The Evolution Of Film Essay

1198 words - 5 pages

In the early times of narrative cinema there was litter pressure on the filmmakers for the evolution of film forms before nickelodeons (Salt, 31) as cinema had not become a mass cultural product and film was still just a novelty expected to die out like rock n roll. And so the demand was low and so the supply could remain unoriginal. Mary Jane's Mishap was made in 1903 when ‘multi-scene films were becoming popular’ (Salt, 32). Mary Jane's Mishap is notable for its use of experimental and inventive shot transitions. It used a vertical wipe to instead of ‘separate successive scenes’ (Salt, 32) (as it cuts to a shot width a wider frame of the same locale) but to change the zoom level. This frame is essentially an insert and borderline emblematic shot. It doubles as an intertitle at the same time as to avoid ‘systematically anticipating the narrative content of the following shot and thus eliminating any possible suspense, were to constitute a major obstacle to the linearization of narrative for the next ten years at least.’ (Burch, 221) it which explains to the viewer clearly that it is Mary Jane’s grave as on which is important as it is a ‘self sufficient narrative’ (Burch, 221) as cinema had run out of stories that were familiar to audiences and the primitive viewer was not well versed in film (quote this). This is at a time when fades and overlaps were more popular.
In the development of the narrative close ups are used. Mary Jane's Mishap uses both types of these close shots that Salt defines (Salt, 38). Firstly the insert which only show the face but closer it furthers the narrative by highlighting the comedy and humour in the moustache she has given herself with shoe polish. Secondly, the ‘true close-up’ such as in this shot which enables the narrative to be furthered by using this close up or medium close up. It allows the viewer to see what Mary Jane is pouring into the oven. In big bold letter ‘PARRAFIN’ the flammable oil. Without this shot the viewer would be perplexed as to why she exploded and allows the narrative to flow as it could be water or any other fluid for all they know as cleverly Smith used this mise-en-scene to explain the narrative instead of an intertitle before the explosion which would have removed all suspense, tension and mystery especially after she moved to the cameras to show her gesturing a bright idea. Though this close-up could also be argued by Gunning of being of the cinema of attractions as ‘For a time [in cinema] close-ups were only used as an attraction to see an images but larger than life but ‘inciting visual curiosity’ (Gunning, pg 58) rather being evolutionary towards narrative cinema. The close-ups heighten the ‘only [tool they] they have at their disposal, a language of gestures’ (Burch, 224) musser idea

Mary Jane's Mishap combined the cinema of attraction trick film with the viewers want for narrative. ‘The decline in their [trick films] commercial importance was already evident by 1906’ (Salt,...

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