On the Waterfront – Swathi Satty

One of Elia Kazan’s movie greats is On the Waterfront, which accounts for each individual character as much as it does the scenery. The movie takes place on the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey and the concept of it being a poverty stricken neighborhood was projected from the beginning; breaths of the characters are visible which shows that its winter and this enhances the severity of their economic burden by having the characters work in almost unbearable weather conditions. Kazan intends to make the story as believable as possible so he uses certain camera techniques to get the audience more involved. There are scenes in which the camera is moving with the characters. That way, the audience feels like they are part of an intimate conversation and it allows the audience to pay more attention to the detail of the conversation. The intimate car scene at the end of the film is literally the most significant part of the entire movie. Kazan was very specific as to not make the camera so jumpy because that would distract the audience. Instead, he tunes out the neighborhood; nothing is more important than what Terry and his brother have to say. The only way to pull the audience into realizing that the scene is still in a car is by mentioning the destination and getting the taxi driver involved.

The clothing was also significant because of its “average Joe” look.  Kazan had the costume designer buy all the material from a thrift store to make the apparel look as fitting and believable as possible because his main concern was a proper delivery of Terry’s fragile financial and mental state. One of the most strategic uses of camera angles is at the end when the camera amplifies the haziness Terry was feeling after being heavily beaten. It gives an incentive for the audience to support Terry because having his perspective makes the audience feel like they are struggling to get back on to their feet as well. The music also adds to the struggle and determination he feels. This proves very successful in the audience’s full support of Terry because previously none of his coworkers supported him. Kazan also used long shots to bring Hoboken into perspective; this is all for the audience since he wants us to create our own opinion of the neighborhood and feel sympathy towards the main character who is a foil to the selfish mobsters.

The dialogue is just as significant because sticking to the colloquial slang of that time makes the story more believable because it shows the true power of the mob that killed Joey. A great example of this would be use of “canary” which is often used to refer to someone who can’t keep their mouth shut. This metaphor shows that the mob had enough of Joey’s loud mouth and figured that the best way out of the situation is to kill him; this once again shows that the mob gets whatever they want and they find something as heavy as murder, easy and most beneficial. They also use the term canary to mock how pathetic they truly find Joey; he’s able to open his mouth but can’t defend himself when he needs to which is what was meant by “he couldn’t fly.” The cheese-eater comment helps the audience get a grasp on who Terry really is. While he physically seems like a tough guy, he’s a guy who is vulnerable and has his own morals; cheese-eater refers to someone who isn’t a snitch. This definitely highlights that Terry is sensible and is not one to step on anyone’s toes, which gives the audience another reason to pity him and want the best for him. The dialogue is very colloquial which sets the mood of the poverty stricken neighborhood. These terms would certainly not be used in a wealthy neighborhood, which again allows the audience to feel sorrow for Terry and support his character development.

The presence and mention of pigeons, play a significant role because in the chaos of Terry’s life, the pigeons are the only entity that have never ceased to give him pleasure. Him sharing the pigeons with Edie shows his soft side because she must mean a lot to him if he’s willing to show her Joey’s prized possession. The line “A pigeon for a pigeon” is interesting because it starts to show the downfall in Terry’s life. The pigeons are a symbol of Terry’s vitality and once they are dead, so was his rising faith in finally feeling loved by Edie and making it in Hoboken. A pigeon for a pigeon could be used to show that one downfall lead to another and Terry is placed in a situation where he is the only one capable of picking himself up again.

The taxi scene shows Terry’s disappointment in his life. After getting in a deep discussion with Charley, he says “I coulda been a contender” had it not been for the fixed fight. This is when Charley realizes he cost his brother a prosperous life and he finally becomes the brother he failed to be by giving Terry his gun; as a brother he is finally letting his brother defend himself.  The close ups were used on purpose because the audience gets a a good visual on how the characters are feeling. The expression on Charley’s face softens when he realizes the toll the fight has taken on Terry. This is not only a revelation for Charley but one for Terry who realizes that Charley just sacrificed his own life for his good after he saw how brutally Friendly had killed Charley. As a way to repay his brother, Terry got up after being heavily beaten and goes back to work, which is the first of him heading in the right direction and taking the power away from Friendly, who is also walked over by the other workers. That discussion in the car highlights Terry’s dismay in himself and shows that underneath the tough exterior is insecurity. This epiphany, leads him into an emotional healing process even if he is physically abused. He teaches the other workers but more importantly to himself that he can have control over his own life even if the mob had physical taken control over his own.

Under the distress of losing his brother in the hands of Friendly, Terry goes to murder him with the gun Charley gave to him. But Father Barry intervenes and stops Terry. This is when Father Barry gets him a drink. Alcohol does normally help relax people but in this case, its used to bring Terry to his senses. He knows that killing Friendly is not the most effective way to get back at him because it brings him down to Friendly’s level. After gaining a new perspective, he uses words and fists to fight back at Friendly. This eventually leads to the great finale of it all, which is when Terry uses his inner strength to fight Friendly. The alcohol represents the change in Terry’s though process for his own good against Friendly.

Kazan effectively shows character development throughout this film by incorporating the audience into the life of Terry. His neighborhood doesn’t benefit him in anyway and that’s made clear by the financial struggle that everybody is going through. But regardless of his physical state of being, Terry was able to break through and become emotionally strong which is what he really needed to do to break away from Friendly who once thought of him as a pathetic individual who couldn’t even read. By allowing the audience into the mind of Terry, we can also feel the growth that Terry’s gone through.


Wednesday 11/28 – Andrew

In class this Wednesday we were visited by Professor Diaz, a film professor at CSI. She gave a lecture about cinematography which briefly covered a broad spectrum of things related to film making. Her lecture and powerpoint were chock full of a lot of information that was new to me. I’ve never really studied the mechanics behind film making, and I have to say, it’s incredible how much careful thought and hard work go into a film. Its hard to believe that nearly every decision involved in the movie making process all lands on the director. Seems like a very stressful job.

Some things I found interesting about film making included the screen ratio in which the movie is filmed, for instance Manhattan is filmed in a wide format, to help accentuate and bring the long New York skyline to life. Camera angles and distance is also very important. They both help to shape the scene by changing the way we perceive what is on screen. If a director shoots a character looking up to them, the audience may see that character as a mighty, powerful being who towers over them. The lighting is essential to any film, as it can change the emotions felt by the audience entirely, at certain times. It may also symbolize underlying feelings, problems, or anything that is not directly stated. In Manhattan, we see Isaac’s very dark apartment with Tracy sitting on the couch with the only source of light on her. This can symbolize how she is the only beacon of love, happiness, and light in Isaac’s life. This was just one of the clever insights pointed out to us by Professor Diaz. She also made us aware of all the objects in the background of the movie that “separate” Isaac from people like his ex-wife and Mary as their relationship quickly crumbles. The professor gave me some interesting new tools to use when watching movies to more deeply immerse myself in the story, and possibly discover what the director wanted the audience to notice.


During Wednesday’s seminar class, we were privileged to have Professor Diaz speak to us about film and all the effort that is invested in movie-making.  I have been told in my previous schools that movies are a waste of time and distracting, and so I found it interesting to see that movies can be a form of art in many ways.  Just like artists have a reason behind every brush stroke, and a poem contains meaning beneath every word, there can be a deeper significance behind the different aspects of a movie that contribute to its meaning.

Firstly, the use of black and white, or color quality, is often symbolic.  In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy leaves the drab black-and -white Kansas to enter the vibrant, colorful Oz.  Another example of this can be the older version of The Secret Garden; when I was forced to watch this with my grandmother, I noticed that most of the movie was filmed in black and white, but Mary’s garden was colorful.  This clever technique makes the garden seem special and exotic.  The movie Manhattan was also filmed in black and white.  When I first saw the movie, I thought that the use of black and white made the city seem grand.  It is said that people often dream in black and white, and so the lack of color gives New York a dream-like quality.  However, in class we spoke about how color can be distracting and so the use of black and white got the point of the movie  across more effectively.

Furthermore, the zoom of the lens contributes to the emotions  and feeling of the film.  Long shots were used to show where the characters are, and there was a medium zoom when the characters were having an intimate dinner.  During emotional parts of the movie, the camera shoots close up.  This allows the audience to connect to the character’s feelings and witness his facial expressions.  When Isaac broke up with Tracy, the cameras zoom in on her face so we are able to focus on her pain exclusively.

I hope that I will be able to use the information that we discussed in class to analyze the movies that I will watch in the future.  I realize that movies do not have to be a waste of time, and can be considered art, just like any painting or poem.

November 28th, 2012

On Wednesday in class, Professor Diaz came and discussed different film techniques and how they were used in the movie “Manhattan”.  The idea of diegetic and non-diegetic sound was very interesting to me because very often I find myself paying close attention to the soundtrack of a film that I am watching.  In the movie “Remember the Titans” the final football game has an orchestral score by Trevor Rabin which I fell in love with after seeing the film.  I found it interesting how film had to completely change to accommodate the introduction of sound to moving picture.  This issue was directly addressed in the musical “Singing in the Rain” staring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.  My two favorite parts of this film deal with the issues that arose as the film industry moved away from silent films.  The first scene, was when they show the film for the first time.  They quickly realized that actors who are accustomed to working in Silent films may not be able to make the transition to movies with sound. Singing in the Rain.  My second favorite scene in this musical is at the end when they reveal that Lina Lamont isn’t really singing her songs, and that Kathy is the true star of the film. Sining in the Rain.  When I first saw this movie I didn’t understand that the problems which they were dealing with, were very common issues which came with advances in film.  It was interesting to see the technical side of the movies which I know and love.  I think that it is interesting how directors can use little things like the angle of the camera to control the emotion which the audience feels.

Wednesday- Cinema

In Wednesday’s seminar class, we had a guest professor speak to us about everything there is to know about cinema. We had already learned what miss-en-scene was in a previous class, and I was eager to follow up on learning all about what goes into producing a movie. Honestly, before the lecture, I couldn’t think of much more that went into making a movie besides the actors and the storyline. The most important aspects of the film can go largely unnoticed if you don’t pay attention to them, but if they weren’t there, the movie wouldn’t be the same.

First, we spoke about aspect ratio, which is basically the size of the shot. Woody Allen chose to film in a wide (cinema) aspect ratio to emphasize long panoramic shots, such as the opening scene where Isaac is giving his monologue while we get a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline that sets the scene for the rest of the movie. Different sized shots are used for different purposes. For example, a long shot would be used to place accent on someone’s entire body, or rather to not place specific accent on anything. Conversely, a close up shot would place very specific attention to a person’s facial expression.

Lighting is also a big part of making a movie, as it sets what I call the “silent mood” of the film. This is how we feel when we watch the movie, whether it be anxious, comfortable, or even sad. This is not set by dialogue, but by the lighting of the shot. If a horror movie had soft lighting and no contrast, it wouldn’t make us feel anxious at all; we could be watching a romantic comedy for all we knew. What distinguishes something like a horror movie from something else is the fact that we feel anxious and scared, even when a character is just walking down a hallway. High contrast and lots of shadows puts focus on the main character, or the demon/killer, while shadows let our imagination run wild.

Music also greatly affects the feeling of a film a way in which dialogue can’t. Picture the cliché scene in a horror movie where the character is walking towards the door to see what lies on the other side. Now, usually when we walk towards any door in our house, our heart is not beating with anticipation and suspense. Ominous, non-diegetic music in the film, that rises in volume as the person gets closer, makes us feel suspense and fear, while diegetic screams in the distance, or an out of tune piano being played, complete the feeling.

There are countless other things we spoke about on Wednesday, and I was really impressed by how much I didn’t realize went in to making a film.

Corinna 11-28-12

On Wednesday we had a guest speaker come in to talk to us about mise-en-scene and its use in Manhattan.  Professor Diaz seemed to have covered everything. She was prepared, and had a number of examples to help make her points clear.  One example that I enjoyed looking at was how characters would appear under certain light, which included key light, fill light, and back light.  I would have never known how different the characters appeared under each light without being presented with visuals. I also thought it was a good idea to make examples out of other films besides Manhattan.  When Professor Diaz was talking about canted angles being used when things are getting rough for the characters in the scene, Inception seemed like the perfect example.  This lecture really did help me better understand mise-en-scene and its importance in cinema. I never realized how much thought needed to go into the making of a film, and how much every decision, like which light to use, mattered.

Although I’d have to admit that many of the aspects we went over were not of much interest to me, there were certain ones that I was genuinely interested in.  Discussing different types of lenses was my favorite part of Wednesday’s seminar class.  I myself have a DSLR camera, and really enjoy taking and looking at pictures.  I have actually been looking for a new lense to add to my collection, so I knew a little bit about what the professor was talking about.  She added a few details about certain lenses that I was less familiar with, which I loved hearing about.

Overall, I found this class to be very informative and I feel as though next time I watch a movie I will know exactly what to look for and therefore get more out of the film.

Seminar Class 11/28/12

On wednesday, Professor Kahan invited a guest speaker to our class to discuss cinema and the aspects of putting a movie together. Our guest speaker was Professor Diaz and she teaches Cinema at CSI. Since I do not watch a lot of movies, I did not think I was going to enjoy the discussion. However, everything that Professor Diaz taught us was extremely interesting. There were even some aspects about movie making that I never knew existed.

The main theme of Professor Diaz’s discussion was based on the idea of mis-en-scene, the arrangement of people, places, and objects in a movie.  One part of the movie Manhattan where the mis-en-scene was very interesting was when Isaac and Mary were in Isaac’s apartment. Professor Diaz described that the wall barriers between Isaac and Mary was a form of mis-en-scene to foreshadow their separation due to their weak relationship. I thought it was really creative for the directors to use mis-en-scene in such a sneaky way.

Professor Diaz also showed the class various youtube videos on the creation of different sounds for movies. This truly amazed me. I never knew the different creative ways people made audio for the movie. One example shown in the video was how the dinosaur eggs cracked in the movie Jurassic Park. They used an ice cream cone to make the sound of the egg cracking and they also mushed a cantaloupe to make the sound of the substance inside the egg. It sounded perfectly! This was so cool to watch!

I actually really enjoyed Professor Diaz’s discussion. She helped me realize all of the work that is put into a movie to make it a great form of entertainment. Now, whenever I watch a movie, I will pay close attention to the small details that I never payed attention to before.



Today, Professor Diaz came in to talk about cinema. One pretty interesting thing Professor Diaz mentioned was that movies are just a bunch of pictures that are played at a fast speed, sort of like a flipbook. It is pretty amazing thinking about movies in that way. I really enjoyed her lecture because she taught us how to analyze all films. Even though I wasn’t too fond of Manhattan, I can respect why other people enjoy it through the mise-en-scéne.

During the analysis of Manhattan, I noticed so many things that I wasn’t paying attention to and missed when I watched it for the first time in class. I thought it was clever that the background was used to show how Isaac was separated from the other characters. Something so small as a picture frame shows Isaac’s separation from the other characters during the dinner scene in the beginning. The empty spaces in the scenes reflect the questions the characters don’t want to address such as “What is the meaning of life?” and “Is there a God?” These observations made me think of the movie in a deeper, more intellectual way that I didn’t before.

Today’s lecture has taught me that I can use everything in a movie to back up my opinion about it. Everything in the movie is put there, for a reason, just like the details in a novel so, anything can be used to support or refute an argument. I think this is why you begin to notice more and more about a movie each time you watch it. I know after today’s class I will be looking at every little detail in a movie to use as backup for my opinion.

-Amber G


Today, we learned about the ton of aspects of a movie’s mis-en-scene. We learned that we could use the many details in a film to argue our interpretation of it. There are way too many aspects for me to go into with this blog because we looked at so many aspects and we looked at a lot of different film clips from Manhattan to show how these aspects were employed, such as the camera choice of the movie, the lighting, different things in the background.

One that interested me the most was that there are so many little details that a director puts into a movie that the audience bypasses. One example of this is the separation of characters in scenes by very thin lines in the background that appear between them. This was seen in Manhattan when Mary and Yale were at the mall and you can see the very fine line separating them, while in the apartment scene with Issac and Mary they were separated by entire rooms. These details foreshadowed the distance in their relationships and showed who would end up being together in the end.

Important lighting was shown in the a scene in his Issac’s old apartment where there is a light shining directly on Tracy while the rest of the scene is dark, which shows her importance and foreshadow them being together. The movie was filmed in cinemascope in order to get the whole view of Manhattan’s skyline and emphasize the city’s beauty and importance. What really interested me too and it was something that I would have never picked up on was the fact that in every scene, the characters are off center to be symbolic of certain things. This is a employed a lot in Woody Allen movies. For example, the scene with Yale and his wife, is shot with them off center which symbolizes their off balance relationship and their off balance morals.

Stephanie Solanki, 11/26/12

On Monday’s class, we discussed the book we had to read called Catcher in the Rye. I had read this book as a freshman in high school and was not impressed at all. I think that I was not mature enough to understand the major concepts and appreciate Holden’s perspective just yet. I am so glad that I had to chance to revisit this book. Reading it as a freshman in college is a very different experience from reading it as a freshman in high school.

My favorite part of the book is about the museum. When Holden goes to the Museum of Natural History, he thinks about how everything inside stays the same. This is what he loves about museums; he feels like he can have faith that everything inside will be there forever. It something that he counts on. The outside world may change, and he may change, but the museum will always stay the same. I think this is a major part of the book. Holden has a hard time dealing with the changes that occur in his life. He hates when children grow up and he hates that he has to deal with growing up as well. He wishes that everything would stay frozen in time like it does in the museum.

I really like that this book is told from Holden’s perspective. Was Mr. Antolini really flirting with Holden, or was he just being paranoid? The reader must decide for his or herself because the narrator is an unreliable source. This quality makes the book very unique, and adds an incredible amount of depth to everything that happens. Did it simply happen the way it did, or was Holden adding his own opinion and flavor?

I am enjoying the assignment that I am writing. Creative writing assignments are always the most fun because I can use my imagination and make the assignment my own.