Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dominant Hollywood Cinema & "The Invisible Style"

So yesterday I taught my first class in the new Reel Grrls thesis program, and I don't know about yall but I had a blast! I was really excited by the responses to the homework we assigned last week: Grrls watched the classic film "Casablanca" and did readings on film sequence analysis and a summary of the Robert Ray book, "A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema."

We discussed Robert Ray's point that what we think of as "normal" filmmaking techniques are actually a highly constructed and particular set of formal and thematic rules making Hollywood Cinema the Dominant filmmaking style by which all others are measured. We watched the scene that Ray analyzed and talked about it as an example of Formalist Film Analysis, then tried our hand at Formalist Analysis ourselves.

Then we watched some examples of alternatives to continuity editing (what Robert Ray refers to as "The Insivible Style" because its purpose is to "hide" the editing from the audience). I was surprised that the grrls were rather unimpressed by some of the French New Wave film clips we looked at, but they were blown away by the Russian style of Montage editing exemplified by Eisenstein (this is the clip we watched together, from his 1927 film "October": We also checked out "Ballet Mechanique" as an example of a film in which narrative is subordinate to style.

Reminder: If anyone is interested in some extra hands-on homework, check out a Reel Grrls camera and try your hand at creating a film that is not organized by narrative. How else could you organize and join your shots? By color, rhythm, pattern, shadows etc.?

Looking forward to reading all of your posts looking for evidence of "The Invisible Style" in a film or TV show of your choice and/or doing a short Formalist Analysis of the same this week!

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