November 21, 2012

Wednesday was our first movie-screening day in seminar. The first movie we viewed was Manhattan, staring Woody Allen. The movie is a romantic comedy in which Isaac Davis, played by Woody Allen, falls in love with his best friend Yale’s mistress, Mary, while currently in a relationship with a 17 year old. I am unsure as to what I personally thought of the movie, since I spent the first half hour or so paying more attention to how the film was produced, rather than the actual story line. By the end, however, I was able to piece all of the characters together.

In terms of the film’s production, there are several pieces to be examined. First, the camera was always positioned to keep the main character, Isaac, in the shot at all times, regardless of who was speaking. For instance, if Isaac and his ex wife were having a discussion, the camera would be focused more on him, rather than her moving around the room. In my opinion, I felt that this kept reminding you to focus on his reactions and remarks, rather than those from the other actors and characters. In addition, there were many of scenes where the main characters were walking down the street having a discussion.  The camera remained tight on those people, yet allowed some scenery in, giving the ambiance of walking down a New York City street talking with friends. Also, it seemed as if the camera wasn’t always in the actor’s faces. There were many shots in which there were people or cars interrupting the frame.

The choice of the director to shoot in black and white or color is a very important one. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of each way. For this movie, I thought that shooting in black and white was a good choice. The black and white film gives the movie an old fashioned romantic feel to it, making certain scenes, such as the one looking at the Brooklyn Bridge, that much more magical. The only downside to using black and white film is that you need to be very careful and intentional with your lighting. For example, in the scene where Isaac and Mary are inside the space exhibition, you could barely make out their faces or bodies. Another great example is when Isaac shows everyone the brown water in his apartment. Everything has to be exaggerated 10 x to have it appear on camera properly. One thing that bothered me throughout the film was there were no transitions in between the scenes. The cuts were very quick and hard.

In the movie, there was very little music, except for the points where Isaac was with his son, or when he was with Mary. This can be analyzed from several points of view, but I feel that the director’s choice to put music only in these parts was to show the differences in Isaac’s moods. The music was present when Isaac was really happy and enjoying himself, rather than living his dreary, emotionally confused life.