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Photoplay and the Mind Cynthia Man

18 Apr

The shift of  focus in films from representation of factual events to the abstract wonderings and longings of the mind is best portrayed in the difference between the two films The Kleptomaniac  and Sherlock Jr.  While films of the past portrayed a higher social message to those viewing the work,  as the audience shifted from poor immigrants to those of the higher class,  the plots of these films shifted as well as to entertain rather than educate its  viewers.   In such a way,  film has provided a means of escapism to its fans

photo play

18 Apr

In a Psychological study, by Hugo Munsterberg, he writes, “We have reality with all its true dimensions; and yet it keeps the fleeting, passing surface suggestions without true depth and fullness, as different from a mere picture as from a mere stage performance.” “It brings our mind in to a peculiar complex state; and we shall see that this plays a not unimportant part of the mental make-up of the whole photo play.” This is truly an art form, that keeps the mind connected with the storyline, not just focusing on the people, as if they were on stage.  This article definitely explains the evolution of what we now call modern day cinema.  It is also amazing to see how the art of storytelling is still being used in modern day times.  This method definitely enhanced and further increased the need for storytelling, through pictures, and later sound.  By utilizing the photo play, it would be left up to the viewer to create their own version of the story, and then to process the info and to later tell others about the story and to go see the movie.  Then in turn, the person would be intrigued enough to go to see the picture for themselves.  The utilization of the camera, was very instrumental in the art of storytelling in the photo play.  Cameras could be used to enhance the story being told by fading in and out of scenes, and the camera could focus on certain parts of the story.  The camera was a better tool to use more so than the theater to tell a story because the camera could do certain tricks that a person could not do.  By using the camera and its tricks, the viewer could feel more the emotions associated with and enhance the story that was being told.

     In the kleptomaniac, the camera and its tricks were definitely utilized.  The camera was focused on the workers and their daily routines.  A lady leaves her home and goes to a department store.  The camera used for the this particular story is solely focused on the workers, not the crowd in the department store.  It was not until we see the woman being apprehended by management that the viewer becomes aware that a crime has been committed.  Once she is questioned by the manager we see that the middle class lady, has stolen various items that were on sale, such as jewelry.  In the court scene the middle class lady is confronted by the judge.  It is in this scene that we so a poor woman that stole bread to feed her family for their survival.  This was such a powerful tool used to tell the story that showed the disparities of the poor and the rich.  The viewer emotional feels more for the poor woman, than the rich lady, which is now seen as the villain.  In Sherlock Jr , we see the story of a young man who wants to impress a girl and aspires to be a detective.  Due to his loss of money, the main character changes the price on a gift that he is wanting to buy.  It is ironic that a thief uses his debauchery to his advantage, and thus steals the watch.  Unfortunately the father thinks that Sherlock Jr stole his watch, and refuses to let his daughter date the young detective.  This utilizes the technique of the dream sequence which is very mind boggling. I will think about photo play,the next time I walk down 42nd street and look at all the different billboards and displays.

Photo Play

18 Apr

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In a Psychological study, by Hugo Munsterberg, he writes, “We have reality with all its true dimensions; and yet it keeps the fleeting, passing surface suggestions without true depth and fullness, as different from a mere picture as from a mere stage performance.” “It brings our mind in to a peculiar complex state; and we shall see that this plays a not unimportant part of the mental make-up of the whole photo play.” This is truly an art form, that keeps the mind connected with the storyline, not just focusing on the people, as if they were on stage.  This article definitely explains the evolution of what we now call modern day cinema.  It is also amazing to see how the art of storytelling is still being used in modern day times.  This method definitely enhanced and further increased the need for storytelling, through pictures, and later sound.  By utilizing the photo play, it would be left up to the viewer to create their own version of the story, and then to process the info and to later tell others about the story and to go see the movie.  Then in turn, the person would be intrigued enough to go to see the picture for themselves.  The utilization of the camera, was very instrumental in the art of storytelling in the photo play.  Cameras could be used to enhance the story being told by fading in and out of scenes, and the camera could focus on certain parts of the story.  The camera was a better tool to use more so than the theater to tell a story because the camera could do certain tricks that a person could not do.  By using the camera and its tricks, the viewer could feel more the emotions associated with and enhance the story that was being told.

     In the kleptomaniac, the camera and its tricks were definitely utilized.  The camera was focused on the workers and their daily routines.  A lady leaves her home and goes to a department store.  The camera used for the this particular story is solely focused on the workers, not the crowd in the department store.  It was not until we see the woman being apprehended by management that the viewer becomes aware that a crime has been committed.  Once she is questioned by the manager we see that the middle class lady, has stolen various items that were on sale, such as jewelry.  In the court scene the middle class lady is confronted by the judge.  It is in this scene that we so a poor woman that stole bread to feed her family for their survival.  This was such a powerful tool used to tell the story that showed the disparities of the poor and the rich.  The viewer emotional feels more for the poor woman, than the rich lady, which is now seen as the villain.  In Sherlock Jr , we see the story of a young man who wants to impress a girl and aspires to be a detective.  Due to his loss of money, the main character changes the price on a gift that he is wanting to buy.  It is ironic that a thief uses his debauchery to his advantage, and thus steals the watch.  Unfortunately the father thinks that Sherlock Jr stole his watch, and refuses to let his daughter date the young detective.  This utilizes the technique of the dream sequence which is very mind boggling. I will think about photo play,the next time I walk down 42nd street and look at all the different billboards and displays.

The Photo Play and the Mind

18 Apr

There are many factors that come into filmmaking, as Musterberg pointed out in his work, that are difficult to manipulate in other forms of media or art, such as camera movements, timing of scenes, and plenty more. Bits and pieces of a story, or multiple stories at the same time, can be fabricated together and presented in such a way that our minds connect the dots and we see the hints, as well as the overall message, that the film is attempting to convey.

We see this in “Sherlock, Jr.” and in “The Kleptomaniac.” In “Sherlock, Jr.” many different techniques, regarding camerawork, are presented to the audience, which helps present the story in a certain way. Special effects helped put focus onto what the film was trying to make clear to the audience, such as the main character’s dreams.  In “The Kleptomaniac,” we see side-by-side storytelling, which gives the audience a hint of comparison, which is exactly what the film was trying to do as it compared the stories of the well-to-do and the poor woman.

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.

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.

Photoplay

18 Apr

Every film contributes to the evolution of storytelling in movies, either by reinforcing a style, or creating something new. ‘The Kleptomaniac’ provided a factual presentation of events by choosing not to give a “happy ending” for the visibly poor woman that stole a loaf of bread for her family, but excusing the rich woman because of an illness when she steals from a department store. By not interrupting this outcome for the poor woman, the audience is not left to make any sort of assumption, only to understand the film’s message that justice favors the wealthy. 

In ‘Sherlock Jr.’ we see a change in film making with its editing and special effects changing the way the story is told. The audience learns that Sherlock Jr.’s story alternates from “real-life” to “dream world” as he detaches himself from his physical self and jumps into the movie theater screen. The special effect was key in this film because otherwise the audience would not have differentiated when the character was dreaming, and when he was awake, affecting the audience’s ability to understand the story being told.