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Film Techniques, Theories and Movements

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Good morning, and welcome to the first lecture on introduction to film studies. So, as wewere talking about it the other day, this course will cover a broad spectrum of certain keyaspects and key theories and movements in cinema; contemporary cinema. We will belooking at world cinema of course, selected works from Indian cinema, as well asHollywood. So, there will be lot of theory here as well as focus on Genres, Movements,selected films as well as filmmakers and certain actors. So, that is going to be the broadoutline of the course.So, we have been talking about key concepts that I would like you to prepare on, workon, and I just want to do a little recap of that. So, this is something that I would expectyou to be very familiar with, so let me just go through it once more; Germanexpressionism, perhaps you would like to take down notes! So, German expressionismfor example, works by Fritz Lang. Someone was talking about Nosferatu, who was that?Yes. So, Nosferatu is an important text of German expressionism. Metropolis and M. Mby Fritz Lang, and we will be talking about Fritz Lang quite frequently in this course.
I will be introducing you to Auteur theory, but I would expect you to be aware of Auteurtheory. What is an Auteur theory? Originated in France during the mid-fifties and latefifties; particularly associated with the critics and film makers, who were attached tosomething a film journal called Cahier du Cinema, Cahier du Cinema which was; cananyone tell me, what was Cahier du Cinema?(Refer Slide Time: 02:22)
Ranjith any recollection of what is Cahier du Cinema?Student: Involves Godard and Truffaut.It involve people like Godard and Truffaut, thank you, good. So, Godard and Truffaut arefilmmakers, perhaps you are aware of that from the so called French New Wavemovement; particular period, and this is something I would like you to be familiar with,the French New Wave, who were the Auteurs. So Godard, if you are not familiar withthe name. But who was the foremost critic?Student: BazinThank you. Andre Bazin, Andre Bazin; b a z i n, Andre Bazin was a film critic who wasassociated very pre-eminently with Cahier Du Cinema which was a journal of cinema.And it basically talked about a film theories and practices. They were very interested inHollywood at a particular time, and then people like Godard and Truffaut and HelenRane, they started getting interested in the theories as given by Andre Bazin, and then
that was the beginning of the French New Wave. So, this is something that I would likeall of you to be comfortable with.Another thing that you should know while doing this course is Italian masters, works ofselected Italian masters, now, Frederico Fellini and De Sica. Now what is what is theimportance of Vittorio De Sica, what did he make? ‘Bicycle Thieves’. So we associatethese names with the Italian neo realism. So on one hand, we were we are talking aboutthe French new wave and now we are talking about the Italian neo realism; so FrenchNew Wave, Italian neo realism. So, after that another topic that we are going to beinterested in would be Gangster cinema. I am sure many of you are very aware of whatGangster cinema is all about. Where did this genre, this brand of cinema originated?Italy, France, Germany, yes you know, because you think of all those Italian mafiamovies; okay, but gangster is one of the unique products of Hollywood.So, Hollywood has made to major contributions as far as film genres goes, we will talkabout genres also; one is gangster, and another is, do you remember? Good, the western.So gangster and western are Hollywood exports. So, of course, you do not need anyfamiliarity with gangster genre; but while doing just name some some of the gangstergenres and some of the gangster movies, Goodfellas, very recent. Public enemy andScarface they have been remade also, but we are talking about those movies which weremade during the thirties, thirties.Now, related to Gangster movies would be the production code, Hollywood productioncode; also called Hye code that was something that has something to do with censorshipin Hollywood. Heist movies, give me some example. Italian job, Oceans the series and ofcourse, we have Reservoir dogs. So but they were not the very first films of the genrethere were others also much before that. Heist movie actually began in France during theFrench new wave movement. Because of the so called production code or Hays codethere was certain restriction, certain taboos on cinema in Hollywood and therefore, inorder to address those restrictions and those taboos; Hollywood came up with Film Noir.As you all know that so called dark films, the black films; having characters with shadesof gray, more black, more dark than white.So it is no longer the good and the bad pitted against each other, the hero himself had allthe both attributes of good as well as the bad in him. As well as, what is the most
stereotypical trope or trait of a film noir? Characters and plots in shades of gray and theywere settled in? Exactly. So, most of these film noir were set in urban settings, citycinema as we call them. There was also a particular kind of lights that would be used tocapture these films; you see they were all mostly shot in shades of black and white andnot those glorious beautifully looked sets. But I am thinking of something else; you areyou are absolutely right, when you talk about characters sunshades of gray, heroes,detective heroes, hero with the criminal streak, The postman always rings twice; youknow if you think it is written by James Karen based on a novel by James Karen.(Refer Slide Time: 10:04)
But what was the heroin called? Femme fatale; that is another important Hollywoodproduct, that you should know, film noir, femme fatale. Femme fatale is a consequenceof film noir before this we did not have exactly this kind of heroin. Then if you watch amovie like china town, are you aware of the movie called the china town? The Big sleep,Sunset Boulevard, you find the heroin which is not a typical good girl as we were allused to watching before them. And also think L. A confidential, Usual suspects andMemento; so, all these films have you know shades of film noir. Next important genrethat you should know about is the western, a very popular Hollywood category of films;anything that you can come up with? Any examples? ‘A Fistful of dollars’, there is aproblem there, you are thinking of Spaghetti westerns; I am talking about the other kindof western. Spaghetti came much later; the dollar trilogy as you are saying it came muchlater, especially with Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone’s combination, but we are basically
talking about the older form of the western. John Wayne, John Wayne, a movie directedby john ford mostly starring john Wayne. So, the john Wayne’s the searchers. There isalso a john Huston movie, the treasure of Sierra Madre, that is another very importantwestern.‘High Noon’ and ‘Red river’. 3:10 to Yuma has been remade actually, what you musthave watched, perhaps a couple of years ago, it is a remade version of original 3:10 toYuma. And True Grit as well it has been remade as well. So there was a version twoyears ago with Matt Damon, and True Grit has also been made during the fifties. We willalso be doing transnational cinema by which you know if I stretch the definition globalcinema, so not just Hollywood or Bollywood or our own regional cinema, but I will befocusing on global cinema as well including Chinese, Japanese and Canadian cinema.But if some of you would like to make presentations on, because Iranian cinema happensto be very popular, if you want to include that in your presentations, you are welcome todo so. I would also like to like you to be familiar with some of the film techniques. So,this is basically as we have been talking about is not a film making hence on practicalkind of course, we will be dealing predominantly with theories of film making. But eventechniques can have theories. So, some of the techniques especially of cinematographywould be deep focus, we will talk about all these things in greater detail later on. Variouscamera angles, optical illusion and with particular reference to Citizen Kane, becauseCitizen Kane happens to be one of those key text.How many of you have seen ‘Citizen Kane’? Try watching it, try watching it is veryentertaining, do not get you know put off by the fact that it is a black and white movie,made some seventy years ago. So, it is not at all a boring very interesting even today. Wewill be will be focusing on editing as well, particularly theories of editing and some ofthese techniques of editing would be principles of continuity. Can you give me anexample, what is the, explain it, what could what would mean by principles ofcontinuity? How do you watch a movie?How can we give mike to these kids?There is yeah.Student: Continuity editing means, in a linear fashion
Exactly. So, that is continuity; so did you get the answer? She said that continuity editingmeans, in a linear fashion, a movie in a going in a linear fashion is start to finish. Onevery simple way of defining or understanding continuity editing would be that this kindof editing does not call attention to itself at all. We never get a feeling that we arewatching a work of art; cinema after all is an artifact, no matter how hard we try to makea realistic film, it is a work of art. So, most film makers, and we are going to deal withthat also realism and cinema, most film makers attempt to incorporate with item orelement of realism in cinema. And therefore, continuity editing helps in enforcing andreinforcing the idea of realism in films. So, if its linear editing; that means, it looks veryreal but when we have something out of something non-linear, something which is notvery conventional. Then we have some things like let us say montage. So, montage isone very popular editing technique can you gives me example of montage?Student: Taking shots from other movies.You mean other movies?Student: Not at particular, at any other time. Not relevant to the movie.No it is relevant to the movie.Student: At any sequences, where he running up and down, I have the Tiger kind of..Yes, I have the tiger in Rocky that is a very popular example of montage. A series ofquick cuts happening in quick succession, giving the giving an indication of what; time ispassed. Jump cut is another editing technique, basically introduced by people likeGodard. In which movie? ‘A bout de souffle’ that is Breathless; Breathless was one ofthe first important movie that introduced the concept of jump cut editing. I will beshowing you as clipping from Godards’ Breathless, so you will understand what is thejump cut; jump cut is has become a very gimmicky technique nowadays, how do peopleuse it? In M TV kind of music videos; there are lots of cuts, but jump cut was basicallyyou know an ideological technique. It had a very strong ideology which we will betalking about when I discuss cinema and ideology with you. So, therefore, what what dothese things do montage and jump cut? They act as a sort of counter points to the linearkind of editing. So, the idea was to shake the conventional kind of film making and it allthese things had root in certain kinds of political and economic ideologies.
They were not just like thinking let us do something gimmicky, so introduce the jumpcut that was not, that was not the case. Mis en scene, it is a French term. If I explain toyou very simply; it means putting together a scene. What do you understand puttingtogether a scene?What goes into putting together?Not exactly it has everything to do with shooting a scene, not exactly. The editor’s jobcomes once the movie is shot completely right. Then we say the movie is now being in ain post-production stage is being cut and edited etcetera. Mis en scene is happens whenthe movie is actually being shot, being produced. How a scene is put together. So, whatwill just think just imagine how a scene is put together? What are the elements?The set, the lighting.The costume.The costume.You are getting there makeup-hair, it is not just makeup not makeup does not mean thatyou have to make people look good; that happens in another kind of cinema, cinemawhich we are not going to do in this course. I am talking about the kind of makeup andhair which is relevant to the story. So, think of that particular scene how many aware ofSergio Leone’s Once upon a time in America, I am not talking about once upon a time inwest Charles Bronson. Once upon a time in America Robert de Nero and James woods,how many of you have watched the movie? Very few, please watch it please watch onceupon a time in America I would love to screen the movie for you, if you are interestedthe only trouble with the film, I have the uncut version of it and is four and half hourlong. And when it was first released the producers were not very confident about theproduct they felt people would not audience would not really be interested in sittingthrough a movie which runs four and half hours. So, they mercilessly, brutally choppedthe movie on their own without consulting Sergio Leone.And the result was disaster, Sergio Leone himself was not happy with the product, butyears later the movie was restored and it has been released, and uncut version that hasbeen released specially on DVD is what Sergio Leone really wanted to be released and
that is four and half hour. And it is the movie that should be watched and appreciated forthe Mis en scene, the character the director’s attempt in movie then in that movie is notto make the character look good. So, the attention is not how to make them look prettierthan they really are. Here is the idea how to make them look as real as possible. Anothervery important movie that I often think of, when discussing Mis en scene is starringRechard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, what I am talking about?Student: Cleopatra?No, no that is a historical or epic we were talking about; exactly ‘Who’s afraid ofVirginia Woolf’. Taylor and Burton pair of player of academics in New Bastand. And itis based on a play by Edward Albee and it’s mostly set in an apartment.So, the naturally if they are academicians they cannot be filthy rich. So, what are thethings that you will find in the apartment of regular professor? Lots of books, books notarranged too neatly. So, not to give the impression that it is the work done by the directoror the art director; books are scattered all over the place because that is the way anacademician would be at home. And very prominently you find very obscure workswhich normally a reader would not go anywhere close to. Also the fact that Taylor andBurton’s acted parts which were much older than their real age. So, they were made tolook uglier and not prettier than usually. The other day I was reading how the movie wasfilmed and I discovered that the first camera men left the job; he said he cannot bear tomake Elizabeth Taylor look ugly. So, he would rather resign and never come back tothese sets where he is supposed to make her look like ugly old, shruoise woman.So, that is Mis en scene, how to put a scene together. Also sound is also important part ofMis en scene, setting the scene. Any questions, any Mis en scene that you can think of?Student: Coen brother’s in Big Lebowski, there are certain scenes where; there is a onedream sequence where he goes to bowling...and he sees there towering rack ofwhatever. The way everything been shot in a different camera angles, where he isholding the bowling ball and he is moving to the next angles that kind of stuffs.The Big Lebowski directed by Coen brothers.