Friday, 25 November 2011

Lecture Notes//Film Theory 1

What is an Auteur?
A filmmaker is usually the director whose movies are characterized by a filmmaker's creative influence.

History of film as the history of Auteurs
•Like Artists
•Original work
•Creative Control
•Personal film language
•Auteurs often start the conventions of genre, but do not follow them

The technical competence of the director
•Expressionist lighting
•Story telling visually in silent era
•Use of the subjective camera
•Dolly  zoom
•Clever use of montage and cutting to create tension in spite of the production code (1939-60)

•It was around 1920 when Hitchcock joined the film industry, he started off drawing the sets (Since he was a very skilled artist)
•Continued his apprenticeship alongside Graham Cutts at Gainsborough.
• In 1925, studio head Michael Balcon dispatched Hitchcock to Germany
•Saw firsthand the work of masters like F.W. Murnau

F.W Murnau’s Nosferatu

The lodger 1927

The Lodger Clip

The technical competence of the director
•The dolly zoom  is an unsettling in-camera special effect that appears to undermine normal visual perception in film.
•A dolly counter zoom is also variously known as:
•Back Zoom Travelling
•Smash Zoom" or "Smash Shot"
•Vertigo zoom
•The " Hitchcock zoom" or the " Vertigo effect"
•"Hitchcock shot" or "Vertigo shot
•A " Jaws shot"
•A "zido"
•A "zolly"
•A "contra-zoom" or "trombone shot"
•A Stretch shot
•More technically as forward zoom / reverse tracking  or zoom in / dolly out
The director's distinguishable personality (style)
•Expressionism – form evokes emotion
•Cameo appearances of the director
•Narrative is often visual rather than told through dialogue
•Continuous of certain actors (Cary Grant, James Stewart , Tippi Hedren, Doris Day, Joan Fontaine)
•Obsessive use of the blonds

“Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”
•Suspense is generated when the audience can see danger his characters cannot see…
•"There's no terror in the bang of the gun, only the anticipation of it."
•his earlier work could create vivid terror in the mind of the viewer with very little spatter on the screen.

Hitchcock films are not concerned with realism or naturalism
He is interested in story telling and evoking emotional responses in his audience
“Give them pleasure the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare”

Interior meaning
•1938 Hitchcock leaves Gainsborough studios to work in America
•David O Selznick introduces  him to pyschoanalyis
•They make (Rebecca,1940) (Spellbound, 1945), (Notorious, 1946)

Themes that are revisited
• ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events,
• mistaken identity,
• espionage,
• murder and madness.
• sly wit and moments of macabre humour,
• strong sexual themes,
• explorations of the darkest corners of the human mind
• always “Hitchcockian” suspense.

Critique of the auteur
It presents a canon of films made by ‘elites’ (many male auteurs)
It disguises the work of others (cinematographer, art director, screen writer, editor, sound technicians …)
It offers a universal view of quality
It is a capitalist device by selling a film by virtue of it’s director

The Death of the author (Barthes, 1977)
“The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single· person, the author 'confiding' in us.”

Barthes 1977
“We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

Website dedicated to Hitchcock’s work -
Hitchcock interview from 1964 (part 1) - showing his belief that pure cinema should be visual -

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