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Archive for the ‘Chapter 4’ Category

Understanding the effect of aspect ratio is vital for filmmakers, such as in this year's "Gravity"

Understanding the effect of aspect ratio is vital for filmmakers, such as in this year’s “Gravity”

In Chapter 4 of Moving ImagesStorytelling with Light — the primary topic is the investigation of the core principles that one must consider as a cinematographer, whether in digital image capture or celluloid-based film.  A key issue to examine is the aspect ratio of the movie, which links back to earlier explorations of composition starting in Chapter 1.   For educators working on this unit, here is an overview of aspect ratio in motion picture history from the Filmmaker IQ website.  I was led to this page after reading an excellent essay on aspect ratios by Tyler Lavoie, who is one of my former students.  On the subject of cinematography, let me remind readers of my earlier post discussing the movie Side by Side (directed by Chris Kenneally and hosted by Keanu Reeves), which is superb to use in tandem with the work in Chapter 4.

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Cuarón (left) and Lubezki (center) working with digital techniques on Gravity set

Cuarón (left) and Lubezki (center) working with digital techniques on Gravity set

In an earlier post, I highlighted the work of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and director Alfonso Cuarón, featured artists in Moving Images, whose collaboration has generated many of the most powerful and provocative movies of recent decades.  Their current film, Gravity, is sure to offer strong opportunities for studies of the art of moviemaking, as it weaves together technology, visual communication, storytelling, and the artistry of directing, acting, sound design, and many other departments to craft its narrative and build its thematic and emotional resonance.  A number of thorough and insightful pieces on this movie and Cuarón’s career have appeared in recent weeks.  I highly recommend this article from the Directors Guild of America.  In addition, if you have not visited the DGA site, you will find that it is an unequaled resource, particularly for its extensive interviews with dozens of directors.  Also, New York Magazine published a superb piece by Dan P. Lee – The Camera’s Cusp: Alfonso Cuarón Takes Filmmaking to a New Extreme with Gravity in its September 22 issue.    

George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Alfonso Cuarón making Gravity

George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Alfonso Cuarón making Gravity

For an initial investigation into some of the science in Gravity, here is a video in which Cuarón and space.com’s @DavidSkyBrody discuss scientific aspects of the creation of this movie.

It is my plan to return to this post with more links to lessons associated with this movie or material that emerges once it is released.  Stay tuned.  And maybe I’ll see you at the movies on the day of its release.

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much-ado-about-nothing-whedonEnglish teachers can move on from Baz Luhrmann (whichever frantic, begging adaptation) or excerpts from the 70’s Shakespeare movies or Gibson’s Hamlet or Branagh’s grand stuff because this is a very exciting new moment for Shakespeare stagings for the screen in many hues of silver.

Another little Whedon side project from Joss the writer

Another little Joss side project

Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing has arrived and I highly recommend this excellent interview about the striking tale of this project that grew out of his work on The Avengers.   His “Anatomy of a Scene” video featuring the “blanky-cam” is good for students to think about drama and its interpretation, and for more info, there is also the surprisingly rare case of a well done official site set up for the movie.  Great for Chapter 4 of Moving Images: contemporary b&w cinematography at the filmmaker’s home; working with actors and crew to discover “where do I go, how do I say this, what will give our choices meaning?”  (Mr. Whedon was featured in an earlier blog entry; that’s why these are “more surprises” with this filmmaker who is full of them; he would have been doing just fine with those miracles known as Buffy and Firefly. )

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MUDJeff Nichols’s Mud is arriving in theaters in the United States, and it provides rich points of discussion for the classroom, starting with its ties to American literary traditions of the South, including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  And for high school teachers, here is some big news: it’s PG-13!  (Which – as many educators certainly know – is often not the case with movies that delve into complex themes and develop multi-faceted characters …just start looking through lists year after year of award-winning movies!)

Jeff Nichols Directs "Mud"

Jeff Nichols Directs “Mud”

One particularly enlightening video for classroom use to discuss Mud is from the “Anatomy of a Scene” series by the New York Times.  Screenwriter and director Jeff Nichols provides excellent insight into the decision-making process of a filmmaker – particularly in relation to cinematography choices – which can stimulate very interesting group discussion.  In this interview with Jack Giroux of filmschoolrejects.com, Nichols discusses the writing process and inspirations for this movie, among other topics.  Also, here is a video interview of Nichols on firstshowing.net and a text interview from crave online that focuses primarily on “how to get it made” (and in which the journalist ends up by centering the discussion on the fact that he will be going to the Cannes festival this year!).  For those interested in pursuing information about collaboration between directors and actors, there are many interviews with star Matthew McConaughy (for whom Nichols created the role) while Jeff Nichols talks about highlights of his work with Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, and others in the interviews linked above.

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Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in David Lean’s newly restored classic “Lawrence of Arabia”

Just a couple of weeks ago, a newly restored version of David Lean‘s classic film Lawrence of Arabia was released on BluRay.  Here is an excellent article on the highly instructive story of its restoration.  This topic provides excellent examples and insights into the relationship of traditional celluloid-based moviemaking and digital media.

Here are some useful links on the topic of film preservation: National Film Preservation Foundation, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation (which always has wonderfully produced and informative clips streaming on their site), a Kodak page on movie archiving, and here is a clearinghouse page with lots of links to topics associated with film preservation and motion picture history.

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