Thursday, 12 December 2013
Fig.1 The Shining
The Shining (1980) is another film by famous director Stanley Kubrick, it is also another horror film that has great cinematography and art direction, though unlike Kubrick's other famous film 2001: A Space Odyssey this film has a clear narrative which helps audiences determine the reasons behind specific set design and colour schemes with more ease. The Shining is about a family who spends the winter in a plush hotel in the middle of nowhere, on top of a large mountain, alone, for Jack's work responsibilities, so he can do some writing. As the realisation of isolation kicks in for Jack, in this huge hotel, Jack starts to become mentally ill. Mentally unstable to the point where he starts having visions with old guests of the hotel, and plots to murder his entire family.
It is not just Jack that is affected, Danny, Jack's son has a special psychic gift that is referred to as "Shining" in the film, that has always been with him, and as the isolation and cabin fever of the family gets worse, that audience sees more clips of Danny and "Tony," the voice behind his "Shining ability, going on about themes of death. Film critic, Thomas Patrick talked about the deterioration of both characters saying "Danny begins to see visions of the past and future.....Meanwhile Jack begins to lose his mind as evil spirits corrupt him and he begins a violence-filled rampage throughout the hallways of the hotel." (Patrick, S.D). One of these visions of Danny's is when Danny is going around on his little bike and sees the twin girls that were mentioned to be brutally murdered by their father, the caretaker of the hotel. A disturbing vision, but it gives audiences a clue of the thoughts of Jack later on in the film when he meets, the known "Caretaker."
Fig.2 Murdered Twin Girls - The Shining
In terms of set design, there are a couple of notable scenes, one of them being the scene where Danny is going down the hallway, with the infamous room, 237, which plays a part in a scene with Jack later on. However in this scene with Danny the first things that are mentioned in terms of its design is the hideous carpet and the low angle camera angle that follows on behind Danny, so audiences see this narrow corridor. The carpet gives off a sickly and strange mesmerising vibe, there are horrible orange, brown and red colours with a highly abstract pattern. The abstract patterns of the carpet may be deliberately so to en-capture audiences, to trap them, pursuing this idea of a claustrophobic atmosphere, where there is little room to escape, along with the narrow corridor. The camera angle mentioned is also an essential part to capture this creepy, claustrophobic, isolated atmosphere, movie critic, Mel Valentin talked about the reasons for this uneasy camera angle and the emotions it highlights. "Like an unseen predator, Kubrick's camera prowls behind Danny, sometimes uncomfortably, claustrophobically close, as Danny's Big Wheel crosses hardwood and carpeted floors." (Valentin, 2005).
Fig.3 The Shining and The Steadicam
Another scene where Kubrick displays strong set design within The Shining is when Kubrick goes from this dark, claustrophobic atmosphere to a bright and open spaced environment, the change seems to be quite dramatic, is in the bathroom scene where Jack is seen to be talking to the Caretaker. The lighting in this scene is very bright and intense, there is a use of bright blood red and white, it's so bright and intense it could be argued to be quite a violent colour scheme, despite the use of white. It is also unusual because it looks like quite a scientific colour scheme and design, it looks a lot like Kubrick's set design for the colonized areas of his film 2001: A Space Odyssey but this strange décor takes place in a scene where everyone is dressed as if they're at a formal party in the 1920s. This may be a symbol of the future, the thoughts that Danny, or more so namely Tony, mentions which is of murder and death, which would explain the bright blood red colour, along with the influence a character from the past is having on Jack, encouraging him to murder his "naughty" family, a contrast of both past and future.
Fig.4 The Shining
Overall The Shining is a greatly crafted horror movie, that uses cameras and set design to really exuberate the feelings of loneliness, isolation and strangely, claustrophobia in such a big environment. It covers the feeling of being followed and watched very well, which is something that a lot of contemporary horror films do to create an uneasy atmosphere. However, in terms of narrative, it can be debated whether Jack actually saw the ghosts of the hotel from the 1920s and talked to them or if he just hallucinated the entire thing and used the Caretaker as a self conscious excuse to why he wants to murder his family, rather than just admitting he has become mentally unstable from the effects of isolation and cabin fever. Film critic, Roger Ebert briefly analyses this idea, saying "..Three people descend into versions of madness or psychic terror, and we cannot depend on any of them for an objective view of what happens. It is this elusive open-endedness that makes Kubrick's film so strangely disturbing." (Ebert, 2006).
Ebert, R [Online] At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Patrick, T [Online] At: http://www.thatfilmguy.net/the-shining-1980/ (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Valentin, M [Online] At: http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1383 (Accessed on 10.12.13)
List of Illustrations:
Fig.1 The Shining [Poster Art] At: http://www.geeklegacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/the-shining-original.jpg (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Fig.2 Murdered Twin Girls - The Shining [Film Still] At: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZsuiwK9YC3M/TqyUopk4ceI/AAAAAAAABAw/Ar9Ga6ffUoQ/s1600/the-shining+two+girls+murdered+in+hallway.jpg (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Fig.3 The Shining and The Steadicam [Film Still] At: http://files.tested.com/photos/2013/08/16/52187-622609-shining_bike.jpg (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Fig.4 The Shining [Film Still] At: http://application.denofgeek.com/pics/film/shiningset/02.jpg (Accessed on 10.12.13)
Outcome of the Secret Lair of the Solar Mob Boss. \(Q.Q)/ Not allowed to upload better quality images of PSD or Tiff. (pT.T)p...Sad times...but Final Render done ^^
Repulsion (1965) is a horror film about a young woman named Carol, who has a fear of all things intimate and sexual with members of the opposite sex, this is later suggested to be brought on by the demons of her past. Carol lives with her sister and when her sister goes on vacation with her lover Carol is left alone and slowly starts hallucinating and begins to go psychologically mad. This is a film that not only has great cinematography, with the use of camera angles and bizarre environments but also a film about sexual expression, namely the lack of when it comes to Carol. However its main basis for content is sex, which is significant because it was a film that was made in the swinging sixties, a time when the world started to rejoice over the acceptance of sexual expression. As critic Alan Bacchus stated in part of his review"...Represents a unique place in the filmography of Roman Polanski...but in the 1965 it plays as an antidote to the prevailing attitude of exuberant sexual freedom, a horror film of sorts for the swinging 60's." (Bacchus, 2009).
Repulsion doesn't hesitate to make full use of its iconic horror camera angles, the film starts off with an extreme close up of Carol's eye and slowly zooms out, shortly following with a camera angle that looks as if someone is following her down the street. Being as Carol is a beautiful woman she quickly gets attention from a male bystander on the street who she ignores. Naturally Carol is a socially awkward woman, she doesn't appear to have much of a personality and she continually displays traits that are often associated with those who are nervous or have anxiety issues, such as biting her nails and playing with her hair. From the audiences point of view at first, these habits may seem like confidence issues, which may be true but later on audiences learn that there are far more sinister forces behind her personality.
Carol's obvious anxiety with things sexually related becomes more apparent in a scene where there is a couple having sex and Carol tries to blank out all of the sounds of the situation. What is strange is that Carol actually has a male suitor of her own but it is obvious that she doesn't show any interest in him, though she does try to conform and tries to kiss her suitor but hates it and runs off in a panic, Carol only actually seems comfortable and sociable around her sister and her female colleagues at work. Which leads to speculation that she may be a lesbian, one of the only times you see her smile and laugh in the film is when she is talking about a movie with one of her female work friends. Though things seem relatively harmless with Carol psychologically with her at first, when her sister leaves her on her own things get out of hand with Carol's mental stability.
When Carol's sister leaves it seems as if audiences have entered an entirely new atmosphere, audiences really start to see the world through Carol's eyes, and her scary hallucinations along with it. One of the first being her sexual nightmares, frequently throughout the film audiences see suggestions of Carol being raped while she sleeps, and it appears to be the same man every time, which leaves audiences to question who that man is that she is picturing raping her. However, the real famous horror cliché that is used consistently in horror films these days, mainly ghost ones, is when Carol looks in a mirror and at first everything is fine but as she closes the mirror a man appears behind her and of course rapes her, but not physically, Carol just hallucinates it, this is a perfect example of famous and effective cinematography shots. Smalley, a movie critic discussed this idea saying"Our first hint that we have entered a new world is when, along with her, we catch a glimpse of a man's figure in the mirror......Soon after, we are thrust into her (literal) dream and nightmares. And things grow increasingly worse from there, until the viewers struggle to tell whether what is happening to her is real or imaginary."(Smalley, 2011).
Fig.3 Repulsion Invisible Eyes
As Carol's mental health continues to deteriorate and get worse, so do her hallucinations, and in regard to what Smalley said, some parts of the film make the viewer wonder if what ever audiences just witnessed if it actually happened. One of the main aspects of the film that make audiences question this at first is the scenes where she is shown murdering men, who she feels sexually threatened by, even though the first man, her suitor, doesn't seem to make any advances onto Carol but we see her brutally murder him anyway. Another murder is when she murder's the landlord who comes for his overdue rent pay, though he does try to make sexual advances onto her. At first it is questioned whether she actually managed to commit these crimes or if it was all in her head as there are many other hallucinations in the film, however, it is later discovered when her sister returns that Carol did indeed murder the men.
A memorable scene in Repulsion for its cinematography aspects, is a part of the film where Carol's hallucinations go wild and she visions arms coming out of the walls around her and grope her breasts and touch her, this is an obvious indication of how Carol feels about the world around her, and how all men seem to be after in her eyes. It is a scene that is very familiar with the scene in La Bete et la Belle with the arms holding candles coming out the walls, but in Repulsion the hands are a figure of her imagination and invade her personal space. In a similar time frame to this scene, shots of the wall and ground crackling around her, as if her world is crashing down with her personal fears. This cracking of the walls may also be seen as a representation of her personality, her mental wall is breaking down, as her illness gets more severe. One thing in the entire film that is interesting and bizarre is Carol's fascination with this dead lamb, that she was supposed to have for dinner, but instead decided to keep it rotting away in her sister's apartment. Lambs are a symbol of purity and innocence, something that Carol is considered, with her lack of sexual experiences with men, however the lamb is also rotting, this may signify Carol's pure and innocent mind rotting away throughout the film, just as the lamb rots away.
Fig.4 Repulsion Wall Cracks
Fig.5 Repulsion Hands
Overall Repulsion is classic horror film, that contemporary horror films seem to have taken inspiration from with some of its clichés, like being followed and the man in the mirror. It has great cinematography in terms of its shots and its atmosphere, which ends on an thought provoking note, when it shows a family photo of Carol with her family and she is seen significantly staring at the male figure in the photo with great disgust, this may be an indiciation of why Carol is like she is, perhaps she was sexually abused as a child. As film critic Derek Winnert sums up "The Screenplay by Polanski and Gerard Brach is a model of intelligence, subtlety and the power of suggestion and understatement....it's a polished, startling-looking film thanks to Gilbert Taylor's fine, imaginative cinematography." (Winnert, 2013).
Bacchus, A [Online] At: http://www.dailyfilmdose.com/2009/08/repulsion.html (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Smalley, G [Online] At: http://366weirdmovies.com/repulsion-1965/ (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Winnert, D [Online] At: http://derekwinnert.com/repulsion-classic-film-review-66/ (Accessed on 9.12.13)
List Of Illustrations:
Fig.1 Repulsion [Poster Art] At: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/05/Repulsion.jpg/215px-Repulsion.jpg (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Fig.2 Repulsion [Film Moment] At: http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll5/joselito039/repulsion.gif (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Fig.3 Repulsion Invisible Eyes [Film Still] At: http://www.offscreen.com/images/invisible_eyes_repulsion.jpg (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Fig.4 Repulsion Wall Cracks [Film Still] At: http://tinribs27.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/repulsion6.png(Accessed on 9.12.13)
Fig.5 Repulsion Hands [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_TRju1TnYfxU/TQDfHy5yhRI/AAAAAAAAA9s/36sRWRdGS_I/s1600/figure+1.jpeg (Accessed on 9.12.13)
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Fig.1 Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus (1947) is a psychological drama about a group of nuns who engage in a new project to create a nunnery on top of a cold mountain up in the Himalayas. During their time up in the Himalayas the nuns experience problems and tension with the atmosphere, with one particular nun struggling to fight against her inner sexual desires and expression more and more as she becomes attracted to a local ambassador, Mr. Dean. Though it is interesting to face a story with the inner desires of nuns, it is a film that is famous for its beautiful scenery and set design. "Winner of Academy awards mainly for Best Art, this is visually a very beautiful movie." (DiDonato).
There are a few scenes that stand out among this film as being visually captivating, one of them being the scene where one of the nuns is ringing the bell atop the nunnery. For this scene the production team used painting as backdrops, creating this visually stunning camera angle, showcasing the stunning environment around these nuns. Throughout the film the interior decorations for the rooms look like paintings, the walls look like paintings and the floors look like paintings, all of these create a very unique style for films and may be said to represent the serene and spiritual nature of the nuns themselves, that is of course until sexual desires overtake Sister Ruth's thoughts. The serene nature of the rooms can also be symbolism for the nuns relationship and closeness to God, as the decorations look very heavenly and pure. "Alfred Junge's hand-crafted art design give this film exceptional production values to boot" (Farr). However, as the "unholy" sexual thoughts of Sister Ruth continue to strengthen, the colour scheme seems to change as the film goes on.
Fig.2 Black Narcissus Himalayas
Fig.3 Black Narcissus
When Sister Ruth is on the edge, thinking about her secret desires for Mr.Dean, and they only get even stronger when she becomes jealous of another Sister who seems to be getting more attention from Mr.Dean there is a notable scene where she is sat in dark blue lighting, with intense red lighting. The contrasting dark colours with the red can be a representation of her frustration, as colours that seem to be so opposite in intensity naturally seem to be attacking one another rather than synchronizing with them in harmony, like a pale blue and white naturally would. The colour of red is also a known colour of lust, romance and desire, it can also be associated with violence, and this emotion of violence becomes more apparent to Sister Ruth later on in the film, and so the use of the colour red becomes significant in the way that Sister Ruth is thinking in this part of the film.
There is another scene in Black Narcissus where the colour red is used deliberately to show the change of thought and emotion in the character of Sister Ruth which is another noteworthy scene where Sister Ruth is putting on lipstick. This is another scene where a dark blue lighting is used, however the blue is a lot darker and more sinister, again reinforcing Sister Ruth's "corrupted" mind of thoughts. Over time the film's scenery has changed from a holy, pure tone in decoration and lighting to a Gothic and dark tone. With this sinister lighting there is close up camera angle of Sister Ruth's lips as she applies this blood red tone onto them. Looking at the consensus at what lips are associated with symbolically, plump lips are a symbol of a woman's sexual power and femininity alone and with the blood red tone this enforces this sexual symbol of lust that Sister Ruth has for Mr.Dean and the act she is willing to commit to get him for herself. When Sister Ruth's advances on Mr.Dean are not taken the way she had hoped, after sexing herself up for him, and she gets rejected she goes on to try and push, her seen "competition" for Mr.Dean off the top of the bell cliff, but instead falls off herself, after Sister Clodagh avoids the fall.
Fig.4 Black Narcissus
Fig.5 Black Narcissus
Overall, Black Narcissus is a visually captivating movie, especially impressive for the time period it was made in, before huge advances in technology and CG art for the backgrounds and sets of the movies. It may have been seen as a highly controversial film for the time period it was made in as well, with the themes of sex and sexual desires as its main undertone in story, making it arguably risqué for its time period. It's production art is incredible and its story takes an unpredictable turn, as it dramatically goes from a drama to what some might call a horror in a very short amount of time, with the horror cliché camera angles and suspense. "Its setting is exotic, its situations comedic and its third act takes the film a totally unexpected and amazing direction." (Ewing, 2009).
DiDonato, R [Online] At: http://www.previewfilms.com.au/details.php?image_id=200 (Accessed on 6.12.13)
Ewing, J.B [Online] At: http://cinemasights.com/?p=243 (Accessed on 6.12.13)
Farr, J [Online] At: http://www.bestmoviesbyfarr.com/all-movie-picks/black-narcissus (Accessed on 6.12.13)
List Of Illustrations:
Fig.1 Black Narcissus [Illustration] At: http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2011/294/0/7/black_narcissus_by_christophercrow-d47c6i4.jpg (Accessed on 6.12.13)
Fig.2 Black Narcissus Himalayas [Film Still] At: http://ocdviewer.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/pinewood-himalaya.jpg (Accessed on 6.12.13)
Fig.3 Black Narcissus [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_dSSyBOnzbZw/TN3723N4r8I/AAAAAAAAAug/naOcP8U6E58/s320/Black+Narcissus+9.jpg (Accessed on 6.12.13)
Fig.5 Black Narcissus [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_dSSyBOnzbZw/TN374O1C-2I/AAAAAAAAAuo/oXLSb9UIwk8/s1600/Black+Narcissus+11.jpg (Accessed on 6.12.13)