Tuesday, April 3, 2007

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.

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