Photoplay and the Mind (Colleen Egan)

18 Apr

Musterberg talked a great deal about the differences between theater and film in how they are different in storytelling. With film he mentioned all the different techniques a camera was capable of that live actors on stage could not do when telling a story. He mentioned how live acting could not focus on an item the way a camera could. Like in his example of the camera focusing on a key item such as a piece of paper that was the letter from a lover that we find out about later in the story, or focusing on something happening in the scene that we wouldn’t be able to notice such as the actions of one of the characters. Other techniques mentioned was the ability for film to use fading out to use for flashbacks or enter another scene that takes place in another place or at another point in time of the story. These are things that a camera can do to enhance storytelling that the theater telling a story live cannot or cannot do as well if at all. These allow for the presentation of the facts of the story to be better told and works with the associations we make in our minds of the situations playing on screen.

In “The Kleptomaniac” the work of what a theater can do is seen in film. The camera never zooms into the crowds of people in the department store or focus on anything. We simply see the staff working and women coming in and out of the store once we get passed the lady leaving her home and traveling to the store. During this scene the upper class lady steals some of the items for sale at the store but due to the camera staying stationary this is difficult to see. We don’t notice until after she is grabbed by the manager that she has been taking and hiding some of the jewelry on display. Just like in the theater with live characters we are stuck in a situation that we are unable to notice things as well as we could if the view was zoomed in or focused on which only a camera can do. However the use of fading out as well as cutting to other scenes brings us to other parts of the story such as her being brought to the manager’s office where we see everything she tried to steal, the police taking her away and then later her moment in court along with a woman who stole bread to feed her family. People can associate with the characters in their mind from the situation of the poor woman in the same court who stole bread to feed her family along with the rich woman who stole the jewelry. The poor back then as well as now are treated badly and plenty probably had to resort to crime to support and feed their families while the rich got away with any wrong doings they did. It speaks to every person who’s been in the situation of struggling to provide for themselves and their families and feels a sense of injustice towards the rich. From the rich woman getting away with her crime to the poor woman being locked up for hers even though the crimes they committed are the same their classes are different and that is what is at play.

While in Sherlock Jr. many of the basic techniques we see in movies today such as the close up. A closeup was used to bring our attention to the young man changing the price on the gift he bought and then later thief using it to his advantage. The techniques of affects were used when the main character begins to dream and a transparent version of himself walks away from his sleeping self and enters the movie on screen. The movie also minds when the dream world acts out of touch with reality such as when the main character goes to jump in the water only for it to disappear. We can associate with the main character in that many of us from time to time feel inadequate compared to who we want to be. Also there is the events of being accused of a crime we did not commit and wishing to prove our innocents. The main character wants to be a detective but once he is able to try it he fails and loses his girlfriend for most of the film when her father thinks he was the one that stole his watch. From the main character losing some of the money he was going to spend on a gift, to changing the price on the box with the camera zoomed in on it, to the thief using this as a way to hide the watch and blame him, to the main character being thrown out while wishing to be the man he envisions for himself. For him he wants to be a swave and famous detective whom out smarts the bad guys and whom no fact goes unnoticed. This is brought out in his dream where he is able to live this out like many of us tend to do from time to time. The dream world is able to give us what we want while toying with us in a way that while we’re dreaming we don’t question such as when the water vanishes when the main character tries to jump in it. Unlike “The Kleptomaniac” where there is a sense of injustice people can associate with by the rich woman and poor woman being judged on their class, Sherlock Jr. allows those who have been wronged to see the good person win in the end when the girlfriend returns to him when she finds out he didn’t steal the watch or want to be found innocent.


One Response to “Photoplay and the Mind (Colleen Egan)”

  1. khalidvetro April 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    It is safe to say that movie techniques used in sherlock holmes, camera and visual effects, and kleptomaniac, playing on the viewers mind in terms of satisfaction, all created a foundation for what movies today can incorporate into their films.

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