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Early Hollywood. Transition to Sound Early on, when film prints traveled from small town to small town in the American heartland, they were often narrated.

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Presentation on theme: "Early Hollywood. Transition to Sound Early on, when film prints traveled from small town to small town in the American heartland, they were often narrated."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Hollywood

2 Transition to Sound Early on, when film prints traveled from small town to small town in the American heartland, they were often narrated by a live raconteur, who would explain the action on-screen to audiences. "Intertitles"—those cards between moments of action—contained explanations of action, or important moments of dialogue, or even bits of poetry to set the mood. Read more: Movies and Film: A Brief History of Sound in Movies — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/cig/movies-flicks-film/brief- history-sound-movies.html#ixzz21JDxNS1yMovies and Film: A Brief History of Sound in Movies — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/cig/movies-flicks-film/brief- history-sound-movies.html#ixzz21JDxNS1y

3 Synchronization and amplification were problems that needed to be overcome During the expansion in the 1920’s Warner Brothers was the first studio that invested in a sound system using records in synchronization with film images (Vitaphone) Vitaphone, which produced the first commercially viable sound system, essentially a very large phonograph hooked up to a film projector

4 Don Juan (1926) Orchestral accompaniment and sound effects on disc The Jazz Singer (1927) (part talkie with some scenes accompanied by music These two films popularized the idea of sound on film The success of these films proved that sync sound could be profitable

5 Sound films needed to be compatible with all projectors Eventually a sound on film rather than a sound on disc system had to be invented This became the standard The sound track is printed on the strip of film alongside the image Technological Advances

6 Setback for Hollywood style The camera had to be placed in a large casing called a blimp The camera couldn’t move except for short pans and tilts One solution was multiple cameras in a booth Boom Invented

7 Diegetic Sound allowed for better continuity editing (sound bridge) Large studios developed distinctive approaches MGM: Prestige studio (huge number of stars and technicians under long term contract) Warner Brothers was a smaller studio that made more specialized features They invested in sound because they were interested in producing musicals (more fragmented like vaudeville acts strung together) RKO constructed musicals as classically constructed narratives

8 Deep Focus Some musicals in the 30’s were shot in technicolor This required a lot of light The technical development of using light on the set led to the development of deep focus films Greg Toland, Cinematographer for Citizen Kane used this technique Citizen Kane: 1941

9 Frank Capra Affectionate portrayals of the common man Films deal with the strengths and foibles of American democracy Sicilian descent: came to the US in steerage Depicts a battle to prevent a power-crazed industrialist from taking dictatorial control of the country in "Meet John Doe" Meet John Doe

10 Heroes of Capra Films Homespun American heroes Naïve idealists who are up against evildoers The central characters win, because of their innate goodness "Meet John Doe" drew criticism for what was seen as a "cop-out" happy ending. But Bosley Crowther of The Times called the 1941 movie "superlative" and said it was "by far the hardest-hitting and most trenchant picture on the theme of democracy" Mr. Capra had yet made.

11 Career In 1922 bluffed his way into making a successful one-reeler Columbia Pictures (made a series of adventure films) A Lady for a Day 1933 It Happened One Night 1934 Mr. Deeds Goes to Town 1936 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939 Meet John Doe 1941 It’s a Wonderful Life 1947

12 "I always felt the world cannot fall apart as long as free men see the rainbow, feel the rain and hear the laugh of a child”

13 Classic Narrative Representation: signifies a world or a body of ideas Semantics of narrative (semantics: the study of meaning) Narrative can also be studied in terms of structure

14 Fabula Russian formalist term for the narrative events in causal chronological sequence Narration: the process of cueing a perceiver to construct a fabula by use of syuzhet patterning and film style (the way the story is organized)syuzhet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZyur2rlh 6A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZyur2rlh 6A

15 Syuzhet and Hollywood Screenwriting Formula Initial state of affairs which gets violated and must then be set right Undisturbed stage Disturbance Struggle Elimination of disturbance

16 Causality The prime unifying principle Cause and effect Spacial and Temporal representation are motivated by causality This process is especially evident in a device highly characteristic of classical narration: The deadline

17 Classical Syuzhet presents a double causal structure Heterosexual romance Goals obstacle and climax (Work war mission or quest )

18 Scenes Hollywood narration clearly demarcates its scenes Unity of time Space (a definable locale) “The bounds of the sequence will be marked by some standardized punctuations: dissolve, fade, wipe or sound bridge.

19 Scenes or Sequences Usually are closed temporally and spatially, but open in terms of the overall causality Always move causality forward Montage (Classical Hollywood) Compresses time Fills in information to move causality forward

20 Distinct Phases of a Scene Exposition specifies the time, place and distinct characters relevant to it In the middle of the scene characters act towards their goals They often struggle, make appointments, set deadlines and plan for future events The Classical scene either closes off cause- effect developments brought about in previous scenes or begins new ones

21 Syuzhet Variations A film in which the Syuzhet focuses on a single space for most of its duration will punctuate scenes in different ways A film that spans decades may need more than a simple fade to black to communicate that

22 Classical Hollywood Endings Smooth careful linearity Logical conclusion of the string of events The final effect of the initial cause Arbitrary readjustment of the world knocked awry in the previous 80 minutes Sometimes this is predictable (in 100 sampled movies over 60 ended with a display of a united heterosexual couple)

23 Transparency and Visibility of Narration Classical narration tends to be omniscient Knows more than most or all of its characters Conceals very little (except what will happen next) First few shots (Overt narration—exposition) Once the action starts, the narration becomes more covert (the character’s actions take over)

24 Montages Tend to become self conscious Express narrations awareness of the viewer A classical Hollywood montage compresses time

25 Soviet Montage Aspects of cinema are juxtaposed for meaning or for heightened emotional effect Not always clear in terms of demarcated scenes

26 Experimental Film Causality is not always a factor “ambiguous interplay of subjectivity and objectivity”

27 “Realistic” motivation Audiences see films fully prepared Conventions Genre Personality types Transtextual motivation (star system)

28 “Artistic” Motivation “Moment of spectacle” or technical virtuosity Unmotivated shift from the objective to subjective perspective Connections between sequences ruminate on themes rather than causal relationships Limited focus on a single goal Musical numbers


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