In the formalist film “A Voyage to the Moon” by George Melies in France, a black-and white science fiction silent film with the background music of the piano, was famous among the most technically innovative exerting special effects and surprising images such as jump cut; a scene is cut in the middle of action, double exposure; two images are superimposed on the same piece of the film, and multiple images; the screen divided into several separate images. The story is fantasy about rocket journey to the moon. In contrast with Lumiere’s film realism, the film’s priority was given to the display of aesthetic forms and visual effects over the representation faithful to reality. A definition of formalist film was created; the Melies film tendencies to recreate and present forms different from seen in reality.
The typical type of realist film can be “The Blair Witch Project”, an American psychological horror film shown in 1999, written and directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez. The film was created by piecing amateur footage together and relating the story of three student film makers who disappeared while seeking the Black Hills at Burkitsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The film is known for one of the most successful independent films for all time, winning critics reputation and went on to gross over US248 million dollars worldwide. The viewers of the film are explained that three student film-makers were never found but one year later their camera and films were discovered. The viewers are supposed to watch the “discovered” footage. The film is low-budget made because the movie is shot as if it’s made as amateur footage pieced together from opening to beginning although ordinary time and space are distorted partly. The story unfolds little by little, first interviewing the residents about the local legends, then students seeking out to woods of Black Hills but eventually getting lost losing map. Frustrated in cold, in hunger, and being lost they lost temper to each other. The acting seemed seriously realistic especially the part when they are frightened to scream and when they realized they have lost the map starting arguing about it. Because the film is supposed to be amateur footage piece, the movie shakes at random from opening to beginning prominently when the students observed something frightening and started running away from it.
I have watched “City Lights”, a American comedy film by Charles Chaplin shown in 1931. It is a black and white silent movie but music is played by background of orchestra. The story focuses on a homeless man who fell in love with blind woman selling flowers at first sight. She misunderstood that the man who picked up the flower she dropped is a wealthy gentleman because he left by taxi. That night the homeless man saved the wealthy man who tried to kill himself because he divorced with his wife and became friends. Although wealthy man could remember the homeless man when he was drunk but forget him when he was sober. The homeless man bought the flower from the blind woman attempting to disguise as a gentleman. Before the blind woman knows it, the man was not just wealthy person, but a precious being. The homeless man started to work for the sick woman doing whatever he can. One day, he recognized the woman and her grandmother are in arrears with house rent and are ordered to leave the house. He tried to prepare the money for them but became at a loss getting fired with his job. Then a job for prearranged boxing match came to him but the opponent ran away before the game and inevitably had to match with tough opponent. The homeless man tried everything to disturb and fought desperately but lost the game. Getting in a loss again, he met the drunken wealthy man again by accident and he received thousand dollars from the wealthy man. However, a thief broke in, so he called the police but when the police arrived the thief got away. The wealthy man became sober and he forgot about giving thousand dollars to the homeless man. The homeless man who was suspected as the thief ran away from the wealthy mans house. The next day, the homeless man gave the blind woman thousand dollars for the house rent and the fee for operation on her eyes. After shaking hands with the woman soon he left. On the way home, he was caught by police for a false accusation. The time passed, and the homeless man walking who got out from the prison had met the woman who had her eyes operated and recovered, again. The woman surely thought the benefactor who gave her the thousand dollars was the wealthy man so she wouldn’t realize the homeless man was the benefactor. The homeless man was leaving but from pity the woman tries to give a flower and a little money. Finally at the moment she clasp the homeless man’s hand, she recognized the homeless man was the benefactor. Because the film is silent comedy, which entire Chaplin’s films are, the exaggeration of the action should be performed to convey the intentions of the characters which are one of the formalist elements. Also subtitles of characters’ words are displayed in the context to support the viewers’ awareness to the film. I have found the film very entertaining presenting entertainment and laughter to the viewer.
I have watched another film “The Kid” by Charles Chaplin, a silent black and white film shown in 1921. As it is described that the story is about “A picture with a smile-and perhaps, a tear”, the film is the first feature length comedy film ever to combine comedy and drama effectively together. The plot begins with the scene of unmarried woman leaving a charity hospital carrying a new-born son. Apparent father of the new born child who is an artist appears in the photograph with her. When the photograph fell into the fireplace, he first picks it up but then throws it back and burned up. The woman left her child on the backseat of expensive car leaving the note willing the hope for to take care of the child besides herself. However, the car is stolen and when the thieves discover the child, they left him on the street. The little tramp, who is the famous character played by Chaplin, finds the baby and eventually decided to take care of the baby. Five years later, the baby becomes partner of the Tramp’s minor crime. However, the child’s mother becomes a wealthy star doing charity work among the poor and by chance they met together but did not recognize each other. When the boy became sick a doctor came to see him soon discovering that the Tramp is not the boy’s real father. The Tramp shows the doctor the note left by his mother, but the doctor took it and notified the authorities. After that two men came to take the boy to an orphanage but after a struggle the Tramp get back the boy. The doctor told the boy’s mother what happened and showed the note which she had written and she recognized the boy was her child. The Tramp and the boy running away, spent the night in a flophouse, but the manager recognizing thousand dollars reward for the missing child, took the boy to the police station for reunite with his mother. Eventually, the woman with her son and families welcomed the Tramp into her home. Charles Chaplin, known as “the king of comedy” provides entertaining film for all time. As in other Chaplin’s film, some lines of characters are displayed in a cut to make the story comprehensible to viewers which could be defined as formalist element. The main character of the film “the Tramp” is also featured in other films such as “The Tramp”. The tramp was Charlie Chaplin ‘s most memorable character, a recognized icon of world cinema most dominant during the silent film era.