huge flight of stairs with the baby carriage is shot in the stomach. In an almost unbearable irony. Her body, as it falls, pushes the carriage with her infant off the landing sending the helpless baby rolling down the huge flight of steps to certain death. At the bottom of the steps murderous Cossacks on horseback armed with swords cut off the escape routes of those who have survived to reach the bottom. A woman wearing a pince-nez is shot in the right eye.
Blood spurts from underneath the shattered lens. As I remarked earlier, by fragmenting the proscenium space that early cinema had left whole, Griffith gave varying dramatic emphasis to the action as the story demanded. In the sequence we analyzed from The Birth of a Nation, for example, Griffith breaks down the action of Flora filling the bucket with spring water into three separate shots, emphasizing, through the use of an inserted close-up, the action of her dipping the bucket into the spring.
The close-up gives the moviegoer a privileged intimacy with the action in a manner that would be impossible for the spectator in the theater. Match cutting was important to Griffith because he wanted the viewer to remain mentally immersed in the dramatic action, in a state of mind that would be disrupted if the viewer were to become aware of the medium through jerky or mismatched shots.
In fact, he was adamantly opposed to films that slavishly tried to maintain the illusionism of realistic theater by smoothly joining shots. Eisenstein held that proper film continuity should not proceed smoothly, but through a series of shocks. Eisenstein felt that a work of art would have more power if it was structured according to these same dialectical principles, involving a continual clash of opposites. Hence, he imbued his films with conflict, starting at the most fundamental graphic level.
Eisenstein created optical conflicts by juxtaposing shots whose graphic elements visually contrasted. For example, he followed an extreme long shot of the citizens of Odessa running down the stairs figure 5 with an extreme close-up of the legs of a man on the verge of falling figure 6. Eisenstein, who was striving to move his audiences without letting them relax into illu-. Eisenstein created visual conflicts in numerous other ways: He edited pieces of film so that the directional movements within juxtaposed shots clashed.
That is, a shot of a crowd running in the direction of screen left would clash in the next shot with an image of the crowd running in the direction of screen right. A shot lit somberly would be juxtaposed with a shot lit brightly. An image of organized, purposeful movement would contrast in the next shot with an image of irregular, chaotic movement. See figures 7 and 8. A shot compositionally designed to emphasize vertical vectors or lines would be juxtaposed with a shot organized horizontally.
Diagonal lines tending toward the left would clash in the next shot with diagonal lines tending right. Let us concentrate on the line of movement. There is, before all else, a chaotic close-up rush of figures. And then, as chaotic, a rush of figures in long-shot. Then the chaos of movement changes to a design: the rhythmic descending feet of the soldiers. Tempo increases. Rhythm accelerates. Break-neck speed. And then suddenly: A lone figure. Slow solemnity. But—this is only for an instant. Once more we experience a returning leap to the downward movement.
The clashing movements and rhythms of the montage pieces keep the spectator disturbed and off balance, just like a fleeing citizen of Odessa. Eisenstein believed so strongly in the power of graphic conflict to add visual excitement and drama to his films that he even composed his individual shots with intraframe contrasts in mind. That is, he created conflicts not just between juxtaposed shots but within each individual shot as well. A famous example of intraframe graphic conflict occurs.
Figure 5. An extreme long shot of the people running down the Odessa Steps. The Battleship Potemkin, , Sovexport Films. Figure 6. A big close-up of a pair of legs creates a visual conflict with the previous shot figure 5. Figure 7. The purposeful, organized movement of the soldiers. Figure 8. The chaotic, disorganized movements of the victims, in studied juxtaposition with figure 7.
Figure 9. See figure 9. While Griffith composed his shots primarily according to the meaning each shot conveyed through the action within the shot, Eisenstein believed that emotional effects derived not just from the content of the shot but also from the way the shot was graphically composed. At the beginning of the Odessa Steps massacre we see a young woman with dark bobbed hair react to what we later realize is her first sight of the soldiers marching in rank and firing on the crowd.
The shots of the woman are all the more disconcerting because Eisenstein has broken another rule of standard film continuity: He has reversed the order of cause and effect. Rather than showing us shots of the soldiers firing and then the woman reacting, Eisenstein shows us the terrified reaction before he reveals the cause. There is something particularly unsettling when we see someone react in horror before we know what the source of the horror is.
Book Reviews, from the Sunny Side of Life!
It sends our imaginations into high gear as we try to fathom the reason for the reaction. Thus, when Griffith cut to closer shots of the action for dramatic emphasis, the viewer had a clear mental picture of offscreen space. The soldiers from the South are always on screen left, while the soldiers from the North are always on screen right. In the first place, we are never given an establishing shot of the Odessa Steps in their entirety. Mostly we experience the steps in fragmented pieces: shots of masses of people rushing down the steps interspersed with close shots of individuals and shots of the faceless soldiers relentlessly advancing and firing their guns.
We are never given a clear sense of where anyone is in relation to anyone else.
By refusing to orient the spectator in a coherent screen space, Eisen-. The lack of spatial orientation on the Odessa Steps works because it compels spectators to experience something of the same mental confusion and loss of bearings that the people on the steps suffer. In this way, through his editing technique, Eisenstein transfers the panic of the people on the steps to the spectator. Eisenstein takes as many liberties with his presentation of time as he does with his presentation of space in the Odessa Steps sequence, again creating powerful effects.
In an actual count, the Odessa Steps number steps, and, one might estimate that if people were being fired at, they would vacate the steps in well under a minute of actual time. Eisenstein extends the time to over five excruciating minutes. The primary way he extends time is through the repetition of some of the same shots. When one closely observes the sequence, one notices that some of the shots of the people fleeing en masse, as well as shots of the soldiers firing, are in fact repeats of the same shots.
Because we are not given an establishing shot of the Odessa Steps and have no idea of their extent, Eisenstein can draw out the duration of the action as long as he wishes through shot repetition and continual crosscutting. In any case, Eisenstein was not striving to give us a literal, realistic picture of the massacre on the steps. Through his innovative, time-expanding film technique, he conveys the subjective reality of what it would feel like to be trapped in a traumatic situation that seemingly goes on forever.
In the Odessa Steps sequence Eisenstein creates the time-space continuum of a nightmare from which there is no waking. The horror on the Odessa Steps culminates when the mother with the infant in the baby carriage is shot. Here Eisenstein plays simultaneously on two primal fears: the fear of an infant being abandoned by a mother and the fear of a mother who realizes she is helpless to protect her infant.
Eisenstein drastically expands the screen time given to this moment to etch it forever in our memories. He cuts to mounted Cossacks at the bottom of the steps slashing out at the fleeing populace, to images of the soldiers continuing their deadly march down the steps, to long shots of masses of citizens fleeing the troops. Four times Eisenstein cuts to the wheels of the baby carriage teetering on the edge of the steps to prolong the suspense of whether or not it will be pushed over the edge by the body of the dying mother.
Eisenstein shoots the scene from behind the mother as she gets dangerously close to the soldiers, who appear at the top of the frame. The steps are dissected by a path of bright light on either side of which are strewn the bodies of the slaughtered people of Odessa. As the woman ascends, her body casts a shadow into the path of light. See figure The very next shot is taken from a reverse angle. Now the camera is looking down at the mother and child from behind the soldiers who are offscreen but whose elongated shadows loom menacingly in front of them on the steps.
The effect here is compositionally brilliant, symbolically rich the mother is walking into the shadow of death , but logically impossible. The two shots, arguably two of the most memorable in the film, directly contradict one another from the standpoint of realism. For the mother to cast a shadow before her in the first shot and then, an instant later, walk into the shadows cast by the soldiers, the sun would have had to have spun around degrees in the sky. These two most mismatched of shots illustrate once more that Eisenstein was not interested in achieving realistic effects in his films.
He conceived his films as made up of autonomous attractions, highly charged moments fascinating in and of themselves, with an undercurrent of pathos for polemical intent. A sleeping marble lion suddenly rises up. According to Eisenstein, the image of the lion leaping up was intended to. Figure As a woman carrying a sick child ascends the steps, her body casts a shadow into the path of light before her.
Eisenstein achieved this effect by editing together shots of three marble lions—one asleep, one awakening, and one fully aroused, which in actuality were nowhere near the vicinity of the Odessa Steps. Yet this animated stone lion, created from a composite of film fragments, lives in the memory of those who see the film as an outraged witness to the Odessa Steps massacre. Such is the power of associative montage. MURNAU At the same time that Eisenstein was experimenting with the capacity of editing or montage to give heightened emotional and political impact to his filmed narratives, the German filmmaker F.
Murnau was concentrating on the potentials of the enframed image, the way specific photographic effects could add psychological expressiveness to the profilmic action. Like many of his contemporaries working in the German film industry in the s and s, Murnau was influenced by Expressionism, the art movement that dominated German painting, literature, theatrical production and acting in the early twentieth century. At the same time Expressionism sets itself against Naturalism with its mania for recording mere facts, and its The objects of the natural world have become threatening, unnatural.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, , Film Preservation Associates.
Drop files to upload
The world is there for all to see; it would be absurd to reproduce it purely and simply as it is. The Expressionist artists sought to abstract, distort, and hence transcend the look of everyday reality in order to represent the world—not objectively, but as the artist sees or experiences it. But German filmmakers nevertheless managed to incorporate the visual motifs and themes of Expressionism into their works. Caligari accomplished this goal by photographing its action against a background of recognizably painted Expressionist sets that weirdly distort.
Buildings lean, bend, or rear themselves straight up, against the usual lines. The everyday artifacts that form the world we make to shelter and comfort us have been transformed into the unstable, unbalanced, unsound. In describing the sets of The Cabinet of Dr.
Caligari, William Nestrick conveys the visual impact of the stylized sets by focusing on their radical transformation of the natural and man-made world figures 12 and They are recognizable representations of nature, but they have become unnatural. They violate principles of growth; on the hillside, they do not grow in the position in which trees usually grow. Most are denuded of leaves, and where they have leaves, the leaves look like spears. They threaten, they point, they seem to cut even as they themselves are cut.
Something has also happened to the architectural world. Buildings lean, bend, or rear themselves straight up against the usual lines. Everywhere the right angle is rejected, the very angle that, in the simplest structures, makes for stability, balance, soundness. Everyday artifacts, the world we make to shelter and comfort us, have been transformed into the unstable, unbalanced, unsound. For Murnau, Caligari was both an inspiration and a dead end as a model for cinematic art. It was an inspiration because it abandoned the slavish imitation of a real, objectively perceived world to present a subjective vision.
Hence, it did not fully exploit the expressive possibilities inherent in the cinematic medium. Without his uniform, he becomes the object of mockery and scorn. Murnau films Jannings in close-ups and from slightly below, emphasizing his feelings of pride and self-importance. He realized that, in general, if the subject is seen from a high angle that is, the camera is shooting from above and thus down at the subject the character will appear humbled or diminished.
If, on the contrary, the subject is seen from below that is, the camera is looking up at the subject , the character will appear imposing and confident. At the beginning of the film, before he is demoted from his position of doorman, Murnau films Jannings in close-ups and slightly from below, emphasizing his feelings of pride and self-importance. When he is obliged to unload a heavy trunk from a carriage, we see him looking up at the intimidating object.
Murnau photographs him from a high angle the camera shooting down at him to emphasize his feelings of diminishment. Then we see the trunk, from his point of view. Shot from a low angle, it seems all the more burdensome. Finally the camera shoots down at the doorman to emphasize his struggle to lift it off the carriage. In order to project the inner feelings of the doorman, Murnau often presents his world not as it is but as he sees it, distorted by his anxious.
Jannings photographed in long shot from a high angle, looking up at an intimidating heavy trunk. The angle and shot type emphasize his feeling of diminishment. On his way home, after he has lost his job as a doorman, a building sways precariously as if it is about to fall on him and crush him. So as not to lose his status with his neighbors, he steals his old uniform from the hotel and continues to wear it home from work. As he is about to leave for work in the morning wearing his stolen uniform, he encounters a woman on the landing outside his door.
She gazes at him admiringly. Her adoring manner is based not on real affection but on her inflated conception of his importance.
When The Last Laugh was made, most directors shot their actions with a static camera, employing camera movement only to make action scenes more exciting. Eisenstein mounted a camera on tracks that extended the length of the Odessa Steps so that he could intensify the effect of the spectacle of the fleeing citizens by following their movement down the stairs with his camera. In The Last Laugh, the camera is in motion from the beginning to the end of the film, often adding a subtle psychological dimension to the action. The film begins with a stunning moving camera shot: The camera descends in an elevator, and when the door to the lift opens, it heads out.
This shot was obtained by strapping the camera on the chest of the cameraman, who then rode out into the lobby on a bicycle. The camera then takes us through a revolving door to the front of the hotel where the doorman is on duty. Here the camera movement is more than just a virtuoso display of film technique.
Culture & humanities
The dynamic movement through the hotel lobby emphasizes the spaciousness of the hotel and thereby magnifies our sense of its grandeur. When the camera movement finally ends on the doorman, we understand in a flash the grandiose self-importance he absorbs from his association with such a place. On the contrary, we had found a new and more exact way of isolating the image, and of intensifying dramatic incident. He has gotten drunk at the wedding party of his niece the night before and has apparently forgotten about his demotion to bathroom attendant.
As he approaches the hotel, we see through his point of view an image of the doorman who has replaced him standing at his post in front of the hotel. The shot begins as a long shot of the new doorman and is slightly out of focus. When another neighbor woman7 discovers the doorman at his lowly new post as bathroom attendant, the moment is given striking dramatic emphasis by a camera movement. We see a shot of the old man taken from outside the bathroom as he timidly opens the lavatory door and peers out to determine who has come to see him. At this point there is a POV shot of the neighbor woman who has come to bring him lunch looking back at him.
As she opens her mouth to scream the camera lunges toward her until we see her face in an extreme close-up, framing only her eyes and nose. As he sits down in a chair, he begins to start reeling through space. This effect was achieved by placing Jannings on a turntable device that swung back and forth, and then following his movement with the camera. Then we see a POV shot of the room spinning around.
Here the cameraman Freund staggered about the room like a drunken man with the camera affixed to his chest. Shortly thereafter, the ex-doorman falls asleep and dreams he still has his old job at the hotel. In his dream he effortlessly lifts an enormous trunk from the top of a hearselike coach and parades with it into the hotel lobby. To the enthusiastic applause of hotel staff and patrons, he repeatedly tosses the trunk into the air and catches it with one hand. The dream is obviously a wish-fulfilling denial of reality.
The trunk overpowered him, sealing his fate as a lavatory attendant. At first this shot seems to be a subjective shot: that is, the admiring faces of the patrons are apparently seen from the point of view of the dreamer. But, suddenly, the camera pulls back to capture the dreamer objectively. Here the shift from a subjective to an objective perspective within one shot cinematically re-creates the experience common in dreams that one is simultaneously experiencing an event and watching oneself having the experience. As the dream fades out, a momentary superimposition of dream im-.
These images abruptly disappear when the neighbor woman who subsequently discovers the doorman at work enters his room and shuts the window, suggesting that the sound of her action finally arouses him from sleep. This is one of many ways in which Murnau uses a visual device to bring sound to the silent medium of film. So adept was Murnau at conveying everything that needed to be conveyed through images—even sounds—that he was able to construct an utterly compelling ninety-minute story about the mental deterioration of an old man using only one written title.
The grandeur of the city created through special effects—the use of model shots and forced perspective.
The look of The Last Laugh set a new standard of lighting and art design for film, and is still impressive today. Especially striking is the design of the grand hotel situated in the center of a large bustling city. So glorious are the hotel and city in The Last Laugh that shortly after the film appeared in America Murnau received a telegram from someone in Hollywood who deplored the fact that America had no city to compare with the grandeur of the one in The Last Laugh. The splendor of the city was created through special effects—the use of model shots and forced perspectives.
In her book on Murnau, Eisner includes an account by one of the set designers, Robert Herlth, to explain how it was done see figure The use of the expressive, unchained camera and special photographic effects, combined with stunning sets and lighting techniques, all in the service of telling a complex story focusing on interior feelings rather than exterior actions, made The Last Laugh seem to many film theorists and critics of the time the ultimate example of film as high art, equal or superior in its evocative power to drama and literature.