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Archive for February 20th, 2010

Notes made from Griffith to Eisenstein and Back-Peter A. Dart

Griffith and Eisenstein stand out in the history of modern motion picture as two giants, both were innovators who advanced the basic form and structure of motion pictures.Both came to films from theatre backgrounds.

Griffith’s influence on Eisenstein and V.I Pudovkin, Lev Kuleshov. But how much has Eisenstein influenced American film form?

Films of 1908 when Griffith began directing motion pictures films were crude: 10 minutes in length one reelers were made cheaply and sold cheaply to mass audience.In six years Griffith mastered the craft He realized Edvin S. Porter had only understood partially the basic storytelling . He shot one individual scene and edited, arranged in context of other shots. Griffith realized he could photograph each part of the scene with the final arrangement in mind, These details could then be arranged successively by which the audience could make their inferences. It involved them as well. In 1908 the scenes were shot as though film was like a stage play transferred into film. The close-up was unheard of. But Griffith began moving his camera for closer shots. He also tried extra shots of the surrounding locale for ‘atmosphere’. In case of dense action like a battle or a chase he used long shots or extremely wide angle shots. He began to move the camera while it shot a scene. Iris mask to block out extraneous details were also used by him. Selection of a scene arrangement of shots keeping in mind tempo pace rhythm and action added to the story telling new richness. Parallel cutting was the next innovation where two scenes one after the other giving an impression both were happening simultaneously. Emotional impact of two scenes was that the sum of parts were greater than the whole scene. Each scene resonated in the minds of the audience and gave emotional impact that was more than a straight story telling of Porter or other film makers before him.

Of his great films Intolerance(1916) had the greatest impact on Russian film makers.

Montage was the result.Montage of parallel scenes progressing where each detail of a scene though unrelated in its progression acquired a depth of its own:dynamic juxtaposition of these parts made them greater than single scene. Emotional, ideological and artistic power arising out of montage was the gift of Soviet film makers.’The school of Griffith before all else is a school of tempo. However he didn’t have the strength to compete with the young Soviet school of montage in the field of expression and of relentlessly affective rhythm.” Sergei Eisenstein

please refer pen portraits#46 for DW Griffith

benny

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Over the years I have found that I know much more than I give credit to myself. The only area where I had to be careful was in the timing and how I put them into action.

At a time when my first marriage was sliding into a point of no return I sensed my ex was setting traps  about me. One of that was in using our daughter against me. There was another issue, that of divorce. This was frowned upon in our society where religion was made a big thing and breaking commandments as serious as sin and damnation!After my first marriage I had  switched to Pentecostal worship as a sop to the belief of her.( Of course being among these closed in community I felt playing the part in the parable of the Good Samaritan.  I fell among thieves, literally.)

I had to take counter measures against the stratagems of these. With the passing of my father I was on my own. In a way it opened up a way out. I could think of asking for divorce, a matter which my father as a Christian would have found uncomfortable.

I had no problem with it. Only that there was a daughter to take care of. She was, as I sensed rightly, my ex-wife’s trump card. I knew it. Months before the split my ex was sending her to her parent’s house every weekend so I may have little chance of seeing her when I had time and leisure for it. I could see the way the game was progressing.

I was set that I would not allow myself to be emotionally blackmailed. My daughter was old enough to know her mind and make her wishes known. Since she was a willing tool I didn’t wish to make an issue of it. Mentally I gave her away to her mother.

In 1994 I decided to marry my old pen pal. I sent a letter to the last known address ( I had not heard from her for 23 years), and it reached her! It was a wild card but it hit the mark. Coincidentally I had a chance to go abroad and meet her. The chains of events were all showing in my favor.   I decided her children would be my children. It was indeed the case. After marriage I closed my practice and went to live with her. I could easily establish a friendly relationship with them. Because of this choice I could enjoy the best period of my life watching five of my grandchildren grow. Nothing else could match except the love and warmth I enjoy in my marriage. The manner in which events developed I could seize my chances and come out of what might have been a terrible situation.

Looking back I see that my mind could sense the way to effect an emotional healing. The cure was all in me.

benny

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