23 04 2007

Dr. Campbell, you should be absolutely thrilled, because–finally–I am going to talk about Vertigo. But just a little, for now. I figure it’s best if I deal with little chunks of the film at a time, because I want to be thorough. In fact, this entire post is going to cover just one scene. Ready?


First, let’s examine the way in which Madeleine is framed in each of the P.O.V. shots.











Notice any similarities? In nearly every single shot, she is in the exact center of the frame. What message is Hitchcock trying to communicate through this, what effect does it have on us, and what does it tell us about Scottie? In this scene, he is following her through the graveyard, so every shot of her is from his point of view. This means that Madeleine is always in the center of Scottie’s focus. This ties back to the very centrally-focused opening credits. (The Punisher discusses this very well, so I’m not going to go into it further here.) However, going through this scene, I also noticed an interesting use of both color and architecture to create certain effects. Notice the orange flowers in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th, and 10th shots above. Now how about these?




Yes, it is possible that there is simply a large quantity of orange flowers in this garden. But Hitchcock didn’t have to frame his shots in this particular way; these must have been included intentionally. I’ve been sitting here for the past half hour, trying to figure out what the orange flowers represent, but maybe this is just one of those realizations that will come once I stop thinking about it, probably in the middle of my sociology class.

So there was going to be a whole lot more here, but as I got more involved in analyzing certain aspects of this film, I hit upon a spectacular idea for my final paper. I feel like I’m cutting this entry short, but I can’t let myself go any further in this direction until I do my final blog 😉

P.S. I figured out the orange. Bwahaha! Oh, and Stephanie Breijo, you’re my favorite. Thanks for lending me the DVD! (Yay, screenshots!)

Movie of Jennie

13 04 2007

It’s interesting that they chose to make Jennie even more ambiguous in the film than in the book. We find ourselves doubting her existence, despite the interactions she has with Eben.

There were a few notable differences, but my favorite one was the fact that Jennie’s friend, Cecily, is “in Boston” instead of dead from scarlet fever (Who knows…maybe “moved to Boston” is a euphemism for death? Haha.)

This post is ridiculously lacking in substance, but I think I’ll have much more to say once we finish the film. I’m trying to reserve judgment, and I’d rather not make connections until I see which elements and themes are common throughout the entire movie.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

29 03 2007

I’m having trouble even finding where to begin. I feel as if I have no right to talk about this film until I’ve seen it 10 more times. At least. Everything about this movie left me completely stunned: the themes, the message, the characters, the music, the gorgeous cinematography…

Ahhh! I’m far too dazzled to coherently discuss anything right now, though I feel I should. I may have to view it again in the film lab and take notes, then make a gigantic post with everything I can think of. For now, go look at Tyler’s blog. What he’s got so far is brilliant.

For now, I think I’m going to have to escape somewhere quiet and think.

Miller’s Crossing (film notes)

8 02 2007

-opening shot: ice in glass, starts with just noise first (loud)

-similar lines, occasionally: “How far has she got her hooks into you?”

-conversations have same themes as Glass Key, different subjects

-beautiful shot sequence: dog –> boy –> dead man (reaction shot in reverse–drawn out eyeline match)


-“You and I have faced worse odds.” “Never without reason. It helps to have one.”

-powder room conflict between Tom and Verna–background music: “Runnin’ Wild” (This song also featured in Some Like It Hot)

Running wild, lost control.
Running wild, mighty bold.
Feeling gay, reckless too,
carefree mind all the time, never blue.
Always going, don’t know where,
always showing..I don’t care!
Don’t love nobody, it’s not worthwhile.
All alone, running wild!”

-song creates a nice contrast with the tension between the two characters

-Caspar’s son seems almost like a caricature of himself, as do many of the characters

-“Would that be physically, or just a mental state?”

-“Nobody knows anybody. Not that well.”

-shot of feet going up stairs, tips of guns with silencers

-calm music throughout machine gun fire, Leo’s retaliation

-continuation of the use of cheerful music during violent scenes

-“It’s the kiss-off.” (same line)

-several second shot of Tom sitting in bed, shows his reaction to the noise of a person entering his house

-Miller’s Crossing: name of the place he was supposed to kill Bernie

-repeats the “nobody knows anybody” line

-film keeps showing the “Shenandoah Club” sign, perhaps paying homage to older movies of the same genre, which almost always showed the name of a building to establish setting between scenes

-backwards tracking shot of conversation between Tom and Leo (walking at Miller’s Crossing) (very simple shot construction, puts the emphasis on their dialogue


Yojimbo (film notes)

4 02 2007

-opening shot: head framed by mountains

-music: combination of western/traditional

-shot of feet

-howling wind (used several times)…emphasizes isolation

-fork in the road; represents indecision, lack of ties/commitments

-fast-paced conflict of the men contracts with the woman’s slow, steady weaving and speech

-wipe transition (total wipes in film: 7)

-isolation again…camera focused on Sanjuro rather than background, which is slightly out of focus

-dog with hand, cut to reaction shot

-“Business is booming. Can’t make coffins fast enough.”

-corrupt lawmen (just like traditional westerns!)

-leaves blowing, other characters at a distance (isolation again)

-“I’ve broken every law.”

-“Cooper, two coffins.        No, maybe three.”

-“There is no honor amongst gamblers.”

-shot composition: Sanjuro on platform just watching fight, amused.

-shot composition: two rivals with protagonist in between

-effective use of shadow against wall when Sanjuro approaches

-dog tattoo on criminal’s back matches dog earlier in the film (with the hand)

-(and then Elvis walks in)

-frequent use of the word “idiot”

-night scene: Sanjuro walking in between isolated fire circles, between dark and light (never with others)

-acts scornful and uncaring, is actually decent but doesn’t want others to know

-“Stop it! I hate pathetic people. I’ll kill you if you cry!”

-town is gradually destroyed by attack/retaliation (setting silk on fire –> destroying supply of sake)

-“No, when a fight gets too big they don’t bother with coffins.”

-“You’re all right. You just act like you’re bad.” (goes along with earlier statement about Sanjuro’s contradictory nature)

-shot of hand playing with bottle, covering up thank-you note

-kidnapping scene almost exactly mirrors the one in The Glass Key

-“Where am I?” “The gate to hell.”

-“Where are you going? That’s a shortcut to hell.”

-light reflecting on Sanjuro’s face…highlighting it, his expression

-light and shadows under floorboards, then crawling along the edge of the shadows (between life and death)

-“It’s worse when you smile.”

-shot composition: hanging man in foreground, facing camera with action behind (he can’t see what’s going on behind him)

-“Go home. A long life eating porridge is best.”

Part Two

24 01 2007

-as we expected, many more invented lines

-“Ed” (to Janet): “I don’t want you around because I’m liable to start making passes at you.” Oh my.

-hospital nurses: (1) are good at detective work, and (2) fall for their patients in a highly unprofessional way on a regular basis, especially if the film’s producers think it will appeal to audiences.

-It doesn’t matter that the protagonist flirts shamelessly with anything female that moves…he’s still a good person because that’s what the filmmakers tell us.

-Never too much eye sex.

-Just in case we didn’t catch the implications of “Ed” and Mrs. Mathews drinking together, the suggestive fade out was necessary.

-Paul always shows up to save the day…even in places he never set foot in in the novel.

-Janet: “And there’s another reason–I’m asking you not to.”

-No complaints with Jeff.

-Apparently the book wasn’t complicated enough for them, so now Janet Henry is nearly arrested as a ploy to make her father confess. (Side note–I really don’t think the Senator Henry in the book would have cared that much. He probably would have let his daughter be arrested and played along with it. His political career would have been his highest priority, as demonstrated through his prior actions.)

-Final Scene: I could say a lot of things about how Janet praises Paul’s goodness and treatment of her in the movie, whereas in the book she still hates him despite her reason for it being taken away, but instead, I’ll just leave you with this…

“No, the other hand.”

Hey, he wanted his ring back 😉

Opal, Paul Madvig’s Sister.

22 01 2007

According to Hollywood, that is. I think that’s the one thing that amused me most (yes, it was hard to pick out of so many delightful film-book continuity lapses) in the movie so far.

Film notes:

-The opening scene is very different. I especially enjoyed the self-righteous slap delivered to Paul’s face by Janet. Also the way he was turned on by it.



-Many scenes were combined. Hey, as long as they at least keep it in, I don’t care how they rearrange plot points. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have taught modern audiences to avoid being purists. Even Shakespeare continues to be mangled from time to time, which is a much greater sin.

-Everything is so exaggerated! Even given the cinema traditions of the time.

Janet: *sneaky sidelong glance*

“Ed”: *observes sneaky sidelong glance* *responds with quizzical sidelong glance*

Janet: *not-so-sneaky sidelong glance followed by eyelash-batting for extra emphasis*

“Ed”: *distracted gaze*

Janet: *self-satisfied, very obvious sidelong glance*

“Ed”: *brief attempt to pay attention to Paul and Senator Henry*

Janet: *pointed stare*

“Ed”: *total distraction*

Janet: *lustful, ‘I totally want your babies’ gaze of doom*

“Ed”: *leaps up* “Erm, gotta go!”

Ahahaha, what a fun scene 🙂

-“Ed” walking in on Opal. Lucky for him and film censors of the time that he hadn’t entered the room a few minutes later.

-As if family relationships in this story weren’t convoluted enough, Opal is now apparently Paul’s sister, not his daughter. Hm.

-This leads to misplaced and carefully edited lines like: “It’d be especially nice if that someone were his sister.”

Initial reaction: Oh, I remember that li–wait…it wasn’t here, it was–and…oh…sister? *brain drips out nose in reaction to violation of the original text*

— — — — —
I like it so far. Really, I do!

And if you like Veronica Lake, she’s also in a great movie called Sullivan’s Travels, directed by Preston Sturges. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and Paul’s spontaneous shoe toss at Jeff? Genius.