The future of Cinema

Learning about the history of film this semester opened up my prejudices of film. I understood why we came up with it in the first place, it was not just because of technological advancements but also with the changing social contexts and the need for us to escape from reality.

Isn’t it the same case today as well? Technology is still changing rapidly. The way viewers are able to experience films in different ‘forms’ – through their phones, in an exhibition or through VR lenses. And we still make them because we want to send a message or escape reality, which is essentially being able to ‘experience’ something we are unable to in our everyday lives. Will this ‘window’ that allows audience and filmmakers to look through and experience something new all the time cease to exist? How far are we able to take film further with technology and illusions of reality?

Being an interactive student myself, I realize that even games are becoming more film-like, their plots are even heavier than that of films sometimes and they are more centered on individual entertainment e.g. the use of VR sets. Similarly, they are made so that we can escape reality. However, will this pursuit to build the ultimate experience be too much?

Nowadays, as technology advances faster than ever before, so does our pursuit of the ultimate movie/game experience expand. In the Netflix series, ‘Black Mirror’, there was an episode called Playtest, (spoiler alert) where this user was brought in to the best gaming company’s headquarters as he gets invited to playtest the most immersive horror game. A chip is implanted into the users head and all the game is doing is giving him hallucinations of the game.Things get too real even though the user knows very well that all of that is fake. But the user dies in the end, in 0.04 seconds because his mom rang his phone, which amplified his fearful experience. Is that what the future would be?  Would this pursuit of the American dream or the grass being greener on the other side be too much?

Many topics of say, racism, femininity and the infinite travel into black holes are just some of the topics in films today. There are many facets to think about when it comes to films and what I just described above is just one. It has so many facets because it is essentially our perception of real life, done in a way which we can view it. The importance of film today is paramount, so does the films of the past, that is why this module was so eye-opening to me.

The Femme Fatale // Final Online Response.

The Femme Fatale. 

The origin of the femme fatale actually started way before it flourished in film noir in the 1940s. They were depicted in ancient history in characters such as the Greek goddess–Aphrodite, the Egyptian goddess– Cleopatra and various Hindu goddesses. They were categorized as femme fatale as they portrayed dangers of unbridled female sexuality – something that the world was not used to. But it was not something for the male population of those times to be threatened about because there were only those few icons that stuck up like a golden sore thumb in the grand scheme of the males’ independence and eternal superiority.

They were no longer the ladies that men cried with lust over due to the sensual contortions of her body. Through Film Noir, females as a whole were revealed and portrayed as goddesses of hysteria, the curse of supreme beauty itself.

In the Context of War

WW2 created profound changes to the American dream. A female at home was not happy with just a husband that she would welcome home. She was not okay with just staying at home to take care of their children. She planned to do as much as the other breed did, this was encouraged by the war itself – indirectly. Majority of the jobs inland were given to the females now that the males were mostly deployed out of the country to be the strongest front of the country. Although this in itself was an action that showed men were the more dependable ones to protect the country, to lead the country towards freedom, from the males’ point of view, there was a movement towards female liberation and independence inland.

‘The Blue Dahlia’ and ‘Gun Crazy’

In both films they portray the Femme Fatale as females who wanted more in their lives.

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In ‘the Blue Dahlia’, women seem entitled to do what they want since they have been the lady-in-charge when the men have been gone. The women seem angry that the men want to take charge even though they have been gone, and they fully understand that ‘heroes’ a.k.a men who are war veterans always seem to be right. In this movie, there was a rhetorical question of whether the home the male antagonist was returning to was really a home before the femme fatale died.

In ‘Gun crazy’, it is taken out of the household and portrayed a melodramatic crime romance. The female antagonist – Annie, used her feline prowess talent and sexuality to attract Bart – the male antagonist. She then used her domineering personality to threaten Bart that she would stay together with him if he does not have ‘spirit and guts’ to perform a heist. This is done so that she gets what she wants, a lifestyle of crime and violence, which is not exactly what one would expect from a woman.

The last similarity is that the Femme Fatale needed to die first, even seconds before the male antagonist does the same seconds later (as seen in ‘Gun Crazy’). It is almost that the only answer a female would get by chasing her dreams which are radical for women but normal for men is death. To have ambition beyond your reach woman, you will die.

The Irony

Last but not least, I would want to touch on the irony of the production of these films. These films were directed by males of the era, male writers who were aware of this deterioration of the American Dream. Was this a movement purely to narrate the normal situations in the American households and relationships at the point in time? Or were they trying to give the females their power that they wanted to be entitled to?

If they wanted to portray any of the above, why did the Femme Fatale have to die first?  Given the context that the women at that time had jobs to do and could go out more than before, they were able to go out and see these movies. So what exactly was the message the male directors try to portray to the females? Were they asking them to back down and stay at home so everything could be what it used to be? Was it their way of narrating the present yet reminisincing the past which was calm and peaceful when men were more entitled and the women were easily content? The questions still stand.

I personally think they purposely made this feature of the Femme Fatale so that the male population can also have a say against possible female liberation and independence. Anyone could have died first in those situations as portrayed in the movies, but the directors went ahead and portrayed the females in this light. Therefore, i feel as though film is a very powerful media of Art that can actively portray scenes yet make strong and impactful messages through different devices as it is a 4 dimensional media.

Ozu’s take on Simplicity // Online Response 10 October

Ozu was no doubt Japan’s master of Shomin-geki – the modern-day middle-class comedy. He found the way that his aesthetic would explain the film more than the narration. Even in the time where sound in film was making a revolution in the Hollywood industry, Ozu’s films were all alike and ‘uneventful’ almost as he eliminated other film techniques from the west.

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The sense of normality permeates through all his films. He captures every form, ritual, and surface of the middle-class life in Japan. Each and every frame has a meaning and carefully crafted of everything in the frame. The recurring ingredient of normality in all his films creates a parallelism. For subject matter, he puts several characters together in the focus of a frame and pinpoints all the different, contrasting character’s actions choices against each other. This is made as they go through the same trials and tribulations and create not a comparison but rather an overview of how different characters deal with the same problem of life in general. The mood is not as encapturing as American films were there are action scenes like those seen in gangster movies but they rather bring you through a journey enrapturing you in the charm and warmth of the Japanese family setting. One might even question what is the final moral of the story because it so assimilated to those of everyday life and parallel to each other, but it charms you once again and draws you back into the movie.

Parallelism also is shown in the recurring motifs he shows in the beginning and end of each film. to show the cycle of our lives. And through this visual device rather than having just that American-dream happy-ending, there is a nostalgic and delicately counterpoint balanced attitude. Ozu uses Mono no aware – as if the term was translated from English to Japanese itself, it is an attitude which each character is aware of what has come to pass, and has come to a silent and willing acceptance of what things are, what changes have come across the characters. He also uses elliptical editing which is a  lack of tempo and unity. Ozu chooses to not depict certain events, as seen in tokyo story – the parents mention about a stop that we did not hear of (Osaka). In a way Ozu omits major plot points – once again in late spring, we skip through the most important event, the wedding of the daughter. Which then highlights what Ozu sees as an important scene on screen. With this he alters time – as seen throughout Tokyo story, the mother’s sickness deteriorates without any warning to the viewers.

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These scenes are connected by transitions. These transitions lack unity in them, no shot lasts longer than another, he creates this sense of importance of every shot, and the idea of impermanence that it might be the last time we see it. It stresses the passage of time.

It is known that Tzu has more talk in his films, but when it comes to moments of silence, the camera gives us a still of an interior or scenery. this could last for as long as 5 mins. almost serving the audience a point of view as to what is like to be contemplating over events in a still setting.

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How Ozu holds out on editing creates emotion, rather than making the cuts distracting like in the gangster films of the west. Another challenge that Ozu presented to Hollywood films was the use of the Tatami shot – angle of someone seating on the tatami mat, direct requires the viewer to look straight on. he creates this static and distant – however, the feelings weren’t distant. Ozu ended up creating a very inviting setting to the viewer and not creating an uncomfortable, voyeur type of setting.

In all of these techniques talked about, Ozu created the most full-bodied and distinctive in cinematic history. One can almost say he plays with simplicity but in depth. He puts all his attention to how to present what is seen. all relevant subjects were in the frame and that essentially highlighted the delicateness of the normality of the middle-class life.

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