Unreal Nature

March 31, 2016


Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… “the steady shot brings us to another state.”

Continuing through Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action by Ira Jaffe (2014):

… A new long shot shows clouds darkening and drifting across the moon. Next, the closeup of Badii returns; but in the course of ninety seconds, the blackness of night, at first interrupted by renewed lightning, consumes his face, while silence displaces earlier sounds of thunder, birds and rain. Whether Badii is dead or alive, an almost voluptuous sensation of nothingness and stillness settles over the movie.


Suddenly, though, a military cheer is heard rising in the blackness. A splotchy, hand-held video image fades in, revealing roughly the same physical environment as before, but in day rather than night. … Taste of Cherry‘s twelve-shot coda begins by focusing on two members of the film crew, one of whom holds a film camera while the other walks towards him with a tripod. Then Ershadi, the actor who has portrayed Badii, casually brings [director] Kiarostami a lit cigarette, which the director starts to smoke.

Lisandro Alonso regards as reflexive his stationary camera’s lingering on spaces by major characters in Liverpool. Dennis and Joan West describe one such lingering (or instance of dead time): “Farrel leaves definitively the scene of his shipboard cabin; and then we are left for x number of seconds simply contemplating the setting.”

[line break added] Another instance occurs when Farrel, about to depart his mother’s village, leaves her home after Analia does, whereupon the camera lingers on the large entry room he has vacated for twenty-nine seconds. Alonso claims to include such pauses “in order to raise the question of what happens if after a given sequence, in which not very much has happened, we nevertheless give the spectator time to think about what it is that is happening …

[line break added] During that pause,” he adds, the spectator “comes to realize that cinematographic language exists — because he is made to feel the presence of the camera. And if the viewer feels the presence of the camera, he is also feeling the presence of the director.” Simultaneously, the viewer recognizes that “over and beyond what is happening to the fictional character, there is always someone else who is narrating the story.”

The effects of a camera rigidly observing a space in which little happens obviously intrigue not just Alonso but also Kiarostami, Oliveira and other slow-movie makers as well as their commentators. Jared Rapfogel cites the frequently “prolonged, unadorned, and steady gaze” of Oliveira’s camera,” while the elderly filmmaker himself remarks that “the steady shot brings us to another state.”

… Alfred Hitchcock often spoke of manipulating the viewer, of “processes through which we take the audience … to create this audience emotion.” But Kiarostami echoes the notion of the “open film” voiced by Gus Van Sant and other filmmakers reluctant to “take the audience” to fixed and predetermined destinations.

My most recent previous post from Jaffe’s book is here.




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