Film Language || Blow Out (De Palma, 1981)

The first week of my film studies course reintroduced me to the fundamentals of film language. The required reading explained that film text is the marrying of all elements, (images, words and sounds) within the same context, to portray a story or narrative. Just as we read bodies of texts, we read films similarly, through physical film forms such as; editing, cinematography, lighting and colour, mise-en-scène and sound.

I never thought of how exactly a film was viewed and understood; I personally didn’t think things like, lighting and sound, imperative to a films successful portrayal of narrative. Understanding film form and utilising the elements effectively, is crucial for me, especially as an emerging film director. Watching the 1981 film, Blow Out, the importance of form become clear; all the elements seem to work well together and the influence of sound was put in a very literally perspective. I must add that my favourite form utilised, well, was cinematography, in particular the spilt diopter shots. Whilst an unusual technique, it didn’t alienate the audience by taking us away from the action.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and its influence it had on me to experiment with the different portrayals of film form.

-Pri

Avant Garde Cinema || Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)

An art film pushes the limitations of film forms in an attempt to discover new ways of presenting stories. I had only willingly exposed my self to two art films in the past, Magic Mike (2012) and Spring Breakers (2012), even then you may argue that those were just terrible. Notice how I said terrible? Yeah, because I had this misconception of art films to just be low budget films made by a bunch of weird pot heads in their mums basement… no hate to pot heads.

Sadly, that is exactly what I thought and then I watched David Lynch’s 1977 film, Eraserhead. Before watching the film, I told myself to just watch the film; an open heart, open mind type of approach. To not make any judgements until the end of the film. I failed at that.

Throughout the film, I questioned my sanity and all those that watched this film more than once. I got agitated; I was just in owe as to how is this film was regarded to so highly. But… after actually analysing the film, once I was safely back in reality, I realised how innovative and intricate this film was. The film utilised thematic elements of cinematography, mise-en-scene, lighting, ect., in conjunction with an intricate sound design to transport the audience into the surreal, story world of the main character.

Whilst I will not watch the film again, willingly, I do appreciate art films on another level. I guess I was wrong, avant garde film makers aren’t pot heads. However, weird, to say the least. I appreciate, although, that they don’t stick to ordinary conventions, they don’t play it safe and they, respectively, portray narratives in ways simple minded people, like myself, wouldn’t think to.

Respect.

-Pri

Film and Audiences || Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954)

I personally love the supernatural driven story lines; fantasy-adventure films are my go to genre of choice. However admittedly, a guilty pleasure of mine, are documentaries and films, that follow the very dramatic lives of others. There’s something oddly comforting I found with watching other peoples lives unfold less then ideally, I mean that in the least sadistic manner possible. I guess it makes me realise that my life just isn’t as bad as others.

Now… I know I’m not the only one that feels this way as many filmmakers create story line around this concept, due to its popularity, films like The Truman Show (1998), which act like big budgeted reality TV shows. We all know how popular and addictive those darn reality TV shows are. Let me ask you this… What does shows like Big Brother and a film as great as Alfred Hitchcock’s, 1954 film Rear Window, have in common? A cognitive and affect approach; you didn’t guess that, but I’m sure you were close.

What was made clear to me after comparing the two, was that people, although complain about drama, are very much attracted or addicted to it. Hitchcock hits the nail on the head in portraying this attraction/addiction. Honestly, watching Rear Window, had me enticed into the unfolding of the mini story lines, but it also had me feeling a great sense of nostalgia; remembering all the times I people watched from beyond the cafe windows or from my seat in a waiting room. I remember just like the main character in this film, taking an interest in people’s lives and a particularly keen interest in the more dramatic stories.

Once found and understood, audiences will become immersed in the story world, finding relations between themselves and the characters. If a film achieves this from its audiences, then in my books, it is a truly successful film.

-Pri