Stephanie Solanki, 11/21/12

In Wednesday’s seminar class, I watched my first Woody Allen film. I had heard of the name Woody Allen, but I never had had the opportunity of watching any of his work. I had no idea about his type of style or humor. When Dr. Kahan said that the film “Manhattan” was a Woody Allen movie, I was excited to experience a part of pop culture that was new to me. Dr. Kahan had told us to keep the questions we had answered prior to class in mind while watching the film.

1. How does the camera function? The camera has many different functions in this film. One scene in which the camera angle stood out to me is when Isaac and Mary were driving on the Brooklyn Bridge. The camera followed the car and did not show the inside of the car at all. The dialogue was heard, but the characters were unseen. Secondly, the camera zoomed in very close to the Isaac and Mary’s faces when they were in the planetarium. This shows that they were getting closer and bonding. In this film, the camera angles are used to make a point about the scene. It is not just a viewing mechanism for the audience. Its angles are specifically chosen to subtly deliver a message about the film.

2. What is the director’s approach towards framing scenes with people? The people in the scenes are very important, and are often the centerpieces of the scenes. However, the director very cleverly changes the focus by switching the camera angles and having the audience focus on the dialogue at times rather than the actors. The people are sometimes the focus, and sometimes the message in the dialogue is given more importance.

3. What impact does the b&w v. color have? The black and white adds a class and timelessness flare to the film. However, the film is very modern and deals primarily with contemporary issues. I think that the decision to use black and white was Woody Allen’s attempt to show that this was the new society in Manhattan, and this was the new normal.

4. Generally, how long do the clips (edits) last? The edits were fast; however I thought that the transitions between scenes were done very well. It was not abrupt, but it was not choppy like the edits in “All About Eve” were.

5. The dialogue in this movie was very contemporary. It was realistic. The lines did not seem scripted at all. It was natural and modern according to the time period.

6. What is the role of costume in each scene? The costumes were not a big part of this movie. I noticed that each character in this movie had a very particular way of dressing that set him or her apart from the other characters. This personal style lasted throughout the entire movie. This was to set the characters apart and show their individual personalities.

7. What is the role of music in each scene? The role of music in this movie was very minimal. I don’t remember much music in it at all. This is very ironic to me because music, I think, is a a huge part of the allure of Manhattan. I think that maybe the music would have detracted focus from the main characters or the message of the movie.

8. What is the role of the set in the movie? The sets in the movie did not look like sets at all. Everything looked like it was filmed in actual buildings or on the streets of Manhattan. This just adds to the realism of the movie and how it Manhattan not romanticized in any way. Everything is kept very real to show what Manhattan is really like.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. The last line, which is spoken by Tracey, sums up Manhattan very nicely. “You should have faith in people.” In the big city, it is easy to become jaded and feel a sense of hopelessness. But at the end of the day, it is important to keep the faith, and have faith in people. I look forward to watching more films in this class in the future to broaden my movie horizons even further.