November 19, 2012

Today was the last day of poetry presentations. Last but not least, Stephanie presented The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. This poem did a great job of summing up all of the poetry from the past 6 classes. The New Colossus is a poem detailing The Statue of Liberty and what she stands for. This glorious statue was the first thing that immigrants saw coming into to the harbor. It represents what America and the people living here are all about; freedom, liberty and justice for all.

Now that we are done with poetry, we will be starting a cinematic portion of the course. When people watch a movie or a television show, they generally pay attention to the plot, the actors and maybe the scenery. Most people don’t realize the time and effort that goes into producing a simple 10 minute telecast, let alone a multimillion dollar movie. Since my freshman year at Farrell, I was involved in their television studio. I worked my way up the ranks, from a low level video editor to studio manager my senior year. As studio manager, I was in charge of working with the on air personalities to produce a well-executed telecast, lasting anywhere between 10 to 90 minutes. My job also included coordinating lighting, camera shots, various sets, video graphics and audio.

Professor Kahan showed us a clip of the 1950 film “All About Eve” starring Betty Davis. Since the film was filmed in the ‘50s, the filmmakers did not have the privileges that modern day producers and directors have. Editing did not involve hitting two keys on a keyboard and clicking save, but instead required manually splicing pieces of film together on a reel. Therefore, they had to rely on a technique we call today “shoot to edit.” This technique involved filming each scene relatively perfectly, only breaking scene at the end. In addition, only one camera was used to shoot. Very rarely did the angle change. The camera followed the main character throughout the scene.

Fast forward about 60 years to 2007. In 2007, the “Bourne Ultimatum,” the last film I consider in the Bourne Trilogy, made its debut.  In one particular scene, Matt Damon has a physical altercation with another agent, and there is a rapid change in camera angles and shots. This is all done on purpose. The rapid change in camera angles is used to keep the audience on edge. In addition to giving multiple views and vantage points of the same action scene, the fast pace makes the audience feel like they are actually there witnessing the event at full speed. In contrast, there was little change in angle or real movement of the camera period in “All About Eve,” giving it this quiet, formal, somewhat serious setting.

Finally, you can’t forget the importance of background music. If there is no music, there is no movie. In “All about Eve,” there was little background music until the climax of the scene, when party music started building. The same holds true in the Bourne movie. As we approach an action scene, the music becomes more dramatic and faster, subconsciously signaling the audience of the impending action. I really look forward to seeing the movies that Professor Kahan has in store for us, exploring a little bit deeper into the world of cinematography.