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Re: Jack Webb's PETE KELLY'S BLUES - mise en scene as point-making

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  • thebradstevens
    ... Much of RAGING BULL gives the viewer the impression that what we see would be happening anyway, even if the camera were not there to record it. This is
    Message 1 of 20 , Aug 2, 2007
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      --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein <cellar47@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Now I'm really confused. How can the camera be present
      > and absent at the same time?
      >
      > Of course the characters in the film, like so many
      > others, are inahibiting a simalcrum of reality where
      > no camera is ever acknowledged. But what makes Webb's
      > use of this convention different from that of 99% of
      > the movies ever made?
      >

      Much of RAGING BULL gives the viewer the impression that what we see
      would be happening anyway, even if the camera were not there to
      record it. This is clearly not the case with PETE KELLY'S BLUES or
      the works of Minnelli, Hitchcock, etc., in which everything has
      clearly been arranged for the camera's benefit.
    • thebradstevens
      Michael Curtiz s THE EGYPTIAN, which I watched last night, turned out to contain an excellent example of point-making mise en scene during a sequence in which
      Message 2 of 20 , Aug 3, 2007
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        Michael Curtiz's THE EGYPTIAN, which I watched last night, turned out
        to contain an excellent example of point-making mise en scene during
        a sequence in which Sinuhe (Edmund Purdom) talks to Nefer (Bella
        Darvi). Nefer is seated, applying makeup while gazing at her own
        reflection in a mirror. Sinuhe stands on the left of the frame. At
        one point, Sinuhe walks towards Nefer, moves behind the mirror (which
        now partially obscures him from view), and grabs hold of it. The
        resulting image shows Sinuhe embracing not Nefer, but rather a mirror
        in which her reflection is visible...visible, that is, to the camera,
        but not to Sinuhe. Curtiz here demonstrates two things; a) that
        Sinuhe is in love not with Nefer herself, but rather with
        that 'image' which she presents to the world; and b) that Sinuhe has
        allowed his own identity to be 'obscured' by his obsession with Nefer.

        Of course, this image is constructed entirely for the camera's
        benefit, allowing the film's viewer to understand something that
        would not be comprehensible to the on-screen participants. Indeed,
        the fact that Sinuhe is not consciously aware of the nature of his
        desire is exactly the point that Curtiz is making here.
      • David Ehrenstein
        And Curtiz is doing so rather elegantly. This use of a mirror reminds me of that scene in Under Capricorn so beloeved of the CdC critics where Michael
        Message 3 of 20 , Aug 3, 2007
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          And Curtiz is doing so rather elegantly. This use of a
          mirror reminds me of that scene in "Under Capricorn"
          so beloeved of the CdC critics where Michael Wuilding
          holds up his coat behind a glass door in order that
          Bergman see her reflection.

          --- thebradstevens <bradstevens22@...> wrote:

          > Michael Curtiz's THE EGYPTIAN, which I watched last
          > night, turned out
          > to contain an excellent example of point-making mise
          > en scene during
          > a sequence in which Sinuhe (Edmund Purdom) talks to
          > Nefer (Bella
          > Darvi). Nefer is seated, applying makeup while
          > gazing at her own
          > reflection in a mirror. Sinuhe stands on the left of
          > the frame. At
          > one point, Sinuhe walks towards Nefer, moves behind
          > the mirror (which
          > now partially obscures him from view), and grabs
          > hold of it. The
          > resulting image shows Sinuhe embracing not Nefer,
          > but rather a mirror
          > in which her reflection is visible...visible, that
          > is, to the camera,
          > but not to Sinuhe. Curtiz here demonstrates two
          > things; a) that
          > Sinuhe is in love not with Nefer herself, but rather
          > with
          > that 'image' which she presents to the world; and b)
          > that Sinuhe has
          > allowed his own identity to be 'obscured' by his
          > obsession with Nefer.
          >
          > Of course, this image is constructed entirely for
          > the camera's
          > benefit, allowing the film's viewer to understand
          > something that
          > would not be comprehensible to the on-screen
          > participants. Indeed,
          > the fact that Sinuhe is not consciously aware of the
          > nature of his
          > desire is exactly the point that Curtiz is making
          > here.
          >
          >




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        • jpcoursodon
          Message 4 of 20 , Aug 4, 2007
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            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein <cellar47@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > And Curtiz is doing so rather elegantly. This use of a
            > mirror reminds me of that scene in "Under Capricorn"
            > so beloeved of the CdC critics where Michael Wuilding
            > holds up his coat behind a glass door in order that
            > Bergman see her reflection.
            >
            > An idea, incidentally, provided by Hume Cronyn. JPC

            >
          • Jonathan Rosenbaum
            To my ... Cf. http://blogs.chicagoreader.com/film/2007/02/16/market-value-missing-movie/, which even contains a bit about the mise en scene.
            Message 5 of 20 , Aug 4, 2007
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              To my
              > knowledge the late great Raymond Durgnat is the only
              > critic to acknowledge the brilliance of "Pete Kelley's
              > Blues," particularly as regards mise en scene.

              Cf.
              http://blogs.chicagoreader.com/film/2007/02/16/market-value-missing-movie/,
              which even contains a bit about the mise en scene.
            • Eduardo Valente - grupos
              ... whether people like him or not, I d have to sign in M. Night Shyamalan right here.
              Message 6 of 20 , Aug 11, 2007
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                > But who is
                > > keeping the Webb/Hitchcock/Minnelli line of mise en
                > > scene alive?

                whether people like him or not, I'd have to sign in M. Night Shyamalan
                right here.
              • thebradstevens
                ... Shyamalan ... Yeah, I d pretty much agree with that. Mel Brooks is another name that comes to mind (though I guess his directing career is now a thing of
                Message 7 of 20 , Aug 12, 2007
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                  --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Eduardo Valente - grupos"
                  <solalaranjado@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > But who is
                  > > > keeping the Webb/Hitchcock/Minnelli line of mise en
                  > > > scene alive?
                  >
                  > whether people like him or not, I'd have to sign in M. Night
                  Shyamalan
                  > right here.
                  >



                  Yeah, I'd pretty much agree with that. Mel Brooks is another name
                  that comes to mind (though I guess his directing career is now a
                  thing of the past).
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