Filed Under (Uncategorized) by lleslieblog on 09-12-2011

La Jetée is a movie that normally would not interest me at first glance.  Black and white film is one thing and a language I cannot speak is another, but only still images?!  But after my professor’s insisting that the film was good prevailed, I have come to peace with the film.  I might even say it’s not half bad.  The story is interesting but what makes it more interesting is the film techniques used in it.  One is correct to say that there is a limit to what techniques may be used, but nonetheless, Chris Marker does well in using a lot more than I thought possible.

Unlike insane jaw-dropping film techniques that you would only find in a blockbuster film, La Jetée uses subtle, simple techniques that make the short more believable at the first viewing and impressive at the second.  The movie starts off with a landscape shot of an airport; the zooming out of the camera with the sound of an airplane fooled me into thinking what I was seeing was a recording of the landscape.  After realizing nothing moved, I couldn’t help but think that most landscape shots, and even pillow shots probably don’t require recording anyway.  Another thing I thought was interesting, that I had noticed but had not deemed important until a second viewing, was the shaking of the screen, even if 99% of the shots were still images.

To be honest, I find most forms of time traveling absurd and this story’s way is barely excusable.  In the movie, the protagonist time travels to the past by some form of sedation.  The scientists stick a needle into the protagonist as he lies on a hammock and he ends up in the past or future.  Wow.  But where the story fails to make sense, the film techniques make up for it.  The film uses dissolves when the protagonist enters the past, and normally, this poor form of filming would upset me; but in this case, a dissolve is a good simulation into what sedation is like.  What makes the time traveling better is the man’s coming out of the past.  It commonly is an abrupt end to all music and dialogue, as well as shot change to point-of-view camera angle at the smug lead doctor’s face.

La Jetée lacked motion, but it still felt like certain parts of the film was indeed moving.  The film would use fast past shot changes to simulate running (ex: the last scene) and blurred images to simulate fast movement (ex: the airplane taking off at the end of the beginning airport seen).  Much of this reminded me of cartoons and how certain images are made to simulate movement.  I believe Chris Marker was aware of cartooning and implemented their techniques in his film.  I also think that the hear of the films materiality is the still shots.  They make us aware of what we are watching and entertain the idea that formal filming is not needed to make a good movie… or story.

While I do believe, much of Chris Marker’s artistic decisions express his ideas about cinema, I cannot help but wonder if the story also expresses his ideas about both cinema and the world.  Every film technique used supported the story but does  his story support a message?  The fact that the man lives in a post-apocalyptic future and the his choice of living in the past versus living in the even farther, seemingly peaceful, future is important.  I find it interesting, that the man ended up dying because of it.  Does Chris Marker mean to say that relying on old stories or old ways will be our demise?

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by lleslieblog on 17-10-2011

A Film Analysis on “M”

Time of Scene 1:00:11 – 1:01:26

Can be officially viewed on Youtube’s OpenFlix Channel here.

8 Shots in Scene

1.  1:00:11 – 1:00:31

2.  1:00:31 – 1:00:37

3.  1:00:37 – 1:00:38

4.  1:00:38 – 1:00:43

5.  1:00:43 – 1:00:48

6.  1:00:48 – 1:00:53

7.  1:00:53 – 1:01:06

      8.  1:01:06 – 1:01:26

  1. Long Shot, Normal Height, Straight On Angle.  Hans Beckert and a young girl walk out of a shop and stop to face each other on the sidewalk.  There is no sound but they seem to be having a conversation.  Long.  Transition to next shot makes movement seem fluid.
  2. Close Up on Hans’ hand.  Straight On Angle.  Hans pulls out a switchblade.  Blade flips out.  The lighting is very bright and gives a strong glint into the camera.  Short.  Cut to next.
  3. Long Shot, Straight On Angle but the man shown is crouching so the camera seems slightly above.  A young man spying on Hans moves from behind an object.  Light is to his front, so his initial position behind the object is in the shadows and he ends up in the light (more so his face).  The man is in focus but a railing closer to the screen looks blurry.  Short.   Shot is fast forwarded (to make man’s movement look fast).  Cut to next.
  4. Close Up back to Hans’ hand, Straight On Angle.  Hans is pealing an orange with the blade he just took out.  Short.  Cut to young man.
  5. Medium Shot, Straight On.  Young man looks into his pockets, takes out chalk, and starts writing on his hand.  Short.  Transition to next shot makes movement seem fluid.
  6. Close Up on hand, High Angle.  Young man writes the letter “M” on his hand.  Focus on hand.  Floor in back is highly blurred.  Short.  Cut back to Hans.
  7. Long shot, Straight On angle.  Hans back is to camera but it is clear he is still peeling the orange while the girl waits when an orange peel drops on the sidewalk.  Young man walks on the screen and fakes slipping on a peel while landing his hand on Hans.  Hans drops his knife and jumps frightened.  The young man complains about Hans’ littering while walking of screen.  Short.  Transition to knife.
  8. Medium shot on knife to girl and Hans.   Higher Angle to Straight On Angle.  Camera starts on knife on the floor.  The young man can still be heard.  The girl picks it up and the camera follows.  The girl then hands the knife over to Hans as he looks nervous.  Both characters seem to be still and the camera shifts over to the back of Hans reveal and chalk mark “M” on his back.  Long.

This scene shows a constant cut between Hans Beckert and the young man spying on him.  Because of this, the film was able to make Hans look like he was about to commit murder which was quite frightening.  Changing between characters to manipulate the audiences’ emotions (mainly into suspense) was a common style repeated through the movie.

Fritz Lang probably switched between characters throughout the whole film to show the similarity between opposing sides.  This way of editing controls our thought about how characters that we would never agree with in real life should be treated equally to the characters we would.  I believe that this was Lang’s main message from the film.  The best example was the cops and crooks separate discussion over what to do about finding the serial killer.  When scenes like these happen, not only do they make us root for both sides, but the story feel fuller than if one straight dialogue happened.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by lleslieblog on 05-09-2011

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