4/12/12

The moment of conflict is when TJ recognizes herself as Enrique, the entity that is holding her back from mental and physical freedom. A semi-new idea came to me as I was listening to a song by Radiohead called “Where I End and You Begin,” as the title relates to what TJ experiences in the story. My idea is that instead of telling the story linearly, I am going to begin post-climax, with TJ running away from her captivity toward the camera. This shot will be in slow motion.

A series of flash backs will come to TJ (interspersed with shots of her running, and others that I will explain later) of past moments (pre-climax) that portray how she came to the conclusion that she was Enrique. Her memories escalate in the severity of antagonization. The shots will vary between slow motion, fast motion, and possibly still frames.

Shadows play a large role, portraying the cliche, “afraid of one’s own shadow.” Shadows embody the song that I mentioned earlier that will play over the entire video, because they change shape according with the progression of time. For this purpose, I will also be including shots of city traffic at dusk, to push the feeling of movement, shadow, and escape. All of the city shots will be in fast motion.

After the flash-backs have been shown, a shot that is (intended to be) of TJ’s future will be shown. The angle is from low to high, which depicts her new found power. The shot will be when it is sunny out and she will have clouds behind her. This angle and lighting causes her to lose some of her color, making her appear like a shadow. This shows how her real self, and shadow self which she thought was Enrique, are now one. The shot combines both TJ’s true self and her metaphorical chains, which she broke free from at the moment of conflict.

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4/5/12

The narrative in my adaptation surrounds the inner conflict of TJ (Psyche). She struggles to make her own decisions. Metaphorically, TJ is like magma, dormant for a long time but eventually builds up enough energy to burst free from what once trapped her. For this reason, I want to use the poetic device of frame length.

In the beginning when TJ is passive to her surroundings, I will use long length shots to which cause discomfort in the viewer. They will feel trapped in this shot as TJ feels trapped in her mind’s projection of a false reality. As TJ begins to make actively change her reality the length of the shots will shorten in length. This makes a more face-paced feeling, which elicits anticipation from the viewer, building as the climax nears. Once TJ takes her life into her hands by confronting the projection of Enrique, the shot immediately following will be in slow motion because it symbolizes TJ’s clarity and reflection on her life. The final shot, where TJ looks back on how she used to live the shots will be normal length, because she has finally broke into reality.

This motif is a combination between how Eisenstein’s use of montage and the prolonged first person shot in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The length of the shots is a very important component in the success of montage, but the purpose I am using the varying lengths for is to create a certain feeling, which is the principle behind the first-person point of view.

3/29/12

Early in his essay, Eisenstein makes a distinction between the old and new definition of montage. He discards the early film theorist’s idea that montage is the process of “placing single shots one after the other like building blocks. The movement within these building-block shots, and the consequent length of the component pieces, was then considered as rhythm.” Eisenstein says, “In my opinion, however, montage is an idea that arises from the collision of independent shots — shots even opposite to another: the ‘dramatic’ principle.” He places emphasis on the contradictory nature that must be present in a montage, while the former definition was based on simple escalation.

Eisenstein lists six basic forms of conflict; graphic, planar, voluminous, spatial, lighting, temporal. A scene from one of Eisenstein’s films, The Odessa Staircase, makes use of these. The stairs in the scene shot from different angles create graphic conflict as the lines clash with one another. The stairs also create planar conflict when the Czar army stands from higher steps and looks down at the bourgeois on lower steps. Volume comes into conflict when comparing the small number of the Czar oppressors compared to the hundreds of common folk. Conflict of spaces is created when between the start of the scene to the end. In the beginning the focus is on many small boats taking supplies to a protesting army ship out at sea. Once the Czar army comes, the rest of the scene takes place on the steps. Lighting is used to create conflict when a woman approaches the Czar army on the steps. The sun comes from behind them, which casts long shadows over the woman on the steps below them. Conflict of time occurs when a baby carriage is shot teetering on the steps. Multiple times it should have fallen in accordance to real time, but Eisenstein plays with the tempo to prolong the conflict.

Another famous montage is from Alfred Hitchcocks, Psycho, of what is widely known as “the shower scene.” Here a woman, who up till that point was the main character, is murdered. Eisenstein’s principle of psychological conflict is employed here. The principles of conflict of motive are

1. Purely verbal utterance. Without intonation — expression in speech.

The scream of the woman being murdered is an iconic moment of the scene. After that scream, no words or spoken by the killer throughout the stabbing.

2. Gesticulatory (mimic-intonational) expression. Projecting of the conflict into the whole expressive bodily system of man. Gesture of bodily movement and gesture intonation.

Shots in this scene alternate between the woman and the killer. The killer applies large and hard movements, while the woman slowly falls to the ground. She is completely exposed (naked) and in full light, while the killer is covered in shadows, concealing his/her identity.

3. Projection of the conflict into space. With an intensification of motives, the zigzag of mimic expression is propelled into the surrounding space following the same formula of distortion. A zigzag of expression arising from the spatial division caused by man moving in space.

Seventy-two different camera angles occur in this scene, which is between 45 seconds and a minute and half (depending on where one “starts” the scene). Most of the shots are less than a second long, and interlaced between opposing angles. All of the movements create confusion and unease in the viewer.

3/22/12

The Woman Who Wanted to Die plays with the audience’s perception of film. The entire first half is revealed to be a film that is being watched within the actual movie, and is a reenactment of occurrences that took place in the “real reality” of the film. The major link between the film’s movie and the film’s reality is the female lead, who stars in the movie within the film as well as the movie’s reality. But there is a stark contrast between the portrayal of the film’s reality in the film’s movie seen through the male and female leads.

The male in the movie with the movie is easy going, caring, and handsome. The “real” male is awkward, poor, and a drunk. This male attempts to reenact the reenactment he saw in the movie, which makes a loop in the film (“real” to reenactment to “real”). The “real” male gains the confidence to pursue the female after he watches the movie because he sees the man who portrays himself as successful, and thus believes he can be too. But because he is not actually like the man who plays himself in the movie, he fails miserably in his goal.

The female lead, although the same woman who plays the “real” lady and the actress, is a very different person in her two roles. In the movie within the movie she is shy and needy, while in “reality” is deep and sure of herself. The character she plays in the movie within the movie must pursue the male after he attempts to run away from her (for her own safety). This is reversed in the “reality” where she is endlessly trying to ditch the male who will not stop following her. Also, the character she plays in the film’s movie ends up leaving the male after he attempts suicide, while in the “reality” she stays at the side of the film’s movie’s director in his sickness.

The purpose of the film within the film is to provide a contrast between one’s perception of reality and true reality.

3/8/12

The first part of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly portrays meta-cinema, which is when a movie is a metaphor for film. The audience’s first and only viewpoint in this part of the movie is from the eyes (later, eye) of the protagonist. There are three main characteristics surrounding the protagonist that represent film, which are his immobility, line of vision, and his eye.

The protagonist cannot move. He is completely at the mercy of the world around him. He cannot actively impact any occurrence he witnesses, which parallels the audience’s role while watching film. All the action seems real, but the spectator is powerless to affect anything that happens on screen. The protagonist’s condition is rightfully named “Locked-in Syndrome” in the movie, as the viewer is similarly locked in to the role of spectator. Further, the protagonist has no control over his line of vision, and thus what he is able to see. Only what is placed in front of him can he see, which represents the audience view of film. The audience has no control over their own line of vision when watching a movie because only what is captured on camera is shown to them.

The audience is looks through the camera, which is also the protagonist’s line of vision in this film. A camera does not function the same way eyes do because the camera has only one lens, where as eyes work as two. Thus the protagonist’s loss of the use of one of his eyes furthers the meta characteristics of the film because he now more accurately mimics a camera.

Point of Views and How They Affect the Opening Shot

First Person (TJ)

An opening shot seen through TJ’s eyes would force the viewer to immediately empathize most with her character. From that point on the audience’s connection to TJ would be the most important, which could make them less subjective about her situation than if they did not first see through her eyes. I think for my rendition I would rather save first person point of view for the moment when TJ takes action because I want that part to be the most powerful.

Extreme Close-Up

I like the idea of opening with this because it shows the audience literal different parts that make up TJ, which parallels the deeper meaning behind this rendition. She is struggling to find and free herself both mentally and physically, which multiple extreme close-ups would mimic in a literal way.

Close-ups of Inanimate Objects

I also like the idea of opening with this because, again, it would represent the different parts that make up TJ’s character. Each item would represent how TJ is feeling at that moment (Clock ticking would mean anxiety, clenching and dropping a knife would be hesitation, etc).

High Angle

Opening with a shot of TJ from a high angle would create the feeling that she is weak, which is not a bad way to start since her character starts out feeling disempowered. It may be too disorienting without purpose to be the initial shot, but definitely one to incorporate within the first scene.

3/1/12

Painleve’s short film, For the Love of the Octopi, is obviously unique in its subject matter; the life of octopi. What gives the subject a more symbolic edge is the camera’s perspective. The camera varies in distance and angle to often render an octopus even more surreal than its amorphous body already is. The octopus is a creature that lives in a world completely separate from mankind, and thus seems alien-like. What Painleve does is in his film is create familiarity to an object that man does not typically associate with, only to change the perspective with his camera to shock the viewer back into unfamiliarity.

For example, one of the film’s opening shots is of an octopus in a tree. Here we have a blending of two opposing worlds; land and sea. This shot shocks the viewer because a strange creature of the sea is in his world. Another way Painleve plays with this idea of familiarity with the subject is through his camera’s distance. In one scene the camera starts as a close-up of an octopus. The camera rests here and the audience notices the octopus “breathing.” Next, the shot becomes an extreme close-up of the octopus’s breathing organs yet again. Finally, the camera goes to a mega-extreme close-up, but at this point the camera is so close that the audience would not be able to tell what they are looking at without context. After a few moments of contemplating, the audience can (hopefully) guess that what they are looking at is still the octopus’s breathing organs because of the way they fluctuate. In a flash, Painleve cuts to a scenic view of a still ocean above the surface. The camera’s distance technically shows the audience what the octopus looks like far better than they have ever known, but at the same time it dislocates their sense of familiarity with reality.

To represent my protagonist’s struggle in TJ and Enrique, I chose an erupting volcano. TJ is trapped under her own weight, but finally gains freedom through action. A volcano remains dormant for sometimes thousands of years while magma churns within. Eventually, the magma’s pressure heat becomes strong enough to blow off the top of its encrusted cage. TJ is the volcano in this same sense. She has been living physically and mentally closed-off from the world, slowly become restless until she must break out. Her eruption sets her free.

2/21/12

Kieslowski says that his film, A Short Film About Killing, is “about killing in general,” and “a world of people living alone.” What both of these themes have in common is that they are derivative of fear, which is widely considered as one of the most instinctive and natural emotions. There is an innate fear of death, but Kieslowski also addresses how people are “afraid of being alone.” What I saw was that the protagonist was given a choice in this film: a sentence to death or a life of loneliness.

The firs time that we, the audience, sees the protagonist physically close to another character is when he kills the taxi driver. When the protagonist speaks with the woman at the movie theatre she is behind glass, separate from his world. When the protagonist is at the café and interacts with the two children walking by, he is also cut off by glass. In both of these cases the protagonist appears to be a part of society, but finds himself blocked off by some invisible force. His foiled attempts at communication lead to his brash decision to kill the taxi driver just for his car so that he can use it to run away with a girl. The protagonist feels that killing is the only way in which he can create the means for a purposeful relationship, but ironically becomes totally separated from society by his persecution of a death sentence.

2/16/12

What I find interesting about the scenes that portray the protagonists’ motives is how the same scenes reveal information about a supporting character. In Capote when the protagonist pays the porter to say something positive about his work, the female character calls the protagonist’s bluff. The audience sees the protagonist’s insecurity, but also that the female character is outspoken and has a very close relationship with the protagonist. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the scene where the older woman tests the girl’s reflexes to prove that she is the assassin, the older woman also reveals traits about herself. The audience now knows that she is cunning and deceptive because of her coy method of deduction. In The Color of Paradise when the boy searches blindly for a baby bird to bring it back to its nest, the audience learns that the boy feels abandoned by his father. The audience then also learns about the father’s character, such that he is distant, callous, and poor.

I also noticed how different the scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is from Capote and The Color of Paradise. Instead of the character reveal being driven by the protagonist, in Crouching Tiger the supporting character initiates the protagonist’s deeper role. Another way this scene differs from the other two is the order of the scene in comparison to the reveal of the character’s motive. In Capote and The Color of Paradise, the audience witnesses the scenes before we learn of the protagonists’ drives, while with Crouching Tiger the audience has technically already seen the protagonist live out her secret before the supporting character facilitates the reveal.

For the scene in my version of Cupid and Psyche (TJ and Enrique), I made it about how emotionally, physically, and mentally controlling Enrique is over TJ. He tries to make TJ feel bad about herself in order to make her do what he wants in a way that makes it seem like he is helping her. I have TJ defend herself in this scene because that is how I plan on ending my final, with TJ’s self-found freedom. Also, like the scenes from the movies we watched in class, this scene reveals just as much about Enrique’s character as it does TJ. The audience sees that Enrique is an abusive force in TJ’s life, and that it is ultimately up to TJ to defend herself against him (which is actually a figment of her imagination, but that is not revealed in this scene).

2/3/12

In response to the class’s slideshows as a whole, I was glad that there were many viewpoints on who the “central character” was (or complete lack of one). Some focused on Psyche, some Cupid, and even some on Venus. Further, within each character there was also a wide variety of how said character was portrayed by each student. Sometimes Psyche was the heroine, other times the victim, and even as the villain. Like others I’m sure did, I responded very strongly to the video with the skeleton bugs (I do not know her name, but her last name starts with a ‘T’). The reason I did though was because it helped me with what I want to do in my final. This assignment is very applicable to my final because of how I wish to use stills, and this girl’s work brought to my attention a very important component of the photographs: length. Her piece involved varying time each shot was shown, which was something I had not yet thought about for my project, but will need to when the time arrives.

TJ (Psyche) is on the surface after what the action depicts; a need to know what her lover looks like because she wants to be one with him. TJ’s more important, deeper drive is to gain freedom mentally, which inadvertently allows her to break out of her asylum physically. The moment when she decides to look upon Enrique (Cupid) is the first time we (the audience) see TJ take action against her constraints. In this sense, Enrique represents the controlling character, and TJ is a heroine plagued with insanity The scene where Enrique fades out represents TJ’s freedom and ascent into sanity. An act that depicts a conflict between TJ’s outer and inner drives is simply talking to Enrique. She knows deep down that he is the cause of her insanity and constraint and thus fears his power, yet she wants to go near him to unveil his face with her candlelight, an act of rebellion. TJ’s character flirts with the desire of to take charge of her own life, and the danger of curiosity.

My most inspirational author is Kurt Vonnegut, who often used very simple sketches in his books. For example, here is a sample from his book, “Breakfast of Champions.” Vonnegut use of the sketches almost breaks the fourth wall between character and reader as he expects the reader to understand the image instantly (which is acceptable because of the drawings’ simple nature, like the syringe), but is often not done in literature. Then Vonnegut throws in other images that without the text mean nothing, but with his description mean a great deal (such as the star/butthole). I believe that many of these sketches aid Vonnegut in his creative process by providing a perfect rendering of his intent, which can sometimes be lost in words, but also allow for his writing to effect the reader on further comical level, which also can be lost with words alone. Vonnegut allows his pictures to play of his words as well as his words of the images.

2/1/12

Fireworks

Anger’s Fireworks exemplifies one of the themes that lead and has come to define the Avant-garde movement: homosexuality. Another theme within Avant-garde works, including Fireworks, is the seamless movement from reality to fantasy that leaves the viewer questioning what is real. The protagonist’s uncertainty in his reality parallels his inner struggle of his sexuality. Anger displays the inner conflict, which was an act that society had deemed unacceptable.

The protagonist wanders through a world that he does not understand that is full of danger. He does not know why every man he encounters attacks him, which exemplifies Anger’s idea of how homosexuals feel. They aim to be who they are, yet are faced with confrontation and resentment from their society. The protagonist in Fireworks has no way to speak or reason with his enemies, which parallels the homosexual’s battle in real life. One’s sexuality is an innate trait, and is difficult to explain to those with different sexual orientations. It just so happens that heterosexuals became the ideal, and therefore do not have to explain why they are how they are, but homosexuals must. Thus, the protagonist wanders around a world comprised of his inner turmoil in needing to justify his way of life, combined with the physical confrontation homosexuals face in reality. The joining of inner and outer struggles creates the confusion of reality versus fantasy that emerged in Avant-garde cinema.

 

Enrique and TJ (Cupid and Psyche)

The feeling I took away from the story of Cupid and Psyche was of Psyche’s loneliness and control issues. Therefore, in my adaptation I am increasing both of these qualities by providing the viewer with an idea that TJ (a girl) is actually a patient in an insane asylum, and out of her solitude created her lover (Enrique). At no point is an outside character, such as a nurse, in the scene because I want the total isolation to be prominent. The style I am going to shoot in is like that of the short film, “La Jetée,” (all on youtube), which is comprised of stills except for specific moments in film. The reason I want to use this style is because the stillness of a photograph parallels TJ’s immobility as she is physically locked in a mental hospital, as well as mentally locked in her fantasy world. Only at the moment where TJ decides to unveil Enrique is a shot in film/video because it represents the moment TJ displays free will. Once Enrique and TJ both fall out the window, which represents TJ’s physical escape, I will position both characters so that Enrique fades out of the shot and leaves TJ’s body unmoved as if Enrique never existed. This shows TJ’s total escape from her mental and physical bounds. I will keep Cupid’s dialogue, which will call up certain memories that portray TJ’s imaginary relationship to Enrique so that the viewer better understands TJ’s solitude and need for a companion.

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