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Expressionism in Cinema

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Good morning, we continue with our lecture on cinema and modernism. We have already discussedsome of them like Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Verto and we will be looking at a couple ofmore modernists, the pioneers. So, you can take down the list; one is Fritz Lang,F W Murnau,Jean Renoir,Jacques Tati,Max Ophuls; the film maker who directed Lola Montes.Max Ophuls is also the name of a character in a Salman Rushdie’s novel.Rushdie himself is the big aficionado of cinema, old cinema.Any one member, which novel do we have one Max Ophuls?Novel by Salman Rushdie? Shalimar the Clown. Robert Bresson or Roberr Breson is the French name.Luis Bunuel, and of course the Japanese masters, Ozu and Kurosawa,so these are the modernists.We will start with discussing Fritz Lang and Murnau and someother significant German film makers as well. So, German expressionism which was very importantmovement; some of us have already done that before but let me just take you quickly through it.So, after Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the artistic form of German expressionismcaptured the mood of the generation, of that particular generation.Germany had lost land and its people and also been very badly humiliated in Versailles treaty.There was collective on general feeling of paranoia and morbidity among German people.and cinema UFA; the principle the film studio in Germany whose job was to promote avagant cinema.UFA is Universal Film Academy, and it supported the endeavours ofthe film makers like; Robert Miano, F. W. Murnau and Fritz Lang.So, these are the pioneers and they employed the device of expressionism in cinema.The expressionism which was alreadyan artistic movement, it began with; the seminal paintings, it was also employed in variousdrama and theatres, performance and then soon it found its way in cinema also.Some of must be familiar with the famous painting screened by Edvard Munch, yes.So, an important film of this which employed this device was ‘The Cabinet of the Dr. Caligari’ by Robert Wiene.It is a narrative of mad doctor, a scientist who uses a Somnambulist tocommit crimes for him, a sleepwalker to commit crime for him.It is a 1919 film.And some other movies which employed expressionism were Nosferatu, The Last Laughand Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, also Fritz Lang’s M.It is often said that modern cinema begins with F W Murnau along with Fritz Lang and Wilhelm Pabst;we were talking about Pandora’s Box yesterday, Wilhelm Pabst.Murnau’s films are full dread and suggest a world between reality and fantasy.Murnau was also closer to homosexual; and his films in some way reflectshis that reality as well, the themes of repression and sexuality.He was also a master creating an alternative universe.And therefore, expressionism was God’s answerto all his prayers, because he believed in creating and representing alternative universe on screen.So Murnau, his most famous horror film is Nosferatu; a symphony of terrorwhere the protagonist plays a Count Orlok, a Dracula like of character.In fact, Murnau was inspiredby Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula but he had to rename the film Nosferatu and he had to,he want to tell the same story but he could not because received legal threats from the Bram Stoker’s hairs.So he was force to make some modification, some changes but the basic story remains the same.Fritz Lang, another major German directorand his films are characterized by psychological terror, paranoia, morbidity and dread.And if you are familiar with the movie call M; are you? Yes, you are Ranjeet.How many of you are familiar with M? Please do watch it, include it in yours list ofcompulsory watching, compulsory viewing; M and Metropolis especially.What is M all about?You have watched it; he is a child killer, the protagonist is an anti-hero.He is a child killer as well as paedophile; he lured children with certain kind of,he gives them gifts, he lured them with gifts, balloons, chocolates.And there is the whistling tune that he often plays. So, but the entire story is aboutthis group of very ordinary citizen looking for this person, this mysterious and enigmatic killer.And it turns out to be very ordinary, veryregular man, next door kind of person; he not a villain who works in groups or he hasthe big gun or something, he just a person who could be lurking around the shadow, lurkingaround the corner in a shadow. So, that is the dread that is the atmosphere of the dread;the danger lurks around corners, no one is safe any more that kind society will live in.And when people the ordinary people nab him and try to take law in their hands, theywant to kill him. Of course, he has killed so many children, rapped children; so whynot, and then he breaks in to this justification that he has been taken over by force of darknessand then he gives to his repressions and to his paranoias. So, it is the very strange moviewhere the villain is given a platform to, give expression to what happens to a person; whocan turn to a crime of that nature. We talk about the French master, Jacques Tai.He was silent comedian who worked as a mime artist when young.And with the advent ofsound as we have been talking about, what sound did to many people; and Charlie Chaplinanyway never bothered never thought of much of speeches and dialogue in cinema.So many people saw their end of the career with the advent of sound but, even later on Chaplinsuccumb to it; he had to use dialogues. Tati however carried on with the tradition tillthe fifties with some success. So, Jacques Tati.Tati' first major film as an actor was holiday;where he plays a simple postman on his small bike in the countryside.And then Mr. Hulot’s holiday in 1953, it tells the story of Mr. Hulot as played by Jacques Tatiand his vocation by the sea. So it is episodic story, several hilarious incidentsoccurs as our man takes his vocation. He arrives in his little car, meets group of people,very you know stereotypes of character, the types; the blond, a waiter a general, okay we know the type.And Hulot does not quite fit in; he is a misfit and bumbles through the settings.So, does he remain you of someone? Mr. Bean. Now the Mr. Bean’s Holiday whichwas fairly recent movie, 2007 I think, is based on it; it is homage to Jacques Tati,the same old car, all the antics, most of the time miming. If you observe Mr. Bean veryclosely he does not speak too much when he is doing his Mr. Bean; Rowan Atkinson, Yes.A brilliant actor but when he does Mr. Bean there are rarely any dialogues, very few.It is very physical and very surreal kind of comedy that he believes in and Jacques Tati was his inspiration.Jean Renoir, we are going to do Renoir insome detail later on, but just get familiar with Jean Renoir.So he is Auguste Renoir's son, Auguste Renoir; the celebrated impressionist painter.And interestingly Jean Renoir’sbirth coincides with the birth of cinema; we have been talking about 1895 as a watershed period.Jean Renoir fought in the First World War, quickly returned to Paris and got into the film business.There are several stories about Renoir greatness, if you read some readup some materials on him, then you will understand what an interesting character he was in real life.He made several films and one of the earliest film was called The southerner 1945with a screenplay by the celebrated American novelist and screenwriter a William Faulkner.Renoir made forty films in all, and he had a far reaching influence on people like; Truffaut,Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin. Many regard him as the greatest director of all times.He was one of the most formidable influence on the French new wave; Nouvelle vague.So, Jean Renoir we will be talking about him in sub-sequent classes also.So, some of his important works includes La Chienne, The BeachBoudu saved from drowning and the day in the country.He was humanist and his films reflect that, so there you do not find any tresses of his snobbery,any arrogance in his cinema but affection through towards, all socialist strata, and all kind of people.And you find in his cinema, very large hearted, very open, very humanitarian kind of cinema.His two master pieces are; La Grande Illusion (the grand illusion) andLa Regle Du Jeu (Rules of the game) which is the classic, which is the masterpiece,1939; Rules of the game.‘La Bete humaine’ that is the human animal.It is another important film by Renoir (1938) which is based on the novel by Emile Zola;Emile Zola, the famous writer, the naturalistic writer. And the idea is La Bete humaine is that human beast;there is an animal inside all human beings, no one is an angel nobody is saint,there is a beast that lurks beneath or inside all human beings which comes at unexpectedmoments that is the idea. Emile Zola, he gave us the idea of La Bete humaine and Renoir made a movie of it.‘The River’ is his first color film; and it is interesting, itwas set India and Renoir was in India to shoot the film on the banks of the rive Ganges.Perhaps, you remember, once I told you that Satyajit Ray, a young Satyajit Ray assistedhim while Renoir was making The River and that is how Ray got interested in cinema;and the genre or the class poetic realism, Jean Renoir was known for his cinema of poeticrealism, like we have all these movements, expressionism, impressionism.So, Renoir was known as poetic realism, for known. And Satyajit Ray, if you watch some of his earlier moviesthey show a distinct influence of Renoir.Another great French master, Max Ophuls.He did not live for too long (1902-1957) but, one of the most stylized film maker.For him a stylist was meaning, the way you do it.His first film was ‘Liebelei’ about theecstasy and agony of young couple in love. In generally he is considered an expert ondoomed love and doomed love stories. So, whatever little you have watched about ‘Lola Montes’perhaps that gives you some indication of what kind of film maker he was.So, no one ever lived happily ever after in Ophuls; the people were always, they loved grandly andthey suffered greatly as well.He was forced to fly and then he arrived in Hollywood when France fell to Nazis.So, he was a German who has spent much of his life in France;after France was occupied, he had to leave and he came to, he arrived in Hollywood.And he made stylish Melodramas for Paramount studio. ‘The Exile’, ‘Letter from an Unknown Women’and ‘The Reckless Moment’; all classic and all par of the Hollywood cinematic history,our Marin Scorsese professes to be huge fan of Max Ophuls.And after the war he returned to France, and made four elegant classics;‘Lola Montes’ we just watched clipping from.‘The Earrings of Madame de’, now what is Madame de?Yes?An ellipses.‘Madame de’ that is the title of the movie, so ‘The Earrings ofMadame de’, an ellipse, so, we do not know, we really do not know what her husband name is.Here is Madam who is wooed by several admirers. And the plot is quite hilarious,it is not actually a comedy but then you see; the human error, the human folly or passion in the movie.It is all about an aristocratic Madam who is married to a very wealthy man,and he gifts her with a pair of exquisite diamond earrings, so very interesting movie.La Ronde, Le Plaisir and of course Lola Montes.So, the Lola Montes is Ophuls’ masterpiece.It is based on a dancer, a 19th Century dancerwho became the mistress of the pianist Franz Liszt,and later of Ludwig I, the deposed king of Bavaria.And she never has any luck with men;she repeatedly gets heartbroken and is dumped by them, and ends up in a circuswhere Peter Ustinov is the ringmaster. And she has to sell her life secretes to make a living,and also kisses to people.So this is important, Max Ophuls is credited for makingvoyeurism as an art; you just whatever brief clipping you just watched, you must have realizedhow she is displayed as an object, she is not considered as human being at all.She is just there as a farm fatal as an object to leer at, to ridicule.So, an image is presented for voyeuristic gaze.If you want to know more about voyeurism in cinema then you shouldread an essay by Laura Mulvey.We will be talking about voyeurism.Laura Mulvey who talks about cinematic gaze.And ‘Lola Montes’ as presented by the ringmaster, and it is also sort of meta-cinema;you know meta-cinema, cinema about cinema,so Ustinov almost becomes an alter ego of the director, Max Ophuls' and presents the actress to us.And how does he do it?The most sensational act of the century; spectacle, emotion, action,history, adventure, a creature, a monster will answer the most indelicate questions,the most intimate questions, and the most indiscreet questions.It is the way a director presents his work to the audience.So, some watch it and ask me or criticize me anyway you want.And of course, the pan style, you know the camera panning all over the place.And while she sits motionless and emotionless but then lot is going on in her mind.Lola Montes was filmed in Eastmancolor and in CinemaScope, that is important,those were big techniques those days; cinemascope and Eastmancolor.It was an extravaganza, a very lavishly mounted film.And colors are often used very non-naturalistically, especially when Laura is transported backin time and flashback sequences where every tint goes according to the tone of the episode.So, when extremely bright and happy and young as you have seen her along with Lisztthat tone is very bright, but latter on it keeps getting darker and darker.Another French master Jean Cocteau, and you have any questions on Max Ophuls Lola Montes,Fritz Lang?I just, I am presuming that on your own you will do a lot of viewing and lot of reading upon these people.So, Fritz Lang, Dr Robert Wiene’s ‘the cabinet of Dr. Caligari’,Murnau; so these are the filmmakers you should be familiar with.So Jean Cocteau,a poet, painter, sculptor, novelist and dramatist.So, Cocteau is also known for his plays, for his real multifaceted talent, and also great film maker.So, some of his great movies; ‘Blood of a poet’ in 1930,Orpheus which is based on his own play (1950),and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ which is commonly a children’s fairy tale butCocteau’s hand it becomes something else, so that is 1946;one of his most everlasting, most popular, most commercially success film, ‘Beauty and the Beast’.An image from ‘Beauty and the Beast’; now you have hands hounding several of candles,the hands springing out of walls and curtains. This is the beast’s castle.You all know the story, the legend of ‘Beauty and the beast’ right, so no explanation needed there.How she is compelled to lead her life with the beast and as she starts falling in lovewith him; why because she is able to see that beneath the surface there is a nice personbut Cocteau’s mastery was in creating the ambience. Now, in children’s fairy tales youwould not have so many arms springing out of nowhere, it gives us certain kind of verysurreal, unnatural kind of image but and then Cocteau’s power was such that the film becamea major success and it was enjoyed both by adults as well as by children.Again you can perhaps pay attention to hands holding various candleswhile beauty glides through the long corridors.This is Orpheus or ((Refer Prof)).So, in Beauty and the Beast (1946) Cocteau succeeded in the creating, he was a master of imagery;the way he would create images on screen. And very surprising, very unique kind of imagesof astonishing beauty with beauty gliding along the corridors not just walking, actually she glides alongMirrors transforming into pools of water, and candles launched in humanized arms;affixed to the walls of caste. So, you will find all these astonishing images in the movie.And the great actor, the French actor Jean Marais; he was the beast; and Greta Garbofamously called out once the movie was over ‘Give me back my beast’, she wasso enchanted, Greta Garbo, the famous star of Hollywood.Cocteau was contemporary of Bunuel and Salvador Dali;both surrealist and in Cocteau you will find plenty of surrealistic images.How many of you are familiar with the movie called ‘Modilgliani’?Student: I did not seen it but;Heard of it? Andy Garcia, watch the movie.It transports you to that era where Modilgliani and Picasso and Cocteau, they would all you know,they were all each other’s rivals; they lived together, eat together, pain togetherand fight forever, you know for the recognition, who is the best of all. So, watch the movie;it is not very popular or not a hugely commercial movie, produced by Andy Garcia but great movie neverthelessThis was also the period where films were started, so remembered yesterdaywe started with the advent of cinema; (1895) ‘Arrival of the train at the station’,‘Workers leaving the Lumiere factory’ and now we are coming to color and cinemascope.So in the early 50’s when the Hollywood faced several major competition from television.All the honchos put their heads together and try to figure out what they should do, tolure audience back to the theaters. And they felt apart from the introduction of colors,cinemascope will also help, because it will give you that impression of hugeness, a bigscreen experience which of course Television cannot do.So, cinemascope was devised by Henry Chreteinand it was purchased first by the Twentieth Century fox a major studio.So, the technique involved using an anamorphic lens that whichwhen mounted on an ordinary camera, photograph images that were horizontally squeezed.So this was the simplistically put that this was the technique, and these images wouldbe un-squeezed during projection and resulted in an image wider than the film frame.Can you think of any film made in cinemascope which has, which had everlasting impression on you.You know 35 mm and you know70 mm. So, do we have all films in 70 mm nowadays in cinemascope?Ever paid an attention to these things?Why because we watch films on laptop, not a screen any more.So the magic of theatre, we cannot stress enough on that.You want to watch a movie, watch it in theatre; there is nothing like that.You do not even know when was the last time you watched the cinemascope film, Ranjith can you think?I mean it was an experience, once upon a time it was an experience becausenot all films are made in cinemascope; it was considered a very expansive technique.And when movies are started becoming cinemascopic then naturally we needed theaters that couldaccommodate that, that kind of screen. So the cinemascope screens are; many theatershad to go through lot of reinvention, reconstruction. So it was big business, and experience issomething else altogether; read upon this and try to tell me whether cinema today isthe cinemascopic or not. Do we have 35 mm anymore? And what is the impact of digital film making on screen?Do we have cinemascope? Do we have 35 mm? Think of all these questions.So, Fox chief Twentieth century; I am not talking about chief of foxes but Twentieth century,the head of the studio for Twentieth century Fox was Darry I Zanuck.A dreaded man, many people hated him for variety of things.And he watched the first two cinemascope production.The earliest examples of cinemascope,‘The Robe’, starring who?It is based on a Christ life but it is starring who?Not Charlton Heston, I think that is what everyone believes;we think Christ and Ben-Hur and Ten Commandments and think Charlton Heston.The Robe’ had the great Richard Burton.He is one of the generals.And ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’,she is a show girl and a model. She needs to wear thick glasses butshe wants to marry a millionaire. So, many of time you know the comedy arises that becauseshe has take off her glasses, and then she keeps on falling all over the place.A beautiful film, saturated with colors, sensuously made and in cinemascope.And then following the success of ‘The Robe’ and ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ fox announced thatsubsequently they will be making film only in cinemascope. In India the technique camemuch later because after all it was very expensive technique and the required huge amount ofthe expertise and expenses.So, the new fact caught on although some filmmakers are notvery happy with the way things were going on, but then soon it went on to become oneof the most important devices to influence cinema.Any questions here, any comments?What kind of themes do you think cinemascope best suited for?Give me an example of good cinemascope film that you have watched.You have not paid much attention to it?‘Sholay’ is one of the earliest films. Why do you think that ‘Sholay’, a movielike ‘Sholay’ demands cinemascope for use? Why does ‘Sholay’ look the same on the Television?Student: Locales.The Locales.It is a movie with immense magnitude. Okay, so all films which are epic in proportion;Gone With The Wind, Ten Commandments, our Sholay or Mughal-E-Azam they requiredthis technique; but it is a technique which not suited definitely for more intimate kind of films.So, you think of the kind of filmmakers who would make film based the life of middle class;think of someone, let me test your knowledge of cinema.So, Sholay is an epic movie we all agree to that; too many characters, all larger than life kindof cinema that requires larger than life projection. But more realist kind of cinema comes moreintimate closer to life; it does not require that larger than life kind of representation,so therefore 35 mm. Yes, Rehan you seems to very reflective.Student: If, has there is supposed to be wide angle shots?Of course, but wide angle shots also are best suited for certain kind of cinema, you cannotuse wide angle anywhere in Smita Patel and Shabana Azmi kind of cinema.So, the parallel cinema hardly ever utilizes; it was not just about funds, it also about the themes, a particularkind of themes, settings, locals, it requires cinemascope, it screensfor cinemascope.Sholay cannot be imagine without that particular sound and cinematography; much of its valueseminent from the, from its technical expertise. Many people are the opinion that the plotis a lift from the various sources; especially in ‘Once upon a time in the west’, Sergio Leones’.But Sholay has been universally praised for its cinematography and in its sound.So, the particular kind of cinema requires particular kind of scope and the dimensions,and the cinemascope is best suited for those.I mean, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ definitely cannot be shown in the compact version.But ‘Shanghai’ does it require necessarily? ‘Love, sex and dhoka’ is digitally shot?Not really You do not need that kind of mammoth scope for such kind of cinema.Defiantly, I mean we had Dibakar Banerjee with us talking about LSD;shot on digital camera, it does not require that hugeness.Prof Aysha: We have the privilege of having a Mr. Sudhish kamath with us; writer, critic,film reviewer as well as independent filmmaker. He will be talking to us about the processand art of independent cinema, how to make an independent films; I know many of you areinto film making as well, and Sudhish is an inspiration to many. And a word about Sudhish;he has been a friend of an institute and had been associated with me on several of my film workshops.In 2009, we did a workshop with Mr. kamal hassan which was organized on campusand Sudhish was one of the key members of that committee, organizing committee, andsince then we have been doing several programs; film based workshops in IIT and Sudhish isalways been associated with us. So, we do hope and we carry on this association forlong time to come, and we cherish our friendship with you, Sudhish, so over to you now.Mr. Sudhish: Thank you so much professor Aysha, thanks. It’s been pleasure to be here.I remembered, we screened ‘Good night, good morning’ here during Saarang last year.I do not know how many of you watched it. Did you get to watch it? Not too many people.So, then I am not get too specify about the content of the film but, what I am going totry to do is take you guys, through the journey of the how we made the film, as an exampleof how to make film or how not to make a film.Actually, until before I made ‘Good night, good morning’all my talks were about how not to make a film, because my first filmwas something I made in 2006, and that was really the eye opener for me; you know that’show I learn film making, through mistakes and that is the only way to learn film making,if you made a hundred mistakes, you learned the hundred lessons. So, I would urge allof you go make a film, and urge all of you to make a really bad film, so that you earnmore and you make a better film. So, to give you a rough idea of my journeyinto filmmaking; I wrote my first script back in 1999, I did not see myself as a filmmaker.I had just joined the Hindu and I was catching with the branch of old friends fromschool, and we just look back our life and saw; how our lives are totally changed fromwhat we plan to be and what we had become. So, it seemed like a movie by itself; youknow because this is what we wanted to do and here we are, it is almost like a lifeplayed this cruel joke on us, it was like that. So, that is when we thought hey it make agood movie you know life as a movie and let’s try to explore that through the story of few friends.So, that how we wrote our first script, me and my best friend from school, we wrote together.This film called, ‘That four-letter word’;now the thing which a lot of first time filmmakers do is that, they try to put in lot of thingsand that is one of the mistake we made as well because we are trying to tell three stories,three friends. And so each of them have their love story, so which means like think six stories,six characters at least. So, six characters and three stories running paralleland then the film itself needed to have a larger conflict. So, we just complicating things,we were just complicating things too much. So, we did make a fairly, write a fairlyokay script on hand sight but the execution completely different story. Because but, becauseas a independent filmmaker, you have limited sources, you have a limited money; so thebest way to make, approach an independent film is to work it out backward; say thatthis is the resources I have, this is the money I have, so what can I make with thisbecause nobody is going to give you money to make your first film, nobody ever.So, if you are writing something like you know Harry Potter or Inception, common you needa realistic check; nobody is going to fund that film. If it is your first film, writesomething which you make yourself, which your friends can act because the chance are,it is going to be bad film because it is your first film and obviously when you are going to start;nobody starts out to draw and draws perfect painting or whatever, right, it takes practice.So the filmmaking is a craft, it requires a certain amount of practice, itrequires a certain amount of understanding of whole lot of arts, and it not just oneart because it is a synthesis of many arts; there is visual, there is written word, thereis music, there is an art design and thing, so all these. So as a director, you supposeto know each of these departments. So, it is a synthesis of all the art.So, there is no way you can say that I am going to make a first film, and I am going to make a brilliantfirst film that is definitely not going to happen. So, how do you make a first film whichyou can produce yourself, which where you know, mess up too much which will not be anembracement for you, and future when you look back and say, oh that is the terrible film I made.The idea is to make more mistake but not so many mistakes that you have to livewith that for rest of your life. So, it is a fine balance.So, I would strongly urge all of you to not, to make mistakes at the script level and notto make them at the production level which why I think it is quiet commendable that you know;IIT does the series of screenwriting workshops every year because that is the departmentwhich is highly under rated, writing department. Films are actually written first, they made on paper,they not made film or they not made on video. They made on paper, they made overthe pages of script. Once you crack that then everything else becomes relatively easy.So, as I was saying nobody is going to give you money to make your first film, and if youhave to make all the mistakes in your first film, you better write it in the script tomake them at the script level. So, how do you start, where do you start?First of all, let get down to why are we making a film? All of you filmmakers here right,so why do you want to make a film?What is your intention behind making films?Any answers?Are you making it for the market? Are you making it for yourself? Are making it as aninside joke for between friends, what is it for? There is one standard kind of a film,because all our intensions are differs and there are valid reasons. So, you could makea film as a painting because it is personalized; purely expressionistic it is totally valid,and you could make a film for the market it is totally valid; it just that the languagethat you use for painting and a language that you use for market might be a little different.What the difference between a painting and a poster? Painting is a hand drawn, it ispersonal, its abstract, it’s impressionistic. Poster; the intention is to grab your attention,it is in bold type face, there is a visual that catches your attention, there is a punchline, there is a tag line, everything is there. So, the design of the film has everythingto do with your intention of making that film. If you are making it for yourself, you donot have to care about the market. If you are making it for the market, you really needto know your market; you really need to know your audience.How many of you are Tamil speakers here?How do the rest of you commute when you going by Auto Rickshaw, how do you talk?Student: In basic Tamil.So, basically you know that much Tamil, exactlythat is the point, because when you are talking to an auto driver, you have to talk him ina ce