CINEMATOGRAPHY

I believe a film’s meaning is both inherent in and influenced by its cinematography. I believe this as different ways of focusing and framing certain shots ultimately dictate the style and the emotional response felt by the audience. The use of deep focus, wide angled and skewed shots within films such as Sin City ultimately classifying the film as film noir and emphasising the clandestine often-bizarre situations, which are occurring. Had director Robert Rodriguez instead opted for the use of many shallow depth of field and close-up shots, the movie would have a very different feel. However, in saying this I also believe a film’s editing, sound, production design, and performances are of equal importance. All elements needing to be considered as a decision in any of these areas can determine so much about a film’s style, message and the emotional response felt by the audience. The cohesion of all the elements becoming “the story”.

A film may transcend the script/text on which it is based quite easily if one or more of the elements for instance the cinematography, performance or production design is astounding and able to win the audience over.  I have noticed this in my own viewing within quite a few films. For instance “The Impossible” being based upon a true story didn’t have many different ways it could go creatively in order to have veracity, there not being much to the story line or dialogue.  However, it is the graphics and cinematography during the tsunami sequence, which truly makes the film astounding. This combined with the use of, or lack of use of music throughout this scene truly encapsulating the horror of the tsunami and truly creating a sense of realism about it. This too can be said about “Oz The Great and Powerful”, whilst the storyline and dialogue was rather mediocre lacking humor and wit; its visually rhapsodic graphics which fill every inch of the frame with vibrant colours, redeem the film and truly creating a sense of awe and emphasizing the fantasy which we all know the land of Oz to be.

I definitely think in regards to our project, it will definitely be possible to make a good film, even if our script is not the greatest. I feel like we could do this through utilizing a really good understanding of cinematography and really experimenting with it. I also feel the editing and performances could make or break our film as well.  I am torn on this matter at the same time also; as while it is definitely possible for a film’s content to transcend its script; the style of film my particular group has opted to make is heavily reliant on the dialogue being well written. Without humor within the dialogue of our particular film, other elements will only be able to redeem it to a certain extent, the film within itself not having its intended effect and perhaps even lacking in both sense and entertainment.

Blow-up :: An Analysis

A number of different components go into the design of the clip in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blowup. Sound plays a key role within the clip in particular that of dialogue, sound effects and non-synchronous sounds such as music. The use of the dialogue and the way in which the actors structure the dialogue tells us a lot about the charcters; for instance the woman is unable to complete a sentence all her lines quick and fragmented indicative of her nerves, particularly in contrast to Hemmings’ character whose dialogue is evenly spaced and fluid.  Sound affects such as that of the footsteps, the jingle of keys in the attempt to unlock the door and the phone ringing all too add to the design of the clip. The use of  background drones add to the tension of the clip design and a soft jazzy type of music in various sections adds a sensual mood to the clip. The camera is very key to the design of the clip. It is almost always moving when the characters are, panning along with them; adding to the fast pace and fluidity of the scene; however, during this time at certain points it tends to suddenly stop on random items creating a sort of fragmentation to the fluidity and thus creating dramatic tension. The use of obscure framing such as when a shot is framed in way that a wooden plank conceals both characters heads, too add to the design and tension building taking place in the scene, creating an uneasiness. The set- design and mise-en-scen is another component that adds to the ‘whole’ of the design of the clip; the placing of art works, sculptures, film lighting, screens all around the abstractly constructed room adds to the artistic flare of the photographer, and clues the audience into the fact the scene is in his ‘studio’ implicitly. The final component I found in this clip was that of acting. For instance the gestures of the girl pacing back and forth are indicative of her nerves and an uncertainty within her.

The Nature of a City- A Korsakow Film

 

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY K-FILM!

The process of creating my own interactive Korsakow film, which I have entitled “The Nature of a City”, made up of the small scale ‘sketches’ I’ve been completing throughout the semester has proved to be a great learning experience. Reading David Shields’ “Reality Hunger: a Manifesto” I became aware of the similarities between collage and interactive media. Shields’ idea that “the very nature of collage demands fragmented materials, or at least materials yanked out of context” (Shields 2011); became the foundation for what I wished to produce. My goal was to allow each video stand individually whilst still contributing to a linked collage of videos.

 

Looking at my seemingly random, fragmented sketch tasks I noticed two key reoccurring elements throughout my videos. One being the beauty and the naturalistic quality of nature and the other being urbanized life and man-made items. I decided rather than having a narrative based story which would be hard to control with the inability to govern viewers’ decisions, I would aim to create a cycle indicative of the progression of nature in all its beauty to its gradual destruction as man and city-life move in and take over.

 

To emphasize my thread of the deterioration of nature to the hands of man, I have utilized text. The text I have chosen to use, a poem by Edgar Allen Poe entitled “Forest Reverie”.  The poem in its lyrical rhapsodic nature, fit perfectly to my theme, discussing how the beauty of the natural world has been tamed and subdued by men, but truly encapsulating the splendor of nature at the same time. The other thing I loved about this text was how its construction too was collage-like, which meant I could deconstruct it placing single lines on each of the videos. Not only did this enable my videos to have a link and solidify the thread, but also each line was able to be associated directly with the video it was showing in its own context.

 

To achieve the cycle of progression so central to my theme the construction of my k-film was extremely crucial. I decided I would have four separate interfaces for four separate stages of the decline of the natural world into the urbanized world. I created four distinct backgrounds using Photoshop and two creative commons images, which all related to each other and had an essence of continuity. The first interface is representative of nature in its prime a bright green forest. The second interface, which shows the metaphorical dying of the natural world, uses the same forest image with a brown gradient subduing half of the image. The third interface would then show the same ‘dying’ forest but this time city buildings will have taken up half the frame, indicative of the city beginning to take over. The final interface is the same image of the city, but now it takes over the whole screen displaying the dominance of the city and city life over nature. Seeing as these backgrounds were so detailed, I decided to keep everything else within the frame very minimal and simple so to not distract from the videos themselves and overwhelm the screen. I used a very simple large legible font; bolded so it stood out and I also ensured my previews always remained the same size in the same place.

 

The four interfaces then became the four in and out keywords for my snu’s to make the cycle flow. The keywords linking either one step forward in the cycle or one step backward in the cycle, so eventually the viewer will arrive back at the beginning. I decided to begin with a video I entitled ‘lone flower’ in the nature interface; this video displaying the beauty of nature yet having a sad essence at the same time as it is the sole flower amongst a bush, almost foreboding the rest of the cycle. This video would then link to videos in the category “nature dying”, progressing to the next stage. I decided to make each SNU looped having infinite lives, to ensure the cycle itself was continuous and never-ending and add to the random collage-esque quality of the piece. Thus in giving each video infinite lives, I had to be careful with my out keywords to ensure that every video would eventually show up and also so that the cycle would get back to the start, back to nature and not remain in the city. This was a bit of an issue seeing as I had many more “City” videos than “Nature” ones, however, this almost played to my advantage indicative of the rarity of nature in an urban world.

 

Overall I believe that I have created a rather successful piece, which truly encapsulates my theme of the move from the natural to the urbanized world. I am really happy with the use of different interfaces to emphasize what section of the cycle each video belongs too, and the simplicity of the composition of my interfaces. Although I would have loved to have a slightly more structured and controlled piece, I think the random quality and the free flowing cycle effect is quite effective. It is an endless loop, just the same as the cycle of nature; despite being constantly tamed and destroyed at the hands of men to make way for cities and material possessions, nature continues to grow and bloom and provide beauty to our world.

 

I have learnt a lot from the completion of the task, which will not only be useful in other aspects of my life. Although learning to use Korsakow was an interesting and new experience; noticing the little things in my world and learning to find threads between random objects and scenarios, were the most important things I feel learnt from the task. The piecing together and threading of elements a key process of editing, which, will continue to help me within the media industry. It has truly challenged me to think more creatively and in a non-linear fashion.

 

References:

Shields, David. “L: Collage”. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. Vintage, 2011. ebook.

FILM REVIEW :: OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

[FIRST PUBLISHED ON  THE MODERN WOMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE]

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A prequel? To the all time classic, much loved Wizard of Oz, 74 years later? Surely this has got to be some purely dangerous territory! Done wrong and the dreams and memories built upon generations could be absolutely crushed; yet director Sam Raimi has taken the risk and instead creates a visually rhapsodic fantasy full of nostalgic bliss.

Oz The Great and Powerful is the story of how L. Frank Baum’s cherished wizard character came to be. Oscar Diggs (James Franco) a small-time circus magician and smooth talking con man is whirled away in a tornado from Kansas to the wonderful, vibrant Land of Oz.

Here he encounters Theodora (Mila Kunis) a temperamental witch who assumes him to be the ‘Wizard’ prophesised to fall from the sky, defeat a wicked witch and ascend to the throne. Theodora takes Oscar to the Emerald City to meet her sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz), a powerful witch who reveals that he cannot become the rightful ruler of Oz until he’s accomplished his mission.

Tempted by the promise of wealth and power, Oscar agrees and he and his new flying-monkey companion Finley (voice of Zach Braff) prepare to face their fearsome enemy. They are joined by the fragile but fearless China Girl (voiced by Joey King) and kindly witch Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams), who help them prepare for the gruelling battle ahead. Together with the brave people of Oz, Oscar draws up a plan through the use of illusion to rid the land of evil once and for all, and become the great and powerful king who will rule from his throne in the Emerald City.

AAAimagesI’ll be honest, entering the cinema I did not have high hopes for the movie, it almost seemed doomed for failure and the initial Kansas sequence filled with overly dramatic and corny acting from the actors surprisingly including that of the leading man James Franco seemed to fit in with these expectations.

Nevertheless, as Oscar Diggs descended into Oz, the box screen expanded and the monochromatic tones were replaced with ever so bright ones; hope for the film was restored. The graphics of Oz were simply astounding, perhaps even more so than those of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

Every last inch of the frame filled with stunning visual details in the most vibrant of hues truly encapsulating the enchantment of the beloved Land of Oz. As the film progressed, Franco’s acting did get better and I really began to believe him in the role of the Wizard. The witches’ performances were quite good, particularly those of Rachel Weisz as Evanora and Michelle Williams as Glinda who truly seemed to be having fun with their roles. However, Finley the adorable flying monkey voiced by Scrubs’ Zach Braff stole the show for me; responsible for not only some of the most humorous lines within the film, but also some of the most heart felt.

Despite being unable to use some of the most iconic elements of the 1939 Wizard of Oz due to legal reasons (including the ruby slippers, the shade of green of the wicked witch’s skin, the witch’s chin mole and the swirl of the yellow brick road); the film did a good job at incorporating intertextual references so reminiscent of the great classic.

Despite my initial assumptions, I was won over by the sensational graphics, enchantment; plot twists and the sense of nostalgia I was left with. It is the kind of movie that is easy to watch and by its end will have brought a smile to your face (several times!). The only thing I would have loved to see was some more musical numbers. Warning: Oz The Great and Powerful is not a musical. Nevertheless, it earns a solid 5.5 stars, an enchanting film fitting for any age group.