Analysis #2

Laura Mulvey’s theory of the “male gaze” argues that the various “looks” that you would find in works of cinema, tend to reinforce sexist stereotypes from the male perspective. These “looks”, include the gaze of the camera and how the characters are displayed on screen. Men are usually seen as the “lookers” or “gazers” while women are portrayed as the ones that must be looked at and admired. However, although uncommon, some directors will actually try and reverse the roles of the “looker” and the “looked at”.

            A good example of this role reversal is present in The Lady Eve directed by Preston Sturges. Unlike most early 1900 films that portray the stereotype of the man being the one in control and that the women is just there for the sake of the male lead, this film takes the male lead character, Charles Pike, and makes him play the fool at the hands of the female lead, Jean Harrington . Although there are times when Jean is seen as the object of desire (particularly by Pike), she at the same time manages to show her control, intellect and perception in regards to show how things are going according to her plans. One scene in particular takes place from 5:41 to 8:10.

The first part of the scene starts with Pike sitting down in the dining hall reading a book and minding his own business. The camera then shows us the dining hall from his “gaze” as he meets the eyes of those who are gazing at him. Whether it’s at a table full of people, or meeting the eyes of women one-on-one, all show clear signs that they were staring at him since he sat down. Even the last women he looks at (who was busy drinking her beer) immediately regains her composure and returns his gaze with a rather idiotic smile. Pike is regarded as the desired one here, the one who everyone, men and women, look at due to his looks, charm or in the way he presents himself. Although it’s not uncommon for the male lead to be in some way desired himself, Pike never acts on the rather obvious “gazes” aimed towards him. Instead he just sits there wondering why people are staring almost like he is a center piece to be looked at.

While this part of the scene is shown in a way that we see the characters “gazing” at Pike from his perspective, in the next part, we take a step back and see things from the perspective of Harrington. Like how Pike doesn’t fall into the category of the stereotypical male protagonist like most films during this time, Harrington doesn’t fall into the category of the stereotypical female character. She watches from the indirect “gaze” of her compact mirror as these women try and use subtle approaches to get his attention. What’s more, she provides a rather insulting narration as though she knows exactly what they are thinking and saying despite being clear across the room. This is what separates her from the rest of the females not just in the dining hall but also in the rest of the movie.

This hostility could prove to be another parallel between the male and female gazes. After all, if women are given too much attention for whatever the reason may be, the director would implicate that this isn’t right and that the women must be punished. However, as I claimed before, the roles are reversed and since the male is the one who is being “gazed’ at and desired, then he would need to be punished. This is clearly emphasized at the end of the scene when Harrington trips Pike for no apparently reason.

In the first part of the scene, the camera makes good use of utilizing shots to show how Pike darts his eyes around the room. In the second part of the scene, the director makes good use of framing the camera into Harrington’s compact mirror. We also see the use of wide shots to emphasize this idea that he is at the center of the room and the center of attention. What’s more, her narration combined with her “gaze” helps strengthen her superiority compared to all the other women in the room throwing themselves at Pike.

PSYCHO

Honestly this was the first time I had ever seen Psycho, or any films by Hitchcock for that matter. The only thing I knew about the film was the classic shower scene that has been reference in so many other shows. Despite that, I’m glad I was able to watch and write about it.

This film told the tail of a woman who stole money from the client of her boss all for the sake of being able to marry her lover. The first half of the movie was basically her trying to get to California to be with him while at the same time laying low from the authorities. Just before reaching California, she comes across an old motel and decided to stay for the night because of the horrible weather. There she meets a man who runs the motel with his mother. It is a clear that this man is infatuated with the women when he invites her to have dinner with him and he even peeps on her when she is changing. Then we get to the famous shower scene with the ten shots per second and the unrealistic stabbing. We assume that the killer was the man mother when he enters the room surprised and like a good boy, he cleans her mess.

At this point, it’s almost as though the story line changes. Who I thought was the main character is now dead at the bottom of a swamp and story begins to now focus on what happened to the women. With the efforts of the women’s lover and sister, they go to the motel and uncover the truth: that there was no mother but rather the motel owner had split personality disorder. On the one hand he was himself and on the other he was his “mother”. The movie ends with the motel owner in a cell with the mother personality in charge and the man’s original self taken over.

This movie was creepy in a nutshell but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Those scenes of suspense were we were left wondering what each character was thinking were excellent. What’s more, the movie made great use of see things through the perspective of the characters. When the women was stopped by the cop and we get a good look at him, we could feel the same intimidation she was feeling.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers:

This film was a blast from the past for me personally. My dad is a Star Trek fan so I’ve seen my far share of Sci-Fi films. It was a good film to watch because Halloween was right around the corner and it was something we could watch while letting our hair down after that midterm. This film was made in the 1950’s right? I wonder how people back then reacted to this kind of stuff.

            The film itself made excellent use of suspense and silence to emphasize what was going on. A good scene that made use of this technique was when Milles and Becky were in the office looking at the town square. Once they looked out the window, everything got really quiet and we see all the townspeople stop what they’re doing and migrate toward the center of the square. Everything is done quietly and systematically. Personally it creped the hell out of me.

            Another good scene was towards the end when Milles yells “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!” Here the actor does a good job in portraying the fear and desperation that the character was experiencing. I agree with Professor Herzog in saying that it would have been a good final scene. However, personally I don’t like films or shows that end on a cliffhanger. I’m the kind of guy who likes everything resolved so I’d have to say that the ending in the hospital was a better choice on the director’s part. Plus if it did end there, I pretty sure we all would have our own little fit of mass hysteria.

Analysis Project #1

 Breakfast Montage

Shot-By-Shot Breakdown Post:

. Scene Analysis: from Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, RKO, 1941)

. 27 shots of the flashback scene were we see Kane’s relationship with his first wife, Emily.

. Time Frame: (49:45) – (51:50)

Shot 1:

  • Scene fades into deep focus
  • Long shot of Emily sitting at in the middle of a table in the dining room
  • The room is relatively dark aside from a single light pointed at Emily as it reflects off of her white dress
  • Kane enters from the right wearing a black suit, kisses Emily and sits down while complimenting her beauty
  •  As he enters, the camera begins to close up on Kane and his wife until the only things present in the scene are the two at the table
  • Table has nothing more than a small tea set and their breakfast
  • Soothing violin music plays in the background

Shot 2:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • She says that even newspapermen have to sleep

Shot 3: 

  • Cuts to a shot of Kane at the table from Emily’s perspective
  • He claims to have his morning appointments canceled
  • We see a few plants in the background

Shot 4:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table  
  • Emily’s smiling

 Shot 5:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane asks what time it is

Shot 6: 

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily claims its late

Shot 7:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane smiling claiming its early
  • Shot ends with a fast forwarding effect.

Shot 8:

  • Shot opens with fast forwarding effect implying some sort of time skip
  • We see the shot of Emily sitting at the far end of the table (as suppose to the middle) and complains to Kane about how he kept her waiting last night
  • She is wearing another, much larger and frillier, white dress
  • The table now has a large centerpiece on it and there appears to be a much larger tea set hanging in her background
  • Faster paced violin music plays in the background

Shot 9:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane is sitting in a black rob smocking a pipe in the middle of Emily’s complaints
  • It appears that the number of plants in  his background increase

Shot 10:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily finishes her complaint

Shot 11: 

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane assures her that the only rival for him that he has is the newspaper
  • Shot ends with a fast forwarding effect

Shot 12:

  • Shot opens with fast forwarding effect implying some sort of time skip
  • We see a shot of Emily wearing a darker, more proper outfit as she complains that she would rather have a living rival
  • The objects on the table and in the background haven’t changed from shot 8
  • Even faster violin music plays in the background

Shot 13:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane is at the table wearing a black and white rob claims that he doesn’t spend that much time on the newspaper

Shot 14:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily claims it’s not the time he puts in but rather what he prints about the president in the newspaper

Shot 15:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane claims that she’s referring to her uncle John

Shot 16:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily says he’s still the president

Shot 17:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane says he’s still Uncle John
  • Kane continues by saying how corrupt he his

Shot 18:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily claims that he’s the president and not Kane

Shot 19:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane smiles as he says that it’s a mistake that will be corrected someday
  • Shot ends with a fast forwarding effect

Shot 20:

  • Shot opens with fast forwarding effect implying some sort of time skip
  • We see Emily discussing Kane’s associate visiting a nursery
  • She’s wearing a dark and seeming expensive robe
  • The large centerpiece is absent from the table and is instead replaced with a large assortment of dinning ware, some of which seem unnecessary for breakfast
  • Background music has no become more serious and suspensefull

Shot 21:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane eats his breakfast in a black suit with a rather serious expression on his face as he responds to his wife

Shot 22:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Kane’s perspective toward Emily at the table
  • Emily asks if he has to

Shot 23:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • Kane says rather adamantly that he does
  • Scene ends with a fast forwarding effect 

Shot 24:

  • Shot opens with fast forwarding effect implying some sort of time skip
  • We see Emily wearing another expensive, and this time white, dress
  • In the background and on the table we see a different assortment of materials such as large candles and tea sets
  • Emily is commenting on what people will think
  • Slow violin music begins to play in the background ( similarly to shot 8)

Shot 25:

  • Cuts to a shot were the camera is pointed from Emily’s perspective toward Kane at the table
  • After cut, music quickly changes to suit a more dominating tone
  • Kane interrupts her saying that people will think what he tells them to think
  • He is wearing another black suit
  • Scene ends with a fast forwarding effect

Shot 26:

  • Shot opens with fast forwarding effect implying some sort of time skip
  • We see Emily in another type of expensive dress reading the paper
  • In the background and on the table we see a different assortment of materials such as large candles and tea sets
  • She doesn’t speak but just looks at her husband across the table
  • Music in the background is similar to that of shot 1

Shot 27:

  • Cuts to Kane who returns her look as he reads the paper
  • The camera shot slowly widens as we see the entire dining room in comparison to the beginning of the scene
  • The number of materials in the room appears to have increased since the first scene and the table seems to have increased in length
  • The distance between the two, which was close at the beginning of the scene, has now been extended and jagged
  • Scene fades out

One pattern that is present in this scene is the use of black and white. Within almost every shot, Kane is wearing something black or dark while his wife wears something light. This could be used to emphasize the difference between him and Emily’s character. It could also be used to show Kane’s “dark” and lonely character.

Another reoccurring pattern in this scene and the film is the use of objects. Throughout the film, Kane was known by people as a collector of “things”. It should be noted that after every couple of shots, more and more object began taking up space in the room while the conversations between Emily and Kane kept getting shorter until the last shot were they don’t say anything at all. Finally in the last shot we see that the room had a great deal of objects in it compared to the first shot. Plus the distance between Kane and his wife is emphasized by the length of the table increasing.

Citizen Kane

For the blog challenge, I’m going to choose the scene that I discussed in class. For those of you who don’t remember, that’s the scene were Kane is alone with his second wife after one of her performances. We see Kane receive a letter from his associate that contains a torn up check that he gave him. The already present hostility between the two escalates as the scene goes on because wants nothing more than to stop performing. The scene ends with Kane walking up to her and says in a rather intimidating manner “you will continue with your singing”.  

The reason I chose this scene is because I think it best shows the relationship Kane has with his second wife. The director makes use of high and low shots to emphasize who is more in control. Whenever the camera points at Kane, it is at an upward angel because he is standing and whenever it points at Susan, it is at a downward angel. This seems to emphasize Kane’s power and control over Susan.  This is further emphasized at the end of the scene when he approaches her and she is covered in his shadow, trapped and unable to say no.

Another say of seeing this is how the director takes advantage of black and white. In the scene, Kane is wearing a black robe (it’s possible that the robe wasn’t black because the movie had no color but I just think its black for the point of symbolism). This could be a symbol to his corruption and “dark” impulses. It also acts as a contrast to Susan in her white gown.

The Lady Eve

I must say that The Lady Eve was one of my favorite screening so far. Since our first two were about murder and mobsters, watching a romantic comedy was a good change of pace. I must admit, after all, that romantic comedies are my favorite genre of movies.

The movie introduces two main characters, Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) who is a beautiful con artist and Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) who is the heir to the Pike Ale fortune. Both meet on the same luxury cruise liner and fall in love like most typical old romance movies. But things get complicated when Jeans life is made known to Pike and he dumps her. The rest of the movie is about Jean trying to get back at Pike for the humiliation by explaining “I’ve got some unfinished business with him — I need him like the axe needs the turkey”. After this it gets a little tricky in terms of how she really feels about him and if she wants revenge for the humiliation or because he didn’t really love her. But in the end everything goes full circle and the two mutually confess their love for the other. The End.

Now let’s talk about the character profiles. First Pike. Initially I thought he was a good guy who was just socially awkward around women. But then as it goes on I notice that this guy must be a real naive. Who proposes to someone after meeting them for just a few days? I thought “this guy moves fast doesn’t he”? That at the party at his mansion, couldn’t he see that she didn’t disguise herself when she was “Lady Eve Sidwich” just to screw with him even more? And then when he asked her to marry him again using the same lines as before after knowing her for just two weeks. What does this guy think love is?

Then we have Jean who was the one in control of their entire relationship from the beginning. This was interesting because wouldn’t it be seen as unusual during that time period where men were almost always in control. I think it would be far to say that most of the people who saw this movie were women. I also liked her character because in that relationship there needed to be someone who knew what to do and how to do it. That character wasn’t going to be Pike, that’s for sure.

All in all, very funny movie with good use of physical humor. Have to give it five stars in my book and hope to see another one like it.

Our First Movie

Our first film, M, I had mixed feeling about in the beginning. I hadn’t watched a movie in a different language since I watched The Orphanage at my friend’s house, so the adjustment was a little different from what I, as well as others, I’m sure, are use to.

With that being said, the movie itself was quite interesting. That is once you get past the thirty minutes after the little girl died at the beginning (which was very well done with the suspense as well as the use of imagery with the little girls’ balloon getting tangled and her ball rolling down the hill). After that it got quite boring with the police running around like chickens with their heads cut off and the civilians in a state of panic. I thought “who the heck is the murderer anyway?” and towards the end I’m thinking “the criminals end up being the heroes?”

Ok. Now those were my initial thoughts but once the movie ended and I thought why things were done the way they were (plus everyone’s imputes in class was helpful), I came to some conclusions. The director tried not to reveal the criminal because he is trying to have us develop our own image of him so that when we do see him we think “THAT’S the guy???” Also the involvement of the mob was interesting because it shows that when something escalates to a level, it affects everyone: both the citizens and the underworld. Plus I think it would be fair to assume that the narrator wanted us to choose sides.  Think about it, would you rather want the police, who were getting nowhere for half the movie, to get the guy? Or would you rather have the criminals who were making good progress? I personally was very neutral toward the whole thing because as long as the guy was captured I’d be happy.

Then there was the ending which gave me mixed feeling. Sure, I wanted the guy to pay for what he did to all those children, but I wasn’t so sure about having him be torn to shreds by the citizens because they didn’t want the system to deal with him. That right there seemed more than a little inhumane. After all I know our systems not perfect but it’s what separates us from the animals.

These here are just a few of my ideas. If you disagree with any or even have a question, please feel free to leave a comment.