Film Art: An Introduction. Textbook written with Kristin Thompson and Jeff Smith. Film History: An Introduction. Textbook written with Kristin Thompson first-named author.
The statement sounds true but vague. Musicians and musicologists have a firm sense of what the term rhythm means, but how can we understand it in relation to movies? Well, surely it refers, at least, to the rhythm of the music we hear in the film. The people and things we see can be infused with a beat and tempo and pace. Critics of the s considered Chaplin a dancer, like Nijinsky. And we think that the story can be told in a way that has a distinctive pace—narrative rhythm, we sometimes call it.
But how do these components work together to create an overall rhythm for the film? When synchronized sound recording entered movies, critics and filmmakers worried a lot about this problem. Filmmakers who had mastered visual storytelling in the silent era had to figure out how to merge spoken language, music, and sound effects with the flow of images.
The Cinephiliacs: Episode #63 - Lea Jacobs (Only Angels Have Wings)
The lazy solution was simply to shoot plays, filling the scenes with dialogue. But both audiences and critics missed the dynamism of silent films. Talkies were too talky. The opposite solution, to eliminate words as much as possible and simply use music and sound effects, was of limited value.
Are you sure?
After all, silent film needed the written language of intertitles to make the story clear; why give up the advantages of spoken language? Today this debate may seem sterile. We think filmmakers have solved the problem. Maybe they have, collectively, but each one faces it at every moment. How do you blend movement, music, pictorial composition, sound effects, and dialogue to create an overall pace that will benefit your movie?
No single recipe will work. Filmmakers solve the problem of rhythm in practice, often brilliantly. Those of us who want to understand how films work, and work upon us, want to get specific and explicit.
What is this thing called cinematic rhythm? What contributes to it? Can we analyze it and explain its grip? In her new book, Film Rhythm after Sound: Technology, Music, and Performance , our friend and colleague Lea Jacobs takes us quite a ways toward some answers. Lea starts from the assumption that the debates of the early s are still relevant.
She studies these paradigm cases more closely than anyone has before. How can distinct moments in the image flow, the sound flow, and the narrative action be pinched together, like the toothpick pinning the ingredients in a sandwich? One answer is to rehabilitate the old idea of mickey-mousing. Mickey-mousing makes the patterning of the sound match, in some way, the pattern of onscreen action.
Mickey-mousing has had a bad press, but Lea shows that if we look at it afresh, it offer a solid point of departure for thinking about rhythm. Save your sync until it can have maximum impact, ideally through accenting some action in the image and maybe a high point in your drama. Eisenstein shows how all the different lines of pictorial and auditory movement can be woven in a flow that will create various degrees of emphasis. At certain moments, several accents in these lines could hit simultaneously. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive.
We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. The result is a work developed by pictorialist photographers such as Henry Peach that can feel too all-encompassing at times, but that— Robinson, who considered it part and parcel of a good com- precisely because of its audacity—prompts readers to con- position. Magic Lantern to Early Hollywood. London: British Film Institute, Performance is a bold, far-reaching work that seeks to recon- Jacobs is quick to point out that until re-recording be- sider the transition to sound from a new perspective.
This opening invites the reader to Jacobs encourages readers to think about the changes that took treat the case studies that follow as distinct attempts within place during more holistically, in terms of rhythm. While Jacobs draws her examples primarily from within always coincide Moreover, the director can Alberto Cavalcanti. Indeed, Jacobs goes on Film Music in the Early Sound Era, —, a related study to argue that real-time duration—be it of a given shot or a published this past year by Columbia University Press.
What film as a whole—is rarely indicative of pace. What happens sets Film Rhythm after Sound apart, however, is its unusually within the shot, how it relates to the overall narrative schema ambitious scope: Jacobs refuses to confine herself to a single and to events taking place on the soundtrack, is equally as de- sonic element, such as music or dialogue, or a single genre. Proceeding from there to the early musicals her argument. Return to Book Page. The seemingly effortless integration of sound, movement, and editing in films of the late s stands in vivid contrast to the awkwardness of the first talkies.
Film Rhythm after Sound analyzes this evolution via close examination of important prototypes of early sound filmmaking, as well as contemporary discussions of rhythm, tempo, and pacing. Jacobs looks at the rhythm The seemingly effortless integration of sound, movement, and editing in films of the late s stands in vivid contrast to the awkwardness of the first talkies.
Jacobs argues that the new range of sound technologies made possible a much tighter synchronization of music, speech, and movement than had been the norm with the live accompaniment of silent films. Filmmakers in the early years of the transition to sound experimented with different technical means of achieving synchronization and employed a variety of formal strategies for creating rhythmically unified scenes and sequences. Music often served as a blueprint for rhythm and pacing, as was the case in mickey mousing, the close integration of music and movement in animation.
However, by the mids, filmmakers had also gained enough control over dialogue recording and editing to utilize dialogue to pace scenes independently of the music track. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published December 18th by University of California Press. More Details Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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