Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Performance, editing and framing in classic filmmaking

The scene below, from Budd Boetticher’s Western 'Seven Men From Now' (1956) exemplifies the subtlety of performance, editing and framing in classic filmmaking. Watch the scene and consider the key points listed to deepen your understanding of cinema as a creative means of expression and modern art form.

Check how the actors are directed and how they perform. There is no attempt to ‘express’ feelings or emotions. This is classical acting where the burden of performance is transferred from physical behaviour of individuals to a pregnant, anxious network of glances. These skewed glances, directed sideways or off-screen, simultaneously perform the task of evoking necessary emotions as well as creating meaning through their association with whom they are directed at.

Check how the actors are positioned and framed. Each of the setups – the close-ups and the two shots – finds its proper place and generates its own tension. The two shots, even though partly the result of a necessity, consist of either Gail Russell and Randalph Scott sitting besides each other or Lee Marvin and Walter Reed, the former perched just behind and above the latter, and forebodes relationships that would become significant from here on.

Check how the whole conversation is edited. Each shot both carries the burden of the previous and prefigures what is to follow. Each one is cut just as a glance is cast and carried to a finish: long enough to register whom it is addressed to and what it means and short enough to avoid ramming down the idea or emotion down our throats. The audience’s gaze, likewise, is transferred from one actor to another in the same fluid movement, with precise vanishing points, as the chain of glances.

Edited from The Seventh Art website

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)