Sunday, 9 February 2020

Where's the camera?

The many-BAFTA'd film 1917 features, about halfway through, a dog fight from which I've taken an illicit still showing the moment where my eyebrow jerked up (only one eyebrow – this is cynicism, not surprise).
Moment of untruth?
A flaming wreck is hurtling towards the soldier in the open at... what?  100 mph?...
This a guess, but it can't have been doing less – possibly a lot more
...and he turns and runs along the exact path of the crash . The plane is obviously disabled, so it isn't going to veer off that path. Presumably he thought he could outrun it – quick on their pins, these Tommies; or maybe he just had a death wish. Maybe, though, he knew the camera was behind his mucker in the barn, and wanted to be sure of creating just the right composition (which wouldn't have resulted if he'd done the sensible thing and run off on a perpendicular from the path of the doomed plane).

Like a film scene I commented on here nearly 6 years ago, what mattered was the visual effect rather than any attempt at verisimilitude.

A not entirely unrelated case ...
(totally different, though; the similarity is only that the director's wishes for a satisfying visual composition were more important than any questions or doubts raised in the mind of the viewer)
...cropped up recently in the last episode of the Wisting series on BBC Four.
And if you are that way inclined, now's the time to bail out. Exposition of a cinematic cliché follows.
A lone policeman approaches a suspect 4x4, which conveniently enough has windows lighting the boot (not the ideal vehicle for a psychopathic kidnapper who from time to time uses the boot for purposes of  victim-conveyance),
Then the camera angle changes, so that it is inside looking out, as the policeman goes through a basic kidnapper's starter kit  (duck tape, plastic cable ties..., you know the drill).
At this point I started to wonder what could have been the point of this change. But I didn't have to wait long.

Right on cue, the aforementioned psychopath appears behind the policeman and knocks him out (but doesn't think to use his kidnapper's starter kit, to stop him butting in to the next scene).

There are times when cinematic cliché interferes with the story.

I'm reminded (irrelevantly of course, as this wasn't the director's fault). In the early 1970s I saw, at the Arts Cinema in Cambridge, Chabrol's Le Boucher. In one scene suspense was being ratcheted up by the images and the soundtrack –  I have no clear memory of the details; I think someone was looking for trouble in a gloomy outhouse. But what broke the tension was not Chabrol's soundtrack (a voice from out of the shadows, as I remember). It was the subtitle ( a case of legendum praecox?)

But I'm missing the cricket.

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