Dr. Strangelove, 1964

The film Dr.Stangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb was released in 1964. Originally this film was supposed to be released in 1963, but due to J. F. Kennedy’s assassination it was released later. The film is in black and white and is a comical story about an unintentional nuclear attack.  This film takes place during the Cold War, which was the all around continuing conflict after World War II. One of the actors in the cast of the film is Peter Sellers. He has the role of playing three characters: Mandrake, Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove. Along with all his characters, he and the rest of the cast, make many witty remarks in the film, which makes it humorous and entertaining to watch. This infamous film also demonstrates how technology can get of control and dominate civilization.

Dr.Strangelove was filmed during the post-war era. The cinematography in this film uses Direct Cinema and Avant-Garde Cinema. Direct Cinema is a style of film that is primarily used in documentaries using 16mm and 35mm cameras. Even though this style was mainly used for documentaries Dr.Strangelove was also filmed using 16 and 35 mm cameras. Hand held cameras were used to create this style of filming to capture specific angles and to give the viewer a particular feel. This technique gives the audience an intimate feeling toward the story. The method of direct cinema became most popular during the mid 1960s. With both the method and technology Direct Cinema has a big influence around the world. Avant-Garde Cinema, which is often referred to as Experimental Film, is the production of common commercials and documentaries. Avant-garde Cinema was big during the 1960s and was previously unheard of.

The opening scene in the film is of two airplanes flying through the air. They are attached together on different heights. During this black and white scene, the clouds look beautiful and the camera is steady moving, carefully capturing this moment. To add to the striking sight of the airplanes, there is beautiful music playing in the background. Even though it is the very first scene in the movie, it’s beautiful because of its pureness, simplicity, and innocence, which is ultimately, ironic. The camera appears to be sitting on its own cloud in the sky watching these planes pass by. The cinematography in this scene is outstanding because of this amazing illusion and the way the bigger lens captures so much scenery and movement.

Another scene in Dr. Strangelove that shows its exemplary filming is when the camera films the interior in of one of the B-52 bomber planes. While on call, one of the crewmembers on the plane seems to be in deep thought while reading, waiting for a job to do. At this point the camera zooms in on his face. His face is serious and the man is head to toe, fitted in his uniform. The camera moves down from his face into his hands where there lies a Playboy magazine. Yes, while waiting on duty for potential battle this man is deeply engrossed, looking serious, and is looking at a magazine full of nude women. This adds to the comical aspect of the film.

Overall, from the style of cinematography to the historical time period, which is created in good humor, makes Dr. Strangelove an American classic. The juxtaposition of humor and battle makes this film all the more interesting.

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Vertigo, 1958

Vertigo, a physiological thriller that primarily takes place in San Francisco, California, was released in 1958. It was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The main character in the film is John “Scottie” Ferguson. He is a retired detective and is later hired as a private investigator by one of his college friends, Gavin Elster. John has a severe case of acrophobia, which is an extreme fear of heights. Besides having acrophobia he also gets vertigo which is caused by his phobia. Vertigo is an extreme type of dizziness accompanied by whirling and spinning movements. In the film, John’s job is to follow Gavin’s wife, Madeleine, around because of her recent abnormal behavior. This task becomes more difficult because John begins to fall in love with this woman whom he thinks is Madeleine but is actually, unbeknownst to him, a woman named Judy. His feelings cause him to through an emotional rollercoaster. The film with its twisted plot and challenging, yet very effective cinematography, only adds to the excitement of this unpredictable ride of a story.

The cinematography in Vertigo is done beautifully. Robert Burks was the cinematographer. Vertigo is a well-filmed in-color story that has many unusual types of camera shots in it. Of all the different types of tactics Robert used, the depth of field shots were the best. A depth of field shot is when a picture or video draws attention to one thing and the rest of it is blurred. Its main focus is what specifically the creator wants the viewer to see and which produces a very intriguing effect.

One of the best filming effects in the film is when the camera shows John’s phobia of heights. He goes into a sort of vertigo and the camera movement make you feel as if you are there feeling the same way. When the camera is capturing this experience it is zooming in and out and is spinning and whirling causing the viewer to feel dizzy. This scene occurs when “Madeleine” is running up the spiral stairs going to the bell tower at the Mission San Juan Batista. John is trailing behind her trying to stop her. Step by step John’s phobia begins to come into effect and slows him down. He looks down the all of the steps and realizes how high he is and his vertigo begins. At this scene in the movie the camera shows the full effect of John’s vertigo. The camera is steady looking down the steps and as it is locked in on this image it begins to get blurry and move around. Scenes like this occur throughout the movie capturing John’s acrophobia as it happens. Every time his vertigo kicks in this cinematic effect comes into play.

This American classic film is unlike any other. Through its plot and filming, it stands alone as stunning physiological thriller. The cinematography that causes the viewers to actually feel John’s phobia and vertigo, paints a clear image in the viewers head as if they were going through it. Its brilliance lies both in its convoluted filming and plot.

 

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Citizen Kane, 1941

Citizen Kane is considered to be one of the greatest films in the history of filmmaking. Made in 1941, this film marks the beginning era of cinematography.  Though it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, it did not do well when first released. Interestingly enough, the film was considered to be a financial disappointment during its time. Over time it was appreciated as it should have been. One of the most captivating aspects of this film is its cinematography; the creation of camera angles and lighting decisions when filming photographic pictures for a film.

In the beginning of the film the camera movement and angles are complex, quick, and stylish. There are interesting close-up shots of body features. A steady shot of handwriting or a close-up of a facial expression are some examples of the interesting ways in which the film was shot occur. A complicated shot worth noting that is a shot where the camera shows a shiny object on a table while showing a human action in the reflection of the object. Also interesting are the many quick, rather stunning, scenic shots. Buildings are captured at low angles, city views are show at a birds-eye-view, and objects and people are filmed being zoomed in and out to truly capture an image. The byzantine style, creativity, and variety of shots in this film are simply astonishing.

One of the most attractive scenes in the film appears twice. The camera moves effortlessly in this scene. The camera rises and goes through the smallest gap in between the letters of a sign, and then rises up even higher and is hovering above a glass ceiling. Above the glass ceiling you can see inside a woman sitting at a table. The camera then goes through the glass and takes you right into the scene with Susan Alexander. After this scene, the film is a flashback of Charles Foster Kane’s life and goes all the way back to that scene with the exact camera movements leading back through the glass ceiling. It is complicated and absolutely fantastic at the same time.

Another very entrancing scene in the film occurs in the newspaper printing room.  Thousands of newspapers are being printed, and in the printing station the paper goes through several steps before delivery. At one point the newspaper is sliding up the machine and the camera locks onto one newspaper following it up to the top. This effect gives a really unique shot of the newspaper making you feel as if you were sliding up along with it on the machine.

Overall, the cinematography of Citizen Kane is nothing short of remarkable. Its depth, complexity, and sophistication make it unlike any other movie. This is a film that can be watched over and over again offering new insights and inspirations at every viewing.

 

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Modern Times, 1936

The film Modern Times takes place in 1936 and concentrates on the time of during the Depression. During the economic recession, it led to many citizens in America being unemployed and poor. The film is about the comical character, Charlie Chaplin, acting as the Little Tramp. He is overwhelmed and is having a hard time fitting in with the modern, industrialized world. There are Similar concepts are also seen in the film Metropolis. In the opening scene, the camera shows a big group of people walking together franticly, which is also a scene in Metropolis. Another example that shows correlation between the two films is how Chaplin has the “Electro Steel Corp”, which is a big industrial factory where the workers are working at a restless, demanding rate. This is similar to Metropolis, in the fact that there is a big industrial factory, which is in the depths of the city. In the depths, the workers are treated as if they are part of the machines while they struggle and strive to keep them operating smoothly.

In Modern Times, a theme that is recognized is The Tramp intending to do well but ending up getting into trouble because of it – basically, a theme of failure. An example of this is when The Tramp is walking in the street and he sees a truck with lumber in which ends up dropping its red caution flag. Seeing this happen, he picks it up and waves it back and forth trying to get the driver’s attention. As he is doing this a mob of protesters come from behind him and it looks as if The Tramp is leading the group while waving this red flag. As he is doing this, the city police arrest him and accuse him of being a communist protest leader. This sends The Tramp to jail.

Another example of The Tramp’s genuine intentions to do well occurs when he gets out of jail. Scared of going back into the real world, he asks if he is allowed to stay in prison. Not being allowed to, he is sent off with a letter that helps him get a job. He gets a job working on ships on a construction site. His very first task is to help find a wooden wedge for his boss. While looking around he picks up a wedge, but does not realize he grabbed it from a plank that is holding one of the ships in place. Excited as he finds his first wooden wedge, he turns around and the unfinished boat slides into the ocean and gets destroyed. Although his intentions were always sincere, The Tramp ends up making situations worse.

Throughout the film there are many instances where it seems like The Tramp cannot do anything the way he plans or means to. However, all of his struggles change at the very end of the movie. After failing as a waiter at a restaurant, he ends up dancing and singing there as their entertainment. Unexpectedly, The Tramp comes out and puts on a show that everyone in the restaurant loves. Everyone is laughing and cheering him on. After his performance the owner of the restaurant decides to hire him. Elated and relieved The Little Tramp is.

In conclusion, the theme of failure can be seen through The Tramps experiences of him intending to do well.  And ironically, in the end, he unintentionally stumbles on success.


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Metropolis, 1927


The 1927 film Metropolis reminds me of the 2004 film I-Robot. In both films there are human-like robots that attempt to take over the world. In Metropolis the M-Machine (the robot) is created by Rotwang and is designed to take over and destroy the city and all of the Federsen family. Similarly, in I-Robot there are robots that are created that were intended to help families and make life more convenient. However, after a few things go wrong these robots try and take over the world. In both films the stories of these robots and their attempts to overtake society provides a great plot.

One theme that is discovered while watching the film is the reoccurring theme of compassion. Throughout the film there is a lot going on in the city of Metropolis, which is all run by Joh Federsen. His sons name is Freder and has no clue about what goes on in his father’s city. While watching Freder develop throughout the film it can be seen that he is being compassionate over and over again. An example is when his father fires his assistant Josaphat. After he is fired Josaphat feels as if it’s the end of the world and pulls a gun to his head. Freder, being the good guy that he is, follows him out of his father’s office and stops him. Freder asks Josaphat if he would work for him instead. Josaphat agrees. Another example of Freder being compassionate is when he sees one of the workers struggling while working one of the machines. Freder feels bad and decides to exchange clothes with the man and takes over his brutal shift working the machine.

Aside from Freder in the movie, Maria also has an image that develops into a theme. She gathers all of the workers in the catacombs to talk to them one day. While talking to them she says, “The mediator between the head and hands must be out hearts”. This quote turns out to be a theme in the film. She refers to “the head” being the planners in the city, and “the hands” as being the workers in the city. After her speech it is clear that they are waiting for a mediator who ends up being Freder who was in the crowd of workings during Marias gathering.

Another theme in the film is the reoccurrence of Joh Federsen being unaware about his city. Sometimes being so high with power can be blinding at times. For example, Joh had no clue that one of the biggest factories blew up. Another example of is paucity of knowledge is that all of the workers in the factories had a piece of paper with a map on it leading to the catacombs, which he didn’t know existed.

Overall, through the themes of compassion, unawareness, and Maria’s quote about finding the mediator it can be seen that Metropolis is a film that raises a lot of questions and teaches viewers a thing or two about life and its ups and downs.

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920

Dramatic Analysis: Describe the sets, costumes, and make-up if these elements of the film’s design are significant.

Ever had a nightmare, scary dream, or even slept walked? In the 1920 film, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, it tells a story of a scary somnambulist who kills people. A somnambulist is someone who sleepwalks. This film is a dark, mysterious tale that tells the storyof a killer sleep walker. In the film there is a focus on the sets, costumes,and make-up.

In this 1920 film the sets are relatively simple. For the most part, it looks like things were being filmed on a stage with many props and painted backgrounds. In the film it can be seen that almost all of the scenes in the movie had some sort of obscure and abstract structure to it. All the buildings and pictures that were built and painted were crooked and not even. Things in this film were not proportional and were somehow off kilter. This is fitting because of the plot of the film being twisted and dark. Along with the background scenery being askew. Shown in the movie, the props being used were also a bit peculiar. For example, there is a scene where a man is working at a desk. If you picture that in your head it sounds perfectly normal, however the director pictured and captured something very different. In this scene, the man in the desk is elevated off the ground about 7 feet with a tall chair and desk in front of him. It is so bizarre. The best part of the film relating to the set is in a scene where there is a staircase that does not go very high but an illusion is created to make them look very high. They were actually painted to achieve this effect. On the original steps they painted other steps that got smaller and smaller to give the effect of going higher and higher. This tactic is a very creative way to show depth.

The costumes in this film were relatively modest, not very showy at all. The men in the movie wore suites or blazers often with a tie or scarf. In addition, majority of them were wearing some sort of black hat. The protagonist of the film, Dr. Caligari wore a robe, a tall hat, glasses and used a cane. He also had long white hairwhich had black streaks that were painted on. The women in the film also wore dark clothes often having their hair in some sort of braid. This is especially seen with the younger girls.

With all of the characters in the film there is a lot of makeup used. This film was primarily dominated by men, but of course the women that are in it also have makeup on. It is interesting how the man who has been asleep for many years, Cesare (the sleepwalking killer) wore the most makeup. He has lipstick and eyeshadow on to make him look dark. Other men in the film also had lipstick and eyeshadow on, but none of them had as much as Cesare. This was probably done to dramatize his character further.

Overall, this film is very enjoyable. Every act built upon the nextone telling a great story of Cesare, the somnambulist. Analyzing the set, costumes, and make-up was also very fun especially for such an old movie. This film should be seen because of its uniqueness and edge-of-the-seat storyline.

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