Saturday, 27 October 2012

Week 2 Of University (Tuesday 16 Oct)

Today, the Communicating In Film seminar went over Narrative, discussing the elements such as Story (What the piece is about), Plot (what actually happens/the events), Diegesis (what the characters do/hear/see within the film), Time (When things in the plot happen), Space (Where they happpen i.e. Locations), Cause and Effect (Something happens and its effect(s)), Dialogue (What a character think/feels/can be used to inform us of details like backstory) and even Credits (can set the tone and transmit a lot of information about the upcoming story. In this case, we watched the opening to Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and from there deduced the story's tone (dark), the setting (American city/urban) who the characters were that were going to appear and their relationships with one another (hugging each other, smiling to one another, being close etc.)).

We also quickly touched on what is different between Film and Television Narrative, mainly that TV offers you more time to explore themes and characters thanks to episodes/parts, however, visually, film is more basic with less edits and less extravagant cinematography/camera experimenting, usually just close ups, midshots, some tracking and a few wide shots, mainly to establish location. Following on from this, we watched the last episode of the famous sitcom Fawlty Towers and examined how its narrative was structured and utilised:
  • The opening credits established the location (a dreary hotel).
  • The plot was mostly a contstant stream of gag setups and then the punchlines, with some running ones like Manuel's pet rat escaping and the health inspector, which culminated at the end of the episode in one final joke).
  • Set within one space (the hotel, with loads of miniature spaces, like the rooms, kitchen, bar and restuarant).
  • There was not much editing variety (nearly all straight cuts) and the camera work was mainly static, with some instances of tracking or zooms, but not much, as well as mainly using midshots and closeups for reactions to the jokes.
  • The time the story took place was over the course of 2 days.
Afterwards, in the lecture, the class sat down and watched Alfred Hitcock's Rear Window and examined its narrative:
  • Credits (the opening credits show us the neighbourhood within the apartment blocks, showing us the different neighbours (like the ballet dancer 'Miss Torso', the elderly couple who sleep outside, 'Miss Lonely Hearts' and the couple who will become important later in the story, as well as our main character, played by James Stewart).
  • Story (RW is about Stewart's character, the photographer Jeff, who, housebound after breaking his leg, begins to suspect that one of his neighbours has murdered his wife.), 
  • Plot (Over the course of the film, we learn about Jeff's background and follow him and his associates, the nurse and his girlfriend, as they attempt to unravel what happened in their neighbour's apartment, once even breaking into their backyard and into their apartment to look for clues and evidence that the man killed his wife, befor efinally Jeff and the killer have a confrontation and the killer is arrested).
  • Diegesis (the sounds of the neighbours, the street below i.e. vehicles, music from the piano players apartment and what Jeff sees through his window, using his eyes, binoculars and finally, camera).
  • Time (The plot takes place over several days, though some time has passed before the story starts due to Jeff's injury).
  • Space (The entirety of the plot takes place within the apartments, mainly in Jeff's one.), 
  • Cause and Effect (Jeff's suspicions get the girlfirend and nurse involved, he brings in his private detective friend and then his investigations arouse the suspicion of the killer, who then confronts Jeff and tries to kill him).
  • Dialogue (We get told about Jeff's relationships, his prior job and about his accident, as well as background on the various characters, like the nurse who cynically recalls some of her past clients).
Finally, we quickly went over some of the basics of editing for next week i.e. Graphic Relations (the relationship between two images), Rhythmic Relations (tempo/pacing), Spatial Relations (space/locations) and Temporal Relations (the passing of time between shots) and quickly touched on the concept of Classic Hollywood Cinema (1917-1960), which Rear Window was made at the tail end of, and some of its traits i.e. heterosexual characters, seamless editing that doesn't draw attention to itself, a plausible premise, no amibiguity (very clear characters), straightforward motivations and a set, clean ending.

My thoughts on Today's lessons were that, while the materials and ideas presented were very interesting, I wish we had a little more time to really explore and better understand them, as at points (mainly due to time and watching the pieces of media) it felt a tad rushed and the 'lecture' part of The Lecture, right at the end, also felt like this and I wish, maybe, we could start a little earlier to allow for more lecutre time to properly look at what's being presented.

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