His Famous Zoom (was: Viva Rossellini!)
- For those of us completely unfamiliar with late
Rossellini (my own knowledge of his work is totally
limited to what's on video - though I would make the
trip to NY or elsewhere if that was ever corrected by
a retrospective) could someone explain his "famous
zoom?" What do you mean exactly? When did it first
appear? Is it something that is used throughout his
late work? Is there anything written about it I could
go track down... or is there good writing on his late
work in general?
Stay connected, organized, and protected. Take the tour:
- There are some zooms in pre-1967 Rossellinis -- there's even one or two
in "Generale Della Rovere" -- but starting with "La Prise du Pouvoir par
Louis XIV," Rossellini used the zoom pretty continuously. At one point
he even had a remote control device built so that he could zoom without
looking through the camera, during shooting. The zoom is constantly
reframing, going to wider or closer views, and his use of it I think is
crucial to the style and ideas of the films: it places every moment of
them, every image, at a potential transition point between two or more
perspectives, suggesting that at any instant there are other, and in a
sense always "wider," possible ways of seeing the situation.
Rossellini's late films tend to center around "pivot points" in history,
such as the beginning of the Renaissance in "The Age of the Medici,"
which is consistent with his way of seeing, in which whatever is
happening is always on the brink of some momentous change.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "J. Mabe" <brack_28@y...> wrote:
> For those of us completely unfamiliar with lateEra Notte a Roma is, I believe, the first where he widely used the
> Rossellini (my own knowledge of his work is totally
> limited to what's on video - though I would make the
> trip to NY or elsewhere if that was ever corrected by
> a retrospective) could someone explain his "famous
> zoom?" What do you mean exactly?
> When did it first appear?
zoom. For his TV films, he had to combine his remote-controlled zoom
(which allows for smooth and easy movements) with the use of "black
projection" (not sure of the term), with mirrors (the old trick from
Melies and others), which is used constantly. He described the whole
thing in details in interviews published by Cahiers (French) and
He was so obsessed by this technique that he was furious to have to
use a 'shot/reverse shot' approach in a scene of La Prise du Pouvoir
(with Mazarin and the priest).
A text by afb member Chris Fujiwara 'Zooming through Space'
"Rossellini's zoom is lulling, liquid. We become immersed in the
wash of the film"
'Making Reality' by Tag Gallagher
I notably disagree with last sentence, with the very last words...
"Its fluid pictorial style, with its continuous reframing as
Rossellini looks in (using a remote-controlled zoom he invented for
this purpose), assures us of the reality of his gaze and the
distance of the past, encourages us to look in, animate the
characters, and bring them to life." Where is the damned life!?
- Really liked Fred Camper's analysis of Rossellini's zoom!
Some of R's early films also deal with pivotal events in history, such as
"Paisan", which shows with the Allied invasion of Italy.
I would love to be able to see more of R's later films. Oddly enough, they
used to be screened far more often than they are today. Years ago, saw "La Prise
du Pouvoir par Louis XIV," a great classic, and "Socrates". The Louis XIV
film shows R's tremendous sense of logic.