Thursday, 24 October 2013

Cinematic Spaces Unit 1 - Crit Presentation

Final Pieces

Here are my 3 final pieces.

Blue Room:



I'll admit I am not entirely happy with them and wish I had taken different approach to how I painted them.

Film Review - Alien (1979)

Alien (1979) is another classic and iconic Sci-Fi film, that was directed by Ridley Scott. It is probably best known for its infamous gory scene with the baby alien exploding from one of the crew member's stomach. From which a lot of the cast had no idea was about to happen apart from the actor acting it, making their reactions genuine. Alien is also a famous film for its symbolic visuals and special effects, at a time when there was no real mainstream computer graphics or fancy special effects. What this film has done with the little resources in technology it had access to was incredible. "Watching a highly detailed ship land on an alien planet, observing the crew investigate the alien structures, or watching a slime filled monster descend from the rafters, with the knowlege that this was all done by hand not with bits and bytes is simply remarkable." - Christopher Armstead.

Just like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien has great visuals, as mentioned, but it does this without sacrificing narrative, which arguably plays out to be more entertaining than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Alien is a story about a space crew who are supposed to be on their back to earth after collecting a large amount of ore, but pick up a weird transmission from a nearby planet and so to investigate only to discover something they wish they hadn't. In this discovery, Kane, one of the crew members explores a cave finding a series of strange eggs, before one opens and attaches itself to his face. Kane is taken back to the main ship where he is examined by the doctors, still with this creature on his face, soon after the creature disappears and Kane seems fine until the creature makes an appearance again exploding from his stomach before running off. The crew can't find the alien and it eventually grows into a huge monster that kills off the helpless crew members one by one. Along the way the last three crew members discover that crew member Ash, is a robot that was sent to bring this superior life form back to earth for analysis, with the rest of the crew being expendable, much like the link with 2001: A Space Odyssey with the super computer, turning evil. 


Alien is also one of the first films to feature a strong female protagonist lead in Ripley, a massive change from Ann in King Kong. Unlike Ann, Ripley is a strong female whose role slowly becomes more important as the movie goes on and her natural survival instincts causes her to be the last survivor of the Alien. Most impressively being smart and cautious when setting the ship to self destruct in an attempt to kill the Alien, getting everything ready on her own while avoiding the Alien at the same time. This idea of a strong female lead satisfies feminists throughout the majority of the film until the end. Just when Ripley thinks she has killed the Alien, it appears in her only room on the escape shuttle although she deftly manages to kill it once and for all using her smarts, and with a little luck. But this scene is not entirely kindly accepted by feminists as they argue that due to the fact that Ripley is shown in her underwear for the start of the scene, taking away the build up of this strong female lead and once again making her a weak female. However most audiences can come to a consensus that they don't see this as exploitation of women, instead they see it as a symbol that represents her vulnerability at that time to the Alien. 

There are some Freud theories with Alien, and its strong psycho sexual nightmarish symbolism throughout the film. There are theories of rape imagery with the scene when Ash is aggressively choking Ripley with some rolled up newspaper, and there is the idea that the entire ship represents sexual symbolism with the very wet atmospheric environments, though these are just connections and theories. "The female lead is the victim of a foe that favours phallic thrusting attacks be they with its toothed tongue or its tail (he latter being truly sexualised in its suggested attack on Lambert). - Alexander Barahona

In terms of Alien's atmosphere and environment in general, the Alien and horror elements are very apparent throughout the film. The sets of the alien planet are dark, gritty, gloomy, foggy and creepy, and the structures are massive, yet give a claustrophobic vibe, perfect for making it's intruders feel corned and vulnerable. There is a noticeable difference in the environment in which the humans live in and the environment the Alien's live in. the human's spaceship at first is really tidy, polished and clean but as the movie progresses and the presence of the Alien on ship prolongs, the environment and feel of the crew's living spaces changes with it. The longer the Alien is on the ship the more wet, slimy and dark the spaceship appears to be, as a representation that the Alien is slowly taking over and making the space ship its home, killing anyone on its growing territory. This adds a really creative and original take on the power and dominance of the Alien.

All in all this film is an amazing spectacle for all viewers, with its massive environments, original ideas, and incredible design. The Alien appearance itself is a milestone is what someone with an idea and creativity can do, it looks so realistic and its movements and characteristics are also so smooth and perfect, considering there was no computer graphics involved. The sets are memorable and although there are classic horror-clichés, like some of the crew members lack of common sense, when danger is nearby, example being one of the crew members chasing a cat until he reaches a dead end, and has no escape. There wouldn't be these clichés if it were not for this film, as there are so many horror clichés nowadays because everyone copies the same ideas from older films like Alien in order to get a sense of suspense and danger, that audiences love. Alien also took an ambitious idea of having a strong female lead, which is something that wasn't seen as often at the time this film was released and instead of making her a sex symbol, like a lot of films, instead they deliberately made her appear less feminine and somewhat asexual, in order to make audiences see her as a heroine or is as strong as any male lead hero. Alien was so influential and captivating to audiences that there were several films made afterwards in order to carry on the hype in this franchise. "Alien has proved to be one of the most influential science-fiction movies of the past 30 years, and it's also one of the most entertaining. It's smart, graphic, gloomy and dark." - Scott Weinberg (1999)

Armstead, C Alien [Online] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)
Barahona, A Alien (1979) [Online] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)
Weinberg, S Alien [Online] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)

Fig.1 Alien (1979) [Poster Art] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)
Fig.2 Chestburster [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)
Fig.3 Alien [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)
Fig.4 Alien Design [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 24.10.13)

Creative Partnership Archive

I am a bit disappointed in myself for not interacting with my creative partnerships as much as I could have via the blog, or by giving insightful ideas, I have been a little shy. To be honest from what I saw of other people's work I liked a lot of their work and thought it'd be a bit pointless just commenting I like this idea or the way you've done this over and over again in case I would become annoying with just repeating myself. I also thought their ideas were great and didn't see the need to think of an idea for others when what I saw was working. (:

Who's Who? - Kekai Kotaki

For my Who's Who, I chose one of my favourite concept artists, Kekai Kotaki. I love all of his work in the Guild Wars franchise, a franchise that I am a big fan of. I love how he uses colour to create his environments, and I really like his painted style throughout his work. You can see the brush marks in his work and that kind of expressionist sketchy style, is what I really like, rather than it being a 100% smooth polished digital pieces, without visible paint strokes. Kotaki's work looks amazing and you can still see the techniques he uses to create these concept pieces and can appreciate the effort gone into them.

Who's Who - Kekai Kotaki.pdf by Ariesyme

Film Review - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was directed by famous director, Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is best known for films like "A Clockwork Orange (1971)" and "The Shining (1980)" Both of which are dark films, though 2001: A Space Odyssey was one of Kubrick's first great hits, and much like A Clockwork Orange is a very artistic film. It is a film that is mainly famous for its incredible visuals, rather than its narrative, as the narrative of the film is arguably, lacking. "2001: A Space Odyssey is an absolutely magnificent film. Though I realize that many find it dull or boring.....It is there to ignite your imagination and curiosity to inspire you to dig for insights. Even if it were absolutely devoid of content.." - Dana Knowles

2001: A Space Odyssey has a highly confusing narrative on first viewing and it sometimes requires audiences to stop, think and combine all they seen together, with its symbolic visuals to come to a conclusion about what it is actually all about, and that is, evolution. To explain, the film starts off with a group of gorillas or apes, link back to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which argues that the species of man evolves from gorillas and apes. The film shows the everyday life of this group of apes, from them eating to sleeping to fighting another group of apes, which links back our animal survival instincts and the survival of the fittest. Shortly after a fight breaks out between the two group of apes one of the apes from one group feels brave crossing the border to the opposing side, despite both sides threatening one another for a while, and as a result gets mobbed and beaten to death. After this we assume the side that killed that one ape are the fittest as they survive and touch this stone which creates a transition of the film from looking at the life of these apes to giving us a shot of humans on a spaceship, a symbol that these apes have evolved and advanced. 

The life on this space ship is a dramatic shift from the life of the apes and it shows a man on what seems to be a business trip but he stops to have a chat to his daughter via this webcam device, much like Skype today, which is interesting because this film was made a long time before the invention of webcams and Skype, showing how ahead of its time it was in its ideology of thinking in terms of technology. The father then ends the scene with saying he can't attend his daughters birthday then we get some more visuals on the life of those who live on the space ships, how they eat, the mannerisms of the workers, who all look the same. Shortly afterwards this man attends this meeting which progresses into a scene where a crew land on this unknown planet and discover something, though its not made clear, before it skips to this new mission, which continues for the duration of the film. 

The Jupiter mission, which is the plot for the rest of the film is the classic story of a super computer turning against its creators, man. It is a very slow-moving story where two men are on this mission to do with men in hibernation. The super computer, HAL 9000, eventually shares its concerns with the two men about the possible problems with the mission but not to worry because it has it all under control, however the two men don't like the idea of placing their complete trust and their lives in the hands of HAL. Leading to a discussion between them to disconnect HAL to carry on with what they think is best for the mission but HAL hears of this talk and turns against them. It is suggested that HAL succeeds killing one of them by causing their ship to break down during a trip in space, as HAL controls everything on the ship, and then tries to kill the other man, who goes out to try and save his friend from getting lost into space forever. However HAL refuses to let him back on the main ship, until the surviving man, finds a way in and disconnects HAL.

Throughout the film we get an incredible amount of incredible visuals, including the costume used for the apes as this film was made in a time when computer graphics still weren't around, and the apes costumes looks so realistic, it makes you question if they used real apes or not. The take on the futuristic environment is outstanding for the time, there is so much depth in the environments, they are broad, clever and incredibly creative. With the use of rotating rooms, the ability to walk on walls and ceiling it captures the imagination. 
The film also makes use of very well known tracks to summarise the events that are happening on screen, when there is no dialogue between characters and it just wants to either represent the feelings of a certain on-screen persona. Or if it wants to show off its incredible environments, though it repeats the same two famous classical musical numbers they do reflect what's going on, on-screen well. 

Soon after the main protagonist successfully disconnects HAL, where there is a very touching scene which can make audiences actually feel sorry for the evil computer as it reflects on its life growing up while it is "dying" making it seem more like a human with emotions and relatable. The main protagonist seems to escape the ship and goes through this long scene where the gravity and the harshness of the speed in space has an effect on his age and you see him age, another hint at evolution, before he ends up randomly in a house and then after more visual stimuli you see an alien-like baby look at the earth, which could be a symbol of reincarnation and new life, a new phase in evolution. "Time appears to fold in on itself as Bowman witnesses himself in progressively older incarnations, before adopting those incarnations to eventually be reborn" - Thomas Caldwell (2010)

However during this period where the main protagonist is ageing you see a massive collection of bright, vivid and crazy colours, the special effects of this lighting go out all out and could leave audiences with a headache. Although this ensemble of bright colours can be epileptic, as a member of the viewing audience you can't help but be amazed and hypnotised by the amazing visuals you see before you, these scenes are very surreal and dream-like, adding to this films incredible use of visuals to excite audiences. It is not just these scenes but bright colours are a common occurrence throughout. "It's an exercise in spectacle and even in today's world of CGI, it's safe to say that the effects are still very impressive" - Almar Haflidason (2001)

In summary, 2001: A Space Odyssey, offers more insight and depth in its visuals rather than its narrative, but its narrative still has some key moments, even though it's slow moving. It is an iconic film because of its imaginative and creative visuals, and the technology that is used in it has aged really well, as they are still impressive in modern society. 2001: A Space Odyssey also provides and interesting idea into what Kubrick thought was the future about 30 years down the line from when the film was made, as always Kubrick provided an film that is remembered years down the line and will always remain a visual spectacle.

Cadwell, T Free Will, Technology and Violence in a Futuristic Vision of Humanity - 2001: A Space Odyssey (2010) [Online] At: (Accessed on 18.19.13)
Haflidason, A 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (2001) [Online] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Knowles, D 2001: A Space Odyssey [Online] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)

Fig.1 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [Poster Art] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig.2 2001: A Space Odyssey [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig.3 2001: A Space Odyssey [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig.4 Stargate [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)
Fig.5 HAL Interior [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 18.10.13)

Film Review - King Kong (1933)

The original King Kong (1933) was directed by Merian.C.Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack. At the time King Kong was released it amazed thousands of viewers, due to its extraordinary visuals and special effects for its time, mainly because of one of its main characters, King Kong. Kong was a character that audiences viewed in awe, never before had audiences seen a monster depicted on screen at the size of Kong. "The title character, the creation of stop-motion effects wizard Willis O'Brien captivated audiences and started a world-wide love affair with a giant ape." - James Berardinelli (2012) 

King Kong is about an ambitious film maker who has ideas for creating this out of this world film between woman and beast, essentially, like Beauty & the Beast and so sets out to search for his beauty, before heading out to the island with the famed legend of King Kong. While out on the island the leading lady, Ann, gets stolen from the local tribe to be Kong's bride and from there, after endless minutes of screaming, she is kidnapped by Kong and held captive, but more as a friend or love interest rather than a victim. Ann's love interest and the other crew members set out to rescue her, facing many beasts along the way, such as Lockness monster and a Triceratops, which King Kong fights off before running away with Ann. Once Ann is saved the film maker becomes greedy and wishes to capture Kong and bring him home to his "Civilised" world to make lots of money from this freak circus act. However his plans go awry when Kong escapes, kidnaps Ann again and wrecks havoc on the city before he is eventually overthrown.

When looking at King Kong in contemporary times, the classic film hasn't really aged well, the frame rate is incredibly slow and jumpy, and animation isn't as smooth as it could have been. The creators had the technology to create this ambitious film with the miniature model of Kong and they clearly had the technology to use frame rate to animate him, but they could have used more shots than they did to make it move smoother. In addition, the scenes where it shows Kong's face up close, in an attempt to ignite a sense of fright within us, the audiences, it is more comical than scary in modern times. Although this is a famous cliché in a lot of old films when modern audiences watch them, these shots of Kong seem more comical than other old films, adding to argument of how King Kong hasn't aged all too well. Nevertheless on a positive note it marked a milestone for film making, encouraging new film makers to follow in its footsteps of creating a larger than life character. Godzilla and Jurassic Park are exemplar examples of films that were largely inspired by the original King Kong. "It is the granddady of all monster movies that came after it, it's shadow stretching longer then the Empire State building over all those that followed in it's immense wake." - Jeremy Redlien (2011)

There is a lot to offend audiences in King Kong nowadays. The old-fashioned character persona's and social norms of the time are questioned in today's society of equilibrium. For a start, the female protagonist of the story, Ann Darrow, Ann is the typical pretty blonde damsel in this film, ultimately, she is useless and highly dependent, unable to do anything for herself. This stereotypical example of a females role in society offends feminists in contemporary times, in almost all films nowadays the main female protagonist is useful in some way and can look after themselves fairly well. Due to equilibrium today's society tries to maintain, with equal rights in both men and women, however Ann, is a different story. Throughout the film, after she is greeted with Kong, she continuously screams, and waits around, without trying anything herself. Ann just stays in place screaming, in hopes her knight/s in shining armour will come and rescue her, making her a useless character in terms of common sense and ability.

The representation of females being stupid and unable to do anything without the assistance of a male offends feminists. Even before Ann lands on the Island she is treated with disdain on the boat by other men, as it is a classic old-fashioned myth that a woman on board brings bad luck to sailors and she only really gets the acting job because she is pretty, it is only later the director finds out she can scream really well which is perfect for his film but the act of screaming itself is a sign of weakness, she is also highly naive. All these characteristics are despised by feminists who stand for women being just as strong as men. However, feminists have to realise all of this was the social norm at the time this film was made, 1933 was a time when most women were still just housewives catering to their husbands every need and looking after children. 

Another top offence from this movie is how racist it is, even using the known crude word to describe the African tribe in the film, but again this word was used informally and on a regular basis at the time this film was made. In the 2005 remake of King Kong from Peter Jackson, Peter Jackson had difficulty re-creating the film without it coming across as racist as the tribe are not only described in this offensive way nowadays but the characteristics, fashion and personality of the tribe in the film is seen as highly stereotypically racist. The Asian crew member of the ship is also a reflection of how racist this film is in today's society, with how they depict his accent and the way he talks. 

This film is great in terms of its backgrounds and camera shots , there are numerous iconic film stills from this film, shots filmed in massive environments, with the iconic Empire State building scene with Kong fighting off planes, whilst keeping Ann safe. The camera angles greatly show how vulnerable Ann is throughout the film and how large Kong is on a scale, especially with his great battle with a Triceraptops, which became the reason for a famous film later on. Although the frame rates look quite lazy in this film,  the scene where Kong is fighting the Triceraptops is impressive as they manage to carry out an action packed fight between the two larger than life beasts and make it entertaining for viewers to watch even now, especially being as they are both just miniature little figurines in real life. "The amazingly violent battle between Kong and a Triceratops that goes on for several minutes is perhaps the finest piece of stop-motion animation ever created for the screen." - Richard Scheib.

In conclusion the original King Kong was a huge film, set out for ground-breaking goals in special effects and animation for its time period, and it succeeded. And although it is outdated in terms of it ideology, character personas and use of technology it still remains a highly influential classic, with outstanding camera shots, that will be remembered in the world of film-making throughout history.

Berardinelli, J King Kong (1933) (2012) [Online] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)
Redlien, J Classic Review: King Kong (1933) (2011) [Online] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)
Scheib, R King Kong [Online] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)

Fig.1 King Kong (1933) [Poster] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)
Fig.3 King Kong (1933) [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)
Fig.4 King Kong (1933) [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)
Fig.5 King Kong [Film Still] At: (Accessed on 14.10.13)

Thumbnails 65-112: Colour Comps

Here are my last set of thumbnails, this time I chose my favourite thumbnails and experimented with the use of colour and how it can have an effect of the atmosphere. I mainly chose darker, broody colours to represent my horror theme.

However in order to keep with the extract from my book with the "Blue Room" In my room-based thumbnails I kept with a blue colour scheme. Though the majority of my colour comps are exploring in the theme of darkness.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Film Review - Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927) is a German silent film that was directed by Fritz Lang. Fritz Lang was active in the world of film making during the German Expressionism era. At the time Metropolis was released it was known to be the most expensive film ever made, due to its futuristic set design and impressive special effects for its time, it is partly because of these reasons that Metropolis was considered to be a ground-breaking film. The big special effects and futuristic atmosphere was something that audiences at the time had never seen before on a big screen. The film takes on a Marxist approach in its story, a story about a revolution of the working class, wanting to rise up and gain class equality with their class superiors. The Marxist movement was fairly contemporary with the release of the film, as the period of Marxism was apparent in the late 19th century.  "Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations in which these individuals stand." - Karl Marx (1858) This quote practically outlines the story behind Metropolis. 

The workers of the film are the heart of the huge bustling city known as Metropolis, they work the machines to keep the flow of the city alive and under control. When the creator of Metropolis's son sets his eyes on the sight of the woman, who is considered a saint in the workers quarters of Metropolis, the son instantly falls in love and sets out to see her again. In doing so he discovers the poor quality of life of the workers and sets out to be one amongst them, in order to help them and in hopes of seeing the woman again, who we discover is named Maria. Meanwhile the sons father hires a spy called the "Thin Man" to keep an eye on his son and the workers, as well as getting the assistance of a mad scientist, who he hopes can clone his dead wife. However the mad scientist uses his cloning device to clone an evil Maria, starting up a revolution where the evil Maria causes the workers to destroy their own homes without them realising it, as they are so overwhelmed with built-up anger over their hard lives.

Throughout the film there is a lot of running around, including chase scenes between the mad scientist and Maria, where Maria acts as the stereotypical damsel in distress that was common play at the time the film was released. However these days it would be considered sexist and stereotypical to feature a female protagonist like that. These chase and running scenes can be pretty comical to audiences nowadays and it adds to the charming quality of the film. Due to the German Expressionist style to the film there are a lot of similarities between this film and the The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with both the make-up, fashion and the environment around. But the architectural style of Metropolis isn't as daunting and claustrophobic as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, being as its not a horror film, instead it focuses on the mass scaling of the buildings, adding to the huge, futuristic, sci-fi genre of the film, and it works. The film also takes on an art deco style with its sense of abstract, mathematical shapes.

"With its immense sets and stark lighting, the worker's city is a credible image of hell, while the overground landscapes were a seminal influence on all subsequent science fiction" - Nev Pierce (2003) The atmosphere of the worker's quarters does appear to have a hellish take on it, as a representation of their lives being hell for them, they are slaves and servants of the higher classes and so the cramped and suggested darkness of the part of the city they live in doesn't appear appealing. The clothing of the workers represents that of the Jews in concentration camps during the Nazi Regime, although World War II was 1939-1945, after the release of this film, the near perfect representation of the suppressed workers is impressive and shows how ahead of its time this film was. The workers also follow a strict daily work routine, they all walk in synchronisation at a slow and depressing state, which not only reflects how miserable their lives are but also how they are not going anywhere with their lives and are stuck in this slow moving pace in their lives. 

The camera angles are used effectively in this film as well. Much like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the scene at the end of the mad scientist, and son fighting each other on top of the building uses its camera efficiently, using a low angle shot to not only show power but it also gives the audiences the view from the other workers, who are watching, point of views as they witness this showdown between the hero and villain. Although Metropolis (1927) is an old black and white silent film it makes great use of the technology that was available to the film makers at the time with impressive special effects, and its highly engaging art style of the buildings, stepping out of the traditional architectural buildings we see on a regular basis in film these days, but fitting in with its sci-fi genre, invoking a massive world that audiences can look at in awe and get lost in. Metropolis has had a high influence on more famous modern films that the world loves, such as its references in Star Wars and the Matrix with its character design and its high imagination and is still greatly appreciated film in today's society.

Marx, K Grundisse (1858) [Online] At: (Accessed on 12.10.13)
Pierce, N Metropolis (1927) (2003) [Online] At: (Accessed on 11.10.13)

Fig.1 Metropolis (1927) [Poster] At: (Accessed on 11.10.13)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Film Review - The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (1920)

One of the first things that surprised me when watching this movie was that I enjoyed it, being as I am new to old fashioned films and was originally close minded and thought that being as it was an old black and white silent film I thought I'd find it boring. I am glad that it made me more open about older films, I found it entertaining, despite the lack of spoken speech, with it's very artistic surreal approach on its atmospheric outlook. As american film critique Kevin Thomas said "It sparked a wave of German Expressionist cinema, and completely revolutionised story telling of the time..." I agree with this statement. If it weren't for films like this and German Expressionism we wouldn't have had the work from Tim Burton in the cinema today, such as a favourite like "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Tim Burton is thought to be a very original and creative director and although I believe this to still be true I think it is clear that he has clearly taken great influence from the German Expressionism period in cinema.

German Expressionism rooted from the pre-war movement for World War II and is neither considered to be a solo style or way of creating art, instead, it was the result of numerous artists, writers and thinkers who were of age prior to World War II. German Expressionism also came from the idea that literature was capable of influencing change in society, focusing on an individuals point of view. This can be seen in the film with the way the sets and backdrops are set out, with the distorted proportions of the houses and town streets, a very surreal dream-like approach, much like the character of Cesare, who is a somnambulist, continually in a state of sleep and dreams. Throughout the film Cesare is seen to be controlled by his master, Dr. Caligari, to commit dark deeds of murder in the night, without Cesare realising. Just like the buildings and settings in the film are uncontrolled, with their uncomplimentary proportions and general daunting and awkward buildings. The whole German Expression concept behind the film fits really well with the horror genre of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as the unsavoury shapes and crowding shapes of the buildings exhibit an uncomfortable and restless viewing for its audiences.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) is classed under the horror genre in cinema, although the actual scary factor may not be as obvious nowadays as it was back when this was released to the world, it is still considered as a contemporary horror in today's cinema, due to its influence in the world of film-making. There is also debate into whether or not it was the world's first horror film as film critique Roger Ebert noted. " There had been earlier ghost stories and the eeries serial "Fantomas" made in 1913-14 but their characters were inhabiting a recognizable world. "Caligari" creates a mindscape, a subjective psychological fantasy. In this world, unspeakable horror becomes possible."

Even though the frame rate, effects and camera angles in cinema nowadays is very advanced thanks to our high knowledge in technology. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was exciting for its time in terms of technology, the camera angle shots are varied in order to represent the nature of the particular scene being shot, for instance, the scene where Cesare has kidnapped the female heroine of the story and it standing on top of a rooftop with her. In this scene the camera angle is a low angle shot that is used to make the character of Cesare look powerful and intimidating as he has the female heroine in his possession while the heroes try to save her. Another noticeable good use of camera angles in this film, though there are many, is the scene where Cesare is revealed for the first time to the audience at the fair, this scene takes on a close up shot of Cesares' unnerving face staring into the camera, eyes wide open, to raise fear into the audiences with his frightening face is staring directly into the eyes of the audience.

Overall this film has been inspirational to films that we see today. Robert Wiene, put a lot of thought process into the horror genre and his concept into dreaming. Robert Wiene really his stamp on the world of film, inspiring many today, the concept art and ideas behind the film are highly original, creative and incredible. The thought process behind the camera angles was thought out and planned well too. The only thing that I can fault on a visual point of view is I found the writing for the speech of the characters was sometimes hard to read. I understand the whole chilling but decorative font behind the film being as it was a horror but it wasn't easily readable at times.

Kevin Thomas
Cabinet of Dr.Caligari

University of Maryland
About German Expressionism

Roger Ebert
The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari


Film Review - Le Voyage dans La Lune (1902)

At the start Le Voyage dans La Lune, 1902, you get this environment which looks moderately futuristic, considering its a theatrical set and was built in a time period, where the world lacked in the technology we see today, they made use of their resources well to create a futuristic looking set. This short silent film starts off with a group of out worldly looking people, fitting into the sci-fi genre, in what seems to be a debriefing from a higher power, perhaps a boss or tutor. At this point there is cheerful music as though the workers are excited in what they are hearing, there is a short moment in which the music becomes more intense as if there is a problem or disruption but shortly the cheerful music returns.

 The workers then move to a new set, which still keeps its futuristic charm as they start to build a cannon or rocket of some kind, it is at this bit where the film starts to liven up, developing a sense of interest and intrigue in the viewer as to why these unusual looking workers are building this device. This device appears to be some sort of cannon which is then used within the moon. The director of this film was known as George Melies, in his time George Melies was known for his advancements in technology in the early days of cinema. He became created a breakthrough in special effects in cinema, with his use of time lapse photography and exposure. When watching Le Voyage dans La Lune its noticeable that theatre was a huge inspiration for this film, with the actors leaving and coming back on the stage for scenes but George Melies added a surreal interpretation on the idea of theatrical performances with the use of these camera techniques. 

Le Voyage dans La Lune was one of the first ever films in the world of films, though it is only a short, silent film, it has been influential not only in film but in terms of references, it has been referenced in film such as La Chinoise (1967) and the in music,  specifically, a video by The Smashing Pumpkins called "Tonight Tonight."(1996) Quoting film critic Michael Ewins "The director also manages to create an astonishing amount of depth with flat backgrounds, largely because of the detailed sets and the magical tone he establishes through costume and lighting." Is a statement that is very true and highly impressive for the time this film was created. Le Voyage dans La Lune is a sci-fi film that was extremely ambitious for its time as well because it features the moon, the film was made before man first stood on the moon and so just envisioning what the moon could look like on its surface is a very courageous and ambitious move from George Melies. 

In conclusion Le Voyage dans La Lune was an innovative and ground breaking film for its time and for its creativity and flexibility with its sets and costume. These assets of the film are still greatly appreciated today. 

Michael Ewins
E-Film Blog


Thumbnails 33-64

Here are thumbnails 33-64, for these thumbnails I wanted to try and maintain the whole idea of victim and nervousness and anxiety from the feeling of being watched. Therefore for some of these ideas I altered the movement of the furniture so that the victim, in this case Eleanor,  felt surrounded, unable to escape, a prisoner of the house. In addition I also kept to the claustrophobic idea to capitalize this feeling and emotion.

Throughout these thumbnails I also kept to my idea of the feeling of loneliness by creating a big room, so the furniture looks small and helpless as it is engulfed by its surroundings, at the same time I also played around a little more with perspective and how it can have an effect on the atmosphere of the environment.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thumbnails 1-32

Here are my first 2 sets of thumbnails to the Haunting of Hill House, with a page dedicated to exterior thumbnail ideas and another dedicated to interior thumbnails ideas.  For my exterior thumbnails I wanted to portray a sense of darkness as well as a hint of beauty as Eleanor, the Protagonist, looks to her trip to the house as a vacation, to escape the stresses of her every day life. However at the same time there is the darker history behind the house and its power to startle Eleanor, slowly making her go mental.

For my first set of interior thumbnails I aimed for a claustrophobic, enclosed atmosphere, with the furnitures tightness to the wall as if its being corned, as though its being victimised,  because even though Hill House is a big mansion, Eleanor becomes a prisoner of the house, so much so that she wants to stay despite her claims at first for feeling uncomfortable and so I tried to create a sense of loneliness too. I also experimented with angles and perspectives to try and get an unnerving atmosphere as though someone is being watched.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Master Study - Kekai Kotaki

We were recommended to create a Master Study of an artists work, in order to help not only with our colour theory but also with testing out techniques too. For my Master Study I chose to work with a piece of artwork by concept artist Kekai Kotaki. From looking at his gallery I tried to find a more basic piece of concept art to avoid over complicating things as a Master Study is just an experiment with brushing and colour. Here is the original image: 

I started out just creating the basic foundation of colours that I could paint over and over to avoid the image looking flat, I then started to work on the foreground. As time was passing by I realised I was spending too much time on the foreground, considering this is supposed to be just an experiment not a complete mirror copy, so I tried to finish up on the foreground before I roughed out the middle ground more. From here I was just trying to get the right colours down or as close to the colours as I could get without using the eyedropper tool before finishing the base colours and defining some shapes within the image. 


My final outcome ended up being quite rough, with the midground and background but I believe you can get the idea of what it is supposed to be duplicating, I think the main foundation of shapes are there though my ending colour result is off, its a little light. The smoke and the mid mountains were the trickiest things to do as looking at the original artists it looks like used a uniquely textured brush meant for the clouds and the detail on the mid mountain or just applied a specific technique. I created a textured brush of my own but it did not look the same. 

Before finishing I merged the layers together, duplicating the one layer and added a surface blur and box blur, setting it to soft light on a really low opacity to try and soften the whole image. I also had a dabble in selective colour to try and get as close to the original as possible. Overall I am fairly pleased with the result. The above is my outcome.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Influence Maps 3 & 4

These are influence maps, focused more so on interior environments. One of my first thoughts after reading the book extract was that Eleanor doesn't physically visualise any ghosts, and it could be said that it is all in her mind, her imagination. Therefore I looked into abandoned mental asylums, to reflect her mental power, and sense of loneliness when she first enters, and how the longer she stays in the house the more her mental health decays, much like an abandoned mental asylum. Not only that but mental asylums alone have a tendency to be creepy and are associated with the horror genre. 

For more influence in how I could add an unsettling atmosphere within my concept paintings I looked at images of old abandoned/decaying rooms as well. Trying to keep the furniture style old fashioned as the book is set in a historical time period, possibly early to mid 1900s due to its language and fashion.

Influence Maps 1 & 2

After reading the book extract from The Haunting of Hill House I related the theme of ghosts and hauntings with symbols of death. Looking at animals and figurines such as the Grim Reaper and the raven bird, as tradition associates these with death.  Gothic statues were another aspect that I looked into for my influence maps.

In films and stories when the author or director are trying to showcase a sense of unease and nervousness, that is often associated with horror, they include unpleasant creepy statues that look as if they're watching or staring at the seemingly victimised protagonists of the story. Within the book Eleanor, the main protagonist, feels as if she is being watched or that the house itself is alive and so having these statues I believe plays some part in what I could do with the environment.

As another symbol of death and the afterlife I looked at angels of death as influence. Angels represent life and death, both of which a ghost is traditionally known to showcase these characteristics, they are dead but are still walking and inhabiting areas like they're alive.

Space & Environment: Folder 18

For my first project, Space & Environment, we had to pick a random piece of paper from the mysterious blue box which revealed our folder number. Leading to the book we have to base our environmental concept art on, I received the book "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson. 

I was intrigued to have received this book, because I personally, have an interest in the supernatural. However at the same time I have never produced scenic concept art, nor art with a horror aspect behind it and so I believe this will be a challenging and interesting project for me to work on.