Her films are created in an unconstrained environment, she destroyed the stereotype of time, space and movement in film and create her own definition for them. In Maya Deren’s films, she creates a totally new world with her own definition of time, space and movement.
At the beginning of the film Meshes of the Afternoon(1943), at the moment the woman enters the house, she sees a person wearing all black running toward the end of the road till that person disappears. After the woman enters the house and falls asleep in the chair, the same scene repeated in which there is another woman who looks exactly the same as she enters into the same house as she did before. And this second woman also sees the black person as the first woman did. In the later scene, the third same woman does the exactly same thing as the last two did. In these scenes, time seems like has been duplicated by Maya Deren to create a sense of infinity or parallel time and space. Even until the end of the film, Maya Deren did not give an explanation of the overlapping and parallel and duplicated time and space, the time structure was left as “incomplete”.
In the film At Land(1964), at the beginning there is a scene of a sea wave pushing the woman to the beach then the time flashes back and the sea wave flows back to the sea. Breaking the traditional thinking of film timeline, the time is not always linear in Maya Deren’s film that time can go both forward and backward. Refer to Keller Sarah’s “Frustrated Climaxes: On Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Witch’s Cradle” she points out that “incompletion is one of the guiding stars of her aesthetic.” And she describes Maya’s time in the film as “a circuit that builds meaning through resonances rather than resolutions”. The incompletion and distorted time in Maya Deren’s film allow the audience to have different interpretations about her film and it also helps Maya Deren to create the reality which can be only shown on screen and in her films.
Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has won the Palme d ‘Or at the Cannes film festival, since then, the film Parasite has become the focus of intense discussion. The film points out the problem of the solidification of Korean social class in black humour, however, different from the other similar films, Parasite does not present the idea of social class solidification in the form of critiquing or condemning. Instead, characters and their behaviours are not defined rigidly. Such vague feeling makes the film closer to life and leaves the spectators space for subjective interpretation.
In Metz’s psychoanalysis, he mainly discusses the idea of mirror effect, identification, voyeurism, fetish and disavows. Spectators will experience the process of identifying themselves in the first stage and identifying with the camera and characters in the second stage. We are unconsciously aware that the film is not the substitution of reality but a signifier, however, it is the disavow of knowledge that helps us immersed in the film. Voyeurism is also one of the significant elements that contribute on creating pleasure in spectatorship. Marks promotes the ideology of affective analysis and tactile epistemology, which she promotes a thinking process that is initially triggered by affects and perceptions and theories are ultimately shaped upon the foundation of affects and perceptions. She also reinforces the benefit of tactile visuality in cinema, that tactile visuality realizes the transformation of sensation from visual to tactile and hence enhance the viewing experience.
The first selected scene reveals the first conflict climax between the Kim family and Moon-gwang couple. After the Park family went on camping, the Kim family became the master of the luxury house. By the arrival of Moon-gwang, the Kim family accidentally found Moon-gwang’s husband secretly living in the basement of the house for years. After Kim fell off from the stair, Moon-gwang suddenly identifies their identity and switched her attitude from humble and praying to threaten the Kim family, a fierce confrontation ensued.
A long shot of the house view stands out from the entire scene because it gives an overview of the fight between two families. In Metz’s psychoanalysis, he might see this scene as a typical example of voyeurism. Such a point of view could be the view of a neighbour or a person who passes by the house, seeing the two families fighting through the window. The distance between the house and the camera point of view creates a sense of “peeking”, that Metz might find it pleasurable identifying himself as the neighbour or the third party who is hiding in the bushes outside the house. Speaking of frame composition, the house is composed in the center of the darkness which reinforces the sense of voyeurism in terms of Baudry’s ideology of film apparatus. At the moment of seeing this scene, the unconscious behaviour such as squinting eyes, feeling cold in the backs, clenching fists are categorized as the possibility of scopophilia. However, the idea of voyeurism has not yet defined, but the effect and percept of it.
Following on is the intense fight scene for Metz, the sense of intense might be eased by melodious background music, in which Baudry and Metz’s ideology, film apparatus has a considerable impact on the spectator’s response to the image on the screen.
In the following shot, Ki-Jung ran towards the fridge and grab a bag of peach. Metz might argue that as Ki-Jung turns back and begun running towards the fridge, the spectators are endowed with an all perceiving point of view because we know that she is going to attack the Moon-gwang with the peach since we know Moon-gwang is allergic to peach. Metz’s feeling of tension appears as he identifies himself with any of the characters who are fighting the Parks family’s house. At the moment, the six people in the house are in great fear of being discovered by Ms. Park when the phone ring.
The second selected scene reveals the climax of the entire film. Because of the rain yesterday, the Park family’s camping was cancelled. Ms. Park then decided to hold a birthday party for Da-song at home today. Comparatively, the Kim family is the victim of the rain that they spent the night in a gym because their basement house was soaked in sewage. They had to take cloth from the relief supply in order to attend the birthday party. Mr. Kim was then asked to drive Ms. Park to the grocery store. In the car, Ms. Park unconsciously covered her nose because of the smell of Mr. Kim. In this specific shot of Mr. Park covering her nose, Metz might regard the smell as a signifier in film, that the smell from Mr. Kim is not necessarily representing only the sensational smell but implicating the smell of poverty. Such behavior can be interpreted as the sarcasm of the rich against the poor. However, Marks will find a sensational resonance with Ms. Park as she covers her nose, such visuality will stimulate the sense of smell, that Marks might start to imagine the smell of Mr. Kim. Following on, she will refer to the memory of various kinds of smell and define the smell with that objective memory.
The next intensive shot is the fighting between Ki-woo and Moon-gwang’s husband. Ki-woo took the rock and intended to kill Moon-gwang’s husband because he believed it is the only way that can extend their parasitic life. After an intensive fight, Ki-woo is almost hit to death by Moon-gwang’s husband with the rock. In this shot, Metz would see the rock as a signifier of the desire to come across the poor social class. Throughout the film, Ki-woo regards the rock as a lucky rock that can bring fortune and change the fate of the Kim family, he was even holding the rock as he had to take refuge in the gym. For Marks, such a brutal scene might be a strong affective shock to Marks at the first moment. However, Marks might later find out that such affect was arisen by the critique of the poor killing each other and the ironic contrast with the comfortable lives of the rich.
Moon-gwang’s husband walked out of the basement with a bloody face, took a knife from the kitchen and walked toward the crowd outside. People didn’t notice him at first, but he quickened his pace and rushed into the middle of the crowd and stabbed Ki-jung in the heart. In this shot, Metz might find himself lost in identifying himself in the film and have a risk of losing his immersion in film. It is challenging to identify himself with Moon-gwang’s husband firstly because there is a lack of words from Moon-gwang’s husband as to comprehend the inner activity of Moon-gwang’s husband, instead, he is showing a state of mental disorder through his eyes and behaviors. Secondly, it is difficult to psychologically resonant with a person who lives in a parasitic life for years in a basement. Marks might find herself sympathizing both Ki-woo and Moon-gwang that both of them are the poor who struggle to live in the bottom of the society, but choose to abandon their dignity and killing each other for a parasitic life in a rich family.
Mr. Kim kneeled down on the ground pressing the wound for Ki-jung, Ms. Kim was fighting with Moon-gwang, the other guests were in chaos. The entire scene is represented in slow motion. Such slow motion might give Marks a sense of chocking, which is possibly caused by her identification with Ki-jung. In the chaos, Mr. Park asked Mr. Kim to drive Da-song to the hospital in an almost commanding manner, Mr. Kim threw the car key to him but the key accidentally slipped under the body of Moon-gwang’s husband. Again, Mr. Park unconsciously frowned and covered his nose as he approached Moon-gwang’s husband to get the keys. At this moment, Metz and Marks meet their consensus that both of them successfully identify themselves with Mr. Kim by recognizing the act of covering the nose as the signifier and the smell that has been mentioned throughout the film. By identifying themselves with Mr. Kim, they understand that the loss of dignity ultimately provokes Mr. Kim and leads him to kill Mr. Park.
The use of sound in Call me by your name contribute in creating an immersive emotional and romantic world. Throughout the entire film, the director chooses ten piano pieces with different rhythms and inserted in every stages of their relationships, to tell and intersperse their love story. The melody of M.A.Y. in the Backyardis light but at times tense and clashing, creating a shy and nervous first meeting. If the melody of M.A.Y. in the Backyard is describing their first met, the tensed and fast tuned melody of Sonatine bureaucratique is telling the turbulent feelings of Elio’s young heart. The song takes this crush one step further. Elio couldn’t sleep most of the night, tossing and turning, not realizing that Oliver had already entered the bottom of his heart. The next wonderful piano piece is Elio’s improvisation. He kept changing the original tune that he deliberately played Bach’s music in Liszt’s improvisational style and adapted Liszt’s version in a way similar to Busoni’s. Elio is trying to flirt Oliver with his music. Even though for the audience who can’t understand the songs he played, his performance can still make the audience feel a strong sense of ambiguity between these two young men.Later on, there are several songs which represent Elio’s capricious mood in his relationship with Oliver. For example, the song Zion hört die Wächter singen displaying Elio’s struggling about whether he has brought out the best in front of Oliver; the low-key chord tone in song Germination is telling the complexed feeling inside of Elio that he desires to break the silence between Oliver and himself. And the other songs in this movie are secretly narrating the psychological changes of Elio and the changes of this relationship. While the director is utilizing music to tell the story, the alternative color tone also enhances visual effects. For example, the scene when Oliver was sitting with Elio’s whole family in the orchard garden and having breakfast, the entire scene is immersed in a warm orange tone which convey a sense of harmonious among the atmosphere within and family and also create a ambiguous but warm atmosphere to foreshadowing the happening of love. The scene in Elio’s dream, all his memories with Oliver were represented in red and yellow color tone which somehow creates contrast with the cold color tone of the morning light to emphasize Elio’s passionate love for Oliver, and somehow indicating their later separation. The use of cold and warm color tone in film are working as a stimulation of emotions, echoing with Biscotti’s work Yellow Movie, colors in both works play the role as sense and emotion stimulation.
In terms of the love film content, eroticism is not a common element in love films. Eroticism is not a necessity for a love film, but it helps to express the subtle relationship among lovers which can not express in word.
The article Crash ‘Not a Film about pornography-a love story’ has a discussion on the eroticism in film Crash that the impact of eroticism divides critics upon the film. People comment as “it shows us what pornography might look like if it were made with imagination, intelligence and daring”, “it makes pornography safe and elegant” and so on. This reminds me of a question keep questioning myself, that what makes a love film with erotic scenes distinguishing from a pornography film? Professor Laura U.Marks’s article Video haptics and erotics offer a direction to think about this question. In her argument, she firstly defines haptic perception as “the combination of tactile, kinesthetic, and proprioceptive functions, the way we experience touch both on the surface of and inside our bodies”. Usually, this kind of tactile or haptic visuality has the capacity to trigger a chain of reactions within the physical body initiated from the optical visuality, and it “tend to rest on the surface of its object rather than plunge into depth, tend not to distinguish form so much as discerning texture”. The notion “Cinematic perception is not merely (audio)visual but synaesthetic” which she argues in the article becomes the breakthrough point to think about the problem of how to distinguish pornography and erotic love film. Marks argues that “the act of viewing, seen in the terms of existential phenomenology, is one in which both I and the object of my vision constitute each other.” which indicates that the essential quality of viewing is a form of mutually constitutive exchange. However, to some extent, the erotic moving image is not able to form such a mutually constitutive exchange because the erotic moving image tends to be a direct conversation between moving images on the screen and the human body. What eroticism do is unilaterally deliver erotic images to the spectators and stimulate the spectator’s senses but does not necessarily need the spectators to respond to the eroticism. Hence, the limitation of pornography is that it functions only as a body sense stimulation but does not necessarily plunge into depth. However, eroticism in love film has a totally different function. Since erotism in love film is one of the techniques of expression, so the erotic scene in love film does not only work as a body senses stimulation but also a medium or a bridge to understanding the characters and the love between them. To understand the love relationship hidden behind the erotic scene require spectators to develop their subjectivity upon the moving image which forms the mutually constitutive exchange. In a love film, such a mutually constitutive exchange is necessary to create a renderable and emotional love story. And this trait of erotic love film makes it essentially distinguishing from pornography. In the film Lolitta(1997), the erotic scenes reflect the importance of mutually constitutive exchange and the importance of haptic visuality. In the scene when Lolitta and Humbert are first night together in a hotel, the Dim dark blue light and the ambiguous atmosphere are foreshowing the next step of their relationship. However, the physical body is never exposed in the scene as to present eroticism. The camera utilizes a close-up shoot to focus on Lolitta’s leg slowly moves toward Humbert under the bedsheet. She asks Humbert to get some water for her, after she finished drinking, she leaned her mouth on Humbert’s shoulder and wiped her mouth with his clothes. In the later scene, Humbert finds out a box of money which Lolitta probably earn it by selling her body. The two are naked in the darkroom, and their emotional conflicts are mixed together with the erotic scene. The expression of emotion in these scenes is sufficient to stand alone even without dialogues because of the effectiveness of haptic cinematic experience on spectatorship.
The film In the mood for love reflected the notion of both Elwes and Pisters. Wong Kar-wai’s In the mood for love is a typical example showing how film successfully avoids superficialness (the word “superficialness” here indicates the cinematic expression in the film but not about the love story itself) and leave adequate space for the spectator to develop their subjective interpretation. In the mood for love is an extremely artistic film movie that has exquisite camera language and visual aesthetic. The unique film aesthetic in this movie can be seen in the cloth of the actor, the shooting technique and the song in the movie. The most noticeable element in this movie is firstly the cheongsams. Cheongsam was originated in the 17th century, has a history of 300 years. As a national dress of Chinese people, the charm of cheongsam lies in its introversion and profoundness. It draws the outline of the female body curve, but meanwhile not being over sexual. Throughout the entire movie, the character Su Lizhen has changed 23 different cheongsams in total. Director Wang Kar-wai uses different patterns and colour tones of each cheongsam to insert Chinese traditional esthetic in the movie and he also uses the change of cheongsam to tell the emotion of Su Lizhen as her life changed but cheongsams are more about clarifying narration. Here are some examples from the movie screenshots.
The dark grey cheongsam which she wears when she’s moving in the apartment presents that she is an independent woman and takes charge of all the moving trivia.
The bright color and the pattern on this cheongsam represent Su Lizhen’s joy when her husband was back from a business trip, indicating that she has dressed up for her husband’s return.
Contrasting to the cheongsam above, the dull gray protrudes her low mood when she knows that her husband is leaving for another business trip.
The bright green color cheongsam that she wears when she goes to return the book to Zhou Muyun indicating she’s in a good mood.
Later the colour tone changes back to greyish white, representing her mood change.
The other esthetic in this film is the violin music Yumeji’s Theme, a sad tone violin song appears eight times throughout the film, recording eight different important time points. The first and second time when the music played, Su Lizhen was wearing cheongsam walking slowly from the right side of the camera entering the frame and walk out of the frame from the left side. Her graceful figure, the ambiguous moment when she met Zhou Muyun on the narrow stairs, the dim light on the street corner, and the embellishment of slow motion, the whole picture achieves an extremely romantic effect. The third time when the music appears, the color tone of the picture is mainly red, the camera only includes Zhou Muyun and Su Lizhen’s face, the slow motion of the interaction between Zhou Muyun and Su Lizhen Take their affair one step further. When the fourth music played, the director 30s to shoot the smoke slowly spreading out in slow motion, symbolizing the elusive feelings between Zhou Muyun and Su Lizhen. The fifth time when the music came out, the camera moved back and forth between the reflection in mirror and the reality, the use of mirror indicate the ambiguity between Zhou Muyun and Su Lihen, the reflection in mirror is the metaphor of their relationship. The next two slow motion with the music were indicating nearly the same concept which is to protrude the beauty of Su Lizhen and the aesthetic of the movie and indicating the development of their relationship. Throughout these scenes, the director does not give the audience a clear indication of their relationship, however, it is the ambiguity hidden within each scene allows the audience to feel the film aesthetic created by the director and the aesthetic of love relationship as well. Adding on with the open ending, the name of the child standing beside Su Lizhen echoes with the title of Zhou Muyu’s Wuxia Novel, till the end the director does not give an explanation on who the child is and how their relationship develops
Since the literal meaning of cinema and film are closed to each other, there are certain confusion about the usage of these two words in either articles or public propaganda. Also, in daily use of the vocabulary “Cinema” and “Film” it seems like we have ignored the differences between them. However, there exists essential differences between cinema and film. In this paper, I will first analyze the essence of cinema and film to have a clear distinguish between them. Conclusively, I will present my definition of cinema and film in my own words.
According to the literal meaning on dictionary, film was interpreted as the thin plastic used in a camera for taking photographs or recording moving pictures and it also means a form of story-telling at the cinema or on television. Cinema is interpreted as the business and art of making films and it can be also interpreted as a place where people go to watch films for entertainment. Comparatively, the literal definition of cinema is boarder and more abstract than film which film contains mainly film art and cinema contains the combination of business and film art as an industry chain. In another word, film tends to include the things happened within the post film production period. For example, the script design, the filming technique, the director and so on. Cinema tends to include the things after film production when the films are released in public. It might relate to the film social influence, the audience reflection on film and so on. Since the definition of “Film” in about producing a film, then the essence of film is function of presenting visual experiences. For example, the film Armulf Rainer(1960) which we watched in class is a film purely about back and white visual experience. The repetitive and alternant black and white scene emphasized the awareness of real time, moreover it discusses the relationship between metronomic time and film time. It also allows the audience to watch the film with their eyes either open or close to feel the changing of light. Also in the film Lemon(1969) by Hollis Frampton, the filmmaker created a visual experience of looking at a lemon under the changing lights. Without any idea present in film, the audience will still have their own interpretation and understanding of the film. Rather than the film meaning, the visual experience presented by the film offers more space for the audience comprehend. As Stan Brakhage argued in his article “From Metaphors on Vison” that pure film that we as human usually react to the stimulation by how we are taught to react, but pure film put away the subjectivity and forces us to see something which have not yet structured. The visual experience of film constitute film as an art form which is purely used to deliver experience. Within film, the motion, the light, the time, the materiality and color and sound are all important for the film maker to achieve certain visual effect in order to create a satisfied visual experience to the audience. However, within the pure films, meaning of the film is less important comparatively.
As the film developed and matured, more and more films are released in the cinema and the entertainment demand on film gradually increase. As the film industry expand, more and more films are produced for business needs. The fast-food-style filmmaking more or less will impact the overall quality of the film and the so called trendy film can sometimes lost the pureness of filmmaking. Imagine the film Lemon(1969) is remade and released in the cinema, there will be several so called trendy idea put in the film to fulfill the audience and there will be more personal subjective concept put in the film which totally lost the original visual experience which the filmmaker was trying to create originally. Therefore, if we see the cinema from an artistic aspect, the commerce in cinema become unnecessary and alienated which impact the visual experience that the film is presenting and even the idea which the film is delivering. Cinema, as a form of developed film or the media of film contributes to the film propagation and publishing. Imagine there is no more cinema at all, films lost their biggest media for propagating and publishing which is huge strike on the film commerce but not the quality of film itself.
Above all, I believe there is no such pure cinema but only pure film. The film art form itself can keep its pureness by focusing on the art work itself but cinema cannot avoid its relationship with film business demand which is conflicted with the pure cinema. Overall, film can be defined as the moving image art form which create visual experiences for the audience and cinema can be defined as a media of film in order to perfect the entire film industry.
Memories of murders(2013) The Crucible(2011) So-won(2013)
There are certain similarities between the three films which I will further discuss in this paper. First of all, all three Korean films are an adaptation of actual cases which has happened in Korea. Behind the film Memories of murders, there was a real serial killing case that happened in the 1980s. The killer has raped and murdered a number of young women in an extremely brutal way, however, the killer was never caught, and the case was never justified by law. The film Memories of murders simulates the brutal killing method and the entire process of the police investigating the crime from a god perspective to tell the entire story to the spectators. The film The Crucible (Also called Silenced) was an adaptation of a novel about an actual child sexual abuse case that happened at a school for disabled children in Korea. The film talks about how the inhumane teachers and school principals sexually abuse the young disabled children in school and how the new teacher in town Kang In Ho fights against the corrupted judiciary and the pressure of wrong social value for the right of these disabled children. Different than Memories of murder, the film did not avoid the rape scenes which challenge the viewer’s acceptance. However, these rape scenes play an important role in the film. If there are no such rape scenes, it is difficult to protrude the inhumane of the crime, the hopelessness of the children and the apathy of people in society. The last film So-won (Also called Hope) is also an adaptation of an actual child rape case. The little girl So won in the film was raped and abused almost to death on her way to school along. The film shows how the parents of So won and the psychological consolation teacher try to protect her from social rumours and offer her psychological guidance. Moreover, the film shows how the judiciary and police force are bribed and corrupted in society. As the development of the film, the real-story based films are becoming more and more popular in the film market especially in the Korean film market. These real-story-based films increase the authenticity of the plot which creates more sense of immersion for the spectators. The keynote of realism creates a sense of hopelessness in which the spectators are feeling actually being in the plot, but they can do nothing to change the circumstances and help the homeless children. Beyond that, various social problems can be disclosed and expressed through such an influential media to match with people’s concerns. Rather than saying they are films, it is better to call them the reflection of social problems.
The real- story based Asian noir films have gone beyond the ornamental value and they tend to have social influence value. The film, as a media to deliver values and culture to society, has the responsibility to influence society and it should be responsible for what they deliver. Among the three films Memories of murders, The Crucible and So-won, the film The Crucible has the greatest impact on Korean society and even the Korean law system. After the film was released on screen in public in 2011, the entire society and the authorities started to pay more attention to the child rape and child sexual assault issues that existed in Korean society. Under the influence of the film, the Korean legislative published the new law about violent sexual assault and used the name of the film to name the new law as “The Crucible law”. Also, the government utilized certain laws to restrict and supervise the welfare institutions in Korean society in order to use to power of law to prevent the sexual violent assault from happening again. Moreover, the government publish the amendment law of lawyer to abolish the corrupted and absurd latent rules existed among lawyers to maintain justice on court. The Crucible is the first film in Korean film history which has the power to change the law and it is the highest achievement of a noir film. Marsha Kinder has argued that The American Friend “demonstrates what film noir can be at its best by arousing and expressing the human emotions through noir films.” However, the Asian noir demonstrates what noir film can do even better in contemporary film and modern life background by having both ornamental value and social influence value. Beyond that, The Crucible discloses the hidden crime; it promotes to the protection of the weak in the society; it promotes the correct value to express the pursuit of justice and it expedites the completion of the law system. Chelsea McCracken mentioned Lee Hyang-jin’s idea, who is one of the researchers on Asian film noir in the article “Oldboy and Korean film noir”. Lee Hyang-jin argues that “Asian noir provides a social critique by contrasting old, Confucian, and new, materialist and capitalist, social values that coexist in modern Asian societies.” These Asian noir films heritage the depression, the twisting plot and the preference of using dim light on screen from classic noir film and meanwhile express its own critique by using modern social value and concept. Other than the huge influence of The Crucible, Memories of murders and So-won also shows how noir films can do better in modern society. The film Memories of murders depicts the defection of law and the absence of legal sense in the 1980s to 1990s, especially in the rural areas in Korea. The film So-won Above proves how influential a noir film can be and shows that noir films have been developed and adapted to modern values.