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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 1. March 4, 1953

Films — Chatting About the Cinema — Notes, Jibes, Queries and Answers


Chatting About the Cinema

Notes, Jibes, Queries and Answers

Films by Rich graphic

1953—The film is getting too old to go on being "all adolescent all the time."

* * *

I don't like the way film people pack their luggage, just chucking in a few fal-lals in a free and easy way, snapping the locks, and then turning up at the end of their journey with mosses of immaculately pressed clothes that appear to materialise out of thin air.

* * *

I often wonder about the private lives of film directors. When I hear all their Incidental music. I say to myself: "Do they, when eating a roast meal, pour gravy on the carrots, artichokes, beans, peas, tomatoes and cabbage as well as on the meat ?"

* * *

Gill and Lacey have four years probation. Lacey's father says he partly blames the influence of bad films for his son's crimes. Mr. Gordon Mirams, as New Zealand's film censor, are you doing your job properly?

You bet he is: Sex and violence can be shaped into art and Mr. Mirams knows it. He allowed New Zealanders .to sec one of the best pictures for years—a picture Australians may never sec. "La Ronde" might have been preoccupied with sex. But not so much as to ignore its artistic functions. An adult film and an artistic triumph.

No, no Mr. Lacey don't blame the cinema. Blame yourself. Don't be on advocate for strict public censorship. You ore the censor for your family: be aware of your functions. What shall we do with the kids tonight?

* * *

In Russia if you are late for the pictures your ticket becomes invalid. One of the few glories of Communism in practice. And what medicine for some "democratic" movie-goers.

* * *

Someone has said: "Movies reproduce reality." He is quite wrong. There's no space for all the irrelevances in people's behaviour and conversation. The spectator is not satisfied with the action on the screen passing in the usual rhythm of real life. He feels a subjective desire for a concentrated form of film narrative. But the movies can capture reality's essence. "By expressing undefinable [unclear: huttan] emotions, movies can reveal moments of truth."

* * *

Roger Manvell names certain themes that are implicit in most Alms (American and British alike, but more vividly in American). Here are two of them.

(1)Things of the spirit are either funny, eccentric, charlatan, or ever so wonderful. (Art is usually debunked as artiness: religion, as mama mysticism as a yearn in soft focus.)
(2)Sex is probably the most important sensation in life. Another example next week.

* * *

"Sound added a new dimension to the film, a new extension of realism."—Lendgren. But for dramatic effect, silence is often golden.

Let me repeat one of my favourite quotations from Ernest Lindgren. What he has to say has some bearing on the above discussion on film-criticism.

"Keen appreciation of the pleasures of life should be spontaneous, but this is not to say that it comes by nature. A fine taste must be cultivated. The gourmet who relishes the blend of a fine coffee has trained his palate over many years by drinking and tasting many blends; the music lover rapt in his Chopin or Elgar is reaping the fruits of a lifetime of musical education, partly conscious, partly unconscious. A comparatively small number of people have recognised it hot a full appreciation of the finest works of the cinema requires a similar training of eye and ear and understanding, and over the past twenty years they have grouped themselves into film societies in order to see and to study productions which the commercial cinema denied to them."

Shall we start a film society at Vic? Perhaps if we all join the Wellington society, that will be enough, (Am I betraying myself as a fanatic?)

* * *

Another quotation, this lime from John Grierson. in a film "you photograph the natural life, but you also, by your juxtaposition of detail create on interpretation of it."

He is talking about "editing" or for the high-brow, "montage." A well-acted and well-photographed film is no; by this alone a good film. It is the montage that completes the film.

* * *

The opera, in a way is the film in reverse.

Opera: the aural form of art in which visual impressions are added to music.

Film: the visual form of art in which aural impressions are added to perception.

Lighting is an important factor in the telling of a photographed narrative. Dark tones tend to depress our spirits and a great abundance of light helps to raise them. For comedies and romances, bright lighting with hard contrasts are used, e.g.. "Les Enfants du Paradls." For more "realistic" films, we have low-key lightin gand soft contrasts. "Odd Man Out" and "Panique." What I'm waiting for is the Marx brothers causing havoc amongst the low keys and softies.

* * *

What would Freud, think of the cinema ? Do you know that someone has said that the whole arsenal of our repressions are set in motion cvery time we go to the pictures?

* * *

Some of us saw Murnau's "The Last Laugh." In it the camera looked up at Emil Jonnings as the grandiose hotel doorman. After his humiliation, the camera looked down on him. A fascinating art-medium this cinema!

Some of us saw a Russian film called "Stalingrad." In it, every second shot showed Stalin interpreted as the kind, benevolent "uncle" of the universe. A useful art-medium, this cinema!

* * *

I saw a "period" picture the other night and the characters had difficulty with the language. To me, a problem suggests itself. How would "period" characters speak? My ideal form of dialogue for such a film is simple, straight-forward, dateless English, devoid on the one hand of self-conacious and on the of present day slang and modern vogue words and catch phrases. "Sex your "Okay, keep your shirt on." I don't, care what you on the subject but that's my solution to the problem." So what?"

* * *

The Technicolor musical is a wonderful form of motion pictures. Gene Kelly, with "On the Town." "An American in Paris" and "Singing in the Rain" has shown us.

Guess the title of this advertise! picture—"A boy with a sock—a girl with a heart—a picture with a punch." In fact, it's probably the Larst Vord in Pitchers." (Solution next week.)

* * *

"Painting is concerned with all the ten attributes of sight, namely, darkness and brightness, substance and colours, form and place, remoteness and nearness, movement and rest; and it is with these attributes that this, my small book, will be interwoven. ..."—Da Vinci.

Replace the first "painting" for the phrase "the art of the cameraman, and I will declare the venerable old Master of Prophet of the highest order.

* * *

What do audiences wont? Relaxation! Reality, to some people is hard and unsatisfying. Thanks to its illusion of reality, the film can play with reality in a relaxing way.

* * *

David Leon's justification and purpose for every technical device in movies is "to get the best possible performance from the actors and to show it in the best possible way." Carol Reed is a fellow-traveller, but I'm not so sure about Messrs Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger Then "Tales of Hoffman" has shown me that these two gentlemen are more often brilliant technicians than sincere artists. Perhaps It's a matter of opinion.