Film Analysis #2-Psycho

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9th, 2010 by maya1

Psycho  is a classic suspense thriller from the great mind of Alfred Hitchcock. Originally released by Paramount Pictures in 1960 to mixed reviews, it caused quite a stir when it came out. The amount of risks that were taken in this film is amazing to think about really. Looking at the opening shot, you see two unmarried people in bed together which was thought of to be taboo in those days and later on we see a big name actress, Janet Leigh, die within the first half of the film. This especially was so shocking and unprecedented because of not only how she died but the fact that the promotion for the film used Leigh’s picture and name to get the public to come see it in the first place. Even having a toilet flushing on screen caused concern among the public. Hitchcock broke many barriers with this film and it is now considered a classic in the genre and one of Hitchcock’s best works ever.
The lighting and colors in this film are perfect to tell this story. The choice to use black and white instead of color was critical and gave the settings of the film a much more chilling feeling than if it was in color. In one scene in particular when Norman asks Marion to go back to the parlor to eat dinner with him shows the power the choice of black and white and the lighting choices had on both how we see the characters and how we see the settings.
The scene begins when they both walk into the parlor. Its pitch black in there but Norman goes and turns on the sole light source in the room which was a lamp. Once he turns the lamp on Marion really sees what’s in the room and we see her expression change from being at ease to startled. We see her eyes scan the entire room and each time her eyes stop on something, the camera cuts to what she’s looking at which are all the stuffed birds hanging around the room. She pretends to not be startled by them and begins talking to Norman and eats. From here on throughout the scene, there isn’t one frame where we don’t see a bird in the background.
The mise en scene in this scene in particular the shadows and the birds are what really makes us uneasy watching it. The room is filled with shadows that give off this ominous feeling. Seeing the shadows surround both Marion and Norman it feels like they are being swallowed by them. We are constantly in a state of uneasiness in this scene because of the mise en scene and we therefore are uneasy about Norman. Realizing that he has this room in the back and that he admits to stuffing birds, this is the real starting point into us wondering if there is something up with him. In fact whenever Norman talked, we pretty much have the same expressions and reactions as Marion does on screen. It was interesting to see that this weird vibe the audience gets from Norman comes across to Marion as well.
Even though Norman is such an eye drawing character, the birds in this scene really make it memorable. Its almost as if we expect them to start moving because you can’t help but stare at them and we don’t quite know what to make of anything about Norman and this place yet. We are almost threatened by them because they are literally everywhere. There are some shots where the camera is angled up towards the ceiling and we can see them on the walls and some where they are on ground level but never are they out of our sight. We obviously know from what Norman tells Marion that they are stuffed but they still give off this odd presence of being threatening and yet we know they are harmless.
Another very interesting aspect of this scene is that there isn’t one instance when both Norman and Marion are in the same frame. Every time one of them is talking the camera is on them and then it cuts to the others reaction but we never see them together in a frame. This actually worked very well because the cutting back and forth between them gave a tense feel to the scene and made you wonder what the other would say next. These days, a director would probably take advantage of having two people in a room with such great mise en scene as Norman’s parlor and keep them both and the entire room visible throughout but Hitchcock didn’t do this and this is just one of the many decisions he made that make this film such a classic.
It seems like everything was important and had a purpose in this film. The choice of black and white, the lighting, the music, the story, the twist ending, and of course the shower scene all make Psycho the classic it is regarded as. It’s been 50 years since its release and it’s still able to chill audiences in ways modern thrillers only wish they can. Alfred Hitchcock truly is the master of suspense.

Breathless

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30th, 2010 by maya1

Having never seen a Godard film prior to class, I have to say I really enjoyed it. It had a very distinct feel I haven’t felt in any other film we’ve watched before and it was constantly entertaining. It was great to see a filmmaker take the risks Godard took.

The music for me was a standout. Hearing the concept of the movie before we watched it, I didn’t expect it to have that upbeat jazzy soundtrack especially in the opening sequence with Michel in the car. I expected it to clash with the rest of the movie but it worked perfectly and I ended up constantly waiting for the music to begin in scenes because I liked it so much.

I actually really liked the jump cuts. It gave it that “Godard touch” that not just any filmmaker can pull off. I remember before we started the film Prof. Herzog said that we might think Michel is a bad person throughout yet we can’t help but think he’s cool. Afterwards I totally agreed with this. He was this cool, smooth talking guy but he treated women badly, stole money, and had the police chasing him. Even being aware of this, I couldn’t help but watch him and think he is cool in some way. Overall, this was a great introduction for me into the world of Godard and its one of my favorites we’ve watched in class. Will definately be checking out more of his stuff.

BTW- Twelve Monkeys is one of my favorites and having seen it many, many times and owning the dvd I thouth La Jetee was really cool and unique and it didn’t surprise me at all to find out that it was the inspiration for Twelve Monkeys because there were so so many similarities and their endings are pretty much the same.

Psycho

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16th, 2010 by maya1

Alfred Hitchcock is one of my all time favorite directors. As the master of suspense he just knew how to make amazing suspense films with ease. Psycho is one of his most memorable because it was so cutting edge for the time and took risks nobody had taken in the genre before. Having seen this movie before, I already knew what happens but I was still glued to the screen. I guess thats the magic of Hitchcock.

Seeing psycho on the big screen added a lot to it that I didn’t realize the other times I watched it. Like the scene where Norman is disposing of the body and sinking the car in the lake. I instantly took notice that there was no dialogue for the entire sequence which was interesting because it was one of the longer scenes in the film but there really wasn’t a need for the dialogue. While watching him do this in silence you start to hold your breath because you aren’t sure what he’s going to do next. We knew that the money Marion hid in the newspaper was just sitting there out in the open for Norman to take easily but instead we are drawn to Normans actions and watching what he’ll do. The money became overshadowed by Normans eye drawing presence in the scene. Watching on the big screen helped me see how well done that scene was.

I also want to mention that the music and the lighting and visuals couldn’t have been any more perfect. Like in the shower scene, the music was perfect and added extra suspense to the scene that wouldn’t have been there if the music was different which is probably why that scene and that music is so famous. I love the fact that Hitchcock chose to do this in black in white. After doing such visual eye candy as Vertigo, it might have seemed to be dumb to do a film in black and white by choice but it was the right decision. The shadows also worked perfectly to show suspense and the mood. Actually, everything in this film was down right creepy from the stuffed birds to the Bates house to that policeman following and watching Marion.

Again, seeing this on the big screen really increased my love for this film. As a huge Hitchcock fan I’ve always loved it as a great suspense film to watch every now and then but now I rank it up there as one Hitchcocks all time best films ever. While I still think Vertigo is his best film(and one of my favorites of all time) this is an amazing one and Norman Bates is one of the most interesting characters ever.

Just Watched…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14th, 2010 by maya1

Hey guys so I just recently watched a film called Buffalo 66 for the first time and all I can say is WOW! I’m not sure how well known this film is but I just felt like I should get the word out on this one because I thought it was amazing. Its been days and I’m still thinking about it so if you can please check this movie out its so great. It’s one of the most original movies I’ve ever seen. I found a clip on youtube of one the best (and my favorite) scenes from the movie. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHAd9KMoIYM&feature=related

Film Analysis-Citizen Kane

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21st, 2010 by maya1

In 1941, Orson Welles came out with a new film called Citizen Kane. Released by RKO Pictures it was not only a film starring Welles, but it was his directorial debut and he co-wrote the screenplay. Even though Welles was known as being mostly in theater and radio, he made a deal with RKO in 1939. He was given complete artistic freedom on every aspect of the film which was very unusual for that time especially for someone’s debut film. For any first time watcher, the main aspect of this film that takes you by surprise is the incredible cinematography. It’s so innovative to its time and it helped the start of other films taking bigger risks artistically. This film really was the changing point in how films were made behind and in front of the camera.

One particular scene is towards the beginning of the film when a group of news reporters are sitting in this dark room watching the news reel of Charles Foster Kane’s life just after he had died. It comes off as one of the more intriguing scenes in the whole film because of the way it’s filmed. First of all, there is no background music throughout the entire scene. Nowadays, there would be some sort of music in the background to add to emotion to what’s being said but not here. Here it feels more realistic. In real life, people don’t always talk one by one with no interruptions like in many other films so we can hear everybody’s dialogue. In this scene you can hear the chaos in the room and you can hear the constant overlapping of everybody yelling and talking over each other. Mr. Rawson who was the man who was walking around and talking to the rest of the men had a very in charge type of voice just like how we see reporters act in real life. It also sheds light on the world of reporters who usually have the perception of being clever, fast talking people and this scene might have shown the people watching back then that this is how they got their jobs done.

The camera angles throughout this scene are some of the most interesting in the film. There would be shots angled from above the men, shots angled from below the men, and shots at eye level as if we were standing right there in the room with them. The one shot where the camera is actually looking up at the men is interesting because it comes right after a shot of the camera looking down at the men. The moment the camera changes to below them, Mr. Rawson starts yelling at the other men as if it was on cue. He changes into a more demanding presence and we feel this by the camera being beneath him and it makes us feel smaller than him. In this particular shot Mr. Rawson also happens to block out one of two windows bringing in light the moment he starts yelling. This also gives off the sense that this man’s presence has taken over the room and it makes us feel like the room just got smaller. The angles from above the men are great because they give us the feeling like we are a fly on a wall in a sense. It’s like we’re just sitting up there letting things unfold but we’re still able to get a sense of our surroundings.

The most noticeable element of this scene is the lighting. It’s very original and almost unheard of not to be able to see anybody’s face clearly. We come to realize as the scene goes on that there are many men in the room but we never really see them all. We never even find out how big or small the room is or where the room is exactly. It’s a very dark, shadowy room with the only sources of light coming from two windows, a desk lamp, and the white projector screen. These could be seen as the mise en scene of this scene. Whenever Mr. Rawson would walk in front of the screen, it would actually serve as a white backdrop for his now black silhouette. Added with not being able to see his face clearly, this effect gave him a very eerie and ominous vibe.

The reason behind lighting the scene this way might have been to hint at what reporters are like in the real world to the viewer but in a subtle way like lighting. Maybe the reason behind never showing Mr. Rawson’s face clearly or any of the other men’s faces period was to show how we never know the true faces or identities of these people giving us the news. They could be sincere people looking out for others or they could be ruthless, uncaring people. We don’t know how many reporters are even out there today because they can mix in with everyone else or go undercover and in this scene we can’t tell how many of them there are in the room or what they look like.

We see in this scene how the only thing they all want is to get their story. They needed the best story they could get or as Mr. Rawson kept saying, “we need an angle”. Without any hesitation they all jumped on the idea of wanting to finding out what Rosebud means.

This scene also has meaning in a literal sense, too. When you watch this scene the large amount of darkness is obvious but the darkness could also be a calling out to the news industry and real reporters lives. All the darkness in the room is symbolic for all the darkness of reporters lives. It’s as if the darkness follows them all. They’re living and breathing just to get their “story” and living through these other people’s lives who are in the news which can be exhausting. They have to know ever little detail of someone’s personal life and in Kane’s situation, they were trying to find out what Rosebud was for the entire film which was something very close to his heart that he probably wouldn’t have told them if he were alive. We even see the one reporter that we follow throughout the film get more and more aggravated as time goes on because he can’t figure out what Rosebud means.

Citizen Kane is a classic film that amazingly could be analyzed forever and yet there would still be new things to think about and uncover. The cinematography of it is innovative and eye drawing and it still has interesting dialogue that can keep the viewer from losing focus of the story. Like previously mentioned, it has unique camera angles put together to make it memorable and it makes something as simple as lighting a discussion among people because it’s never been done the same way as it was here, especially for a time like 1941. It was so important that Citizen Kane came out when it did because it was a stepping stone for films and filmmaking and many of the techniques used here are still being used today.

comments on M

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2010 by maya1

M was an interesting film to say the least. I didn’t know what to expect at all going into it. Didn’t know what the M meant or what the story would be about. There were things I really liked but there were things that I didn’t really care for also.

First off, I’m gonna talk about the favorite scene which was when the mother was waiting for her daughter to come home from school when we all (the audience) know exactly what happened to her but she doesn’t. I love suspense films and this is the type of scene that I love watching. When we all get tense and come to the realization that she’s not coming back, we all do that “Oh my god” in our heads because we’ve realized whats happened. I loved how it was filmed and how even if it was left up to the audience to realize it themselves, you can still understand what was happening. I also loved how slow that particular scene was and I think the slowness of it helped the suspense build better.

I also liked how the whistling ended up being so important to the story. The realization of how the whistling was the key to finding the murderer came very natural and I actually found it suspenseful also. Since there was no background music, all you heard other than people talking or people walking was the whistling and it felt very tense and suspenseful to me.

I really did enjoy the film more than I thought I would but I have to admit I felt that by the end it was dragging a little bit. I was squirming in my seat a couple times at the end because I felt like it could’ve wrapped up sooner and it still would’ve been a great film. Sidenote: When the man put the M on the back of his jacket to label him as the murderer, why didn’t he just take the jacket off? That’s been bugging me since I saw it…

My comments on Citizen Kane

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2010 by maya1

Prior to class, I had seen Citizen Kane twice on one of those classic movie channels. I remember watching it just for the sake of seeing one of those “best films ever made” type movies that the critics always rave about. I do remember enjoying it but as a younger kid, I didn’t get everything about it for sure. A two hour, black and white movie from 40s wasn’t really something a kid like me would be excited about when I was surrounded by the action movies of today. When we were watching it, I didn’t realize how little i remembered and how little I got out of it the other times I watched it before.

Instantly, I noticed just how innovative the film is. Looking at the shots Orson Welles did and the fact that this was in the 40s and we are still impressed by it shows how amazing it really is. During some of the scenes i was thinking to myself  “how the hell did he pull that off?!?” It was pretty cool to see such innovation at a time like that when nobody had ever seen something like it and have it be able to change all of filmmaking.

I was also surprised how much more i got into the story watching it this time. It’s a really great story and the out of sequence way it was told personally kept me interested throughout the whole 2 hours. When a film is told in new and unique ways, I get extra excited to watch them because I always love seeing how stories can be told in these new, creative ways. Films like Memento and Pulp Fiction blew my mind when I first saw them because they were amazing films that were not only amazing when you compare them to other films in general but they were amazing because of the unique and clever ways they told their stories. I felt that here watching Citizen Kane, too.

Finally, I just have to mention that Citizen Kane is just a straight up pretty film. You kinda can’t take your eyes off the screen because it’s so pretty. Honestly, pretty is the only way I can describe it. The sets, clothes, sculptures, his big mansion, everything was really pretty to me. I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this movie much more that I remember enjoying it when I first saw it.

first post!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21st, 2010 by maya1

my first post here. wow that was a lot of work…

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