Formultation of the Classical Hollywood Style

January 19, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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Formulation of the Classical Hollywood Style The Classical Narrative

CAUSE & EFFECT  Primitive period (1894-1908), most common framing the long shot  Impossible to see facial expressions & small gestures  Presented “too much” for viewer  With classical model, this changed  Multiple lines of action  Narrative material broken down  Editing, camera distance, inter-titles, acting articulated cause & effect

CAUSE & EFFECT & REALISM  Basis of cause & effect narrative was compositional unity  Reality has accidents & coincidence; not the classical narrative  Realism important for mise-en-scène The classical film begins in medias res  Begin in middle of action; we learn about characters & previous events through exposition  In primitive film, we learn little about characters or events before film began

THE PSYCHOLOGICALLY BASED CHARACTER  Film turned toward literature for characters with multiple traits  These character traits were necessary to motivate action  Characters have only traits needed for the narrative  “Realistic” traits will motivate some later action or event

SUBJECTIVITY  With increase in length & complexity, additional traits added  By 1915, mental subjectivity seen in some films  Earlier films had included subjectivity  Usually only as basis for entire film or when absolutely necessary  With classical film, portions of objective narrations could be subjective

OTHER WAYS TO PERSONALIZE CHARACTERS  By 1909, most important characters were given names  By the mid-1920s, they were also given “tags”  Star system also helped to personalize characters

CHARACTER GOALS  Characters in primitive films reacted to events; in classical films have clear goals  Goals met with obstacles CHARACTER & TEMPORAL RELATIONS  As films became longer, plots initially covered more story time  But generally showed only “high points”  Temporal gaps marked with intertitles

Films began to cover less time  More, briefer, temporal gaps  Sought ways to make narration less selfconscious This was solved in several ways:  Concentrating on character actions & goals  Technical devices marked deviations from chronological order  Fades or dissolves instead of superimpositions  Also motivated by the narrative DEADLINE important to structuring temporal progression

THE FUNCTIONS OF INTER-TITLES  EXPOSITORY TITLES  Common in primitive cinema  Summary expository titles  Establishing expository titles  In later silent era  “LITERARY” inter-title  The “ART” inter-title  Sometimes used to establish setting  Or used non-diegetic images to convey idea

DIALOGUE TITLES (came later in primitive cinema, favored over expository titles) Expository titles used at beginning of scenes, dialogue titles within scenes INSERTS: Close-ups of letters, newspaper headlines or articles, photographs, etc.

THE “AMERICAN” STYLE OF ACTING  1909-1913, shift in acting style  More restrained style; emphasized facial expressions & small gestures  Improvements in film stocks, lighting equipment, make-up, etc.; better actors  Helped bring about CHC editing style:  Close-ups needed to fully utilize this style of acting  Breakdown of space required continuity rules

UNITY & REDUNDANCY  All of these features appeared in the primitive cinema  But not used systematically with conventionalized meanings  Might use 1 of these features, & build the narrative around it  Classical cinema codified devices, used to create unified featurelength films, redundant narratives

Formulation of the Classical Hollywood Style

The Continuity System

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THE CONTINUITY SYSTEM & SPACE Editing increased as films became longer & more complicated  A potentially disruptive force  Required a system to maintain unity After 1907, industry, trade press & “how-to” books promoted continuity as essential for a “well-made” film  Referred to both narrative continuity & clearly-articulated space & time  Continuity then came to refer specifically to editing guidelines

ESTABLISHING SHOTS  Originally, films consisted of 1 long take with a fairly distant framing  Then, a number of these shots (tableaux)  No change in space or time within shots; changes between tableaux  Joined by expository inter-titles  With multiple shot scenes, these became establishing shots  Used to establish mise-en-scène & show most of the action  Came at beginning & end of scene; closer shots pointed out details, showed expressions, etc.

By late teens, establishing shot functioned as in continuity editing system  1 shot among many, established mise-en-scène  Scene itself consisted of a number of closer shots  Establishing shot appeared again only if mise-en-scène changed  Placement varied; not always at the beginning of the scene

ANALYTICAL EDITING  IN THE PRIMITIVE ERA  Cut-ins used rarely  Most often medium shots, from same angle as establishing shot  They were used to:  Show facial expression  Show details not visible in the establishing shot  To indicate POV  To limit space for special effects  Cut-ins avoided if possible; actors moved closer to camera

BY THE MID-TEENS  Cut-in became much more common  No longer had to be motivated by POV, a specific detail of information  Could be from any angle  Could give a better vantage point  Increase in film length & editing made cut-in more acceptable  By 1917, cut-in a staple of continuity editing system

SCREEN DIRECTION & THE 180° RULE  Originally, no editing, therefore no problem  Later, 1-D sets & backdrops made it impossible to violate rule  Audience conceived of as if it were a theater audience  With analytical editing & 3-D sets, the tradition continued  Breaks in continuity occurred, but relatively rare  They occurred due to:  Shots taken out of continuity without script girls  The lack of formal guidelines

MULTIPLE SPACES  CONTIGUOUS SPACES joined by character movement, eyeline match, shot/reverse shot system  NON-CONTIGUOUS SPACES  Most often articulated using crosscutting  Could compress time; important with short films  Later, used to expand time; important with longer films

SPACE & THE SPECTATOR’S ATTENTION  Attention of viewer guided using other elements of film style  STAGING IN DEPTH  Actors began to move toward the camera  After this, actors began to be placed more in depth  Helped bring the viewer into a 3-D space

SETTINGS & DEPTH  Painted backdrops had advantages, but lacked verisimilitude  As soon as studios could afford 3-D sets, they did so  Late 20s, efforts to eliminate difference between location & studio shots  3-D sets allowed for more extensive analytical editing

DEEP FOCUS CINEMATOGRAPHY  During most of silent period, efforts to achieve greatest depth of field  But only 2 planes were in deep focus (middle ground & background)  Deep focus made staging in depth possible  However, lighting was needed to draw this attention

LIGHTING FOR CLARITY & DEPTH  During teens, movement away from even, overall illumination & towards selective lighting  An effort to motivate light as coming from diegetic sources  Hollywood refined backlighting, creating “rim” lighting

FRAMING AS A GUIDE FOR THE SPECTATOR  Classical cinema centered important narrative information  Camera movement began as a way to center action in frame (reframing)  Served other functions also:  Tracking & panning to follow actions  Panning & tilting to reveal or conceal information With increased planning of shots, camera movement not as necessary

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STABILITY AFTER 1917 By mid-20s, CHC style reached a high degree of stability  Many models to follow  Young filmmakers in 1920s had films as their models  Informal apprenticeship program  Trade papers, instructional manuals, etc. perpetuated style  Trade organizations also helped to perpetuate CHC style  Adherence to “quality filmmaking” rewarded by audiences & studio heads

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CONTEMPORARY RECOGNITION OF STANDARDIZATION Standardization regarded as a positive force Early years regarded as a separate era Progress “halted” now that “near perfection” had been attained After this point, changes in CHC style relatively small  Minor changes such as increased graphic continuity  Assimilation (& “taming”) of other styles

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