Week 4 Response
In Bela Balasz’s From Theory of the Film, the “close up”, as the opening to this introduction of film theory is essentially highlighting the point that what is focused on- is never an accident. For instance if there is a stoke of hand in a scene, it might not be rendered as important unless there was a close up of the hand to imply a larger message. Used to convey larger meanings particularly in silent films, the close up “can show us the the very instant in which the general is transcended into the particular” (pg. 274)
There is focus on the hidden, romantic, poetic, subtleties; within a close up- things that not everyone would notice, are noticed for you and for a reason. The close up can also say more about the things in life that do not always have adequate words- such as “emotions, moods, intentions and thoughts” (276) Furthermore, space and shots can also contribute to the silent narrative that is the close up, allowing the mind to engage past experiences and interpretations of the shot. It’s interesting how important the facial expressions are here, as they discuss on page 279- how expression from the face in conjunction with the precise shots can be more telling than a natural face to face reading of expressions.
“Photogenie” as cited in Bonjour Cinema is about the movement and spacial dimensions in a film that are essentially rhythmic. “If we wish to understand how an animal, a plant or a stone can inspire respect, fear and horror, those three most sacred sentiments, I think we must watch them on the screen, living their mysterious lives, alien to the human sensibility” (Pg. 22). Therefor in silent isolation a subject is able to be studied in a new way, similar to the Balazs reading wherein the closeup of the subject is seen in a new and concentrated form. Banality, reality, the past and the existence of the present are all themes that are explored possibilities when dealing with nuances of the everyday and honing in on them. It is all meticulous, as is the slow motion, the silent, and the deliberate acknowledgment of what we know to be subtleties, but are point pointed to for us.
In Rachel O. Moore’s Savage Theory she explores the idea of the machine in reaction to early film theory. What brought the machine into play? The machine here being the conversion of bodily labor and daily tasks that were taken over by machinery. What documented these shifts? Back to the idea of senses which is key to our readings for this week, Moore introduces the altering of Tess’s senses by the machines; her hearing, existence, spatial interactions, and her visual experience. Film in a sense was a form of communication, not only sharing onto others but creating new sensations, expanding on this idea of primitivism that she has as early film was a primal version of it’s impact on communication. She is essentially explaining the full impact that film has and it’s power over modernity, how something can go from being an enchanting commodity, to what it is now- less artistic or humanistic. There are several references the the “magic” of cinema, but throughout the writers and theories that she alludes to, “they all write in the throes of awakening to cinema’s impact on experience and representation. At the base of this primitive turn, I believe, one finds the reflections of a felt affinity to the primitive already so prevalent in modern artistic production.” (Pg. 24)