Saturday, 31 December 2011

Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)

Fig. 1
Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock is haunting and evocative mystery. The slow pace scenes brings the audience into a dream like stance through the film. The film, believed by many to be based on a true story, is an adaptation of a Joan Lindsey novel. The plot follows a group of school girls on Valentines Day, 1900, who take a trip to Hanging Rock. In result of this trip several of the girls and their teacher disappear, only one is found with no recollection of what happened. The fact that no bodies were discovered, nor a reasonable explanation why they went missing leaves the audience unsatisfied. The unresolved ending was used purposely for suspense and bring an uncanny feel to the film, the idea that it's a moment frozen in time.
Fig. 2
A prominent scene within the film is the section before the girls disappear, all dressed in full Victorian dress attire, in pure white, the girls remove their shoes, walking bare foot around Hanging Rock. Their 'day dream' state of mind intrigues and confuses the audience. The fact the girls are originally portrayed as pristine, wearing thick, white dresses in the hot Australian heat, contrasts with the out of character removal of shoes. This gets the audience questioning the girls state of mind and confused about what is happening. Film4 observes, "He outdoes himself here, mixing the heady eroticism of repressed Victorian adolescent femininity with a barely suppressed terror that infects the school and the local community. Beautiful photography of the Outback adds the same brooding mysticism that made Roeg's Walkabout such a haunting experience." (Film4 2010) Film4 expresses the theme of suppressed female sexuality and discusses the way that Weir portrays it on screen. The film has a mystical, dream like feel and with the out of character disappearance brings the film into an uncanny resolution.

The cinematography is stunning, something beautiful yet eerie about it. The scene with the girls sitting at the bottom of Hanging Rock is like poetry in slow motion. Ian Nathan states, "A haunting and compelling oddity from Australian master Peter Weir, that doesn’t fit easy categorisation; it is part mystery, part horror, an impressionist poem to lost innocence. Although since considered based on a true story, it is, in fact, merely an adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s novel, but Russell Boyd’s cinematography is so sumptuous and captivating it is little wonder watchers felt like they were stepping into some peculiar reality." (Nathan 2010) Nathan praises Weir's adaptation and the idea suggested about it being an impressionist poem rings true. The scenes almost don't make sense, giving the film a dream like feel. The colour tint of the frame gives everything a vintage feel.
Fig. 3
The films slow pace scenes enchants the audience, either driving them to hysterical boredom or engaging wonderment. Roger Ebert suggests, "In a sense, the viewer is like the girls who went along on the picnic and returned safely: For us, as for them, the characters who disappeared remain always frozen in time, walking out of view, never to be seen again." (Ebert 1998) Ebert explains beautifully the experience the audience receives from the film and makes prominent one of the uncanny themes of the film, the idea of endless time or frozen in time.

List of illustrations
Figure 1. Weir, Peter (1975) Picnic At Hanging Rock Original Movie Poster. At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Picnicathangingrock1.jpg (Accessed on:7/12/11)

Figure 2. Weir, Peter (1975) The school girls at Hanging Rock. At: http://rantsandmusings.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/picnic_hanging_rock.jpg (Accessed on:7/12/11)

Figure 3. Weir, Peter (1975) Strange behavouir at Hanging Rock. At: http://klausming.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/picnic-at-hanging-rock-1975/ (Accessed on:7/12/11)



Bibliography
Film4 (2010) Picnic At Hanging Rock. At: http://www.film4.com/reviews/1975/picnic-at-hanging-rock (Accessed on:7/12/11)

Empire Magazine Ian Nathan (2010) Picnic At Hanging Rock. At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?DVDID=118434 (Accessed on:7/12/11)

Roger Ebert (1998) Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975). At: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980802/REVIEWS08/401010325/1023 (Accessed on:7/12/11)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Fig. 1
Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now is a gripping psycho thriller that creates confusion and unexplainable and unbareable tension. The film is meant to annoy and intrigue the audience with its slow pace scenes where the tension builds to nothing. The sound throughout seems muffled and in quite a few scenes the speech is in Italian, this leads the audience into an absolute confusion alongside an uncanny world of narrow Venice streets, cold churches and drab hotel rooms. The plot follows a young couple who move to Venice after the loss of their daughter. Whilst in Venice, two elderly sisters speak to Christine (Julie Christie), one being blind says she can see their daughter sitting in between the couple. This leads to a series of haunting occurrences and ultimately leads to the death of John. Through the film there are several subtle references to what is going to happen, for instance John's premonition - seeing his wife and the two elderly sisters dressed in black heading back to Venice.  

Fig. 2
The scene where the daughter drowns is epically emotive, the scenes pace slowly leads the audience into the heartache the family is about to suffer. The red coat of the girl is shockingly bright and immediately grabs the audience. Adam Smith states, "Few films can as efficiently induce an attack of the screaming heebie-jeebies as Nicolas Roeg's classic supernatural thriller. Based on a Daphne du Maurier short story and made in 1973, it's one of the most haunting, enigmatic and, in the final moments, bloodily shocking movies ever made - and it showcases, in Roeg, one of Britain's most distinctive voices . . ." (Smith 2001) Smith praises the narrative, as well as the film itself. As the book behind the film is already chilling, the adaptation just emphasises the the uncanny quality.

The montage of scenes at the end of the film is particularly emotive and powerful in the way it ties the narrative, which is representational of the mosaic John (Donald Sutherland) is trying to piece together. The colour red and the element water are recurring motifs throughout the film, these are prominent to the audience within the majority of scenes - red, the warning of danger and water a constant reminder of the couple's loss. David Wood suggests, "Effective enough as a chiller in its own right, with Roeg of course it all goes so much deeper, acting as a labyrinthine but none the less moving and perceptive mediation on loss, love, and the indefinable nature of time itself. As if piecing together an intricate puzzle, key motifs constantly recur: the colour red, shattered glass, water, until their ultimate meaning is finally revealed to horrifying effect." (Wood 2001) Wood portrays Roeg's creation perfectly, explaining the film is pieced together in order to subtly reveal vital clues within the plot and in doing so creates this creepy atmosphere which puzzles its audience.

Fig. 3
The shots within the film are all created in a specific way to create enigmatic scenes. The close-ups of the glass breaking, the water ripples, the bright red blood etc all bring the sense of the uncanny. Roger Ebert observes, "He's [Roeg] a former cinematographer, and a genius at filling his frame with threatening forms and compositions. He uses Venice as well as she's ever been used in a movie; he shot there in late fall and an early, dark, wet winter." (Ebert 1973) Ebert takes note of Roeg's chilling and disturbing editing and shots. He praises the effectiveness of the atmosphere created.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Roeg, Nicolas (1973) Don't Look Now Movie Poster. At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dont_look_movieposter.jpg (Accessed on:3/12/11)

Figure 2. Roeg, Nicolas (1973) 'John Baxtor' realisation that his child is dead. At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/dont-look-now/426 (Accessed on:3/12/11)

Figure 3. Roeg, Nicolas (1973) John's Premonition. At: http://ktismatics.wordpress.com/2008/03/29/dont-look-now-by-roeg-1973/ (Accessed on:3/12/11)


Bibliography

Empire Adam Smith (2001) Don't Look Now. At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/ReviewComplete.asp?FID=6665 (Accessed on:3/12/11)

BBC David Wood (2001) Don't Look Now (1973). At: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/03/05/dont_look_now_1973_review.shtml (Accessed on:3/12/11)

Roger Ebert (1973) Don't Look Now. At: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19731220/REVIEWS/312200301 (Accessed on:3/12/11)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Online Greenlight Review

OGR

Influence Map

Life Drawing



Monday, 12 December 2011

Friday, 9 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Innocents (1961)

Fig. 1
Jack Clayton's The Innocents is an eerie British black and white horror, which has become known as a classic. With its creepy and atmospheric scenes and mise-en-scene the audience becomes engulfed within the elegant and somewhat beautifully familiar cinematography. The story centres around Deborah Kerr's character, Miss Giddens, a governess who has been put in charge of two children, Miles and Flora. At first the two children act as if butter wouldn't melt, but later it becomes apparent that these 'little darlings' aren't as endearing as they first seemed. Expressing a maturity beyond their years, the children's strange and secretive behaviour raises suspicion with Miss Giddens, who then with background knowledge from the housekeeper comes to the conclusion that the children have become possessed by the previous deceased governess and grounds keeper. The film ends with the death of Miles and an awkward 'Freudian' kiss.   

 The rooms of the grand mansion within the film gave an eerie atmosphere, the large open, dark spaces gave the illusion that the character wasn't alone. The melodic music played throughout, related to the music box and Flora humming the tune, makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The music drives the narrative and builds the tension to a dramatic climax of the uncanny. Bosley Crowther suggests, "Folks who have never seen a movie set in a scary old house, where the doors creak, the wind howls around corners, ghosts pace the long, dark halls and hideous, spectral faces appear in the windows at night, should find themselves beautifully frightened and even intellectually aroused by Jack Clayton's new picture . . ." (Crowther 1961) Crowther states The Innocents has all the classic elements a horror should and enlightens its audience with its visual and acoustic effects.

Fig. 2
During the film suggested prominent themes come from Kerr's Miss Giddens, the idea of suppressed sexuality coming out in the form of awkward and uncomfortable kisses with Miles. There's something so innocent, yet disturbing about the exchanges the two share. Miles constant flattery can be misconstrued as flirting - acting beyond his years. Freudian's subtext assists in building the 'uncanny' atmosphere and gives an unexpected twist to the plot. Andrew Pulver observes, "With legendary cameraman Freddie Francis on board, supplying arguably his most spectacular visual accompaniment to the action, this is a film in which setting and atmosphere play a significant role in beefing up the Freudian subtexts. The final scene earned the film an X-certificate on its initial release, and an enduring reputation as a properly disturbing depiction of repressed sexuality." (Pulver 2010) Pulver commends Francis's filming and argues that it is the element that makes the film the classic and success it is. He also then goes on to discuss Freud's theory within The Innocents and suggests this is the subtext that is the most 'unhomely' and taboo of all.

Fig. 3
Kerr's performance is everything it should, poised elegance at the start to erratic and psychotic at the end. The audience is left on a cliff hanger, is Miss Giddens mad or have the children been possessed by the ghosts from the past. The interaction between the children builds an intriguing suspense as the audience is left in confusion. Variety states, "Clayton's small but expert cast do full justice to their tasks, Kerr runs a wide gamut of emotions in a difficult role in which she has to start with an uncomplicated portrayal and gradually find herself involved in strange, unnatural goings-on, during which she sometimes doubts her own sanity. Clayton has also coaxed a couple of remarkable pieces of playing from the two youngsters, Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin, extraordinary blends of innocence and sophistry." (Variety 1961) Variety praises the cast on their portrayals of the characters. This is what makes the piece so believable and gives a feel of the an eerie underlying narrative of the uncanny.



List of illustrations


Figure 1. Clayton, Jack (1961) The Innocents Movie Poster. At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Theinnocentsposters.jpg (Accessed on:3/12/11)


Figure 2. Clayton, Jack (1961) Deborah Kerr. At: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/22/innocents-clayton-horror (Accessed on:3/12/11)


Figure 3. Clayton, Jack (1961) Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens), Martin Stephens (Miles) and Palema Franklin (Flora). At: http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/2010/10/nuanced-terror-jack-claytons-innocents.html (Accessed on:3/12/11)




Bibliography


The New York Times Review Bosley Crowther (1961) The Innocents (1961). At: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9406E1DC153DEF32A25755C2A9649D946091D6CF&partner=Rotten Tomatoes (Accessed on:3/12/11)


The Guardian Andrew Pulver (2010) The Innocents: No 11 best horror film of all time. At: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/22/innocents-clayton-horror (Accessed on:3/12/11)


Variety (1961) The Innocents. At: http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117791964?refcatid=31 (Accessed on:3/12/11)


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Previous Work

Thinking about the idea of juxtapositions reminds me of a few photographs I took for art coursework. I'm including them as I feel these could be possible inspirations for this project, although the ones where I'm posing in, I may regret posting! 

The first selection comes from the idea of having a man made object reflecting nature. I thought the strong contrast and bold frame of the mirror definitely relates to the uncanny. Giving me an idea of reflection an interior to build my 'uncanny' scene.







The second selection comes from the idea of conveying a intense juxtaposition of childhood and adulthood, stuck between the two. The vodka and teddy bear are the bold and prominent contrasts throughout the photographs. The portrayal of childhood treasures and adult addiction. The itemscontradict each other. The subject is dressed in what can be described as a purple dolls dress, with a prominent collar and puffy, short sleeves, suggesting the childhood aspect. Whilst hair, make-up and bare feet suggest addition - black, smudgy eyes and bright red lips with an explosion of messy hair. I think the photographs have an eerie quality to them.






                                             (and no the picture above is not of a typical Friday night!!)

Life Drawing



Floris Neususs

Ages ago I went to an exhibition at the V&A called 'Shadow Catchers; Camera-less photography' where one artist in particular, Floris Neususs, stood out and captured my imagination. This time his work is more relevant and will definitely have a major impact within my initial ideas. His work is simple, but beautiful. His piece 'Be Right Back' has the 'uncanny' feel about it, the fact you can just see a chair, yet the shadow portrayed is of a chair that someone is sitting on. Giving its audience an eerie sensation. The 'quirky' title can either be seen as playful fun or something quite sinister - perfect inspiration for this project. The 'Gewitterbild, Kassel, 1984' has a touch of the paranormal about it, although just a hazy nature photogram is seems 'ghostly'. The final two images, both untitled, have a touch of dream-like subconciousness, as if floating through a dream or a nightmare. Something so simple as a 'shadow' can play on the mind continuously.

'Born in Lennep, Germany, in 1937, Neususs has dedicated his whole career to extending the practice, study and teaching of the photogram. Alongside his work as an artist, he is known as an influential writer and teacher on camera-less photography. Neususs brought renewed ambition to the photogram process, in both scale and visual treatment, with the K├Ârperfotogramms (or whole-body photograms) that he first exhibited in the 1960s. Since that time, he has consistently explored the photogram's numerous technical, conceptual and visual possibilities.' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8051406/Floris-Neususs-Interview.html)

 
'Be Right Back'

'Gewitterbild, Kassel, 1984'
Untitled
Untitled

Influential Artists

Influential Artists shown during the breifing presentation, 5 specific artists that stood promient.


Edward Hopper
I love Edward Hopper's bold style and the way his subject is always the main focus. The prominent choice of colour brings the scene to life and the constant use of a window brings ambiguity to the piece. The crop of the scenes and sharp lines brings the sense of the uncanny. 




Russell I Sorgi
The idea of the woman falling forever, frozen in time, is both chilling and thought provoking. The fact you see the woman falling before the people through the window gives us a sense that life will never be the same. A moment captured in time - emotions, movement and life.

Jeff Wall
I love this piece that Jeff Wall has assembled. The lights are cluttered, but appear beautifully and individually placed. The fact the ceiling contrasts to its surroundings gets the audiences' minds wondering. Within my own piece I was something as bold and great as this to bewilder.


Sandy Skoglund
The primary colours used to contrast the imagery is brilliant. It seems like the artist takes a setting that is everyday and flips it on its head and builds a world they want to see. The cluttered composition is delicately placed.







Gregory Crewdson
Gregory Crewdson takes something everyday and turns it into a new, eerie space. The idea of having a flower patch in the kitchen is remarkable. The models face's in all the photographs gives the audience so much to read from the piece - the idea of all emotions drained - as if fed up of life. You begin to build stories behind the piece and make up situations for the models involved. The idea of isolation is heavily depicted.



Films that have given me a few inspirational thoughts include 'Sleeping With the Enemy', 'Black Swan', 'Poison Ivy' - all psychological thrillers - include the idea of striving for perfection and the idea of breaking free from whatever is constraining them.