March 15, 2010
What is in your movie?
How does one analysis a movie? How does one watch a movie? What are you looking for in the movie? When you watch the movie, does the movie tell you a story or do you learn any life lessons from it? Movie making is considered an industry and an art form; as an artist media, it can come in a form of expression. A movie has so many components intertwined into it to make it overall and complete. Therefore, is there any one component that is superior to the other when the creators are composing the movie?
There are so many elements and components used in creating and analysis a movie. However, before we take a look at those elements, let’s take a look at the history of films. Let’s start with silent films; many silent films were produced in the United States back in the early 1900’s. However, filmgoers never really got to enjoy the film in the theaters as they were intended to be seen. Silent films were meant to be viewed with the intentions of a full musical orchestra behind the film as was the case with The Birth of a Nation in 1915 (Griffith, 1915). The silent film, with the full musical composition playing behind it, made the movie experience seem much more complete. Now days, so many years later, after the original context, the films have lost the excitement as was intended by the directors.
As we look more into the actual making of the film itself, each and every film was recorded on a reel of film. Until the standardization of the projection speed of 24 frames per second (fps) for sound films in 1926, silent films were shot at variable speeds or "frame rates", typically anywhere from 16 to 23 frames per second or faster. Unless carefully shown at their original speeds they can appear unnaturally fast and jerky, which reinforces their alien appearance to modern viewers. Eventually, they had the ability to add shades of color into the film. When they wanted to add color into a particular shot, they would actually have to hand paint the slide prior to the film being projected. After many attempts to color each slide and make a complete movie, the directors realized how difficult and time consuming it was to complete it. As time went on, they tried to use another technique known as “tinting”; this was done by coloring the film stock prior to printing on the film. This two-color effect would display the look of black and white and whichever other color that it was tinted in, for example, if they wanted to have a night scene, they would tint the stock blue to make the allusion of a night scene. As was the case in the movie Intolerance (Griffith, 1916), by the Pioneer director D. W. Griffith, also known as the, “Father of American Films” (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, p. 482). Another coloring technique that was used was known as “toning”; this was done by adding dye to the film itself so that the lines of the image were colored. By combining the two steps of toning and tinting gave it a two color image experience.
Furthermore, as it comes to the langue of the silent films, we could hear a breath taking and moving experience even without the actors saying a word. When the actors were acting in a silent film they were able to communicate and express to the audience by body language, purely by visual elements. How they were able to say so much and have the audience’s attention and involvement was done by their ability to communicate with their eyes, mouth, hands, and body movement. For example, in the movie, City Lights (Chaplin, 1931), Charlie Chaplin, was able to get the audience involved and laughing with his ability to use his body language and facial expression. He would make distinct facial expression with his eyes, eyebrows and mouth to display a stage of concern, happiness, or disbelief, and his ability was very powerful. The silent film language was not limited to the face alone; it was expressed by all aspect of the actor’s...