Reading Movies and Other Techniques

I thought the blog post from Roger Ebert was very interesting and informative. I thought his technique of randomly pausing a film and analyzing the composition of individual frames was really neat and somewhat counter intuitive. I would not have guessed that pausing at stills would give someone so much insight to what is going on in the film, but Ebert provides a pretty compelling argument. His method of analyzing still shots made me realize how much photography is related to film making, something I did not initially suspect but makes perfect sense in hindsight. With the strong relationship between photography and film making, I also did not expect there to be specific rules/guidelines for film composition, such as a person being on the left being more ‘negative’ and a person on the right being more ‘positive’. I thought it was really neat how Ebert noted that ‘breaking’ these rules can be just as impactful as following them.

For this assignment I also watched three short clips on film making, so I will break them down individually below.

The Shining Zooms

This is a short, under two minute long clip that demonstrates many of the zooming in/out done by the directors of The Shining. I thought that whoever made this video did a wonderful job because the way it is laid out in a grid setting allows you to see just how many times this technique is used in the film. I think myself (and others) would likely not have picked up on the sheer amount of zooming if the video were structured in a different way.

Hitchcock Loves Bikinis

I thought this was interesting. Like the previous clip, it is short (under two minutes) and seems to aim to emphasize the importance of cuts in video editing. The video is funny, (they take an older man smiling at a baby and instead make it look like he’s smiling at a woman in a bikini) but I personally believe the clip is dated. I could be majorly misinterpreting, but it seems like the director is insinuating that film cutting can be used to make something appear differently than how it occurred (like the whole smiling at a baby/bikini thing). While this is certainly true, and a great argument to make, I feel like the specific example they used was… icky. This might just be me going on a tangential feminist rant, but it felt like the message they were sending was “watch out men, because when you’re innocently smiling at a baby, this is what we COULD portray you doing instead”. Granted, maybe that was a very real fear when this came out, and not everybody had smartphones/Tiktok and were capable of video cutting and editing.

Tarantino//From Below

Like the previous two videos, this one is short. It seems to aim to emphasize how often Quentin Tarantino films from below/ with the camera looking up at his actors. I really like Quentin Tarantino’s movies, and I did not pick up on his fondness for this particular angle (although I have picked up on his tendency to shoot bare feet, bleh) so I think this video was very effective. I also liked the variety of scenes that were incorporated, as it shows how versatile shooting from this angle is, and how its’ effectiveness can vary based on mood and setting. Finally, I will say the clip is ten years old, so if anything, I am curious to see how many more scenes and could be applied to this clip from more recent films.

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  1. I see what you mean by how photography and film making are similar with the still shots; like two branches of the same tree. I also didn’t realize there were guidelines when creating stuff like this. I figured it was all just creativity flowing and it worked for some people and not for others, but I presume that logic could be applied to almost anything if you want to make a “rule” for it.

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