Updated on November 26, 2007, 12:34 PM - Written by Tim Buttner
The early years of the 1930's saw an emergence of varying styles and techniques for dealing with the advent of sound. Dramas and comedies became reliant on the use of synchronized sound to picture for conveying important information, yet the techniques for conveying this information differentiated from filmmaker to filmmaker.
When Grand Hotel opens the audience is introduced to various characters from its ensemble cast, each sharing the history and present state of their character. It's done through the conversation they have on the phone with an unseen person. Comparably, in Citizen Kane and It Happened One Night, the same kind of important information is revealed through newspaper clippings or the use of montage. Citizen Kane uses the montage moreover than It Happened One Night, but together they share the use of the newspaper to get across important exposition.
Interestingly enough the introduction to a major character in Grand Hotel takes time before the audience actually sees the ballerina Grusinskaya, but a lot is revealed about her from what her maid says in the beginning. Similar to the introduction of the character Rick from Casablanca, the first time the character embodies the screen; the audience doesn't get a look at her face. She's laying in bed moaning and depressed telling her maid, "I want to be alone." Without seeing her or her face the audience has a complete understanding of who this character is and what her state of mind is, because of her body language and actions, just like when meeting Rick in Casablanca.
Despite the amazing power brought to the screen by allowing the actors to speak, filmmakers still had to show the audience about the characters as opposed to tell them. Grand Hotel does a lot of telling in its introduction of characters, but doesn't forget that film is a visual medium. The technique for showing the audience about the character lasts on past the d...
Updated on November 11, 2007, 10:24 PM - Written by Tim Buttner
There are two genres of filmmaking that can be considered completely American. These are the western and the film noir. Although many will argue that film noir is not a genre, but instead a style because of the cinematic techniques it uses. There are several distinct differences between cinematic technique used in the western and that of film noir. A good way to compare would be comparing two of the fundamental movies of the genres, Stagecoach and Double Indemnity.
The way in which the filmmakers used lighting for these two movies are distinct to their genres, but at the same time use the same lighting techniques to convey the same meaning. Film noir is usually characterized by its use of low-key lighting, and Double Indemnity doesn't shy away from this convention. One of the reasons film noir was coined such by the French when they first viewed it after the Second World War was because of it being such dark cinema. The low-key lighting of Double Indemnity adds to the atmosphere that Billy Wilder sought after for the movie. By making the atmosphere dark like the subject matter of a deceitful murder and betrayal from the femme fatale, Wilder managed to put the audience into the mindset necessary for the movie without a single line of dialogue or action from a character. In Stagecoach low-key lighting is used during night scenes to add an element of ominous foreboding, most especially in the shots preceding the final gunfight between The Ringo Kid and Luke Plummer & his cohorts.
For the rest of Stagecoach it is all high key lighting, allowing the audience to see everything in light. Most of the movie takes place during the daylight hours when this is expected, in contrast to Double Indemnity, which mainly takes place at night. In the convention of the western lighting isn't as important to establishing a mood as it is in film noir, but it ...