Reading Movies

When I was in college, I took a couple film classes. While I enjoy occasionally going to the movies, I certainly never considered myself a film buff. I enjoy the action, the comedy, the emotions of film, but I didn’t realize how little I appreciated those things until I took those classes. Learning how to look at a film from a director’s eyes lends itself to an unbelievable viewing perspective. You start to realize that there isn’t a single object inside the frame that is just there “randomly.” Everything has a purpose, everything means something. So I was excited to get back into this with this blog assignment.

As I read through How to read a movie by Roger Ebert, I was reminded of the hours I spent in class going through some of the classic films from the last century. I also watched videos about two of my favorite directors–Quentin Tarantino and Alfred Hitchcock. Tarantino’s use of low angle shots almost always stays true to Ebert’s suggestion that the person being shown exhibits dominance or importance. Truthfully, though, I was much more interested in the Hitchcock video. In the video, he suggests that film editing, and cuts in particular, can have a powerful impact on the way the viewer perceives a scene. As he says, the same smile can be sweet when the guy is looking at a mom and her baby, but infinitely more creepy when looking at a girl in a bikini.

This implies that a director should always use cuts to his or her advantage. However, this doesn’t mean using an obscene number of cuts in every film. My absolute favorite Hitchcock movie is Rope, in which Hitchcock only used 10 cuts in the entire film. This makes each cut so much more impactful, so much more meaningful. To anyone interested in film editing and composition, I highly recommend watching Rope (or any Hitchcock move, for that matter!).

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