Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Miklos Jancso's The Red and the White

The framing and movement complement each other to create a seamless visual blanket out of choppy action and weak characters. These weak characters help further the message of the film by not allowing the audience to identify with them as individuals and while suggesting the futility of their actions. One may feel passionate about the ideals of one of the two sides fighting the war in the film, but the two sides are seen in repetitive circles of violence that glorifies neither side, only confuses them with each other. A deep pattern of violence is presented in the film's imagery.
The Reds (communists) are separated from the Whites (anti-Revolution czarists) by their levels of brutality but that is the only polarization this film endorses.
Due to the excessive long shots and predominant lack of close-ups, indistinguishable uniforms, and the lack of psychological presentation and/or development of the characters, the importance of the identity of the two sides is non-existent.
The focus of the film presents a profound anti-war message. It's movement accentuates rigid structures of warfare and their effects on culture by plotting points of warfare on a time line.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jan Kadar's The Shop on Main Street

The film's structure suggests personal responsibility for individual decisions that led to the holocaust by connecting Tony, the main character, to the viewers. The film's action foretells and funnels to the undeniable, predictable (yet still horrifically affecting) conclusion. The caustic assault on Tony throughout the film mounts on his laxidasical self-perpetuating stupidity that stems from his personal choices and his indulgence in his shotcommings and points to his backseat role(percieved by him) and lack of individual pride in his role (and involvment) in the workings of his society as a whole. His responsibilities as a social being are ignored [i.e. husband, buisnessman, and polititian(potential engagement w/ his brother-in-law)]. As the film progresses, his social dependence becomes clear as he seams himself into the fabric of the tainted society that he refuses to acnowledge in his ironicly desperate attempt to do the right thing. He downplays his own truest feelings [disgust, distaste, abporment, astonishment (all of which are objectively valid)] leading him into a downward spiral. In essence, by denying his feelings, he kills himself. He identifies with his feelings (True Self), denies this self, and grieves it's death. He acts out the five stages of grieving. (Kubler-Ross, 1969) His neurosis comes to a head near the end of the film after a night of heavy drinking.

The film's most powerfull sequence brings Tony face to face with his False Self and the grotesque ramifications of his actions as such. He becomes aware of the audience (conscience) and projects his drunken broken previosly false identity (now actual) on to the camera, actualised by the audience, as his True Self when it finds and follows him (as he foolishly escapes it) in a series of three or four hand-held shots that show him at odds with the audience, afraid. He soon after hangs himself from the rafters of his newly aquired shop.

Bringing the audience into the film in a role of realative omnipotence drastically complicates the film, evoking a sense of immediacy and responsibility in the audience. This reinforces the reality of the implications of our (humans) actions (and inactions), and offers hope in the form of responsibility while it drives the horror of the fiction home by reminding the audience that the terror of the holocaust is still real.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Andrej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds

The pacing of the film supports the action in addition to serving as a metaphor through which the film communicates. Poland was plauged with war and subsequent offsets durring most of the twentieth century holding it's people fast to its fate.

The film opens with a brief introduction of the main characters, Maciek And Andrzej. The shots are long (duration)a and slow. They recline on grassy hillside outside of a cemetery lying in wait for their approaching military target. The duration of the shots shorten as the action intensifies when their "target"(a false target with interesting implications) arives on the scene and is gunned down. In the next scene, Maciek and Andrzej adjust to the hotel as they check in. The shots are, again, long; matching with the action in the shot. In a later scene, more action and faster pacing.

Juri Menzel's Closely Watched Trains

In order to understand the film, viewers must pay close attention to details contained therein. Details in the framing beautifully accentuate characterizations, themes, and actions. Shot juxtapositions create deeper levels of meaning. Closely Watched Trains is a well crafted film.

In a shot out on the train tracks, for instance, the frame contains the wall of a shed, square with the plane of the camera lens. the camera is placed above the train tracks which run alongside the shed and disappear into the distance. Soldiers enter frame left, their attention is grasped by a train car full of nurses (off screen), and they exit frame left. Next is a cutaway shot of the soldiers entering the train. The next shot has the same framing as the first shot. The main character stands (long duration), leaning against the shed that the soldiers crossed in front of before he exits frame right.

This combination of shots is very telling of the main character's plight. He stands on the brink of sexual liberation and is curios about sexual endeavors although he has no prior experience to draw from. It is not a stretch to infer all of these things about the main character from the short sequence of shots.