Monday, June 29, 2009


There are a lot of film enthusiasts around – watching films, living them and some of them also reviewing them – for personal consumption and sometimes unfortunately for the public too. Well, one local radio jockey here in UAE does it every week with unfailing mediocrity and sweeping flaws. Reporting about acting and acting alone and thrashing a film just because everybody is doing so is such a pity. You can’t really expect a popcorn blower to understand the nuances of a unique narrative structure with sometimes a fractured screenplay. That’s why, in most award ceremony thank lord, you have a category called “Critic’s award”. I sincerely hope this post will give you the FILM VIEW and not just any view taking pot-shots at someone’s creative misadventure.
[Today Hitchcock is revered with new fanfare – with DVD collections – his initial offerings with a million cutaways and inserts were a big turnoff for theatre goers]

[Sholay was shot with a documentary camera with hardly any technical expertise thrown in – but yes with a dream script and screenplay – it worked]
[Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge had a damp first two weeks before it is lifted itself out of the ashes]

Famous Continuity Errors
Fans track continuity errors more effectively than directors do, apparently. Websites devoted to “movie mistakes” keep count and clearly the ability to spot errors in continuity develops early on as one learns the grammar of narrative cinema. There is, no doubt, a certain pleasure in the mastery involved in noticing a window magically intact after being shattered in the previous shot, a knowingness that is perhaps augmented by the additional awareness of the vast sums of money spent in the making of the film meant to wow us with their flawlessness and their capacity for manipulation of the image. A few errors spotted and reported by fans in Spiderman are:

Continuity: The intact windows above – in the scene where Mary Jane is being mugged by four men, Spiderman throws two of the men into two windows behind Mary Jane. Then the camera goes back to Spiderman beating up the other two guys. When the camera goes back to Mary Jane the two windows are intact.
Continuity: When Peter shoots his web at his bedroom lamp and pulls it across the room, it smashes against the wall and breaks. But when Aunt May is talking to Peter from the door seconds later, the lamp is back on the dresser in one piece.
Continuity: In the scene where Norman is getting ready to test himself he lies down on the bed, fastens himself when it shows him being brought into the chamber he has several electrodes connected to this chest and head.
Visible Crew/equipment: When Peter stands up after being bitten by the spider, there’s the reflection of the cameraman with headphones on the television set behind him.Continuity: In the final cemetery sequence, Peter and Mary Jane square off for a little heart, with her touching his face tenderly with her black leather gloves. The camera cuts front views of both; in hers, her fingers are touching his ear lobe, in his, they are an inch below his ear lobe. In one quick cut of hers, the hand has disappeared completely, then in midsentence, as they cut back to Peter, it’s there again.
Factual error: When Harry is talking to Mary Jane on the phone, she hangs up on him and his cell phone leaves a dial tone. Cell phones do not have a dial tone.

Sound is one element which not everyone hears closely – they spend more time looking. You will hardly ever have the premiere show public coming out of theatres saying aloud – “the sound design is awesome!!” you can count our own RJ Reviewer for not doing so also either. She was too busy counting the five/six/seven pack on the actor, although she would raise the champagne glass on our own Resul Pookutty slumdog fame for getting us the Oscar. May be our hopeful film enthusiast's parents won’t mind their wards now pursuing a ‘sound’ sound course, now that they have heard of it that it does exist!!

Let relive another moment from Lumet’s chronicle of movie-making illustrates how carefully editors construct sound (and how sometimes, sound and image don’t work together)

The sound editor on Murder on the Orient Express hired the “world’s greatest authority” on train sounds. He brought me the authentic sounds of not only the Orient Express but the Flying Scotsman, the Twentieth Century Limited, every train that had ever achieved the reputation. He worked for six weeks on train sounds only. His greatest moment occurred when, at the beginning of the picture, the train left the station at Istanbul. We had the steam, the bell, the wheels, and he even included an almost inaudible click when the train’s headlights went on. He swore that all the effects were authentic. When we got to the mix (the point at which we put all the sound together), he was bursting with anticipation. For the first time, I heard what an incredible job he’d done. But I had also heard Richard Rodney Bennett’s magnificent music score for the same scene. I know one would have to go. They couldn’t work together, I turned to Simon, He knew. I said, “Simone, it’s a great job. But, finally, we’ve heard a train leave the station. We’ve never heard a train leave the station in three-quarter time”

Now about making a movie – feeling a little out of sorts, can you? Why not find out what Maya Deren thinks about it.

Anyone can make a film. Experimental filmmaker Maya Deren knew it was possible to do so on the cheap as early as the 1940s:
Cameras do not make films; filmmakers make film. Improve your films not by adding more equipment and personnel but by using what you have to the fullest capacity. The most important part of your equipment is yourself; your mobile body, your imaginative mind, your freedom to use both

Now that you got Maya’s point of view; don’t consider yourself anything less than a Karan Johar movie with a million dollar budget thrown in . But still, dear, before you pick up the pen or hold the microphone to announce your ‘supposed’ impartial view on the film – go ahead make one of your own.

I almost felt like a jingoistic Indian cricket fan ready to disown my team 10 years ago when I added a new word into my dictionary “match fixing”.



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