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  • Ever since they could fit cameras on wheels,

  • film makers have been moving them around in every kind of way you could think up,

  • and even some you probably couldn't.

  • But more than just visual spice, a good camera move can move the story, too.

  • So to take a closer look,

  • these are five brilliant little moments in camera movement.

  • (Music)

  • In one way or another, we're all reading films.

  • We extract information and ideas and clues about the plot, the characters,

  • the people, to construct a mental representation of the story in our heads.

  • And sometimes that's just about as simple and straightforward as reading actual

  • words on screen, or listening to the words coming out of a character's mouth.

  • A little more complex, but nothing a basic primate can't handle, we watch action and

  • figure out what it is.

  • Beyond that, we make inferences as to things that are hinted at,

  • guess at character motivation, put two and two together to figure out the killer.

  • And we've talked before about how edits can say things themselves,

  • how there can be information embedded in a cut, but the camera has a voice, too.

  • Most of the time, that voice is quiet, a whisper we've learned to ignore.

  • It says, look at this and this, this is important over here, so we look and

  • we read the this, and we ignore the look at and go on about our day.

  • If you only ever move the camera for a motivated reason, as commercial cinema

  • usually does, for a reason that comes from the story, the characters, the plot,

  • it will disappear behind its motivations, its artifice will become invisible.

  • Maybe it's a physical reason, a character walks, so you need to follow them.

  • Or maybe it's a narrative reason,

  • you turn the camera to reveal some extra information that we need to know.

  • But, you don't just move the camera of its own accord, until you do.

  • Sometimes, a film maker moves the camera in a completely unexpected, unmotivated,

  • unexplained way.

  • It's not following a character, it's not just showing you something important.

  • It's almost as if the important thing is the movement itself,

  • as if there's information embedded in the move.

  • The camera separates itself from the story and the character and

  • speaks up loud enough that we begin to hear it on its own, as its own voice,

  • with things to say about the story that might not be coming from anywhere else.

  • And it can be really, really powerful.

  • Our first unmotivated camera movement, and

  • probably our most familiar is the slow push-in, this move happens all the time.

  • We even talked at some length about it back in our original

  • Brilliant Moments Breakdown, but

  • the slow push in is a perfect first example of the camera's voice being heard.

  • It's not reframing, just creeping slightly closer, it doesn't just say look, it says

  • look harder, there's something below the surface, there's more then meets the eye.

  • It knows how we would read a shot statically and

  • then asks us to consider it with just a little more importance.

  • And for a brilliant example, check out this twofer from the beginning of

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

  • (Music)

  • - About the wife confederacies, Jefferson Davis, yeah.

  • I didn't know you didn't, he did his duty by her.

  • - Okay.

  • - Well, I got him freaking killed.

  • - (Laugh) - No, I get it, I get it, I get it.

  • - The President of the Confederacy concenrned his wife's needs and

  • satisfied them.

  • - At this point in the film we've seen nothing more than a brief biography of

  • Jesse James.

  • We don't even done who Casey Affleck's character is, and yet, without even

  • a word, we know everything about what's happening here because of how it's shot.

  • Here, try it one more time with the push-in removed.

  • - He did his duty by her.

  • - Well I got him freaking killed.

  • - (Laugh) - No, I get it, I get it, I get it.

  • - Less meaningful, right?

  • This push end says something important is stewing inside this man's head.

  • While this one says, narrow your focus, this is more than a group of men,

  • look closer at the one in the middle.

  • But put them together and they become more than the sum of their parts,

  • the dual push-ins connect the meaning just as they're connected in motion.

  • And what comes out of that alchemy is a sense that there's a special moment

  • happening between the man with the gaze and the object of his gaze.

  • Some kind of special longing, or interest,

  • or desire that Casey Affleck feels towards the man in the middle of this frame,

  • all without a word of exposition, just simple camera talk.

  • Less common than the creep in is the creep out.

  • On one hand, graphically, it tends to cause a figure to grow smaller compared to

  • the world around them as if it is swallowing them up inside it's vastness.

  • And if we were to anthropomorphize the camera a little bit here,

  • it's also like it's abandoning the character and us with it,

  • we back away as if protecting ourselves from their pain or giving up hope.

  • Most recently, we were totally stunned by a moment in 20th Century Women that

  • employed this to incredible effect.

  • Now, this film is still very much in theaters, as of our recordings, so

  • we can't exactly play the entire scene here, but, if we all put our imagination

  • caps on and turn to the script, I bet we can conjure up an image of it.

  • Jamie, frustrated with life struggling to be a teenager and starting to butt heads

  • with his mother, goes to their boarder Abbie in a moment of (Bleep) it all,

  • and asks her to take him to a punk club.

  • And the next scene is simple, short, just one shot.

  • Dressed up now, they hurry out passing his mother, Dorothea,

  • on the stairway as she works in the hall, she asked them where they're going, and

  • he just says out with Abbie, and then leaves.

  • But what's simple on the surface is given immense depth by the camera.

  • As Dorothea stops them, asks after her son,

  • the camera pushes in with the very same creep from our last example.

  • But, when Jamie blows her off, just says, out with Abbie, it turns around.

  • Creeps back out instead as Dorothea is rebuffed,

  • it inches away, abandoning her just like Jamie does.

  • It turns what might be, even now, everyday scene on the surface,

  • into a micro drama of significant depth.

  • A mother desperately trying to connect with her growing son, the son neither

  • recognizing, nor much caring, off on his own way with hardly a look.

  • It is a missed connection, an unrequited request for intimacy.

  • And it's the camera that clues us into the emotional weight of it,

  • lingering just a little too long on Dorothea, alone in the stairwell,

  • backing away quietly in her longing and defeat.

  • Okay, back to some actual footage.

  • For our number three,

  • we're looking at a brilliant little moment when the camera actually turns away.

  • When it averts its eyes, specifically chooses to spare us from seeing something

  • we're led to believe is coming.

  • And we know what you're thinking.

  • Reservoir Dogs, either because you remember the ear scene, or because we're

  • straight up showing you footage from it right now, because we're trying to make up

  • for the whole number two where you had to look at actual words, God forbid.

  • And that shot is incredible, really, truly genius.

  • But for our number three, we're looking at the moment it takes its inspiration from,

  • from a little Hitchcock film called Marnie.

  • By this point in the film, Marnie has been blackmailed by a man named Mark Rutland

  • into marrying him after she was caught stealing from his company.

  • On their honeymoon cruise, she declares her discomfort with men and

  • refusal to be touched by them.

  • Mark is chill about this for like all of a couple days before deciding he's had

  • enough and forcing himself upon her, then we get this

  • (Music)

  • Doesn't that just hit you like a sledgehammer?

  • The film sets us up for horror with incredibly confrontational and

  • direct shots.

  • It is fear, and anger, and violence pointed right at us,

  • it is about to happen to us, we know it's coming, and then we turn.

  • The camera move is resigned, it's like it leaves no hope for

  • escape, it closes the door on an alternate ending, completely out of our control.

  • It is a afraid, deciding for

  • us that the trauma is too much to view turning us away as if in a flinch.

  • And it is coping, looking out the window at something peaceful and

  • distracting, waiting for the horror to pass, just as Marnie might in that moment.

  • Sure, the camera move spares us the graphic violence, but

  • it is all the more emotionally brutal for

  • its movement here, imagine if Hitchcock had just cut and eclipsed the act.

  • No turn, just a simple jump to the next scene.

  • (Music)

  • We would be left wanting, waiting, expecting but not resigning, fearing,

  • or coping.

  • So much of the conversation would be lost by cutting out this simple pan,

  • because that much of the conversation was happening within it.

  • Next up at number four, we have a moment of the distracted camera.

  • The kino eye that loses focus on the main plot, the main character,

  • the main action, and decides to wonder away.

  • The view point that has a mind of its own.

  • There's no reason for it in a motivational sense.

  • No characters look or movement or reveal.

  • It's as if it's lost interest in the story for

  • a moment to explore another part of the world.

  • Children of Men is an awesome modern example of this that's

  • smartly analyzed in video essays elsewhere.

  • But for our fourth brilliant moment, we're looking at the master of the wandering

  • camera, Antonioni for a moment in The Passenger.

  • - (Sound) All right,

  • I don't care.

  • - This moment is so particularly special, because it's as if the camera is speaking

  • how it normally does, whispering to us, look at this.

  • But then it points at what to look at, and there's hardly anything there.

  • And in the absence of an object, we suddenly notice the looking mechanism.

  • There's a vacuum within which the turn can be felt,

  • it breaches our normal expectations.

  • Acts us to interpret it on its own merits, and personally, we find it terribly

  • moving, lonely, empty, detached, similar to the creep out but not quite the same.

  • The camera is saying, this man's plight isn't important.

  • Perhaps it is an answer to his yells, and the answer is nothing.

  • Or perhaps the camera has the same motivation as it does

  • just a minute prior when, as he's spinning his wheels,

  • it gets distracted by the beauty of the sand carried on the wind.

  • It's sad, poetic even, but also whimsical and curious.

  • Antonioni spoke of the film in an interview stating that he, quote,

  • no longer wanted to employ the subjective camera.

  • In other words, the camera that represents the viewpoint of the character.

  • Indeed, searching, wandering, drifting, exploring like

  • this the camera becomes its own character and speaks with its own voice.

  • And finally, at number five, we're looking at the camera yelling.

  • Loud, noisy, noticeable, saying (Bleep), something just happened.

  • It could be from a fast dolly rushing in, or a quick unexpected Dutch tilt, but

  • for our number five,

  • we're actually looking at a brilliant little short film called The Candidate.

  • Burton, a Patrick Bateman type with a whole bag of chips on his shoulder,

  • is approached by a mysterious man from an even more mysterious society

  • with a compelling pitch.

  • The organization works to rid the world of their mutual

  • enemies by collectively wishing their demise upon them.

  • The secret is that their enemies have to know that there

  • are thousands of strangers out there wishing them ill and

  • in at least some small way kind of believe it might work.

  • Skeptical at first but increasingly interested we get this.

  • - They promised him that regularly every day they would be wishing for his death.

  • Until he could no longer stop the mystic

  • juggernaut that would make the wish come true.

  • - Okay, that's a little bit silly.

  • - The man died of a heart attack two months later.

  • - Whoa, wasn't that wild?

  • Didn't you just feel that?

  • Don't you just know that something big happened there?

  • In Crossing the Line, the whole scene changes visually.

  • Their closeups flip from screen right and screen left, to screen left and

  • screen right.

  • And since everything has changed visually,

  • naturally we must conclude that everything has changed elsewhere to.

  • And the trick is that if you take the camera out of it,

  • that particular event would seem rather minor.

  • But the camera move suddenly sliding all the way across the line of action is like

  • a big neon sign pointing at that little moment saying, look here dummies,

  • there's something important happening here.

  • And that sign, that camera move, that's the narrator, the director piping up and

  • giving you a big clue.

  • We don't wanna give it all away.

  • You'll have to watch the whole short to really see the brilliance of it.

  • But give it a watch and listen to what the camera is telling you because sometimes it

  • says the things that the characters aren't.

  • So, what do you think?

  • Have any thoughts on our picks?

  • Any other brilliant camera movements worth taking a look at?

  • Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe for

  • more Cinefix Movie Lists.

  • (Music)

Ever since they could fit cameras on wheels,

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鏡頭運動的5個精彩瞬間 (5 Brilliant Moments of Camera Movement)

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    Pedroli Li 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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