It's a whole new world

Thoughts in motion for Media Studies & H.O.C

Bonnie & Clyde: flaunt that pistol

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 4:56 am on Thursday, December 15, 2011


Definitely a superb choice of film to end the term: with a bang! Too bad this short run has met its end. I now find myself analyzing film I would have just mindlessly watched over and over again! This class has taught me to open my eyes and really appreciate films as an art form and not just a entertainment pastime.  The imagery, camera effects, and symbolism within every film are now gravitating toward my eye and capture my attention. Especially within the film Bonnie & Clyde, a film in which every camera shot is important and there is symbolism around every corner.

One thing I kept noticing throughout the entire film was the positioning of the pistol. Yes I know it was a robber/gang movie, but it wasn’t merely the pistol, but what it portrayed. For Clyde and the other men, it was an extension of their masculinity. The pistol represented domination, power and control, for it’s a bit hard to control and aim a pistol, like Bonnie tried when she first shot a gun and felt its recoil. When Clyde first showed Bonnie his gun, he held it near his pelvis, it was a very suggestive positioning.  Maybe it was just to hide it from wandering eyes, but I’m pretty sure it was letting bonnie know what else was there * cough cough*. Or, it was used as it probably should have been; as a weapon.


I was more interested in what Bonnie used it for. We first see her with it as an rookie when she first shoots it. however, throughout the movie we see her flaunt that pistol again and again. For one, we see her use it as a way to expose her femininity, while also portraying a dominate sex symbol. Personally, Clyde would have been just a small town gangster without Bonnie. The photo were she poses with the cigar and pistol on her hip, even though she dislikes cigars, it is seem as very manly and one of authority. the gun on her help accentuates her curves, making it obvious that she is a woman. There is the scene with the sheriff where Bonnie flaunts the pistol to the sheriff’s face in a provocative way, almost caressing it. Although I do not know anything less appealing to be caressed with.  Then there is the female vs. male use of the pistol, one where Bonnie is holding the gun at her hips, feminine, and where Clyde is holding it between his legs, masculine. It really was awesome to see a pistol portrayed in a new light.

Analysis Project #2: Formal Analysis

Filed under: Class Assignments — Natalie Bernabe at 6:57 am on Friday, December 9, 2011

Natalie Bernabe

History of Cinema II


Prof. Amy Herzog

The Materiality of Mesh in the Afternoon

            Within every movie, there is a plot, or a storyline. One that draws us in, allowing us to envelop ourselves to the lives of the characters and their actions. Rarely do viewers remember the director and what they are striving to portray, which is an idea or thought they wish to share. However, there are certain films that filmmakers have succeeded in drawing the viewer’s attention to the ‘materiality’ of film, or the physical attributes that make up a film, such as the camera and frames. These films are notable for their either daring content or in the interesting way they have filmed the movie. These films are called avant-garde films, or experimental films. One such film that has drawn our attention to the materiality of the film is Maya Deren’s 1941 avant-garde film Meshes of the Afternoon.

However, there are many different types of avant-garde films that can draw one’s attention to the materiality of the film. What sets Meshes of The Afternoon apart from the rest? For one, there is the film’s storyline, which does contribute in drawing our attention to the filming rather than the film, which was a bit unusual. The entire piece revolves around a surreal dream-like environment that relies heavily on imagery and the use of cinematic techniques, and was a film that dealt with devastating psychological problems, inspired by many French Surrealist films, such as films made by Salvador Dali. The film is made without the use of special effects by computers, which was unavailable in the 40s, but there were other methods. How does the film Meshes of the Afternoon depict a surreal dream world without the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI)?

One scene in particular drew my eye to notice the materiality of the film. In the video, the scene is 2 minutes and 22 seconds long, from 4:17 to 6:39, as the video is 13 minutes and 30 seconds long. The scene starts with a medium close-up of a woman, who is played coincidently by Maya Deren, who opens a door to a living room, where she scans the room. Here, the camera has a horizontal take of newspapers on the floor, some furniture until it reaches some stairs which has a butter knife facing down. Earlier in the film, we had seen a similar scene, yet the camera took a take of the center of the room, and there was a telephone instead of a knife. There is an uncanny feeling in the silence of the room, and how similar the scene prior to this one was. Then she goes up the stairs, and we see the camera focus on only her feet ascending the stairs. Prior to the scene, the stairs were the only thing depicted of her going up the stairs. While she is going up, the film is now in slow motion, showing us an approximate 23 seconds of a slow motion action of walking up the stairs, and then her face from a high angle shot as she reaches the railing. We then see her slowly walking through some black curtains in a light room, almost as if she is in another dimension. It feels unnatural, and is very captivating; it does not look like it would happen in real life. This slow motion editing of the film makes us conscious of the materiality of the film, for the filmmakers did not simply press a button on a computer to slow the frames down, but had to edit them physically; frame by frame. The use of slow motion in this film helps to depict a surreal dream environment without the use of CGI.


She now enters the room through the window in real time, and looks down at the bed, where a phone is unhooked on the pillow. As she reaches to uncover the blankets, there is a loud humming sound and we see her uncover a knife. Now, the camera is zoomed in for us to see a close-up of the woman’s face in the reflection of the knife, where the light makes it seem as if her face is moving to the side, and gives her face an eerie quality that looks unnatural. She puts the phone back on the hook, and is now moving backwards into the window and drums are being hit, and a flute is being played. She moves backwards into the railing and looks around frantically with her arms waving about, meanwhile the camera is turning. Although she is only on the stairs, having the camera turned into a specific angle makes it seem as if she is trying not to fall into the ceiling. Her hair blowing and her hands desperately clinging to the ceiling make it seem as if she was propelled there and as if she is literally stuck to the ceiling. The camera’s angle shot of her torso and under her chin emphasizes this as well. She finally reaches the arch into her living room. We only see a medium shot of her as her arms are splayed across the wall, she could very well be standing on a chair, but the wind and her actions make it seem as if she is stuck there. Then we see a high angle take of the room. The two things that drew our attention to the materiality of the film were the camera angles, and the Maya’s portrayal to an uncanny circumstance. The camera angles and shots helped depict a topsy-turvy world  where up was down and nothing seemed aligned, but this effect was strengthen by the Maya’s acting out a ‘falling’ victim with her movements of her body and arms. It was similar to that of Alice dropping down the rabbit hole, and had that same surreal quality to it, which is what drew our attention to it. It did not have to rely on special effects such as CGI to capture the same feeling, and our attention was tied with the camera’s movements.

We then see her reach from the ceiling down to the phonograph, where she turns it off, and is now on the floor looking at her double sleeping on the chair near the window. She now touches the window, where we see her reflection for a brief moment, as she stares down to a figure cloaked in black holding a large flower. As well as herself from a high angle shot running towards the figure. Both her hands are on the window as she stares at them, and the shot reflects the trees in the window glass, which makes her hair seem as if it is turning into leaves; giving her an ethereal quality. Meanwhile, strings are being pulled along with the distinct humming. This is how the scene ends.  The use of the split-screen technique in this scene was truly effective because it really emphasized the dream-like quality of the scene; the fact that one of the doubles was watching one sleep and one run. Dreams do not usually make sense, and this portion of the scene was very unusual and fantastical. The shot of her and her reflection, although perfectly normal, felt as if it foreshadowed the arrival of a new double; which did arrive. The entire film had the recurring scene of her trying to catch up to the cloaked figure, which was shown in this scene. The last shot by the camera, where her hair looks like it is turning into part of the tree, was exceptionally creative. This was one of the best techniques used to and again, added to the surreal dream environment, without CGI.


This short scene has depicted numerous ways in which a surreal dream world can be filmed, without such special effects specifically by CGI. We became conscious of the director’s vision, and the filmmaker’s efforts in portraying that image. The filmmaker’s effects and work clearly paid off in the making of this sort of experimental film. We focused more on the editing and styling rather than the plot. It became a visually captivating, and poetic story, which didn’t require over the top effects to get a reaction to the surrealism and materiality of the film.

All rights to Supercinema77 on Youtube: Maya Deren – Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Extra Credit: A Streetcar Named Desire analysis

Filed under: Extra Credit — Natalie Bernabe at 3:29 am on Friday, December 9, 2011

All rights to wrcoe who uploaded the video on Youtube

WARNING: Spoilers will occur in this analysis.


A Streetcar Named Desire – Kindness of Strangers

This 1951 film is an adaptation derived directly from the 1947 play, with the same name of course.  It is a story of a disturbed, older southern woman named Blanche DuBois who moves in with her sister, Stella, and her brutish brother-in-law, Stanley, in New Orleans, all the while fighting to bury her ‘loose’ past and deal with her unstable grasp on reality. The scene I decided to evaluate was the final scene; after Stanley has raped Blanche (which means white btw!) and has sent for personnel from an insane asylum to take her away. She had just taken a bath, which could signify her desire to ‘wash away’ the act of Stanley’s rape, which has caused her to have a clear nervous breakdown. She had told Stella (which means star) what had happened, but she didn’t believe her, and agrees to have her sent to the asylum. A bunch of stuff occurs, like Blanche’s certainty of a savior to whisk her away, and the personnel coming in and the shadows and jungle music going on in the background.

The scene I chose, which is 2 minutes and 55 seconds long, is where the older doctor enters and speaks above her while she is on the ground looking up at him. He orders the nurse to let go, and she reaches out to him, and he lifts her up. He takes off his hat, and holds his arm out for her. The look in her face (well done Vivian Leigh!) is staring admiringly up at him, and it is clear she has deluded herself to thinking that this is her ‘chivalrous savior’.  She then utters a memorable line, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”. This can be taken in two ways; the fact that she has had to depend on numerous sexual partners in order to feel wanted, and desired, and that she no longer looks to the kindness of her immediate family, aka Stella and her past relatives, to help her.  The doctor bows his head, and they walk out with her face still staring up at his, past the men who stare at her walking by, and past Stanley and Stella. The music has been a long violin melody that emphasizes her departure of reality and her descendent into madness.


As Stella watches her sister walk away and calls after her, Stanley intercedes and she tells him never to touch her again. He briskly walks away (which is so unlike his character), and we see Blanche willingly be driven away in a black car and Stella watches it turn the corner.  With tears in her eyes, we hear her newborn baby cry and her hold him while Stanley calls out to her. She quietly vows never to return to him, and we hear his cries as she runs up the stairs to her neighbor’s house. That’s the end. But it really shouldn’t be. This is where the analysis really begins, for although there is a nice independent woman ending here, it totally contradicts what the play had initially depicted. The movie more or less followed the pay, some parts having to be cut because of the Production Code, still close enough though. In the play, Blanche’s and Stella’s separated relationship is clearly seen in the play, although the movie shows Blanche ignoring Stella as well. However (and stay with me here), in the play, Blanche’s lost grasp on reality, and Stella’s dependency on Stanley, has allowed Stella to justify having her sister committed to the hospital. She doesn’t want to believe her husband raped Blanche, and would rather make her sister stay at a mental institution than have HERSELF face that harsh reality. In turn, Stella has begun to lose her grip on reality as well.

Not only that, but her staying with Stanley reveals how life for poorer women in the South have to stick it out with their husbands no matter what he may do, which includes him beating her and raping her sister. She depends on him because she has no life without him. Which is why the film version has mocked the play in this way; it is trying to give woman a tougher feel when the play’s objective was to depict a more realistic circumstance and reaction of a woman like Stella. The intense shedding of her tears (in the play) her realizing what she has done to her sister, the denial of her husband’s actions, and how she will continue to live (and probably suffer) with him. The conclusion of the play comes to full circle that ‘life will go on’ and never change their household completely, just keep turning in a never ending cycle, although there will be rifts along the way, such as Blanche’s stay. With Stella freeing herself of her husband, it completely changes the storyline and the depiction of life in the South for women like Stella and Blanche.

Memorias del Subdesarrollo

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 12:28 am on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Or Memories of Underdevelopment. Kudos for Google Translation (just kidding I speak Spanish!).  Man were there a crazy amount of experimental, political, and avant-garde films to choose from! There was Black girl by Ousmane Sembene and Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren, and others (That I can’t remember) ! We only watched the opening for this film, but i remembered a lot of it, and not just because I can speak Spanish! Shoot, I needed help with that dialogue, very glad for them subtitles!

Even though this movie is about Cuba’s newly regained independence, and how a wealthy married man decides to stay behind, I focused less on the political monologue and went towards the dialogue he was having with his wife in the tape recorder. It was so different and odd, and it really stuck with me. The first thing they talk about is the book she is reading, which she answers “Something trite, frivolous and decadent: ‘The Best of Everything’ “. With her contempt of Cuba and everything in it, those choice words were most likely directed to the country itself. While he is listening to the dialogue, the camera moves with him as her sorts through her clothes, wears her shawl, goes through her makeup and other things reminding himself of his wife. He seems like a pest, which she makes a reference to; about insects. She says that the country is going backwards, while she is saying that, he is looking through her makeup and jewelry, which is pretty weird for a guy( and sorta backwards too?)

There are a few interesting shots, like when he wears her monocles and there is a shot of the wife in bed reading. Then there is the part where he is painting a woman’s face on her mirror, while listening to his conversation where he tells her she is so attractive when she’s fake. That he likes her artificial beauty compared to other women’s natural beauty, which I found very odd to say to your wife. Again, backwards. He tells her it changed her from a “common little Cuban to  a glamorous beauty”. One could maybe see her resentment to Cuba, where it reminds her of her less-luxurious life. Her holds her underwear and there is a shot of her stepping into the shower. These shots help the scene as it seems like flashes of his memories while listening to the dialogue and going through these actions.

While she is telling him how disgusting he is, he starts to put on her pantyhose over his head. as if verifying this. He also tells her he has been recording the entire conversation. AND SHE PISSED!! He looks at himself in the mirror with the face with the pantyhose and one has to question this guy’s sanity. Or freakishness, you choose. He turns off the tape when they are screaming their heads off at each other. He slowly takes off the pantyhose and sits down, looking a bit forlorn. It was quite an odd scene, but the entire segment was shot beautifully and had the overall effect of us looking into his personality and his personal life.  Maybe I’ll watch the rest of the film. Maybe.

La jetée: more than just a black and white clip.

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 8:42 am on Friday, November 25, 2011

OKAY ALL NIGHTER. REALLLLY pissed off by the fact that I just wrote AN COMPLETED POST and it deleted the draft -__________________- THANK YOU INTERNET. Moving on, Happy late Thanksgiving, hope you enjoyed your turkey! Gotta get this done and pack for Pennsylvania! Now then the movie, whose title means ‘The Pier’ or something. Really surprised by the composition of this 28 minute short film. The usage of photo-montage was well incorporated into this and didn’t make the scif-fi time travel theme seem cliche or tripe. The story consisted of a man in a aftermath of WW3, in the ruins of Paris, where he is the experimental subject of a time travel trial. The present needs the help of any past/present technology or people to save them, the main character is the only successful experiment, as he is haunted by an image of a woman he does not know, and the witnessing of a man’s death at an airport station.

The usage of images instead of traditional movie reel was really unique because it let one know that it wasn’t real, and yet was strangely realistic. It didn’t have the images aligned in perfect order, but instead chose shots that one could see the stark contrast of light to dark and  that no two images used the exact lighting, as well as the noir themes. It was a dark and a bit suspenseful; there’s this one scene when he is taking the injection and all you hear is a heartbeat going faster and faster and faster, and the images of his pained expression, although his eyes are covered. Then it abruptly stops. It definitely creeped me out!

This film definitely influenced future movies (haha time theme!) such as The Time Traveler’s Wife and Source Code ( I used the book cover for TTW since I HATED the movie). All had time-travel in them, a female lead that played a vital role in the storyline, and all the time travelers where men who loved the female lead. yes, a bit cliche, but the use of a narrative, images that flowed into a story, and dark noir themes were not. The noir themes were the harsh reality of the aftermath of the war, the experiment to be done undergrone, and the serious tone the movie was under, unless he was with the girl.

The girl appeared to him when he traveled back in time, and the only time we see a actual moving image is when she wakes up in a bed to see him and she smiles at him. It is set in much lighter tones and the imaging flows more like movement; one after another instead of stills shot in different frames of time. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In both The Time Traveler’s Wife and La Jetée,  both main characters die in the eyes of their loved one. It has that raw realism and tragedy that is better unfolded in the imagery of La Jetée than that of The Time Traveler’s Wife.


Mother India: The Sacrifice of a Mother

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 5:34 am on Thursday, November 17, 2011


This was a hard movie to digest, and not just because of the language barrier, I’ll tell you that! I mean, it was definitely inspiring and a great film of its time and all, it’s just i do not prefer traditional Indian movies in general, especially Bollywood (which i think is the ONLY movie industry in India??). I may be wrong, but anything that randomly has people signing and dancing has always been iffy to me. Except for the show GLEE, but i suppose it has to do with the fact that they are singing songs we already know and incorporating them into scenarios; NOT making up a bunch of their own and expecting anyone other than kids to like it (H.S. Musical? EW).



oh yes, I WENT THERE.

Besides the fact of the few musical numbers, I did like the serious themes and some scenes in this film. The message of India’s struggles for indepof my ranting, I’ll move on to thisendence  and freedom were expressed by the suffering of a mother with poverty and children. It was very invoking and powerful, as one will know that a mother will almost always fight for her children.

The scene I decided to focus on is the final scene, where everything reaches its climax. It is not only emotionally impacting, but visually as well. The part I start is with the murder of Sukhilala, who is the moneylender of the main character mother figure, Radha, who is struck by severe poverty with the abandonment of her husband and the failure of the crop. As life goes, one of her two sons, Birju, is very resentful to what has befallen his family, and holds an intense grudge against Sukhilala. Which is why he decides to murder him, and as he and his bandit friends make a small circle around him, Sukhilala is terrified as Briju twirls him around and stabs him. He then dumps his body unto the feet of his daughter, who cowers behind her betrothed. A confrontation between the two ensures. And the daughter and a friend grab a gun and run away.

As the betrothed fights Birju, one notices the way he sings the oar with fire on it; it is circular swings. I believe circles have a lot of significance in this film; as if they are representing never ending cycles of violence or something. Birju fights off the fiance, and carries off the bride-to-be. He is then confronted by the mother, who is now holding the gun. He does not listen to the heed of his mother’s words, and she is forced to shoot him, which is rare in Hindu films.

‘Cause She’s a WOMAN.

As he goes slowly towards his mother, bloody and everything, he tries to hand her something circular that he took from Sukhilala’s household. She runs towards him and clutches him in her arms. She screams his name while blood is staining her hands. The blood then becomes a reddish water in a canal, where we see the ‘present’ time.

The reddish water could signify the blood she was forced to spill and her anguished sacrifices over the years. It does become clear, however, probably signifying peace and cleansing of her village. This was the scene that impacted me most of all, because it is extremely hard to witness the death of someone you love, especially if you are forced to commit it. The relationship between Sukhilala and Radha is very similar to the power Britain had over India, and how India sought freedom and independence. Also the red water in the canal can signify the blood India had to shed for them to gain independence.

Psycho: Norman and his prey

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 5:54 am on Friday, November 11, 2011

This particular film is known as one of the most scariest films in history, and we can see why. No one expected anything that was shown. Alfred Hitchcock made it his personal mission not to spoil the ending or even plot, just some outline of a murder in his teaser trailer. So bent on having the audience enjoy the full experience of the movie, no one was allowed entry to the film in theaters if they arrived late. The main appeal to the terror one felt  in Psycho was that it took you by surprise; it was unexpected.

The actual murder scene for me wasn’t especially terrifying, I was more creeped out by Anthony Perkin’s performance of Norman Bates, and how a seemingly normal looking man could be someone sinister underneath. The references to his violence and obsession over women (or lack thereof) were subtle and yet pointed straight at you! Norman was, just like this statement, a contradiction as well. He was not someone a person could relate to, and Marion Crane’s glances at his face and quiet stares showed us that, although looking perfectly normal, there was something off about him, for example, his hobby of taxidermy, which is the stuffing of birds. These birds were not in nice positions that made them look ornamental, but were a bit creepy to look at, such as the raven’s profile leering at you, or the owl in flight (in a hunting-like pose), all giving off this feeling of domination and inferiority.

This is shown all the more apparent with the scene where Norman Bates peeps at Marion Crane. When he is entering the room, he is not going right into action, but rather contemplating his every move. His movements are deliberate, like a predator stalking its prey. We see the owl in flight right by his head; as if verifying this assumption. He picks up the portrait off the wall where Marion Crane is on the other side of. I always wondered what this portrait was, as the shot was so fleeting; I could only see the figure of a woman. So, I researched and found that it was called Susanne and the Elders, which unfortunately i was unable to pinpoint which exact artist drew Psycho’s version; a painting depicting a fictional character who is spied on by two Elders who try to force themselves on her by threatening her, which was derived from an article called “Psycho Redux” by Donato Totaro.  The act of peeping is invading one’s privacy in secrecy, she was literally being spied upon. It was as if he was stalking his prey.

This was the whole underlying factor behind Norman’s seemingly normal face, he was this sinister beast that looked for his next victim, although it should be only normal sexual desires, however, he does something that is in fact sinister; which is peeping. Also , peeping with the intent to act upon it. The fact that he never actually raped the women he killed was interesting. It really made it seem as if ‘Mother’ was truly jealous and killed his potential ‘partners’ before anything actually happened.This was extremely interesting overall to see the emotional state that Norman’s mind was in when going after Marion. This was, other than the shower scene, one of the most influential and more explanatory scenes to Norman’s state of mind. not only that, but the slow cinematography that gripped us and emphasized this.

“They’re here!” It’s the Invasion of the Body Snatchers!!

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 12:49 am on Saturday, November 5, 2011

  Our first horror film! It was actually pretty decent and interesting, especially considering that it is from 1956! Douglas Sirk, the director, does a superb job of creating this sort of eerie atmosphere underlining this seemingly normal Californian town. The music also helps with this sort of feeling as well. The story is a sci-fi thriller about an alien invasion. The invaders are cultivated in large plant pods and copy humans while they sleep and take over them.  They are seemingly perfect to their counterparts, except for the fact that they are emotionless. The story also shows how a local doctor, Dr. Miles Bennell and his girlfriend, Becky Discoll, learn of these pod people and try to escape them.

There is a sort of miscommunication of how in fact this movie is an allegory of pr0-comminist to anti-communist themes. Personally, i did see some pro-communist qualities,  such as the scene where 2 pod people try to convince Miles that the invasion is a good thing, because humans are much better off without ridiculous emotions such as love. Where everyone should be all the same and devoid of emotion, to be equal, which communism tries to encourage. The anti-communism theme, would probably be the portrayal of communism ‘infecting’ the human population, causing us to ‘lose one’s soul’. Thus, not even considered a human any longer. Douglas Sirk did not admit to this at all, instead saying that he felt people  were emotionless about cultural things,that they had no feeling of pain, or of sorrow. He decided to depict this in a thriller, although it is not a huge theme.

Some scenes that i found note-worthy and interesting to the storyline was probably the small strange details on the town. Such as when the Saturday morning where Becky and Miles have stayed awake in his office in order to escape the pod people, and they look outside. He comments that, although it looks like a bustling, busy Saturday morning, with a bus dropping off people and everything, it was way too early to be so. The phone rings, the police car drives off, and then, the music changes to a sort of low eerie sound. Many people walk up to the town square, all at once, and this is not normal. One gets the feeling of something strange and unfamiliar, at least that’s what I felt. If that was to happen on a Saturday morning, and I look out the window to see a bunch of people silently going towards one location, I would be SO terrified.

Another scene is when Miles kills his copy that is forming. He tells them to run and find a safe place, and stabs the pod with a pitchfork. The fact that they were ale to create the pretty creepy scene right before, showing the pods burst out with seeds, using just soup bubbles and simple man-made effects was truly great. As well as the panic that stirred within us, when Miles and Becky are trying to get away from the mob, and Becky shows such exhaustion that the audience feels tense if they are or not going to make it. Then the scene were she turns into a pod person, and Miles is terrifying that his love is no longer ‘alive’. Finally, the scene where Miles escapes from the pod people and frantically screams to the cars and, to us as well, “they’re here already!”. They should have left it at that, I believe it would have the left us feeling a bit paranoid and slightly disturbed instead of the fake ‘goodwill’ ending that has the doctor calling the FBI.


Oh, it’s Written on the Wind…

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 5:52 am on Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Douglas Sirk’s film that we watched, written on the wind, just seemed like a bad interpretation of wealthy American families at first. It looked like a badly dressed up and overly exaggerated melodrama. However, it did have this sort of ironic undertone, under all the colorful arrays in the design, and the tasteless dialogue.Everything felt dry, and fake, but the director was going for that effect. This was so interesting because people from the 50’s really believed this was a genuine movie, not knowing the director’s ironic twist to it.

Not only were the costumes, such as Marylee’s outfits, outrageously colorful and slightly ridiculous, but also the sets and backgrounds were as well. It was all under the pretense of looking all happy and whatnot but dripping with fake happiness and overdramatic situations. It was, to say the least, an exaggeration. But of what? Well, the director was a foreigner, so my best bet is that he was using this film to emphasize how Americans exaggerate everything we  do. The situations we put ourselves in, the DRAMA we unleash. For instance, this movie is actually based on the real-live scandal of a torch-singer named Libby Holman and her wealthy tobacco heir husband, Zachary Smith Reynolds. Sirk was most likely using this scandal to emphasize the melodramatics of American society.

Hard to believe this was based on something real-life, since it’s so unrealistic. The chain of command in this film is very odd too. The fact that the father would look at his own children with contempt and slightly shun them, to rather accept someone who wasn’t at all blood-related? It was definitely different than one would expect. On a different note, my favorite scene was the parallel shots between the father going to his ‘tramp’ daughter’s room, and Marylee dancing like a crazy person in a flamboyant red robe in her bedroom. The loud music, so deafening that his fall is practically muffled by it, all showed her selfishness and slight madness (did you see the robe???). Marylee was definitely one of the most interesting characters I have ever seen on screen.

Such as when she is trying to seduce Rock Hudson, her brother’s best friend. She is so obvious and she wastes no time in trying to seduce him with her body. His rejection leads her to look for some random guy, which in turn goes to the bedroom scene, father’s death etc. The other scene she’s in where she is alone by the brook, and she reminisces on the childhood love she always had of Hudson. The blast of color from the background, to her own checked shirt, not to mention her acting, left us with such sappy melodramatic 2 minutes.  It is one of the scenes I remember most however. She was literally the only character I felt brought life to the sappy screen.

The Early Summer never ends….

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 4:32 am on Friday, October 28, 2011

This movie was a bit different from the rest that we’ve watched because it was so domestic. Early Summer is literally about a story of an extended family named Mamiya, and revolves primarily around the eldest daughter, Noriko. It was interesting because we saw the lifestyle of a traditional japanese family. The low camera angle that let us experience dining with the family made us feel as if we were part of the family. Compared to other films that we’ve watched, where we are not totally invovled, but here, we feel a sort of connection to this family.

This movie revolves around a certain number of themes and conflicts. For one, there is marriage. Noriko has reached the age of 28, which is a bit mature to still be single. Her family urges her to marry, and she has (by the boss that she seems to be interested in) a candidate that is wealthy, but much older. The movie focused on how her family were so willing to put her with this unknown suitor, who we never see, and is never directly asked her opinion to the man. This shows how, in countries like Japan, that marriage is regarded highly by the family, and that the bride’s opinion does not always matter. They never took into account her happiness, and the expressions Noriko would have expressed her discontent of the suitor.

Another theme is the conflict between gender and family status. Her elder brother, koichi, regards this suitor be the best, and when his wife and mother try to disagree with him, his anger flares up. There is the need for this man to dominate the household. On another point, this movie was unique becuause it would go into a scene, and then never finish it, or show what came next. For example, the scene where Koichi gets angry at his two sons for throwing the bread that they thought were toys. They show the boys walking along the beach, but never when they are actually found; it is heard from the father receiving a phone call. As well as the last scene, where Noriko gets married off, but we never see the wedding.

The fact that Noriko and her friends were separated into 2 sides; the married and unmarried, also show the intensity of marriage in Japan. The single women were looked down upon just because they were in fact single, although they had jobs. It became more of the domestic housewife, or independent worker. I believe that Ozu was trying to portray women as actually doing something for themselves, instead of only their husbands. . Although the family accepted Noriko’s choice of a different husband, it felt as if woman and men were still in different levels, even though many women were working now, and were much more independent.

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