Photo-Play (Vanessa Gonzalez)

18 Apr

Storytelling in American movies has undergone a long process of evolution, making today’s films into easier stories to process, while removing the need for the audience to engage into a deep observation or analysis. The moving images we experience in “The Kleptomaniac” and “Sherlock, Jr.” demonstrate the important role of an actively engaged audience, in which their attention is crucial for the successful understanding of the movie. Munsterberg explains: “The absence of the words brings the movements which we see to still greater prominence in our mind” (p.201). We can relate to this point by analyzing the filming techniques used in the movies ‘The Kleptomaniac’ and ‘Sherlock, Jr.’

“The Kleptomaniac” evolves around a rich woman who shop-lifting. However, we never see a “close-up” shot of the act, thus, many individuals in the audience missed this important factor. This forces the audience to interact and share knowledge about the causes and consequences of actions seen in the film. Unlike this movie, today close-ups are a vital tool to communicate important scenes to the viewer, causing a lower level of interaction among viewers.

Meanwhile, Sherlock Jr. presents the ‘close-up’ technique during different scenes, such as the moment in which the bad guy places a receipt Sherlock’s pocket to trick everyone else into thinking that Sherlock stole a watch and traded it for the gift. Similarly, the story uses fading techniques to represent a dream, thus the audience doesn’t have to put much effort to understand the story.

Consequentially, we can observe the validity of Munsterberg’s argument, in which he claims that our mind works by association of ideas. We don’t need to see the shop-lifter stealing to know she did something wrong, as she is then taken to court by the police. There is no explanation to let us know that Sherlock Jr. is dreaming, nevertheless, the techniques used during the film, such as fading, stepping out of his own body, etc., helps us deduce that he is only living a dream.


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