Photoplay and the Mind – Luther Ling

18 Apr
Hugo Munsterburg notes that “an unusual face, a queer dress, a gorgeous costume or a surprising lack of a costume, a quaint piece of decoration, may attract our mind and even hold it spellbound for a while” or that depending on the way certain characters dress or present themselves physically, we can be given initial impressions about the characters expediently (202). In “The Kleptomaniac”, for example, when the kleptomaniac is first introduced, she is well-dressed in a winter coat, and we can deduce that she is considerably affluent, and therefore she becomes associated as one of the rich. In contrast, the thief’s clothes are worn-in, her hair is disheveled, and the audience associate her with the poor.

Munsterburg also takes note of “the power of setting or background”; motion pictures are able to present “the supreme landscapes of the world” while theater can only offer painted landscapes. Movies are also capable of constantly presenting hyper-realistic locations without causing fatigue; “Sherlock, Jr.” demonstrates this. Buster Keaton, while in the ‘inner film’, leaps from area to area without disorientating the audience and the plot doesn’t become harder to decipher. The director used this to their advantage to provide much of the comedic effect, notably in the scene when Buster Keaton first enters the ‘inner film’ and dives into the snow.


2 Responses to “Photoplay and the Mind – Luther Ling”

  1. evie23 April 18, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    I like your view on how both women are categorized by the mind as rich or poor depending on the setting. Totally agree with this comment.

  2. col87 April 18, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Colleen Egan: Along with the association of the rich woman and poor woman, there is the association of social injustice mentioned by professor Ewen in class where the rich woman is set free and the poor woman locked up despite being guilty of the same crime.

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