Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles
Uh, and what is more fundamental to a film then story, plot, and characters
It is also fundamental to a stage play, a radio drama, a fireside tale or a joke.
What you're referrring to is "content", not "technique" and certainly not "cinematic technique". A Great Story or Important Story is an interesting way to decide what film to make, but it has very little if anything to do with the effectiveness of the final product. Some of the greatest movies ever made hinge on stories that are as hackneyed and oft repeated as they come and might be based on truly mediocre if not god awful source material (play or book). Some of the worst movies hinge on stories of the utmost importance to life, liberty and why god put us on this earth, blah, blah, blah.
That's the reason I have always maintained that "technique" trumps "content" almost without exception in virtually every art form. I can't think of any 60-70 year old movie that is remembered for being great today because it "meant well" or that it told a really, really, important story populated by characters we all would do to know and understand rather than the cinematic technique employed to tell the story, however mundane on paper.
No, "cinematic technique" would be when the gunman loads his pistol and puts it in his pocket:
- Did the director insert a shot of the gunman to match the shot of the gun? If so, why? Was it a close-up of each? Why? Did the camera slowly push forward into the shot of the gunman's face? Why? Or why not? Did the guman look at something else and back to the gun he was loading during that shot? What was it? Why did the director show us that?
- Is the shot of the gun a medium shot and the shot of the gunman's face (side view? full front? behind his head?) an extreme close-up? If so, why? If the gun is photographed to look bigger than the gunman's face, why?
- If the director included a shot of the gunman loading his gun, was the camera placed from above
the gunman's head to take in the whole scene as a "God's eye view" shot? Or was it more or less from the gunman's P.O.V.? If so, why?
- If it was a gunman's P.O.V. shot, was this the first and only P.O.V. of the gunman? Do other characters get P.O.V. shots of their own in this movie? If so, why? If not, why not?
These and more are among the multitude of choices a filmmaker can make to employ "cinematic technique" to develope the character of the gunman, his feelings about the crime he is about to commit...if he is about to commit one at all, what the director wants us to feel about the gunman, what the story is ultimately about, whether this is a moment of suspense or curiosity and on and on. Moreover, they are choices that are intrinsic to "cinema", demonstrate and celebrate the inherent strengths of "cinema" and cannot be duplicated in any other art form.
Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, Welles, Kubrick, Nichols, Allen, Coppola...would all choose different ways to shoot the moment of that gunman loading his gun and putting it in his pocket. Each with deference to the mood and tone that has become recognized as their style no doubt.
Or....the director could just show a medium sized shaky-cam shot of a man loading a gun and putting it in his pocket...which followed a medium sized shaky-cam shot of a girl getting out of her car...preceded by a medium sized shaky-cam shot of the gunman running down a hall, followed by a medium sized shaky-cam shot of....
Well, you get the idea.
Not to say there is far less "cinema" going on in all those repetative shaky-cam shots than what is possible but not exploited by the director choosing those shaky-cam shots. I suppose that is still left to the beholder. But IN MY OPINION, there is far less "cinema" going on in those shaky-cam shot sequences no matter how mobile and flexible the photographs of the gunman doing his thing are and not very much on a "cinematic" level to talk about. Same with the overuse of CGI. Are we simply to be enthralled by the photographic stunt of it above all else?
Then again, I so misundertand what movies are all about, what is possible in them and I am so handicapped by my "limited and inflexible" view of movies, I've never seen much to enjoy, admire or appreciate in the films of Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, Welles, Kubrick, Nichols, Allen, Coppola and the rest...but if any of you ladies and gentlemen would care to tell me which "cinematic" decisions were made in, say, Avatar
that developed character, story and plot in such a dramatic, memorable and "cinematic" way rather than merely a photographic and "did it look real?" way worthy of discussion and analysis, please help out a confused and dreary soul here.