Michelangelo Antonionni’s “La Notte”

For me, this film was difficult to watch because of the overall depressing mood of the story. The black and white filming and portrayal of scenes through glass (i.e. When Lydia is looking out into the party) contribute to the overall mood. The last scene does a really good job, in my opinion, of depicting the feelings of Giovanni and Lidia is at the end.

The scene starts with Lidia and Giovanni walking in the golf course. In a wide shot, Lidia tells Giovanni about Tommaso’s death.

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Next, a tracking shot that tracks Lydia and zooms in on her as she is walking away from Giovanni reveals that Lidia did not like Giovanni the way that she like Tommaso. Lidia discusses how much Tommaso was there for her and helped her. She contrasts this with Giovanni who did nothing for her. Also shown with this is a medium close up of Giovanni as he responds to Lidia.

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Later, Lidia moves to the trees in a medium close up. Here, she is trying to distance herself from Giovanni as she tells him that she does not love him anymore. She also pulls the tree branch in front of her as a way to create a barrier between him and her.

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Giovanni and Lidia then sit down at the sand trap. Most of the medium close-ups here are showing their backs, but occasionally the camera will switch to depict their faces.

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It is here where Giovanni tells Lidia that he loves her and then Lidia reads a letter that he wrote to here. Light and mello music is playing during this scene, contributing to the mood. She reads the letter to him and his reaction is mello and sad. One of my favorite parts of the film is where he asks who wrote the letter. It shows how distant the two have become and how each no longer sees the same thing in each other. Even if Giovanni says that he still loves her, the love is not the same as it once was. This is evident when he starts to kiss her and she does not want to be kissed. He never really respected her in the same way that Tommaso did and even though he recognized that he never gave anything to her, he does not make an effort to change that. Here, two medium close-ups are used to depict this scene.

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The camera zooms out and cuts away to the golf course. A soft saxophone can be heard in the background.

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This scene shows how the characters are unhappy and distant, however, they seem to crave at least a physical relationship. I would have liked to see Lidia get up and leave Giovanni, but the fact that she stays and presumably has sex with him shows her vulnerability and her lack of bravery. The black and white shots, mello music, dark clothing, and slower pace all contribute to the mood and message of the film.By creating a slower paced movie, especially this scene in particular, Antionionni is showing the audience how each character feels. Since is is an uncomfortable moment for the couple, the longer pace allows the audience to feel the unpleasant tension. I doubt a movie would be made like this today because the pace of films, even mellower are much faster and contain more drama to hook people.

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La Cienaga

This week I watched the film “La Cienaga” directed by Lucretia Martel. Here are 3 scenes that I diagrammed to show the different camera shots in film.

The first scene happens early on in the film and depicts  4 girls trying to shop for Jose. They end up having Perro try on the shirt to ensure that it would fit. Also, I had difficulty remembering the names of the girls throughout the film so I used letters to distinguish them here.

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The next scene I chose to diagram was the last scene. Although it is short, it is important because it is the last thing that the director gives the audience.

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For the last scene to diagram, I wanted to circle back to the very first scene, since I forgot what it was. I thought it would be interesting to compare the very first scene with the very last one.

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The Rules of the Game and Aristotle

Aristotle, in his work, “Poetics,” outlines the way that tragedies should take place. Although he wrote this many years ago, much of “Poetics” still applies today and can be seen in today’s equivalent of an Ancient Greek Tradegy, cinema. However, many interesting or more influential films deviate from the traditional blueprint that has been in place for two thousand years. Jean Renior’s “The Rules of the Game” is an example of a successful film that has deviated from Aristotle’s formula for performance art.

For instance, according to Aristotle, tragedies must have”a beginning, a middle, and an end” (Aristotle, Poetics VII). In the case of Renior’s film, there is no clear linear sequencing that Aristotle requires. This technique, referred to by Evan Smith as thread structure, used most often in more complex films, allows the audience to be more surprised. With a linear structure, people most often can predict the ends or become bored while watching. Although linear structure is a more common practice, it is oftentimes the thread structured films that become critically acclaimed. With Renior’s film there is no single story line. Instead, one hears from many characters of different backgrounds.

I was definitely surprised by the film. I was really intrigued by the first scene with Andre in his plane. After that things got dull and I thought I was not going to enjoy the film, however once I got used to the film it became interesting. I think for me the film is about the juxtaposition between classes and since the social structure and common practices are different today, it was harder to relate to until the movie progressed a bit. It definitely seemed like the film was in head of its time compared to other films that I’ve seen from that time in terms of shooting and mise-en-scene. Overall, I would recommend the film to others.

Andre Bazin’s Film Philosophy

In his work, “What is Cinema,” Andre Bazin teaches his audience about how cinema exists within the history of art and how cinema has changed since its inauguration. Firstly, Bazin describes cinema”as the art of reality.” For him, cinematography is the “furthermost evolution to date of plastic realism.” Ancient Egyptians used to perform burial rituals and create terracotta statues of the dead. This is an example of what Bazin refers to as plastic art, or art that is visual. This art seen in ancient Egypt evolved into paintings. Then photographs became the newest form of plastic art. Lastly, cinema joined the family. Here, Bazin is showing how cinema is a part of art that has evolved through centuries. Moreover, Bazin continues to discuss how film has changed throughout time. One of his focuses was the shift from silent films to “talkies” that occurred from 1928 to 1930. Although, Bazin argues that this shift was not all that different for cinema, this shift is pretty influential. The shift to movies with sound is what allows films to diversify more. In the 1930s to the 1940s different types of film, such as comedy, crime and horror, would not have come. However, films still were all similar in the way they were shot, until Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” Although I have not seen most of the films referenced by Bazin from this time, I have seen “Citizen Kane.” This film was the first of its kind to change the squence of how a film was shot. Up until this time, movies were filmed the way one would see it if it was shown in a theater. Instead of montage, Citizen Kane uses contrast between scenes. Lastly, Bazin discusses the contrast between films in the 1930s that focused on the development of using sound, to films of the 1940s that explored film shooting techniques. Here Bazin not only references American cinema, but also Italian cinema. During this time films in Europe were also modernizing. Bazin uses his work to discuss how film is a part of plastic art and the evolution of cinema up until 1950.

 

Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love”

Wong Kar Wai’s 200o film, “In the Mood for Love” can be a bit confusing at times, but ultimately succeeds in depicting the power of love. Firstly, it is difficult to tell Mrs. Chow and Mrs. Chan apart when viewing the film with the subtitles. When looking at the subtitles during parts when there is heavy dialogue, one does not get a chance to look at the actors and their body language. Also, much of the tone of the actors voice, along with the sound of the voice and any verbal mannerisms that the character might have gets lost when viewers are watching the subtitles. However, it becomes easier to tell them apart when the other characters in the film refer to them by their name. Moreover, one of my favorite parts of the film is when Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan are walking through the alley to  to the store to get noodles. This scene reoccurs multiple times throughout the film, but in each instance, the same music is playing. Wong Kar Wai does this so that viewers feel the same feeling each time they view those scenes and are reminded of those previous scenes. He wants viewers to root for Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan, even though they do not want to be like their respective spouses. Additionally, Wong Kar Wai make the focus of the movie about the characters and the emotional pain that they are going through. More often than not, a director will try to make the focus of a movie sex, drama or violence. With this movie, the focus is on the individual characters and their  feelings on the situation. Lastly, the ending had a lot of potential, but was lost by the way the ending was portrayed. Is the child Mr. Chow’s? What happened to Mr. Chan, is he still in Japan? This might have been an issue with the subtitles and confusion of the characters, but holes were still left open at the end of the film. Nonetheless, I felt that the ending, showing the gap in the years and having Mr. Chow come back, was excellent. Overall, I would recommend the film to anyone who wants a film that evokes emotion and that is not a traditional modern-day drama film.