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C a s e rta , T heodore M asuk




New Y ork U niversity


300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Ml 48106

Copyright 1986
Caserta, Theodore Masuk
All Rights Reserved



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Sponsoring Committee:

Prof. Joy Gould Boyum, Chairperson

Prof. Robert S. Berlin
Prof. Terence Moran





Theodore Masuk Caserta

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of Doctor
of Philosophy in the School of
Education, Health, Nursing and
Arts Professions
New York University

Theodore Masuk Caserta 1986

I hereby guarantee that no part of the dissertation which

I have submitted for publication has been heretofore
published and (or) copyrighted in the United States of
America, except in the case of passages quoted from other
published sources; that I am the sole author and proprietor
of said dissertation; that the dissertation contains no
matter which, if published, will be libelous or otherwise
injurious, or infringe in any way the copyright of any
other party; and that I will defend, indemnify and hold
harmless New York University against all suits and
proceedings which may be brought and against all claims
which may be made against New York University by reason
of the publication of said dissertation.







P ro f .
P ro f .
P ro f .





Joy Go uld Boyum,

R o b e r t S. B e r l i n
Terrence Morran












S u b m i t t e d in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t of t he
r e q u i r e m e n t s f or th e d e g r e e of D o c t o r
of P h i l o s o p h y in the S c h o o l of
E d u c a t i o n , H e a l t h , N u r s i n g and
Arts Professions
New York University

- 1986











a detailed

















a woman's




ar t






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2A & 3 A . T h i s





any u n r e a l i s t i c











s te ps ,


to a l t e r







(38 m i n u t e s















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a nd












reality was




a film






selected major

the u n i q u e







a glossary


in l e n g t h ) ,




en ds .


















for use





three m a j o r

area s.







16mra c o l o r






t he







t he



































A print































or v i d e o c a s s e t t e




















































































The help and support of a number of people enabled me
to accomplish this research.

Joy Gould Boyum, Ph.D.,

established the discipline and criticism that were so


Patricia Rowe, Ph.D., gave me consistent

departmental support.

Jonathan Weil, Ph.D., at first gave

me tutorial help, but as time passed, became one of my

dearest friends.

Terence Moran, Ph.D., generously offered

me the keen advice of logic.

My parents, Eugenia Caserta

and S. J. Caserta, M.D., supported me in every way possible

to accomplish my goal.

Consequently, the motion picture

1A, 2A &3A has been dedicated to them.

The cast and crew

of that film offered their time and effort in the making of

a difficult movie.

Finally, Professor Robert S. Berlin

offered me the advice, encouragement, and support that let

me learn and grow.

It is to him that I dedicate this



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .....................................



1A, 2A & 3 A ........................................


I INTRODUCTION ...................................
Context of the P r o b l e m .....................
Statement of the P r o b l e m ...................
Need for the S t u d y .........................
M e t h o d o l o g y ...............................






Introduction ...............................
S u m m a r y ...................................



THE ILLUSION OF R E A L I T Y .....................
Introduction ...............................
I m a g e ......................................
Filmstock as Affecting the-Image . . . .
Type of Films t o c k .................
Color Temperature of Filmstock . . .
Lens Effects as Affecting the Image . .
Type of L e n s .......................
Aperture as a Lensed Effect . . . .
Depth-of-Field as a Lensed Effect .
Filters as a Lensed E f f e c t ........
Special Effects Lenses for Lensed
Effect .
Framing/Composition as Affecting Image .
Off-Centered Framing/Composition . .
Oblique Framing/Composition . . . .
Mask Framing/Composition..........
Shooting Through a Mirror as a
Method of Framing/Composition . .
Distance of View as Affecting the Image.
Angle of View as Affecting Image . . . .
Subject Angle of V i e w ............
Camera's Angle of V i e w ............


Lighting as Affecting Image ...............
Type of L i g h t i n g ....................... 115
Position of Lighting .................
Intensity of Lighting .................
Colored Lighting .....................
Special Effects Lighting ............
Available Lighting ...................
Special Effects as Affecting the Image
. . 121
Change in Color Special Effects . . . .
Multiple Exposure Special Effects . . .
M o v e m e n t ........................................ 124
Camera Movement ...........................
Panning Camera Movement ...............
Tilting Camera Movement ...............
Zooming Camera Movement ...............
Hand-Held Camera Movement ............
Lens Movement of the C a m e r a ............. 131
Subject Movement
Upward Motion of the S u b j e c t ........... 134
Downward Motion of the Subject . . . .
Movement Toward the Camera as Creating
Subject M o v e m e n t ..................... 136
Movement Away from the Camera as
Creating Subject Movement ..........
Left-Right Motion of the Subject . . . 138
Editing as Creating Movement .............
Invisible Cutting .....................
Jump C u t t i n g ........................... 142
Rhythmic Cutting
Montage as an Editing Technique . . . .
Long Take as an Editing Technique . . .
Tonal C u t t i n g ............................146
Insert Shot for Use in Editing . . . .
Movement as Created by Special Effects
. . 148
Fast and Slow Motion Special Effects . 148
Dissolve Special Effects
Multiple Dissolves as a Special Effect. 151
Dissolves to and from Red as a Special
E f f e c t ................................ 152
Freeze Framing Special Effects . . . .
Sextet Framing Special Effects . . . .
Flash Framing Special Effects ........
Reverse Motion Special Effects
. . . .
Rotating Multivision Five Lens with
Zoom as a Special E f f e c t ............. 158
Superimposed Dissolve as a Special
E f f e c t ................................159

S o u n d ...................................
D i a l o g u e .............................
Synchronous Dialogue ...............
Sound E f f e c t s ......................
Parallel (Synchronous) Sound Effects
Off-Screen (Asynchronous) Sound
E f f e c t s ........................ .
M u s i c ...............................
Commentative M u s i c ..............
Contrapuntal Music .................







Film and the Illusion of R e a l i t y .......
The Nature and Use ofCinematic Technique
. 221
The Creative Process

2 30


TREATMENT ................................



SHOOTING SCRIPT ..........................













30 3


THE FILM 1A, 2A & 3A
The narrative of the film 1A, 2A & 3A involves the
successful suicide attempt of Isa, an attractive, married
woman in her early thirties.
around her two-story house.

All scenes take place in and

In the course of the narrative,

Isa will make three different kinds of attempts on her


suicide by overdose of pills, suicide by slashing

her wrist, and suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.


last attempt is successful.

A print or videocassette of the film can be obtained
through Avery Fisher Center, Bobst Library, New York
University, Washington Square, New York, New York 10012.


Context of the Problem
Film/ more than any other art form, depends upon a
mimetic illusion to gain its aesthetic effect.

Using the

photographic image, it also employs movement and sound to

give us a startlingly realistic impression of the worldout-there.

So precise, in fact, is the moving picture's

ability to capture.this world, that the film medium creates

the illusion that we are actually perceiving reality.
Diverse film theorists emphasize film's unique
relationship to reality.1

Siegfried Kracauer, for example,

Film renders visible what we did not, or perhaps
even could not, see before its advent.
effectively assists us in discovering the
material world with its psychophysical corres
pondences. We literally redeem this world from
its dormant state, its state of virtual non
existence, by endeavoring to experience through
the camera.2

^ e e Rudolf Arnheim, Film as Art (New York: Oxford

University Press, 1974); Andrd* Bazin, What Is Cinema?,
2 vols., trans. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1974); V. I. Pudovkin, Film Technique
and Film Acting, trans. Ivor Montagu (New York: Grove
Press, Inc., 1970); and Susan Sontag, On Photography (New
York: Dell Publishing Company, Inc., 1973).
2Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption of
Physical Reality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965),

Andre Bazin observes that, while painters for two
thousand years have been trying to become more realistic by
creating the illusions of depth, perspective, texture, and
so on, the unique nature of film is that it starts with
reality as a given.^

Bazin and Kracauer believe that

film's basic power lies in its ability to capture reality

and that the filmmaker must firmly commit to, indeed
exploit, this power.
While no one would deny film's natural affinity with
reality, there are theorists, critics, and filmmakers who
are committed to an opposite view of film's power finding
it in film's ability to manipulate reality so that it is
essentially altered or recreated.

Susanne Langer, for one,

bases an entire theory of film on its dream qualities or


She states, "Cinema is 'like' dream in the

mode of its presentation.

. . ."4

Rudolf Arnheim acknow

ledges the existence of film's partial illusion of reality,

but he theorizes that only by manipulating and altering the
facsimile, through form or technique, can film claim that
it is art.^
Whether or not one agrees with Arnheim and Langer, the

^Bazin, Vol. I, 12-13.

4Susanne Langer, Feeling and Form (New York: Scribner,
1953), 412.
^Arnheim 34-44.

fact is that many filmmakers have indeed attempted to
dissociate film from reality.

But the problem for the

filmmaker, given film's basic representational nature, is

how to achieve these surrealistic ends.

More to the point,

can such ends be achieved not through narrative story or

content, but through the manipulation of cinematic tech
nique alone?

This was the challenge of this dissertation:

to create a film that attempts consistently to dissociate

itself from the illusion of reality through technique alone
and to describe and analyze the critical choices employed
in the filmmaking process to achieve such dissociation.
Statement of the Problem
The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze
the creative strategies by which the filmmaker dissociated
film from the illusion of reality through the making of a
film and to record the filmmaking process.

To demonstrate on the basis of selected major

theoretical writings about the nature of film, film's

unique connection with reality.

To create a film (called 1A, 2A & 3A) that

attempts consistently to dissociate itself from the

illusion of reality through the manipulation of cinematic
technique alone.


To record the steps, strategies and techniques

used to alter the film's relationship with reality.


To describe and analyze the critical choices

employed in the filmmaking process to dissociate the film

from the illusion of reality.

To adapt the findings of Subproblem 4 into a

glossary of cinematic techniques for use by future film

makers, educators, and responders.

The created film 1A, 2A & 3A is a film short,

thirty-eight minutes in length, not a feature film.


The created film achieves its dissociation from

reality solely through the use and manipulation of

cinematic techniques and not through the use of any
elements of subject matter, content, or plot that can be
termed unreal or surreal.

In other words, in subject, the

film is a conventional narrative with a logical and

sequential plot.

In this way, the filmmaker's strategies

would be isolated, examined, and finally interpreted as the

causes of the film's surreality.

The creative strategies and techniques recorded

and analyzed by the filmmaker are obviously restricted by

the form and content of this particular film.

The study of the creative process is limited to

the filmmaker's conscious creative strategies and choices

employed in attempting to dissociate a film from reality
and does not encompass his unconscious thoughts and feel
ings or a search for the roots of these strategies and
choices in his personality or prior experiences.
Cinematic technique refers to any aspect or element of the
cinema that is specific and intrinsic to the language,
grammar, or vocabulary of the film medium.6
Creative process refers to the creative artist's "process
of change, of development, of evolution, in the organiza
tion of subjective life."^

It involves both conscious and

unconscious processes, though in this study the emphasis

will be on the former.
Pre-shooting (synonymous with "pre-production") refers to
those activities of filmmaking which take place before
shooting, such as creation of the treatment and the
shooting script.8
Shooting (synonymous with "production") refers to the stage
of filmmaking which encompasses such activities as

6Adapted from Robert A. Armour, Film: A Reference

Guide (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 22.
Brewster Ghiselin, The Creative Process: A Symposium
(New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1952), 12.
8Adapted from Leo Trachtenberg, The Sponsor's Guide to
Filmmaking (New York: Hopkinson and Blake, 1978).

directing and photographing the film, recording the sound

track, and developing and work-printing the raw stock.8
Post-shooting (synonymous with "post-production") refers to
activities "involved in the completion of a film after it
has been shot and work-printed.1,18

This stage of film-

making concerns such activities as editing the image and

soundtrack, producing special effects, mixing the sound,
and printing the final film.11
Surreal(ity) refers to the use of cinematic devices to
render action as unreal, fantastic, and/or drearn-1i k e . ^
It is not to be confused with surrealist art or surrealism
as a movement "which attempts to express unconscious
reality and which as a result seems irrational and meaning
less,"1^ though the end result of this filmmaker's
manipulation of reality may not be unrelated to the
surrealist aim.

The conscious creation of surreality

presupposes meanings above and beyond the literal meaning

or sign of the object or the thing represented and

18John Mercer, Glossary of Film Terms (Houston:
University Film Association, 1969), 64.

Adapted from the term "realism" as defined in

Mercer, 68.
1^Mercer 82.

presupposes a truth beyond the m imetic.^

Need for the Study
This research was significant in two chief respects,
one specific to film study and one general to all creative
process studies.
As to the study's contribution to film:

Film educators, artists, and viewers could gain

insight from the knowledge of how a filmmaker chose his

strategies and arrived at the various techniques that would
achieve his goals.

Such film educators as David Stewart,15

Robert Wagner,16 John Katz,17 and Stuart Hall16 all note

the importance of understanding the techniques and
strategies of film in order to make response to film a more
critical and sophisticated process.

Stuart Hall, for

^Personal communication, Professor Robert S. Berlin,

April 27, 1983.
^David Stewart, ed., Film Study in Higher Education
(Washington: American Council on Education, 19 66).

Robert W. Wagner, introduction, The Education of the

Film-maker: An International View (Paris: The UNESCO Press,
17John Stuart Katz, ed., Perspectives on the Study of
Film (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971).
16Stuart Hall, "Liberal Studies," Studies in the
Teaching of Film within Formal Education: Four Courses
Described, ed. Paddy Whannel and Peter Harcourt TLondon:
The Educational Department, British Film Institute, 1968).

example, notes the value to film responders of studying
these techniques:
. . - one has to give the student some basic
familiarity with the techniques available to the
director. The film is an independent art with a
language of its own, and the student needs to
know what is [sic] vocabulary is in order to be
at all articulate about his response to
it. . . .19
Edward Fischer, teacher, writer, and director, echoes Hall:
[Understanding filmmaking technique] . . . makes
students aware not only of the what but also the
how of a production. One can never be an
effective critic without this double awareness.20
Finally, educator George Stoney, a writer, director, and
producer of documentary films, notes how the creative
efforts of non-specialists can be enhanced by understanding
the creative process of filmmakers:
. . . the use of film . . . is now so widespread
that a surprisingly large number of people in
other professions already find themselves in
positions where they need to know how to work
with filmmakers. Doctors, social workers,
journalists, psychologists, they are all trying
to use film now, and most are making a bad job of
it because they don't know how to begin to think
in film terms.^1

This study attempted to aid in the understanding

of the relationship between theory and practice.


film's relationship to reality has been extensively

19Hall 14.
20Edward Fischer in Stewart 37.
2^George Stoney in Stewart 95.

explored in the realm of theory, this researcher sought to
examine the ways in which theory might translate into the
actual filmmaking practice.

For instance, the filmmaker

asked whether the photographic process itself inherently

linked film to a realist aesthetic a question pointedly
raised by Arnheim.

Or did the formal elements of film

detract from its essential representationalism as noted by


These theoretical issues, among others, were

explored in the actual making of the film 1A, 2A & 3A and

in the analysis of the filmmaker's creative process.


filmmaker examined how film's theoretical link with reality

actually affected the making of a movie.
Understanding this connection between theory and
practice could aid other filmmakers.

Jerry Toeplitz,

Director of the Polish Film Academy, argues, for example,

that "without theory an art cannot advance, and artists are
tied to tradition. 1,22

of more importance, knowledge of

theory and its connection with film practice would increase

appreciation and understanding of the medium for film

It is in this regard that film theorist Bela

Balazs makes an impassioned plea for a curriculum of theory

for the non-specialist:
Until there is a chapter on film art in every
textbook on the history of art and on aesthetics


Cited by C. Young m

Stewart 125.

. . . and a place in the curriculum of our
secondary schools, we shall not have firmly
established in the consciousness of our genera
tion this most important artistic development of
our century.23

The product of the research was not only the

creation of a film but a glossary of techniques and

strategies that any filmmaker might employ in attempting to
dissociate a film from the illusion of reality.


imitation of reality has always been natural to film.


is less natural but still possible is the creation of


This glossary was intended to aid filmmakers

in the achievement and researchers in the investigation of

this end.
This study also contributed to further understanding
of the creative process in general:

It added to the body of literature documenting how

creative strategies and decisions shape the progress of a


Artists, theorists, and critics alike, from a

variety of art forms, have emphasized the importance of

documenting the creative process.

Brewster Ghiselin in his

pioneering work on the creative process, provides a very

practical reason for studying it:


insight into the

processes or invention can increase the efficiency of

^ B e l a Balazs in Katz 46.

almost any developed and active intelligence.1,24


Arnheim notes the usefulness of studying a writer's

worksheets to gain insight into how a work evolves toward
its final form.25

In effect, the filmmaker/researcher's

"shot notebook," documenting his creative strategies from

pre-shooting to post-shooting, corresponds to a writer's
Appendix C.)

(Samples of these sheets may be found in

More than thirty years after it was stated,

Ernst Kris' call for documentation of the creative process

still remains largely unanswered:


intuitive insight waits to be written."2

the history of
It is hoped that

this dissertation would help to build the available

knowledge for future researchers of the creative process.

Other creative artists from a variety of art forms

would be able to compare their own method of work with that

of the filmmaker/researcher.

It was hoped that such

comparison would lead to greater insight into their own


This research and the actual creation of a work of

24Ghiselin 12.
2^Rudolf Arnheim, "Psychological Notes on the Poetical
Process," in Rudolf Arnheim, D. A. Stauffer, Karl Shapiro,
and W. H. Auden, Poets at Work (New York: Harcourt, Brace
and Company, 1948).
2Ernst Kris, Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art (New
York: Schocken Books, 1952), 23.

art were of great benefit to the author's own development
as an artist.

The analysis of and reflection on his own

creative process offered him an unusual opportunity to

enrich and expand his creative potential.
The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze
the creative strategies by which the filmmaker dissociated
film from the illusion of reality through the making of a
film and the recording of the filmmaking process.
The methodology for each subproblem follows below:
Subproblem It

To demonstrate on the basis of selected

major theoretical writings about the
nature of film, film's unique
connections with reality.

This subproblem was organized in the following fashion:


The major theoretical writings on film were

identified from such major film texts as Richard Dyer

MacCann's Film: A Montage of Theories;2? Gerald Mast and
Marshall Cohn's Film Theory and Criticism;28


Giannetti's Understanding Movies;2^ James Monaco's How to

27Richard Dyer MacCann, ed., Film: A Montage of

Theories (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1966).
28Gerald Mast and Marshall Cohen, Film Theory and
Criticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974).
^^Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies, 3rd ed.
Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1982).


Read a Film;3^> Robert Eberwein's A Viewer1s Guide to Film
Theory and Criticism;31 Dudley Andrew's The Major Film
Theories;32 an(j Andrew Tudor's Theories of Film.33

The major theoretical writings that have been

published in English were examined by the researcher.


Of each major theoretical writing, such questions

as the following were asked:


How did each theorist define the essence of



How did each film theorist view film's

connection with reality?

Did the theorist view film as essentially

an imitation or illusion of reality?


Did the theorist view film as recreating

or rearranging reality?


Did the theorist view film as an art form

that was independent of the real world?


JUJames Monaco, How to Read a Film: The Art,

Technology, Language, History, and Theory of Film and Media
{New York: Oxford University Press, 1977).
3^-Robert T. Eberwein, A Viewer's Guide to Film Theory
and Criticism (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.,
1979) .
33j. Dudley Andrew, The Major Film Theories: An
Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976).
33Andrew Tudor, Theories of Film (New York: Viking
Press, 1974).


How did each film theorist view surreality?

These questions were derived and adapted from key film

texts such as Giannetti's Understanding Movies and general
works on aesthetics such as Monroe Beardsley's Aesthetics;
Problems in Philosophy of Criticism. E a c h

question was

answered for each major theoretical writing and presented

in narrative form (see Chapter 2).
Subproblem 2 :

To create a film (called 1A, 2A & 3A)

that attempted consistently to
dissociate itself from the illusion of
reality through the manipulation of
cinematic technique alone.

The creation of a film, like that of any other work of

art, involves a series of necessary and often mechanical

The framework of the basic stages of filmmaking is

as follows:



Creating the treatment


Creating the shooting script


Directing and photographing


Recording the soundtrack


the film

Developing and work-printing the raw stock

3^Monroe C. Beardsley, Aesthetics: Problems in the

Philosophy of Criticism (New-York: Harcourt, Brace and
Company, Inc., 1959).



Editing the image and soundtrack


Producing special effects


Mixing the sound


Printing the final film

Subproblem 3 ;

To record the steps, strategies, and

techniques used to alter film's
relationship with reality.

The filmmaker/researcher recorded his creative

decisions and procedures at three specific points during
the creation of the film, corresponding to the three
traditional, discrete stages of the filmmaking process:
pre-shooting, shooting, post-shooting (see Subproblem 2,

A working, ongoing "shot notebook" made such a

record possible and practical.

Pre-printed forms were made in order for the
researcher to annotate his decisions, strategies, and
intentions (see Appendix C ) .

These forms, used for all

shots and every stage, were headed by the scene, shot(s),

stage of filmmaking, and the date in which that stage took

Space for notes was divided into the three

categories of cinematic techniques image, movement, and


Columns were reserved for the name of the

particular technique, comments about employment of that

technique, and the specific intentions that the filmmaker
had for employing it, i.e., the strategy.

An easy reference system was arrived at by printing

the list of common cinematic techniques on the reverse side
of each form {see Appendix E ) .

The techniques divided

into the major categories of image, movement, and sound

were derived by an analysis and synthesis of ten major film

Ralph Stevenson and J. R. Debrix's The Cinema

as Ar t; R o y

Huss and Norman Silverstein's The Film


Stanley J. Solomon's The Film

I d e a ; 3*7


Monaco's How to Read a Film; Lewis Jacobs' The Movies as


Medium; L o u i s

Giannettx's Understanding Movies; Edward

Pincus' Guide to Filmmaking;39 Kenneth Roberts and Win

Sharpies' A Primer for Filmmaking; ^

and Leo Trachtenberg's

The Sponsor's Guide to Filmmaking.

The "shot notebook" was so arranged that each shot

2nd ed.

Ralph Stevenson and J. R. Debrix, The Cinema as A r t ,

(Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1976).

Roy Huss and Norman Silverstein, The Film

Experience: Elements of Motion Picture Art (New~York: Dell
Publishing Company, 1968).
37stanley J- Solomon, The Film Idea (New York:
Harcourt, Brace, JovanovichT Inc., I3T2T38Lewis Jacobs, The Movies As Medium (New York:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc., 1970).
^^Edward Pincus, Guide to Filmmaking (New York: New
American Library, 1972T"!
^ K e n n e t h H. Roberts and Win Sharpies, Jr., A Primer
for Film-making: A Complete Guide to 16mm and 35mm Film
Production (Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-MerrilT Co., Inc.,
1982) .

was given a cover page with the script's description of it
(see Appendix B ) .

Three separate pre-printed forms

followed, one for each stage of filmmaking.

At the pre-shooting stage, the filmmaker noted his
plans for the techniques, strategies, and intended effect
essentially his reasons for choosing the specific tech
niques he proposed.

For example, the filmmaker reviewed

the shooting script a number of times, deciding on new or

changing existing techniques for individual shots.
At the shooting stage, the filmmaker returned to the
"shot notebook" and the pre-printed form to record what he
actually did and why he made such modifications as he did.
He recorded the problems that developed in transforming his
ideas into the photography and recording of sound for the

This permitted him to compare the changes from one

stage to the next when later analyzed.

At the post-shooting stage of filmmaking for example,
in the laboratory work the researcher again returned to
the "shot notebook" and recorded new ideas that could be
employed as well as revisions of already existing
Subproblem 4 ;

To describe and analyze the critical

choices employed in the filmmaking
process to dissociate the film from the
illusion of reality.

The analysis of the creative process involved a

comparison of the techniques, strategies, decisions,

intentions and the changes in these techniques, strategies,
decisions, and intentions at the various stages of the
filmmaking process:

pre-shooting, shooting, post-shooting.

The "shot notebook" was the chief source and record in

comparing the filmmaker's process at the various stages of

Arranged as the notebook was in terms of the

cinematic techniques and the three stages of filmmaking,

the analysis was structured in terms of these techniques
and stages.
The analysis was divided into three steps:

"vertical analysis, a "horizontal" analysis, and synthesis.


The first step was a "vertical" analysis of each

and every shot that is, an analysis which traced each

cinematic technique through the three stages of the
filmmaking process.

The researcher chose to focus on

outstanding techniques from the three stages of any given


He did this in the shot order of the finished film.

This chronological scanning permitted the researcher to

relate the various techniques of one shot to the techniques
of surrounding shots.
Significant cinematic techniques were addressed with
such questions as the following:

What was the specific cinematic technique or

group of techniques used by the filmmaker to
dissociate the film from reality and to
achieve an intended effect?


How was the technique used by the filmmaker to

dissociate the film from the illusion of


What problems, if any, did the filmmaker

encounter in the use of the technique from the
pre-shooting to the post-shooting stages?


What changes/strategies in the use of the

technique were required to solve these
problems from the pre-shooting to the post
shooting stages?


What effect did the use of the technique have

upon other techniques in the given shot or
series of shots?


What did the filmmaker perceive as the

relative success or failure of the technique
in the fulfillment of his intentions?

Each of these questions was answered for every

important technique or group of techniques used to achieve
a specific effect in a shot.
While the vertical analysis was carried out for every
shot in the film and for every critical cinematic technique
employed, it is not completely presented in Chapter III due
to its repetitive and highly technical nature.


the researcher combined selected portions of the vertical

analysis with the horizontal analysis (see synthesis

section below).

It should be noted that the vertical

analysis was a necessary preliminary step to performing the

horizontal analysis (see below).

The second step of analysis was a "horizontal"

analysis which viewed each cinematic technique across a

number of shots rather than within a given shot in the

Every cinematic technique that was employed to

dissociate the film from the illusion of reality was listed

in alphabetical order.

The researcher then noted the

numerous individual shots which employed each technique.

The horizontal analysis involved the search for patterns or
generalizations among the answers to the questions posed in
the vertical analysis (see above) for each repeating

For example, if all instances of the use of

key lighting were examined, such similarities or patterns

as the following might have been found:

Similar problems in using the technique to

dissociate the film from reality


Similar strategies/creative decisions to

effect the desired dissociation


Similar effects upon other techniques and upon

the filmmaker's intentions.


The third step of analysis was a "synthesis" in

which the findings of the vertical analysis were merged

with those of the horizontal analysis.

Each technique

employed by the filmmaker was treated in the order of the
list of cinematic techniques in Appendix E.

It will be

recalled that these techniques were grouped into three

major categories and into various subcategories.

The three

major categories were as follows:


Image: Techniques which altered the quality

of the photography without relying on any
facet of motion to accomplish their effect.



Techniques which altered any motion

on the screen.

Sound: Techniques which altered any sonic

aspect of the film.

This system made possible the comparison of similar

techniques with one another.
It should be noted that the synthesis section trans
lated into the actual description and analysis presented in
narrative form in Chapter III.

From the creative process

decisions of the vertical analysis and the patterns or

generalizations arrived at in horizontal analysis, the
researcher was able to focus on the more prominent and

strategies and effects.

was throughthis synthesis that

Moreover, it

the researcher arrived at

his six general effects discussed at the outset of

Chapter III.
The synthesis also provided the necessary preliminary

information to fulfill the requirements of Subproblem 5
(see below).
Subproblem 5 :

To adapt the findings of Subproblem 4

into a glossary of cinematic techniques
for use by future filmmakers,
educators, and responders.

Prom the specific findings of the synthesis section of

Subproblem 4, the researcher was able to reach general
findings as to how each technique could be employed to
dissociate any film from the illusion of reality.
Originally conceived as a handbook, the specific nature of
the findings was felt to resemble a glossary of dissocia
tive cinematic techniques rather than a working or "how to"
guide for filmmaking.

Essentially, this task was one in

which all references to the particular film created for

this dissertation were eliminated.

The conclusions reached

in this section must be interpreted with extreme caution

because a particular cinematic technique does not have a
discrete meaning or produce an intended effect in isolation
from a battery of other techniques.
p. 210.)

(See Conclusions,

Moreover, a given technique does not acquire

meaning or effect in isolation from a given film.


theless, certain generalizations and inferences could be

conjectured on the basis of the filmmaker/researcher's
experience in this particular study.
The cinematic techniques were organized in the
glossary in alphabetical order for easy referencing by the


Each technique included a brief definition, a

brief discussion of how it could be employed by a filmmaker

to dissociate a film from reality, and, where applicable,
its relationship to, and specifically dissociative effects
on, other techniques.
The glossary of cinematic techniques is presented in
Chapter IV.

Film is not the only medium of communication dis
covered during the century spanning approximately 18301930.

The list of communicative media discovered during

this period is long, and includes the still photograph, the

record player, telephone, radio, telegraph, and the

All these media, to use Marshall McLuhan's

term, are extensions of man's communicative nature and

attempt to replicate reality so that the respondent can
clearly understand what is being communicated.

The chief

objective of these media was at least originally to render

reality in the most realistic way possible.

It may, in

fact, be that the later of these media came into being

precisely because of their greater ability to reproduce

For example, the telephone superseded the tele

graph's interpersonal function because it was more

realistic in its presentation of speech.

Lithography was

an excellent medium for mass presentation of images, but

was superseded by other media which mass produced images
closer to our natural perception of reality.
Almost all film theorists acknowledge that film, too,

attempts to reproduce reality and that film achieves this
end perhaps more precisely than any other art form.
However, to early theorists, this is less of an advantage
than a disadvantage.

These theorists fight against the

insistent notion that film is a novel mechanical recording

device, and challenge the predominant view that cinema
tography is merely a scientifically based and engineered
invention that does nothing but form realistic-looking
pictures of the natural world.

Such theorists, from Vachel

Lindsay to Christian Metz, stress the differences between

film as a mechanical and automatic visual recording device
and film as an art form in its own right.

While film does

present a new astounding illusion of reality, it is also an

expressive medium, as creatively potent as any of the other
traditional arts but with an aesthetic all its own.


the majority of film theorists discussed in this chapter

present the differences between film and reality with the
purpose of elevating film to the status of an art form.
For practical purposes, the researcher will consider
such selected major English-language film theorists as
Lindsay and Metz chronologically.

However, in the summary

to this chapter, he will treat these theorists more

generally, outlining their broad positions with respect to
various groupings and categories.
The American poet Vachel Lindsay wrote the first major

work on the theory of film.
aesthetic picture writing.

He views cinema as a type of

Reality is only the raw

material used in the creation of these images.

Film depicts the real world; it forms a type of
"metaphoric window."^"

But this viewing of the world is

artistically controlled to form an emotive effect.


imitative "window-like" images of the medium are employed

to create a "metaphoric" impression.

These abstractive or

metaphoric-like concepts are the basis of the viewer's

affective response.

For example, Lindsay notes how, by

picking and choosing the particular images in the editing

process, the filmmaker raises his art from the simple
mimetic to the more complex arena of aesthetics.^
Film's ability to tell a story links it to the
narrative arts as well as to the graphic ones.


implies that film uses a unique type of language-system.

Lindsay propounds that the " . . .

invention of photography

is as great a step as was the beginning of picture writing

in the stone age."^
The analogy between film and language will become
familiar in this theoretical overview, and is later adopted

R a c h e l Lindsay, The Art of the Moving Picture (New

York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1970), 48.
^Lindsay 269.
^Lindsay 199.

by such theorists as Lev Kuleshov, Sergei Eisenstein, Peter
Wollen, and Christian Metz.

Filin's connection to reality

implies the ability to comprehend cinema that is beyond the

ordinary perception of reality.

According to Lindsay, film

does not merely create an accurate illusion of nature but

transforms it into an aesthetic expression independent of
the real world.
As Lindsay sees it, an audience, aware of these
independent aspects of the medium, discovers that film has
an aesthetic nature which establishes it as a new
expressive art form:
The more fastidious photoplay audience that uses
the hieroglyphic hypothesis in analyzing the film
before it, will acquire a new tolerance and
understanding of the avalanche of photoplay
conceptions. . . .4
Let us hope that our new picture-alphabets can
take on richness and significance, as time goes
on, without losing their literal values.5
Lindsay sees film as an aesthetic medium that at times
can be compared to a pre-defined coding system.


photoplay is art with all the richness and depth that is

inherent in any art form.

The chosen images of a film form

a "vocabulary" or a window of metaphors which create

meaning and affect from the original images:

4Lindsay 209.
Lindsay 211.

It transforms

those images into a new cinematographic message.
The Photoplay; A Psychological Study by Hugo
Miinsterberg a well-known psychologist and scholar offers
a remarkably cohesive theory of film, especially consider
ing the time it was published, namely 1916. Like Lindsay,
Munsterberg asserts that reality is only the raw material
with which the artist starts.

From here, the connection

between reality and film lessens, for the filmmaker can

create endless new imaginative images and "adjust events"^
to suit his aesthetic ends.

The viewer is brought into or

faced with a totally new world with a fantasy and reality

all its own.

In short, the filmmaker can recreate and

rearrange reality with the freedom only found in the mind.

In the photoplay our imagination is projected on
the screen. . . . In short, it can act as our
imagination acts.
It has the mobility of our
ideas which are not controlled by the physical
necessity of outer events but by the psychologi
cal laws for the association of ideas. In our
mind past and future become intertwined with the
The photoplay obeys the laws of the
mind rather than those of the outer world.8
Film does have a link to reality, but this connection
is only the beginning of the artistic process:

Hugo Munsterberg, The Film: A Psychological Study

(published in 1916 as The photoplay: ^Psychological Study;
New York: Dover Pub1ications, Inc., 1970).
^Munsterberg 74.
^Munsterberg 41.

A work of art may and must start from something
which awakens in us the interests of reality and
which contains traits of reality, and to that
extent it cannot avoid some imitation.
But it
becomes art just in so far as it overcomes
reality, stops imitating and leaves the imitated
reality behind it.^
Thus, Mtlnsterberg offers his view that film is much
more than a mechanical invention which creates facsimiles
of reality.

In fact, Mfinsterberg questions just how real

that illusion is, demonstrating that film inherently alters

reality even in its mechanical reproduction.

The pivotal

arguments on which Mtlnsterberg rests his case are

psychological premises that were new to their day and are
still enveloped in controversy.

They encompass how we

perceive movement, space, and temporality in the cinema.

The first psychological property, concerning movement,
and today called the "phi-phenomena," involves the way in
which we see the motion in motion pictures.

Most believe

that we perceive moving images because of the phenomenon

of "persistence of vision."

In other words, the motion

picture "fools" our eyes because they cannot see the

momentary blackness on the screen while one frame replaces

It is this defect of our visual perception which

creates the illusion of motion.

In opposition to the

prevalent view, Munsterberg proposed an explanation that we

9MGnsterberg 62.

are participating in a mental act rather than an optical
i l l u s i o n . a s Dudley Andrew


"This single, basic

mental capability was enough to let Munsterberg conceive of

the entire cinematic process as a mental process.
for him, is the art of the mind.


. . ." H

The second psychological property that Munsterberg

addresses is the perception of space and depth.


he observes that in reality we see three-dimensional space

and depth whereas in cinema, we look at a two-dimensional

But Munsterberg holds that when the viewer watches

a film he does perceive space and depth, although that

perception comes from different factors than the real
. . . flatness is an objective part of technical
physical arrangements, but not a feature of that
which we really see in the performance of the
photoplay. We are there in the midst of a threedimensional world. . . .!2
The viewer knows he is not seeing real depth but he
willingly suspends his disbelief in a two-dimensional
imitation in order to imagine a three-dimensional world.
The theorist pointedly observed that in film we "have
reality with all its true dimensions; and yet it keeps the

^Munsterberg 29-30.
H j . Dudley Andrew, The Major Film Theories: An Intro
duction {New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 18.
l2MGnsterberg 22.

fleeting, passing surface suggestion without true depth and
fullness. . . ."13
Munsterberg identifies the third and last psychologi
cal property of cinema as involving an illusionary mental
process of filmic temporality manifested, for the most
part, in editing techniques.

The ability of a viewer to

accept, understand, and be affected by a series of differ

ent moving images indicated to the theorist that indeed
some complex mental process is involved.

Sometimes, shots

of seemingly discontinuous actions can be shown following

one another; yet, in a competently constructed film,
audiences will connect them and perceive meaning.
The objective world is molded by the interests of
the mind. Events which are far distant from one
another so that we could not be physically
present at all of them at the same time are
fusing in our field of vision, just as they are
brought together in our own consciousness.14
For Munsterberg, the imitation invites the recreation
of the illusion.

He viewed the possibility of creating a

more technically realistic cinema with disapproval:


limitations of an art are in reality its strength and to

overstep its boundaries [i.e., create greater realism]

13Mlinsterberg 24.
^Munsterberg 46.

means to weaken i t . " ^

By the alteration and subsequent

perception of the impression, the spectator is not viewing

reality by its own laws, but rather is perceiving more
abstract impressions and concepts through an artistic
medium with a unique independent structure of its own.
Lev Kuleshov, a Russian theorist in the 1920's, is
renowned for his experimentation with the principles of
montage. 16

For Kuleshov, the camera accurately records the

real world:
. . . the material of cinema must unconditionally
be realistic: realistically existing and
realistically arranged subjects. . .
"Stagey" or stylized acting very much a part of that era's
films have no place in the cinematic repertoire.
The original camera shots are, for Kuleshov,
imitations of reality and are the basic unit of film.


the editing or montage makes the shots malleable elements

in the recreation of a new and different filmic reality or

* 15

Munsterberg 89. The concept that the deficiencies

or limitation of the cinematic image create its art will be
expanded into an entire theory by Rudolf Arnheim; his
concept is termed the "Partial Illusion."
(See p. 45.)
^European usage of "editing" and "montage" essen
tially considers them to be synonymous.
It should be noted,
however, that Eisenstein later drew attention to the larger
implications of the term "montage."
(See definition of
"montage" in glossary, 191.)
L e v Kuleshov, Kuleshov on Film, trans. Ronald Levaco
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 59.

. . . we came to understand that the basic strength

of cinema lies in montage, because with montage
it becomes possible both to break down and to
reconstruct, and ultimately to remake the
Striving for an acceptable analogy, Kuleshov, like
Lindsay, equates the various juxtapositions of different
shots to the organization of language:
The shot is
change from
used by the
work of the
It must

a sign, a letter for montage. Any

a normal point of view ought to be
director with an awareness of the
shot as a sign.19

be noted, however, that Kuleshov thinks that any

of cinematic language more closely resembles picture-

writing such as the Chinese ideogram than alphabetic

Kuleshov sees this manipulation or recreation of the
original imitative shots as the primary aesthetic of film.
He terms

this process "creative geography."20

moreshots are edited

together, " . . .

when two or

the viewer himself

will complete the sequence and see that which is suggested

to him by montage. "2^
But this illusion of reality does reflect the real
world; film is not independent of its basis in nature.

Kuleshov 52.
IKuleshov 80.
2Kuleshov 5.
2lKuleshov 54.

Whereas Lindsay and Munsterberg look upon film as beginning
with an imitative illusion and transforming it into an
independently expressive aesthetic illusion, Kuleshov sees
film's link with reality as constant.

Film, no matter how

manipulated or altered, must

retain its connection to

reality, for this connection

is one of its primary

attributes or elements:
The problem of art is to reflect reality, to
illuminate this reality with a particular idea,
to prove something; . . . and one knows how to go
about it, that is,
how to organize the material
of the art form.22
The theorist feels that film accomplishes this aesthetic
goal more completely than any other art form, especially by
way of its reorganization of reality through editing.
Vsevold Illarionovich Pudovkin reaches substantive
conclusions as to film's connection to reality.

A student

of Lev Kuleshov, his theoretical stance resembles that of

his teacher.

Pudovkin views editing or montage as the

essence of cinematic expression.

Pudovkin, like Kuleshov, begins by viewing film's "raw
material" as reality or, more specifically, photographed

The filmmaker's task is to subjectivize that

imitation for his own artistic purpose.

The author states

that "to show something as everyone sees it is to have

22Kuleshov 188.

accomplished nothing."23

Pudovkin stresses cinema's

dissimilarity to the real world:

"Between the natural

event and its appearance upon the screen, there is a marked


It is exactly this difference that makes the

film an art.1,24
The illusion becomes different from its origin through
the process of editing, in order to form an expressive

For example, the filmmaker selects or edits

particular views of reality:

By elimination of the points of interval the
director endows the spectator with the energy
preserved, he charges him, and thus the appear
ance assembled from a series of significant
details is stronger in force of expression from
the screen than is the appearance in a c t u a l i t y . 25
Creating the illusion begins before the editing stage.
The camera uses techniques which alter the imitation.
Pudovkin notes how certain techniques fundamentally change
even the shot's illusion of reality.

For example, space is

altered by the lens:

[The camera] . . . view-angle is equal roughly to
45 degrees and, here already the director begins

23vsevold Illarionovich Pudovkin, Film Technique and

Film Acting, trans. Ivor Montagu (New York:
Grove Press,
Inc., 1970f, 91.
24pudovkin 86.
25pudovkin 94.

to leave behind the normal apprehension of real
The angle in which the lens is placed before the subject
further manipulates reality in order to create meaning:
. . . set-up determines the expressiveness of the
future image. . . . The selection of the camera
set-up can intensify the expression of the image
shot in many directions.27
Time can also be altered in the camera's recording

The speed of the camera forms new aesthetic

It is necessary to be able to exploit every
possible speed of the camera, from the very
highest, yielding on the screen exceptional
slowness of movement, to the very least,
resulting . . . in an incredible swiftness.
Sometimes a very slight . . . walk of a human
being endows it with a weight and significance
that could never be rendered by acting.28
Images, once photographed, are ready to be edited.
Here, just as with Kuleshov, Pudovkin sees that montage
allows for creative alteration that makes film an art.
. . . editing is the creative force of filmic
reality, and . . . nature provides only the raw
material with which it works. That, precisely,
is the relationship between reality and the
The different shots of reality, already made

^Pudovkin 149.
2^Pudovkin 153-154.
2Pudovkin 179.
29pudovkin 26.

significant through camera techniques, now exist as a
"dissection into parts or e l e m e n t s . P u d o v k i n believes
that here, in the assemblage, those shots will cease all
relation to the mimetic role they once had with reality.
Like language, the parts form a new whole that can take on
entirely new meanings:
Just as in living speech, so, one may say, in
editing: there is a word the piece of exposed
film, the image; a phrase the combination of
these pieces. Only by his editing methods can
one judge a director's individuality. Just as
each writer has his own individual style, so each
film director has his own individual method of
Editing alone expressively alters both the spatial and
temporal aspects of the original imitative representation.-*2
Writing in the 1920's, Pudovkin was also aware of a
new dimension of cinema, namely sound.

The addition of

sound and more specifically, synchronous sound would seem

to add to the realism of film.

But Pudovkin argues that

sound can be recreated and altered to create aesthetic

effect unlike normal apprehension.
. . . sound is . . . much more significant than a
slavish imitation of naturalism on these lines;
the first function of sound is to augment the
potential expressiveness of the film's content.3*

3Pudovkin 94.
-**-Pudovkin 100.
32Pudovkin 87-88.
3 3Pudovkin 183-184.

This augmentation can take on any form that furthers the
filmmaker's artistic aims.

Sound offers new dimensions of

expressiveness and, far from creating a more realistic

medium per s e , sound film opens new vistas in expressive
. .. the medium of sound film allows us to build a
counterpoint, and I maintain that only by such
counterpoint can primitive naturalism be
suppressed and the rich deep of meaning potential
in sound film creatively handled be discovered
and plumbed.34
For Pudovkin, these aspects of film change the
imitative illusion into ". . . a new reality proper only to
itself . . ."35

Unlike Kuleshov, Pudovkin believed that

reality's relationship to film is so negligible that, in

the end, cinema must be considered almost independent of

He often reaffirms the belief that from the imitative

raw material of reality, film becomes an expressive art

form able to reach the very height of human esthesia.
It is a brief footnote in history, yet it is notable
that Sergei Eisenstein briefly studied under Kuleshov.
Unlike Pudovkin, who extrapolated upon his teacher's
theories, Eisenstein adopted Kuleshov's main theoretical
stance that editing is of supreme import in making film an
art but he theoretically as well as critically diverged

*4Pudovkin 19 3.
35Pudovkin 90.

from Kuleshov's emphasis.
Film captures the illusion of reality in the shot;
editing is a primary means of expressively altering or
recreating that imitative aspect:
Primo: photo-fragments of nature are recorded;
Secundo: these fragments are combined in various
ways. Thus, the shot (or frame), and thus,
From this established theoretical stance, Eisenstein
is able to expand the notion of montage into the shot
within itself:
Conflict within the shot is potential montage,
in the development of its intensity shattering
the quadrilateral cage of the shot and exploding
its conflict into montage impulses between the
montage pieces. As, in a zigzag of mimicry, the
mise-en-sc&ne splashes out into a spatial zigzag
with the same shattering.37
Eisenstein accepts the inherent imitation in photo
graphed reality.

The shot certainly has a connection to

the real world, but this connection can be altered.

Whereas Kuleshov and Pudovkin see the individually
photographed shot as concretely linked to natural reality
not to be distorted or dissociated, Eisenstein sees it as a
transformable illusion.
Close-ups, moving camera shots, absolute
dimensional variation of figures and objects on

36sergei Eisenstein, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory,

trans. Jay Leyda (New York: Harcourt,' Brace and World,
Inc., 1949), 3.
37Eisenstein, Film Form, 38.

the screen, and the other elements concerned with
montage, are far more fundamentally bound up with
the expressive means of cinema and cinema
perception than is involved in the task of merely
facilitating the view of a face, or the "getting
over of a thought." . . .38
Although the cinematic illusion to some extent imitates
reality, it is expressive according to Eisenstein.


creative freedom that is accepted in the editing, a given

among the

Russian School, must be realized in the

composition of the shot.



Eisenstein expands the

principle of montage into the actual construction of the

Film, to Eisenstein, has an aesthetic expression
unique among the arts:

Cinema has "its own language,

its own speech, its own vocabulary, its own imagery. . . .

The new period of cinema attacks the question from within
along the line of the methodology of purely cinematographic
Every aspect of film is expressive artistically.


example, the role of the actor is malleable and, in its

effect, is metaphorically akin to montage.
We see this [acting] as not in the least
different in principle from the montage process
in film: here is the same sharp concretization
of the theme being made perceptible through

38sergei Eisenstein, Film Essays and a Lecture, trans.

Jay Leyda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 65.
39 Eisenstein, Film Essays and a Lecture, 33.

determining details, the resulting effect of the
juxtaposition of the details being the evocation
of the feeling itself.40
In photography, expressiveness develops the aesthetic
effect desired by the director.

Eisenstein believed that

the camera, far from being a mechanically reproductive

machine, was a creative instrument.
This imagist treatment of representations is the
most important task the cameraman has; in
fulfilling it, he permeates all the minutest
details of the plastic solution of the film with
the theme and his attitude to the theme.41
The introduction of color film seems to move toward greater
cinematic realism.

But instead of welcoming the intro

duction of color film as increasing and almost insuring the

realistic illusion (as do his mimetic-oriented contempor
aries) , Eisenstein views color's expressive potential:
We want this new [color] screen to show us
colours in organic unity with the image and
theme, the content and the drama, the action and
the music. Together with these, colour will be a
potent means of film impressiveness and film
The physical editing of expressive shots creates new
aesthetic possibilities.

4Sergei Eisenstein, The Film Sense, trans. Jay Leyda

(New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1975), 44.
4^Sergei Eisenstein, Notes of a Film Director, trans.
X. Danko, ed. R. Yurenez (New York: Dover Publications,
Inc., 1970), 148.
42Eisenstein, Notes of a Film Director, 118-119.

. . . the juxtaposition of two separate shots by
splicing them together resembles not so much a
simple sum of one shot plus another shot as it
does a creation.43
Sound was a new technological development that seemed to
give greater realism to the cinema, but Eisenstein sees it
as a much more expressive element.
. . . co-ordination is far beyond that external
synchronization that matches the boot with its
creaking we are speaking of a "hidden" inner
synchronization in which the plastic and tonal
elements will find complete f u s i o n . 44
Music interested Eisenstein more than any other acoustical
element, and he immersed himself in the formal properties
that could weld music to the image:
In matching music with the sequence, this general
sensation is a decisive factor, for it is
directly linked with the imagery perception of
the music as well as of the pictures.
requires constant corrections and adjustments of
the individual features to preserve the important
general effect.45
It is clear that through every aspect and element of
cinema, there is enormous opportunity to alter, recreate,
and permeate the medium with expressivity.

The illusion

created is aesthetically independent of the natural world.

The particular film an artist is working on dictates how
close the illusion of reality becomes:

43Eisenstein, The Film Sense, 7.

44Eisenstein, The Film Sense, 82.
45Eisenstein, The Film Sense, 78.

The results fluctuate from exact naturalistic
combinations of visual, interrelated experiences
to complete alterations, arrangements unforeseen
by nature, and even to abstract formalism, with
remnants of reality.46
To Eisenstein, then, film's link with reality is only
that it depends on the photographic origin of its images.
Cinema uses these facsimiles, but its art goes well beyond

Concepts, not physical reality, are the products of

film; film's mode of presentation serves only this end.

Whereas Eisenstein accepts realism's expressive
potential, Rudolf Arnheim ultimately denies realism's
import in the cinema.

Arnheim, a German-born American

writing from the 19 3 0 's, comes to the cinema from

psychology, as did Hugo Miinsterberg.
Arnheim stresses that film is the antithesis of a
gadget that records reality:
. . . the camera as an automatic recording machine
must be made to realize that even in the simplest
photographic reproduction of a perfectly simple
object, a feeling for its nature is required
which is quite beyond any mechanical operation.7
He sets out to establish that, far from being a "carbon
copy" of the natural world, film is intrinsically

While Arnheim acknowledges that film

originated as a mechanically representative instrument, he

4^Eisenstein, Film Form, 3-4.

47Rudolf Arnheim, Film As Art (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1974), 11.

seeks to expose the defects of the realistic illusion.


asserts that these defects or unrealistic aspects of the

medium are what inevitably make film into an art.


Eisenstein accepts that film does have an expressive

relation to reality, Arnheim seeks to emphasize the ways in
which film is different from its mimetic relation to the
natural world.

This stand places Arnheim as perhaps the

cinema's strongest proponent of the abstractive or surreal


For instance, he argues that:

The effect of film is neither absolutely twodimensional nor absolutely three-dimensional, but
something between. . . . The obliteration of the
three-dimensional impression has as a second
result a strong accentuation of perspective
overlapping. . . . The result of all this is
that sizes and shapes do not appear on the screen
in their true proportions but distorted in

Another unreal element of film is the image, which, at that

time, was predominantly black and white:
. . . not only has a multicolored world been trans
muted into a black-and-white world, but in the
process all color values have changed their
relations to one another: similarities present
themselves which do not exist in the natural
world; things have the same color which in
reality stand either in no direct color
connection at all with each other or quite a
different o n e . 4 9
For example, a person's skin can be the same shade of gray

^Arnheim 12-14.
^^Arnheim 15.

as the sky, or black rocks may have the same shade as a
brown tree trunk.
Arnheim's position enables him to accept every
distortion of the imitative photograph as potentially
fruitful artistic ground.

Such techniques as camera speed

and motion,50 editing,51 lighting,52 and the frame itself53

have the ability to transform the mechanical representation
into a purely artistic illusion.
If, Arnheim reasons, film is still considered realis
tic in spite of the multitude of facts contrary to this
notion, there must be some phenomenological explanation.
Arnheim rests his theoretical foundations on a precept
called "Partial Illusion."54
The theorist holds the belief that vision itself does
not produce a recording of reality but rather the sensory
raw material:
This discovery of the gestalt school fitted the
notion that the work of art, too, is not simply
an imitation or selective duplication of reality
but a translation of observed characteristics
into the forms of a given medium.55

50Arnheim 181.
51Arnheim 132-133.
52Arnheim 15-16.
53Arnheim 16-18.
^ A r n h e i m 15.
55Arnheim 3.

Thus we can perceive objects and events [on film]
as living and at the same time imaginary, as real
objects and as simple patterns of light on the
projection screen; and it is this fact that makes
film art possible.56
The image is only referentially related to the natural
world the image being a partial illusion.


believes that the unreal portion of the Partial Illusion is

the area of creative artistry.
Unlike the realists, Arnheim looked upon film's
mimesis as effectively weak enough to allow it to be
artistically manipulated:

for example, unrealistic

perspective can easily be further altered; a subject's

movement through a quasi-real space can be manipulated
through camera speed and yet not seem absurd, etc.


techniques or formal properties permit the partial illusion

to supersede the mimetic.
. . . the possibility of utilizing the differences
between film and real life for the purpose of
making formally significant images was realized.
What had formerly been ignored or simply accepted
was now intelligently developed, displayed, and
made into a tool [i.e., through technique] to
serve the desire for artistic creation.
object as such was no longer the first considera
Its place in importance was taken by the
pictorial representation of its properties, the
making apparent of an inherent idea, and so
It was the partial nature of the cinematic image its

56Arnheim 29.
57Arnheim 42.

preexistent distortion which gave free rein to the film
maker to employ technique to further dissociate the medium
from reality.

The defects of the filmic illusion (two-

dimensionalism, lighting, framing, etc.) that Arnheim had

established were the very facets that made film an art form.
The creative power of the artist can only come
into play where reality and the medium of
representation do not c o i n c i d e . 58
The manipulation and formal alteration of film
relegates its aesthetic message to be independent of the
natural world.

Arnheim, more than any other theorist,

emphasizes that independence.

In later writing, Arnheim

predicted a total detachment from the photographic replica


His radical stance regarding reality's role in this

type of film is apparent:

I would venture to predict that the film will be
able to reach the heights of the other arts only
when it frees itself from the bonds of photo
graphic reproduction and becomes a pure work of
man, namely, as animated cartoon or painting.59
According to Arnheim, the nature of film is clearly

The creation of meaning, by methods other than

through film's mimetic nature, holds for film its only

avenue of an independent aesthetic.

Its eventual aim must

be to completely detach itself from this imitation and

58Arnheim 109-110.
59Arnheim 213.

become autonomous in its aesthetic effect.
Bela Balazs, writing in Paris during the 1930's and
40's, lived in an intellectual milieu that, more or less,
had already accepted film as the Seventh Art; the battle
had been fought.

But against all the theoretical proof

that film communicated its message through the non-mimetic

aspects of its image, there remained one paramount fact:
film creates the fullest impression of the natural world.
Rather than consistently deny this imitative aspect of the
medium, Balazs accepted it.

To deny film's mimetic nature

and fight against photographic illusion was to weaken the

art form:
When a picture is no longer a copy of something
and the image no longer evokes in us a reference
to some object independent of it, which it
represents and which might just as well have been
represented in some other way if thus the
picture appears to have an autonomous existence,
a final reality, to be as it were self-contained,
then it acquires that grotesquely immaterial
lightness which makes even the most terrible
happenings seem entirely harmless.60
The dichotomy between stylization and naturalness
presents Balazs with an ongoing problem of recognizing two
antithetical ends.

Instead of concentrating on these two

polarities as divisive to the aesthetic of film, he

approaches them as being confluent to one another.

But if

Bela Balazs, Theory of the Film: Character and

Growth of a New Art, trans. Edith Bone (New York: Dover
Pub1ications, Inc., 1970), 189.

technique or stylization interferes with the reproductive
qualities of the art form, the aesthetic ramifications are
profoundly negative.
Balazs sees film's primary artistic attribute as
allowing the spectator to perceive reality cinematographically, and hence, as offering the viewer a new aesthetic
perception of reality.

The theoretical emphasis is not,

like the Russians' view, to create a new and different

world no matter how realistic or expressive; rather,
Balazs asserts that we are looking at our actual world in a
new and different manner.

Even Kuleshov, the least

expressively oriented of the Russians, looked at film's

realism as a means of producing conceptual aesthetic

Balazs, on the other hand, welcomes cinema as an

intrinsically reflective art form that makes possible a

unique phenomenological view of the natural world.
All other prior theorists treated photographic
replication as a more tangible and manipulable element of

Balazs, for the first time in film theory, begins to

touch upon a realist theoretical perspective that more

forcefully realizes film's objective, purely mechanical
reproductive tendencies as essential to the filmic

This new perception of reality's import in film

continues throughout the next thirty years and leads

Siegfried Kracauer to the most extreme realistic stance of


the film aesthetic as almost completely linked to

mechanized representation, and this process is the artistic

heart of the medium.
by two factors.

This aesthetic perception is affected

First, the medium changes the way the

viewer experiences reality.

A photograph of a boat differs

from actually seeing the boat; the cinema demands a new

condition of attendance.

This is what Balazs calls

"physiognomies" by which he means that we are looking at

the face of man on the screen.

Second, technique or

stylization contributes to this aesthetic perception.

Stylization affects the way the spectator experiences
cinematic reality.
Every technique has a particular manner of altering
cinematic reality.

But unlike the surrealists, Balazs felt

that technique should enhance, not detract from that


Although stylization can alter or recreate

film's imitation of the real world, realism must permeate

every element of the work.
Balazs stresses, though, that the physiognomies of
objects and of the mise-en-scene are subordinate to the
physiognomy of the actor of man himself; it is the face of
man that intrigues Balazs most.

This cinematographic

"capturing" brings about a new and different relationship

between film and the viewer.

The spectator is psychologi

cally able to "identify" with the characters on the screen:

In the cinema the camera carries the spectator
into the film picture itself. We are seeing
everything from the inside as it were and are
surrounded by the characters of the film. They
need not tell us what they feel, for we see what
they see and see it as they see it. . . .
We walk amid crowds, ride, fly or fall with
the hero and if one character looks into the
other's eyes . . . from the screen, for, our
eyes are in the camera and become identical with
the gaze of the characters. They see with our
eyes. Herein lies the psychological act of
Nothing like this "identification" has ever
occurred as the effect of any other system of art
and it is here that the film manifests its
absolute artistic novelty.61
The cinematic illusion, whatever the extent to which
it is stylized and dissociated from its original photo
graphic imitation, is never entirely independent of its

To drive a wedge between film and reality is to

diminish one of film's greatest attributes.

The techni

cally expressive manipulation of the realistic illusion

distorts and confuses the spectator because it places
technique or style above this natural affinity of the
In the synthesis of objective impression and
subjective interpretation which is the basic
process in every artistic work of creation, style
and stylization undoubtedly come from the
subjective side. For stylization is always a
deviation from authentic, objective r e a l i t y .
Essentially, Balazs feels the narrative film that

^Balazs 48.
62ualazs 272.

"tells a story" with relative realism is the most genuine
form of film.

But Balazs, unlike later realist-oriented

theorists, does not negate the aesthetic importance of

other innovative types and genres of film.

He does,

however, confine the importance of such avant-garde or

experimental films to their ultimate contribution to the
"true" narrative film rather than accepting these films as
genuine works of art in their own right:
. . . because they [i.e., avant garde films] were
extremely productive experimental stages in the
process of artistic form-seeking . . . directors,
while not themselves inclined to make pure-style
avantgardiste films, very often made use of novel
forms evolved by those who did.63
Two theorists, Arnold Hauser and Susanne K. Langer,
are widely known as general art theoreticians.


they are not considered film theorists per se , yet both are
held in wide esteem for their comments and observations
pertinent to the art of film.

Both wrote in the early

1950's, and each contributed his/her own perspective on how

the film forms an experiential presentation that differs
from all other arts.
Arnold Hauser, a social art historian, espouses the
belief that film does have a direct link with reality:
For a film is the more cinematic, the greater the
share extra-human, material facts have in its
description of reality, in other words, the

63Balazs 157.

closer the connection in this description between
man and the world, the personality and the
milieu, the end and the means.4
The modern concept of simultaneity of time and space is
apparent among the arts.

It is film, though, that most

clearly manifests this notion.

The agreement between the technical methods of
the film and the characteristics of the new
concept of time is so complete that one has the
feeling that the time categories of modern art
altogether must have arisen from the spirit of
cinematic form, and one is inclined to consider
the film itself as the stylistically most
representative, though qualitatively perhaps not
the most fertile genre of contemporary a r t . 5
Principally, Hauser credits film with a unique
presentational experience of space and time among the arts,
one that has contributed to the general artistic agnosia
during this century, and one distinct from our own natural
perception of spatio-temporal reality.
. . . as if space and t i m e .in the film were inter
related by being interchangeable, the temporal
relationships acquire an almost spatial character,
just as space acquires a topical interest and
takes on temporal characteristics, in other
words, a certain element of freedom is introduced
into a succession of their moments. . . . In
brief, time here loses, on the one hand, its
uninterrupted continuity, on the other, its
irreversible direction.

4Arnold Hauser, The Social History of A r t , Vol. 4

(New York: Knopf, 1951), 257.
65Hauser 239.
66Hauser 240-241.

Thus, Hauser theorizes that the essence of film is its
temporalization of the spatial and its spatialization of
the temporal; image and time intermix to create an
aesthetically dynamic illusion, independent of reality.
Film's connection with reality is always existent, a
replication photographically tied to its source, but
technique and form rearrange the realistic illusion to
create an essentially expressive effect.
Susanne K. Langer acknowledges that cinema has a
unique photographic link with reality.

She is indebted to

Robert W. Stowers who proposed the view that "photographs,

no matter how posed, cut, or touched up, must seem factual,
or as he called it, 'authentic.'"7

This authenticity,

also noted by Kuleshov and Pudovkin, has great bearing for

Langer calls this authenticity "virtual history,"
i.e., what the viewer sees and hears appears to have really

The viewer is experiencing the occurrences on

Cinema is "actual" in its mode of presentation the

sight of a man walking, even in a flashback, is perceived

as occurring; yet how can the viewer accept this experience
that, when analyzed, is so contrary to the natural world?

67gusanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form (New York:

Scribner, 1953), 411.
Langer 412.

A dream, she states, is a similar experience of "direct
apparition " ^

where the past, present, and future combine

to create a unified experience? and where the "viewerdreamer" is free to move in and out of these time-periods.
Consequently, Langer establishes that the essence of film
is its similarity to the "dream mode," which allows for the
"historic" memory to be experienced as if it were the

Whether that "virtual dream" is a close facsimile

to the natural world or an abstract fantasy is dependent on

the artistic intent still, it is experienced.
One of the primary qualities of a dream, and thus
cinema, is that "the dreamer is always in the center of

This observation by Langer is similar to Balazs

principle of Identification.
Langer is careful with her analogies, and attributes
to film dream-like characteristics shared similarities
that do not equate to tangible aspects of mutual experi

Balazs' Identification and Langers centering

dream-like experience are comprehensively similar until she

introduces the point that the spectator "takes the place of
the dreamer, but in a perfectly objectified dream that is,
he is not in the story.

^ L a n g e r 412.
70Langer 413.

The work is the appearance of a

dream, a unified, continuously passing, significant

Hence, the two theorists diverge when

defining the specifics of this phenomenon.

Balazs feels

the film viewer partakes within the structure of the filmic

experience whereas Langer expresses a more qualified view,
in some ways similar to Arnheim, that, though experiencing
a direct apparition, the viewer is constantly aware of its
objective nature.

In short, he is conscious of the

Arnold Hauser and Susanne Langer recognize a duality
in film, accepting the mimetically based aspirations of the
art as well as its expressive tendencies.

But two major

theorists would strive to press the realist aesthetic to

its logical extreme.
Andre Bazin, a French theorist who wrote during the
1950's, emphasizes films power to capture reality.


prefaces films relation to reality with his recognition of

the medium's photographic nature:
For the first time, between the originating
object and its reproduction there intervenes only
the instrumentality of a nonliving agent [i.e. ,
the camera]. For the first time an image of the
world is formed automatically, without the
creative intervention of man. . . . T h i s
production by automatic means has radically
affected our psychology of the image.
objective nature of photography confers on it a

^ L a n g e r 413.

quality of credibility absent from all other
The unalterable link between cinematic imitation and the
natural world is that they are photographically dependent
upon one another.

A cinematically unreal image is affected

by this photographic condition:

No matter how fuzzy, distorted, or discolored, no
matter how lacking in documentary value the image
may be, it shares, by virtue of the very process
of its becoming, the being of the model of which
it is the reproduction; it is the m o d e l . 73
Bazin viewed film's aesthetic and creative power as


this illusion of reality. Various techniques

either enhance or lessen that reality.

The artist should

have an aesthetic awareness of each technique's individual


Bazin does not condemn technique which alters


Rather, he stresses that its use should be

approached with a degree of caution.

Techniques which

alter reality also alter cinema's primary aesthetic:


rendition of reality.
Photography and the cinema . . . are discoveries
that satisfy, once and for all and in its very
essence, our obsession with r e a l i s m . 74
Whereas such theorists as Munsterberg and Arnheim

7^Andre Bazin, What Is Cinema?, 2 vols., trans. Hugh

Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974),
73sazin 1:14.
74sazin 1:12.

stress the differences between film and reality by way of
asserting film's status as art, Bazin holds that film
should exploit its similarities with reality.

The cinema

tic imitation can be altered or recreated formally; but to

create a schism divorces the illusion from its world and,
hence, runs against the very fiber of film art.


use of cinematic technique, such as the constant stress on

editing, for the deformation of reality in order to create
a more formally filmic work, serves only to deny cinema's
strongest attribute its realism:
Whether an episode is analyzed bit by bit or
presented in its physical entirety cannot surely
remain a matter of indifference, at least in a
work with some pretensions to style.
It would
obviously be absurd to deny that montage has
added considerably to the progress of film
language, but this has happened at the cost of
other values, no less definitely cinematic.75
Referring to another cinematic element, Bazin asks, is
the space in which the film takes place also given equal
credit in this art?

In an art so embedded in realism, this

aspect is more in keeping with its aesthetic nature.


conception of the filmic mise-en-scene is closely associa

ted with a cinematic technique that captures the realist
. . . depth of field is not just a stock in trade of
the cameramen like the use of a series of filters
or of such-and-such a style of lighting, it is a

75Bazin 1:35.

capital gain in the field of direction a
dialectical step forward in the history of film
language. . . .
In addition to affecting the structure of film
language, it also affects the relationships of
the minds of the spectators to the image, and in
consequence it influences the interpretation of
the spectacle.76
Film must not fight against its natural propensity
its affinity with reality:
If the paradox of the cinema is rooted in the
dialectic of concrete and abstract, if cinema is
committed to communicate only by way of what is
real, it becomes all the more important to
discern those elements in filming which confirm
our sense of natural reality and those which
destroy that feeling.77
The abstract or expressive film employs techniques in
order to draw film away from the very quality which makes
it an unquestionably unique art form, an art that fulfills
man's ultimate desire to represent and interpret the
natural world.
Siegfried Kracauer's realist aesthetic is best under
stood when one considers the philosophical premise on which
he rests his film theory, the scope of which is no less
than the state in which twentieth century man finds himself.
Kracauer surmises that man today finds himself in a
fragmentized and spiritually void world.

The scientific

mind reigns as the predominantly accepted mode of thought.

^6Bazin 1:35.
77Bazin 1:110.

This mentality has multiplied the world into units of
scientific analysis and, in doing so, has rendered our
perception of existence as fragmented, depriving us of a
sense of totality in life.

In the process of this depriva

tion, we have lost our connection our homology with

physical reality.
Whereas other theorists have attributed film's link
with reality to the mechanism of cinema, Kracauer's theory
emanates from a philosophically higher plateau.

The cinema

carries with it the weight and responsibility of being the

spiritual vehicle that will redeem physical reality for
Kracauer establishes that the perception of film's
illusion is different from ordinary experience.


theorist equates the cinematic experience with that of the

dream, an observation that is common among theorists and
most strenuously argued by Langer.
other theorists by implication:

Kracauer contrasts with

dream-like experiences,

what other theorists were writing about when they analo

gized dreams with film, are very different from a spiritual
revelation taking place in a mechanically induced

t r a n c e .

The moviegoer is much in the position of a

hypnotized person.
Spellbound by the luminous
^ S i e g f r i e d Kracauer, Theory of Film: The Redemption
of Physical Reality (New York: Oxford University Press,

T555) , 163-166.

rectangle before his eyes which resembles the
glittering object in the hand of a hypnotist
he cannot help succumbing to the suggestions that
invade the blank of his mind.?
This enormous power which Kracauer claims film holds
may be used wisely or deceptively.

His dream metaphor must

reinforce a reality-affirming cinema; only this reaches the

medium's spiritual potency.
Perhaps films look most like dreams when they
overwhelm us with the crude and unnegotiated
presence of natural objects as if the camera had
just now extricated them from the womb of physi
cal existence and as if the umbilical cord
between image and actuality had not yet been
Kracauer, like Balazs and Bazin, asserts that film's
photographic imitation is its a priori quality.


graphy has four affinities which approximate reality:

Photography has an outspoken affinity for
unstaged reality.81Photography tends to stress the fortuitous.82
Photography tends to suggest the

e n d l e s s n e s s .

The medium has an affinity for the indetermi

nate. . . . Photographs . . . transmit raw
material without defining it.84

^Kracauer 160.
8Kracauer 164.



82Kracauer 19.
^Kracauer 19.
84Kracauer 20.


Kracauers view of photography attests to the medium's
primary attribute as one that creates the illusion of
reality, hence, the term "camera-reality."
Cinematic technique, far from manipulating or altering
the illusion, serves to expand and complement the replica
tion of nature.
. . . f i l m not only records physical reality but
reveals otherwise hidden provinces of it,
including such spatial and temporal configura
tions as may be derived from the given data with
the aid of cinematic techniques and devices.85
The essence of cinema is "camera-reality."

" films

may claim aesthetic validity if they build from their basic

properties; like photographs . . . they must record and
reveal physical reality."85

Surreality is an utterly

complete violation of the medium's nature.

In a trance or

dream-like state, where he might accept a fabricated

reality as true, the artist might woo the impaired viewer
down a path of deception.
Parker Tyler proposes an expressive aesthetic theory,
believing that the artist has attained his artistic vision
only when "the world has been totally subjectivized"8^

8^Kracauer 158.
86Kracauer 37.
8?Parker Tyler, The Shadow of an Airplane Climbs the
Empire State Building; A World Theory of Film (Garden City,
NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1573), 269.

[italics deleted for whole quote].

Tyler resumes the same

train of thought which allows Hauser and Langer to accept

film as having the capability of experientially construct
ing a phenomenological universe no matter how realistic or
expressive and the ability to transmit a pure aesthetic

Film is perceived through the senses and yet

dependent on man's cognitive nature.

Everything comes to us through the mind:
brains ceaseless nervous responses.
Thus any
medium showing these responses is basically an
Tyler further emphasizes films audio-visual nature in
creating what Miinsterberg termed pure "mind-forms" that
retain the illusion of reality yet convey an aesthetic
psychological spectable.
This is so because film is situated at the source
of the whole human apparatus of apprehension:
can affect and utilize the major senses, sight
and hearing, into the most satisfying kinaesthetic spectacle of them all.89
His inclination is to view film through the psychology
of aesthetics, calling this the "cosmos" of the screen.
The concept parallels the notion of a work's universe, and
"cosmos" connotes a unique aesthetic universe.

By way of

contrast, Kracauer responded to one of Tyler's early essays

on this very point, as follows:

88Tyier 87.
8^Tyler 68.

"there is no Cosmos on the

screen. "90
Cinematic spatio-temporality, strictly mimetic to
realist-oriented theorists, is for Tyler, completely
subjective within the cosmos of the work.
Space in film . . . is . . . the duration of the
time required for the produced images to repre
sent a limited motion in those physical objects
literally, it is simply the running time of the
film. And film space is not that "out there,"
it is literally the shape of the space in a given
Tyler also believes that cinematic technique can be
employed to alter and manipulate the objective image, but
he does not subscribe to any universal dictum regarding
form's place in cinematic recreation.

Rather than a

school, form is a tool that must always be true to a given

film's unique aesthetic nature:
. . . formalism would be a necessary ingredient of
all considerations of the film and its values,
what it can say, does say, might say.
It could
then be viewed as it has been, not as a "theory"
or "nature," but as a grammar, a rhetoric and
even an aesthetic.92
Tyler accepts film's power to render an imitation of
the natural world.

But whereas the realist theorists

believe this is the key to what makes cinema an autonomous

art form, Tyler sees imitation as one of many artistic

9^Kracauer 266.
91Tyler 183.
92^yier 29.

avenues for the filmmaker to pursue.

But Tyler does not

treat the illusion of reality as the basis of film's

integrity as an art form.

Even in the most imitative of

films, reality is transformed in the service of form and

. . . film most closely resembles the real world, its
ideas may be said to appear in the disguise of
the real world. . . . the arts play a game with
reality in which the rivalry is entirely ritual
or symbolic. . . .93
Thus, Tyler is more closely aligned with Arnheim's or
Langer's psychologically based concept of illusionary
realism than with such so-called structurally oriented
expressionists as the Russian School.

In effect, the

Russians were still viewing this world through the cinema;

Arnheim, Langer, and Tyler saw cinema as constructing a
Virtual or symbolic world.
. . . all this testifies that there is^ another world;
truly, by metaphor, this other world is a shadow
of the physical world but has totally different
laws of behavior. . . .94
Peter Wollen, considered a structuralist, often
merges his ideas with semiology.

Wollen moves further than

Tyler in his emphasis on pure filmic form; he sees film's

formal qualities as more important than its representa
tional nature.

93Tyler 282.
94Tyler 223.

. . . the cinema is a form of representation, but
this is not the same as illusion of "trompe
l ' o e i l . " 9 5

Cinema's primary communicative feature is its own codifica

tion system, intertwined with representation but deriving
its power distinctly from its abstractive structure.
This conceptually based reconstructionalism is
embedded in the origins of the art form.

Wollen is

eclectic in his perspective of film history:

Cinema did not only develop technically out of
the magic lantern, the Daguerreotype, the
phenakistoscope and similar devices its history
of Realism but also out of strip-cartoons, Wild
West shows, automata, pulp novels, barn-storming
melodramas, magic its history of the narrative
and the marvelous. . . . There is no pure cinema,
grounded on a single essence, hermetically
sealed from contamination.96
Wollen's conception of this dualistic inclination of
the art form permits him to accept film's expressive and
abstract as well as its realistic tendencies.

Such accept

ance enables him to perceive film's inherent attraction to

the realists.
. . . the cinema is seen to give world-views in the
literal sense of the term, world-conceptions
which are literally world-pictures. . . . Hence
the immense attraction of the realist aesthetics
for theorists of the cinema.97

95peter Wollen, Readings and Writings: Semiotic

Counter-Strategies {London: Verso Editions, 1982), 91.
9Peter Wollen, Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (Bloom
ington and London: Indiana University Press, 1976), 153.
^7Wollen, Signs and Meaning in the Cinema, 165.

Wollen accepts film's realistic tendency as a formal
attribute of the medium.

The cinematographic aesthetic

transforms this imitation into an illusion that is indepen

dent of the world.

Consequently, film alludes to thought

and feeling beyond the mimetic.

Christian Metz has a theoretical stance which, though
constantly evolving, places him squarely with the more
abstractive or conceptually oriented theoreticians:
We could thus summarize the task of the semiotics
of the filmic fact as follows: to analyze film
texts in order to discover either textual
systems, cinematic codes, or s u b - c o d e s .9 8
Metz views film's illusionistic nature through the eye of a
The cinema as a language system is also the birth
of the cinema as an art, some time [sic] after
the entirely technical invention of the
cinematograph.9 9
The language system directly relates and refers to the
cinema's illusion of reality:
[Films] speak to us with accents of true evidence,
using the argument that "It is so." With ease
they make the kind of statements a linguist would
call fully assertive and which, moreover, are
usually taken at face value. There is a filmic

^Christian Metz, Language and Cinema, trans. Donna

Jean Umiker-Sebeok (The Hague, Paris: Mouton, 1974), 150.
^9Christian Metz, Film Language: A Semiotics of the
Cinema, trans. Michael Taylor (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1974), 56-57.


mode, which is the mode of presence, and to a

great extent it is believable.100
Metz's notion of "believability" can be likened to Langer's
Virtual History and Arnheim's Partial Illusion.


experience the world on film? therefore, we believe in that

world's existence.
The Imaginary Signifier comprehensively pursues the
theoretical amalgamation of semiotics (language structure
specific to the cinema) and Freudian psychoanalysis.


has become more and more engulfed in the subconscious

nature of cinematic perception a perception Langer shared:
We sometimes speak of the illusion of reality in
one or the other, but true illusion belongs to
the dream and to it alone. In the case of the
cinema it is better to limit oneself to the
remarking the existence of a certain impression
of reality.101
The crux of the discussion is that film triggers, or
engulfs the audience in, a psychological and experiential
process involving a response that demands a linguistic code
unique to the cinema.

Metz graphically summarizes his

abstractive theory:
My dream today is to speak of the cinematic dream
in terms of code: the code of this dream.102

lOOfietz, Film Language, 4.

lOlchristian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier: Psycho
analysis and the Cinema, trans. Celxa Britton, Annwyl
Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti (Bloomington,
IN: Indiana University Press, 1977), 10.
102pjetz, The Imaginary Signifier, 6.

Film is not reality itself, of course, but there are
those who believe that it should be "true" to reality.


should faithfully imitate, record, or reproduce reality.

This group, who may be roughly termed the mimetic or
realist-oriented film theorists, includes such writers as
Kracauer, Bazin, and Balazs.

But these realists vary

considerably in the degree to which they embrace the

photographic representation.

Balazs, at one end of the

realist continuum, believes the realistic image can be

transformed or altered slightly for aesthetic effect while
Kracauer accepts such manipulation only if it enhances
rather than detracts from the realistic illusion.


even these mimetic theorists are mimetic by degree.


even a realist-oriented theorist accepts film as a complete

facsimile of reality totally devoid of artistic manipula
Other film theorists, however, believe that film,
while a reality-based medium, should never strictly imitate
or reproduce reality.

This non-mimetic-oriented group

believes the task of the filmmaker is to transform or

recreate reality indeed, to dissociate film from reality.
More importantly, such theorists believe that film is not
art until such transformation of reality occurs.

At one

end of this group lie thoerists like Kuleshov and Pudovkin

who believe that while film is clearly based in reality,
the filmmaker must dissociate film from reality by the
wondrous technical device of montage.

At the other end of

this non-mimetic group are more extreme theorists like

Arnheim who hopes, however wishfully, for a cinema without
a camera; or Metz or Mtinsterberg who, at times, appear to
favor a cinema of pure form or pure idea.
Within this non-mimetic or recreative group, it is
possible to locate various cinematic schools of thought:
abstractionists-conceptualists, expressionists, and
Abstractive theorists, such as Lindsay, Milnsterberg,
Wollen, and Metz, tend to view film's prime communicative
attribute as one that deals with concepts, ideas, or even
pure form.

To tell a story or convey a thought need not,

and ideally should not, be tied to a concrete rendition of

the natural world, thus emulating the phenomenological
norms of realistic perception.

Techniques, in fact, do

alter the realistic illusion by the limitless dictums of

the mind.

The use of such techniques must "disregard" the

representational imitation and transform it to the almost

pure abstractions of "mind-forms" or language that communi
cate universal truths.
The expressionist-oriented theorists, such as Kuleshov,
Pudovkin, Eisenstein, Hauser, Langer, and Tyler, generally

reach the conclusion that cinema's power rests in its
formal or stylistic qualities that are subject to creative
manipulation by the artist.

Expressive theorists stress

film's ability to create feelings and emotionally affect

the viewer.

Film might be intrinsically connected to

reality, but stylistic manipulation by cinematic techniques

could, indeed should, alter the image to express true
Surrealist-oriented theory, as used in this disserta
tion, embraces a philosophy that encourages as much
dissociation from film's photographically representational
image as possible.

Arnheim, the only theorist in this

study who can be classified as a surrealist, believes that

cinema must move as far away from its reliance on the
reflective illusion as possible to become a completely
independent art form, limited not by reality but only by
its own aesthetic nature.

This surreal stance draws the

theorist to the extreme conjecture of anticipating the

eventual elimination of mechanical photography of the
natural world.

The totally surreal universe of the work

allows technique to overcome any conflicts with naturalis

tic illusionism.
Other theorists, such as Balazs, Kracauer, and even
to some extent Kuleshov, accept and propound that film,
more than any other art form, can capture reality, creating

a representational content dissimilar from and far beyond
any other art's realistic capabilities.


film theory stresses the arts close link to the object or

the subject being photographed.

Kracauer's "camera

realism" presupposes that the most realistic medium must

stay within its aesthetic nature by attempting to capture
and portray the real world.

Primarily, film depends on an

aesthetic sense of immediacy and on a view of reality

seemingly not shaped or conditioned by technique.
At the practical level and as specifically related to
this study, it is crucial to discuss these various film
theorists with respect to their views on the use of
cinematic techniques.

Their varying opinions on the role

which reality plays in film lead them to contrasting views

regarding the proper use of the formal and technical
devices of the cinema.

Those mimetically based theorists,

like Kracauer and Bazin, who view film as uniquely linked

to imitative representation because of its dependence on
the photograph, see filmic technique as reinforcing the
realistic illusion.

As Kracauer puts it,

. . . films may claim aesthetic validity if they

build from their basic properties? like photo
graphs, that is, they must record and reveal
physical reality.103
On the other hand, the non-mimetic group whether

^Kracauer 37.

expressionist, abstract, conceptual, or surreal look upon
cinema as a medium able to transform or recreate reality,
and therefore view technical alteration or manipulation of
the photographed representation as enhancing film's power.
As this group sees it, the filmmaker strives with all his
power and at all costs to remain independent from reality.
It should be noted, however, that no theorists, mimetic or
non-mimetic, deny film's inherent link with reality.
Differences in opinion are simply the extent to which they
believe that connection is good or bad, desirable or
Below, the researcher briefly conjectures what the
views of several film theorists representative of various
film theories would be towards the use of cinematic tech

The various theoretical schools differ in their

views of particular techniques and the role of those tech

niques in the cinema.

For instance, the movement special

effect, the dissolve, has been viewed derisively by some

theoreticians who embrace the realist aesthetic.


dissolve brings attention to the manipulation or alteration

of time and space, in other words, to the falseness of the
cinematic illusion.

It tends to lessen the clear,

transparent illusion of reality by its superimposition of

two images.

Bazin strongly opposed any editing technique

that disrupted the impression of seeing reality


a t u r a l l y .

Kracauer stressed film's unstaged nature;

since the dissolve was clearly a staged or artificial

editing technique, he too would reject it.1^
This viewpoint contrasts with the Russian film
theorists Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Eisenstein who fully appre
ciated the expressive quality of all editing techniques,
including the dissolve.

If a shift in time or place was

needed to express a theme more powerfully, a theorist such

as Eisenstein would welcome its use.

The expressive

theorists see no wrong in use of a technique that helps

express a work's feeling or idea; after all, film is
already an illusion rather than true reality.

In fact,

Tyler thought that the technical enhancement of film's

"spectacular" nature was of greater import than techniques
that reinforced realistic illusionism.lO
The abstractive-oriented theorists go one step further
because they believe film's purely visual character trans
mits or has the potential to transmit, pure feelings and

Thus, the dissolve, by its superimposition of

two times and places could form, as Mflnsterberg would

welcome, pure mental concepts, precisely because of its

104Baz^n i:25.

lOSxracauer 19*
106Tyler 68, 282.

deformation of r e a l i t y . M e t z ,

too, in viewing film as a

language, would see the dissolve as a necessary technique

in the vocabulary of the cinema.^-08
Surrealist-oriented theory, embodied most clearly by
Arnheim, would strongly recommend a technique such as a
dissolve for the very reasons that the realists denied its
employment, namely, that it deformed the realistic illusion.
Film's clear and transparent illusion of reality was an
element of the medium which must be altered by such
techniques in order for the work to be considered artistic.
The dissolve technique only illustrates how different
schools of theory would treat differently the employment of
technique in film.

It is, in fact, possible to discrimi

nate the various techniques with respect to various schools

of thought according to their dissociative function.


dissociative techniques as the wide angle lens, shallow

depth of field, filters, off-centered framing, artificial
or "stagey" lighting, almost all special effects, swish
panning, manipulative editing, asynchronous dialogue, voice
over narration, etc. can lend themselves better to altering
the representational illusion in the interest of greater

Consequently, the expressive, abstractive, and

surreal theorists see great use of these techniques in film

107Munsterberg 62.

108Metz, Film Language, 56-57.

On the other hand, normal lenses, deep depth of field,
filters that specifically enhance a realistic image, normal
framing, realistic lighting, steady and unobtrusive track
ing, invisible cutting, synchronous dialogue, and realistic
sound effects are techniques that tend to further a
realistic illusion, and are, thus, embraced more by the

These theorists feel that techniques that

strengthen the illusion of reality are of greater import to

the aesthetic of cinema.
Finally, it should be noted that almost every theorist,
with the possible exception of Kracauer and Bazin, believes
that despite film's basic reality, the filmmaker never
employs technique to simply imitate, record, or reproduce

Rather, he uses the various cinematic forms and

devices to transform reality into art.

This is, of course,

this filmmaker/researcher's own stated intention:


dissociate the film from reality through the manipulation

of technique alone.

Thus, in effect, this chapter on film

theory has established the theoretical rationale for this


The original script of 1A, 2A & 3A was a step-by-step
series of chronological actions, essentially creating a
simple logical narrative:

Isa, a married woman in her

early thirties, attempted to commit suicide first by taking

an overdose of pills, then by slashing her wrist, and
finally and successfully by asphyxiating herself with
carbon monoxide.

(See Treatment synopsis, Appendix A.)

The script was reviewed by a panel of three experts who all

concurred that it was logical and understandable; as a
narrative, it would constitute a realistic drama.
Appendix E.)


In the making of the film, however, the story

was violated by a series of cinematic strategies aimed at

producing a surreal effect.

The goal was not simply to

undercut reality; it was to impose on the narrative,

through technical and formal manipulation, highly charged
symbolic and affective meanings.
Two of the chief affects of the film were, of course,
violence and anxiety.

These were communicated by technical

(surrealistic) manipulation of the film's simple narrative.

For example, the filmmaker chose to include certain sounds

and images that would induce anxiety in the viewer:


off-screen ticking clock; a telephone's incessant ringing;

graphic violence; glamorized display of marital rape;
stilted, ambiguous, and provocative dialogue.
Keeping these aims in mind, the filmmaker formally
dissected the straightforward narrative into fragments of
action that would be related in theme but incomprehensible
as a cohesive story.
There were six major effects that dissociated the film
1A, 2A &3A from the illusion of reality:
The effect of causing the viewer to resist literal
involvement with the actors1 performance in the narrative:
The actors were made to perform in a stylized and
unrealistic manner.

Subject movement was rendered to be

more dance-like than natural.

Filmic techniques were often

employed in such a way as to distort subject motion to

serve surrealistic ends.

For example, an unorthodox camera

movement might dictate an unnatural, in fact preposterous,

blocking of subject action.

The overconscious panning of

the camera in shot 28 was a clear example of this method.

Here, instead of the expected way of the camera following
the subject's movements, the camera's movement preceded the

It was evident that the character followed an

obviously pre-planned and carefully blocked series of

actions rather than actually participating in the drama.
This lack of spontaneity, so opposite Kracauer's sense of

"fortuitousness," imbued the actions with stylistic
artificiality that detracted from involvement with the
narrative story-line.
The effect of inducing surreal interpretation of the
mise-en-scene or props;

Essentially, this effect was

exemplified by the film becoming increasingly more

theatrical or artificial.

For example, as the film

progressed, more colored lighting was employed, rendering

the actual mise-en-scene unnatural.

The living room set

was altered to resemble a medieval castle rather than a

present-day home.

In the garage sequence (shots 88-114) at

the end of the film, a smoke machine created an unreal

automobile exhaust throughout the environment.


emulating the gas from the car, it was so overdone that its
purpose was obviously one of pure artifice.
The effect of distraction through manipulation of
photographic, editorial, and sound techniques:

In this

effect, small details were magnified by insert shots,

camera and subject angles, extraneous sound effects, etc.
For example, in shot number 110, all three elements were

With respect to camera manipulation, David

appeared to find his wife Isa dead in the car.

Instead of

focusing on his facial expression, the camera concentrated

on his left hand, the minor detail revealing that he did
not wear a wedding ring.

The shot was edited in such a way

that it extended well beyond its narrative function, so as

to draw attention to itself.

Sound, too, emphasized this

minor detail by the unnaturally loud noise of the ringless

hand hitting the side of the car.

Consequently, an

apparently superfluous detail to the story became unduly

important? this helped distract the viewer from normal
interpretation of the narrative.
The effect of creating a consistently ulterior motive
to all actions to deny the literal narrative;

Actions in

the film were not what they appeared to be? there seemed to
be a presupposed motivation for every movement, every
manipulation of the image, and each sound that was heard.
An example of this occurred in shots 53-56 where Isa looked
at David while on the telephone.

This action was given

greater import by having Isa herself hear another telephone

(an unnatural sound itself).

This surreal off-screen sound

effect was purposely inserted in order to carry the actress

to another telephone extension where she could act out her
deranged state by simultaneously collapsing and knocking
the phone off the hook without ever answering it.


this "off-hook" signal was, in turn, employed as part of

the film's music.

Such technical manipulations were

intended to make an otherwise plausible drama implausible.

The effect of beautifying an apparently tragic subject

Techniques were consistently employed to alter the

somber and tragic images in order to render them more

aesthetically pleasing.

Such "beautification" obviously

created a conflict between the subject matter and its

method of depiction, and, hence, violated expectations.
Shot 22 provided a concrete example.

While Isa took an

almost fatal dose of medication, the camera showed a

glamorous image radiating a bright silhouetted light.
Another example occurred in shot 61.

David's rape of Isa

employed lighting, lensed effects, camera motion, and other

techniques to create a beautiful image more appropriate for
a romantic love scene.
The effect of confusing the viewer by the destruction
of filmic transitions:

In this effect, the filmmaker

violated the almost sacred filmic convention of invisible

or transparent editing.

Other techniques were used in

tandem with this violation of invisible cutting to destroy

the continuity between one shot and another.

Such tech

niques as filters, angle of view, sound effects, and

special effects were used to enhance this end.

A radical

switch in camera angle did just this between shots 10 and


The first shot, a long shot, depicted Isa picking up a

micro television set.


The following shot continued the

However, this extreme close-up was shot from an

altogether different angle with the end result being a

confusion of the direction of the movement.

Such distor

tion violated the universe of the work and, in turn,

demanded from the viewer a consistently changing suspension
of disbelief.
These six major effects and a number of other
strategies for dissociating the film from the illusion of
realism were carried out by specific cinematic techniques.
These techniques will be treated below under the broad

Image, Movement, and Sound.

Under each heading,

techniques will be discussed in the order of their appear

ance on the "List of Cinematic Techniques" found in
Appendix 0.
The filmmaker found that photographic replication was
perhaps film's primary way of creating an illusion of

Following the lead of such theorists as Mtinster-

berg and Arnheim who have noted the inherent flaws of this
illusion, the filmmaker's first strategy was to emphasize
these flaws in his dissociation of the film from reality.
Thus, throughout the making of the film, perspective was
distorted, unusual angles were chosen, and unrealistic
lighting was employed to render the image into expressive
shapes or painterly and unnatural forms.

For example, in

shot 34, the character of David was depicted with little

detail in his facial region by the careful use of back and
side lighting.

As shooting progressed, the filmmaker took

more and more liberties in dissociating the image from


By the film's end, the filmmaker found himself

creating totally artificial lighting, special effects which

decomposed the photography, and camera and subject place
ment which were obviously contrived.
Filmstock as Affecting the Image
Manipulation of filmstock permitted the filmmaker to
alter the actual material rendering the image.
Type of Filmstock
Instead of switching back and forth between different
filmstocks, the filmmaker decided to choose one particular
filmstock which best served his surreal aims.
major decision in pre-shooting.

This was a

Two types of stock were

color and black-and-white.

Color was

predominantly used because it was felt that the wider

spectrum of color offered a greater variety of surreal
techniques to the filmmaker; however, black-and-white was
also employed.
The filmmaker found that choice of filmstock affected
most later strategies.

By being able to alter not only the

shades of gray but also the multitude of colors, he was

able to create greater detachment from the imitative

For example, the use of color filmstock allowed

the filmmaker to employ several red props such as a painted

red lampshade, a blood-stained nightgown, and red-colored


This alteration of the set was obviously only

possible with colored filmstock.

Other techniques such as

colored lighting and filters, and various special effects

that rely on color, became available with colored film.
Only one shot employed a complete change in filmstock:
Isa's point of view of the TV screen, shot number 12, used
black-and-white filmstock to roughly simulate a video

This image did not intrinsically appear like a

video monitor.

Besides appearing like black-and-white

film, the stock was also high contrast.

These combined

qualities underlined the fact that, despite its being

ostensibly a television, the image was on film.


creating this ambiguity of the medium, the filmmaker hoped

the audience would question the film's plausibility.
Color Temperature of Filmstock
Color temperature manipulated the way color was
recorded on the filmstock.

(See colored lighting for color

temperature variation of the actual set, p. 118.)

filmmaker used the technique in two ways:


alteration of

the color for the entire image and manipulation of sections

or specific areas of the image.
By exaggerating differences between interior and
exterior color temperature, the filmmaker hoped to disso
ciate the image from natural representation.

Such use had

one area of the image in normal color temperature while

other areas were improperly balanced.

Interiors could be

normally balanced, but windows that emitted daylight would

take on an unearthly bluish glow; conversely, exterior
shots could be correctly balanced, but interior tungsten
light in the shot would be incorrect, creating an unusual
warm yellow cast.

The filmmaker's strongest use of

differences between interior and exterior color temperature

occurred in the enclosed porch sequence of shots 45-47.
The filmstock was balanced so that the large windows of the
porch looked unnatural.

But subject modeling was distorted

by the incorrectly balanced tungsten light that molded the

characters with an unnatural and strikingly warm yellow
The variation in color environmentally separated the
interior drama from its exterior.

The filmmaker most often

accomplished this by altering the color temperature of

exterior views that appeared through windows.

The aim was

to make the movie seem to be taking place in an isolated

and enclosed house; the outer world, as viewed through
these windows, became an alien environment.
The first time the outside environment of the house
was openly visible occurred in shot 114 the final and only
true exterior shot of the film.

The shot used daylight

color temperature, but the open garage had a deep yellow

glow to its interior.

This difference in color temperature

emphasized the cold, bluish outside world.

The effect was

employed to raise questions regarding the plausibility of

the story.

For instance, why did this married couple live

in such isolation?
Lens Effects as Affecting the Image
Lens effects played a critical role in the alteration
of the image.

Optics were always chosen so that they would

detract from naturalistic representation.

Type of Lens
The main production lens was a 12-120 zoom which
offered an infinite variety of focal lengths to the
filmmaker, from wide angle to telephoto.

Normal lenses

were rarely selected because they inherently rendered a

realistic image.
Wide angle lenses were used extensively in the film
because they distorted spatial perception by exaggeration
of perspective.

The perspective seemed to expand as it

came closer to the camera.

This subtle alteration of space

gave to the setting a sense of artificiality and unreality,

rendering it larger than life.

Moreover, because the

effect was used consistently throughout the film, the

narrative was imbued with a distendedly unreal quality.
Specifically, when a subject appeared close to the
lens, its perspective was exceptionally distorted.


movement tended to accentuate this distortion by bringing

attention to the warped nature of space.

For example, shot

number 4 called for Isa to lunge forward in order to look

at a clock.

In the pre-shooting stage, the filmmaker

envisioned an implosive zoom forward into Isa's face.


would give an inordinate amount of motion to an otherwise

simple action.

However, due to heavy use of special

filters, special effects lenses, and lighting, the zoom

movement became impractical.

How was the desired effect

the inordinate amount of movement to be achieved with only

the use of the wide angle lens and no zoom?

Unable to

create the desired end by moving the camera to the subject,

the filmmaker moved the subject to the camera.

Thus, Isa's

face still filled the entire frame and greater motion was

Further, it was discovered that the numerous

lenses and filters that made the zoom option impossible

created even more distortion of Isa's image.

Thus, by

being forced out of necessity to choose an alternate means

of dissociating the film from reality, the filmmaker
discovered even greater distortive possibilities.
Another lens effect employed three complementary

wide angle lens, low camera angle, and subject

movement toward the camera.

For instance, shot number 58A

depicted Isa falling down a set of stairs into the camera,

her falling body finally blacking out the entire image.
The low camera angle made her dominant in the frame and, as

she fell, the wide angle lens increasingly distorted her
image, making her expand outwardly and exaggerating her

Subject movement toward the camera

accentuated this lens distortion to the extreme.


these technical "distortions" might be used realistically

to create the actual impression of falling, in this
instance they were employed in such an exaggerated manner
that they totally violated expectations.

In effect, they

were intended to distract the viewer from the logical

narrative, opening the story to surreal interpretation.
As opposed to the wide angle lens, the telephoto lens
altered perspective by squeezing or compressing the image;
spatial relations appeared closer than natural.

The use of

this lens made a subject in the foreground appear closer to

the background than it actually was.

Ironically, this

effect seemed to visually isolate the subject, rendering it

isolated in space.
For example, in the shot 14 close-up of Isa's head,
the use of the telephoto lens flattened the image by
warping spatial relations.

The perspective that separated

foreground from background was abolished, thus creating an

altered view of reality.

At the same time, three different

filters were used to enhance the surreality;

the diffusion,

spot, and star filters all tended to flatten the image,

rendering it strongly two dimensional.

In another instance, the filmmaker employed the tele
photo lens with a low camera angle to create a totally
unnatural view of the mise-en-scene.

Shot number 89 showed

the open garage with Isa standing at its entrance.


extremely low camera angle was directed from absolute

ground-level, some distance away.

Because the ground was

never shown, its lack of reference was disconcerting.


garage appeared as if one were looking up at it, as though

it were raised above ground level, thus hoping to create an
impression of "other-worldliness."
Generally, employment of the telephoto lens served to
form a contrasting impression against many wide angle

This added emphasis and consistently

violated the narrative continuity.

Aperture as a Lensed Effect
Aperture was used to manipulate the image through the
adjustment of light that hit the filmstock.

Too little

light would create underexposure of the image; too much

light, overexposure of the image.

Specific effects in the

film were obtained by these two varieties of aperture.

Besides aperture's effect on the camera negative, it also
strongly influenced depth-of-field.
Underexposure of the aperture created a weak negative
that was more amenable to the special effect of change of
color, employed during the post-shooting stage.

A more two

dimensional image also resulted from the lack of detail in
the image.

Highly subjective images in shots 59, 96, 101,

and 102 were disconcertingly isolated from the rest of the

film through the manipulation of aperture.


added to the surprise of seeing Isa's sudden point-of-view

in shots 59 and 96.

Two isolated and distracting shots

(101 and 102) of Isa in the car were even more radically
distorted by their absence of detail created by extreme
Overexposed aperture caused highlights to become
overly bright.

The brilliance of the image gave it a

shimmering quality that was intended to dissociate it from


The effect was employed in such shots as the

close-up of a medicine bottle in number 21.

Used in

conjunction with oblique framing, in-depth subject angle,

and a targeted defraction filter, the overexposure created
a startling and unnatural impression of reality.


defraction filter's overexposed lines weaved in and out of

the bright shimmering image, ironically beautifying a
depressing content (Isa taking a drug overdose).
In the "grabbing pills" montage sequence (shots 35-40),
overexposure was consistently used with an unorthodox
placement of the multivision five special effects lens (see
below, p. 107). Subject movement through the highlights and
optical distortions formed a kinetic shimmering effect.

again in ironic contradiction to the violent scene.
Depth-of-Field as a Lensed Effect
Depth-of-field, an effect partially produced by
aperture, was found to have a wide range of variations.
One depth or another was employed in the film's every shot;
however, certain shots made special use of it.


these shots involved the employment of extremes in depth

that destroyed the continuity between shots, isolating
their particular imagery from surrounding sections.
For instance, deep depth-of-field was thought to be
more closely associated with film's realistic tendencies,
and it was used in contrast with adjacent surreal shots.
Like types of lenses, which caused dissociation by altera
tion of the work's universe, such an effect was used
sparingly to emphasize the unexpected.
An instance of this effect was shot 54 which depicted
Isa's point-of-view of her husband David.

Here the depth-

of-field clearly showed all detail, contrasting it with the

shallow focus shots preceding and following it.
Camera angle and lighting were important techniques
related to deep depth-of-field.

Low camera angle often

added a domineering nature to the more realistic image.


shot 64, for example, David loomed above Isa while the
camera accentuated this domineering quality by photograph
ing him from ground level.

In such shots, high intensity

lighting was necessary to achieve the deep depth, and
consequently caused strong highlights.
In contrast, shallow depth-of-field was used to create
a narrow plane of in-focus action.

Its effect isolated the

subject from the surrounding space.

The subject was

usually held clear, but background and foreground objects

remained a blur.

Often, these blurred areas became

aesthetically pleasing abstractions.

Thus, the technique

could mold reality for independent aesthetic purposes.

In shot 4, for example, only the clock in the fore
ground was in focus.

Isa approaches this in-focus area

from the background, and as she moves closer to the clock,

comes into sudden focus herself.

It was felt that having

kept Isa in a blur made her appear more ambiguous and,

hence, more detached from reality.

The shallow depth-of-

field was further manipulated by placement of a split-field

close-up lens on the existing wide angle lens.


special effect lens allowed the clock to be placed

unnaturally close to the camera, yet still be in sharp

Consequently, the clock dominated the right side of

the frame.

The left side containing Isa's image was not

affected by this split lens, and so its content was viewed

only by a wide angle lens.

Together, these two distortions

created a bewildering multiplicity of focused and unfocused


Another shot, number 61, was intended to evoke erotic
beauty in stark contrast to the story's dark actions of
marital rape that was, in fact, a form of necrophilia.


eliminating the background of this shot, the close-up of

David kissing Isa became dramatically isolated.


parts of their bodies would shift in and out of focus.

Even most areas of Isa's body and David's face were blurred.
The center of interest, always in focus, was only David's
mouth and that mouth's desired object.
Filters as a Lensed Effect
The texture and quality of the image was further
dissociated by the placement of filters before the lens in
order to create the impression of a highly manipulated and
artificial image.

It was decided that filter manipulation

should be employed throughout the film so that an

expressionistic or painterly quality would continually be

By using a great variety of filters, many

diverse effects could be achieved.

But cutting from a

filtered to an unfiltered shot was believed to be too

aesthetically jarring.

Consequently, it was decided to use

many different filters, but always to use at least one

creating an aesthetically cohesive while dissociated image
throughout the film.
Of the many filters employed by the filmmaker, four
different types are selected below to demonstrate the

manner by which filters produced their surreal effects.
The gradual red filter immersed half the image in
various gradations of redness.

The actual filter was half-

red and half-clear with the red side inducing various tints
of red from dark to light.

The use of the red filter had

no basis in illusionistic reality.

The particular red

color supported a consistently expressionistic use of red

as a leitmotif throughout the film.
This red motif, incidently, was also used for tech
niques involving color props, costumes, lighting, titles,
and other aspects of the movie.

Its thematic overuse was

intended to exaggerate the film's violence and strong

emotions, and hence, it created a sense of implausibility.
The example of the red filter illustrated the film
maker's creative process from pre-shooting to shooting as
well as how the use of a filter could dictate the overall
composition of the image.

This filter, as with all other

filters used in the film, was intended in pre-shooting for

use in specific shots.

But the filmmaker discovered that

his preconceived ideas in the early stages would often

change during later shooting, especially regarding all
techniques involving composition.

Consequently, the film

maker would try on such filters in shooting when he

suspected that their effect would further his surreal aims.
Once a filter was discovered to further this end, the

filmmaker often had to readjust his strategies regarding
other compositional techniques.

This trial-and-error

system demanded that a filter be physically placed on the

lens during the shooting stage to preview its effect with
the coordinated composition of the shot.

By this process,

it was also discovered that highly contrived and surreal

effects could be achieved by using several filters in
combination with each other.
On occasion, the gradual red filter was even
physically moved during the shot, thus being employed as a
lens movement.

(See p. 131, below.)

Such was the case in

shot 44 where Isa dramatically descended the stairs.


was found in shooting that as the subject moved, the filter

could be visibly rotated around the frame, coloring
different areas.

The technique strongly affected the

subject's movement:

Isa walked in and out of the gradual

red filter coloration which was also moving.

Another kind of image distortion was created by
diffusion filters which softened and diminished contrast,
thus imparting an unreal, painterly quality.

For instance,

shot 65 attempted to show a soft, almost romantic close-up

of Isa's face with a red rose, this contrasting with the
content of her previous rape and apparent death.
The diffusion filter was often used in combination
with a series of other techniques, primarily to create

textural harmony out of so many contrasting elements.


example, in shot 4, a medium shot of Isa lying in bed,

various visual techniques were used in conjunction to
create a highly stylized image.

Colored lighting, wide

angle lens, shallow depth-of-field, and a split field

close-up lens all created their particular effect when the
image was photographed through the soft and contrastreducing diffusion filter.
Two filters that added their particular effect rather
than subtly altering the image were the target and
horizontal defraction filters.

In the case of the target

defraction filter, spectrum-like lines branched out from a

central axis; in the case of the horizontal defraction
filter, linear spectrums of light were formed across the

These lines, while tending to beautify the image,

distracted the viewer from the internal action of the

drama, thus dissociating it from reality.
Both these filters were always used in conjunction
with others, yet they did not so much affect other filters
as form their own particular optical effects.
related, of course, to other techniques.

They also

Lighting was

affected in that light had to be projected into the camera

lens in order to obtain these filters' prismic effects.
Many lighting set-ups as conceived in the pre-shooting
stage and in early stages of shooting were altered during

the final shooting in order to utilize these defraction

Subject and camera movement also affected the use

of these filters because the lines of the spectrums shifted

as the camera or subject moved in and out of the projected
For example, in shot 87, the filmmaker employed a
combination of techniques to fully maximize the effect of
the horizontal defraction filter.

Isa, having finished

drinking, stood and crossed the room, finally exiting the


This shot was both long in time and encompassed

much camera and subject movement.

Harsh, high intensity

lighting was employed to take full advantage of the

defraction filter.

Additionally, throughout the shot,

prismic lines moved in and out of the frame as the camera

and subject moved, creating interesting visual effects and
distracting the viewer from the story's action.
Finally, the custom-made compositional diffusion
filter was used to form a haze around particular sections
of the image.

It was created by "painting" petroleum jelly

over a glass surface attached to the lens.

This filter,

with its effect being an interior "framing" of particular

areas of the image, necessitated a static image.


contrived and painterly, its effect was to divorce the

image from reality.
use of other filters.

All shots using this technique made

The normal diffusion filter was

employed so that the entire frame was evenly altered.
Colored filters which tinted the special diffusion were
also employed in order to render greater expressivity.
Lighting, largely kicker lighting, imbued this diffusion
with a sparkling nature, further dissociating it from
An example of this special diffusion was employed for
the static shot, number 67.

As Isa lies in bed, her

husband silently stares at her, his back toward the camera.

The filmmaker "painted" the outline of David's dark suit,
thereby helping to mute the contrast between it and the
white bed covers in the background.
A host of other filters and filter combinations were
used throughout the movie:

fog, star, mist spot red,

softener, soft spot, fog half, etc.

distortion capabilities.

All had unique

The individual dissociating

qualities of each are listed in the glossary of cinematic

techniques (Chapter 4).
Special Effects Lenses for Lensed Effect
Special effects lenses, types of image-distorting
filters, were used to optically break up or physically
alter the narrative's actions to almost pure shape, either
symmetric or asymmetric.

As distinguished from special

(p. 121 , below), they were employed at the shoot

ing stage rather than the post-shooting stage.


special lenses, placed in front of the camera in the manner
of a filter, relegated the presentation of reality to
almost complete abstraction.

Rarely used in film in this

way, they opened up whole new areas of expressionistic


the image could be distorted by cutting it up or

exploding it into a kaleidoscope of fragments.


less, as in the case of so many other distorting techniques,

the little naturalism that remained still conveyed the

No matter how far the filmmaker went in

dissociating the film from reality, he could not completely

eliminate aspects of realism.
Several special effects lenses were employed for the
purpose of optically disconnecting sections of the frame.
Surreal use of the split-field close-up lens dictated
that the lens's inherent distortion be not hidden as is
usually the case.

This lens enabled objects to be focused

very close to the camera.

The lens was cut in half so that

only one side of the frame was affected by the close-up


Thus, the image was broken into two focal planes,

thereby dissociating it from reality.

A highly noticeable example occurred in the complex
rape shot number 61, where David kisses I s a s body in

This image was almost completely rendered as

abstract shapes.

Used in tandem with extremely shallow

depth-of-field depicting only the edges of David's face and


Isa's body in focus, the split-field close-up special

effect lens corrected focus problems within certain
portions of the frame.

Yet, the filmmaker found that the

image portrayed did not move closer to reality.

In fact,

though the lens corrected lack of focus, it did so

disturbingly or ambiguously, because of its particular
dramatic optically distortive effect.
Occasionally, the filmmaker used the split-field
close-up lens not only to bifurcate the image but, through
actual physical rotation of the lens, to make the image
move in and out of focus.
a lens movement.

This effect is characterized as

(See below, p. 131.)

in shot 110, for

example, David walks towards the car and towards the


The split-field close-up lens literally cut

David's image in two, each part at a different magnifica


Additionally, by rotating the lens itself, certain

sections of his figure moved closer to the screen and

others further away.

The entire frame became dynamic in

Another type of optical distortion was formed by the
multiple prism's effect of the multivision three and
multivision five lenses.

These acted like a kaleidoscope

to break the image into a number of repeated fragments.

The filmmaker employed them to magnify the import of the
subject or its movement by distortively spreading the image


over the entire screen.

Shot 43 showed Isa's frantic hysteria as she stood
screaming in the doorway.

A simple medium close-up would

have left much of the frame empty.

The filmmaker wished to

maximize the action, however limited.

The multivision

three lens allowed him to obtain the desired effect.


image was dramatically and dynamically split and repeated

across the whole frame.

Her blossoming image distanced her

from reality, transforming her more into expressionist

symbol than narrative fact.
Still, no matter how dissociated, actions and subjects
seemed to retain enough realism to carry along the story.
A dramatic example of this was found in shot 48 which
depicted Isa running up the stairs.

Originally the film

maker hoped to destroy the narrative action by shooting the

shot with a multivision three.

But the shot was so

distortive that he also photographed the shot in a more

normal fashion.

During post-shooting, on a hunch, the

filmmaker decided to edit these two versions together, the

highly distortive multivision shot followed by the more
normal version.

When the special effect reached almost

total visual confusion, the second shot was cut to it.

his surprise, in spite of this apparent disregard for
visual continuity, the two shots flowed remarkably well



Another variation of the multivision's use was

discovered during shooting.

The multivision five lens was

placed on a prime lens of smaller diameter, thereby

creating distortion only around the edges of the frame.
This special strategy is discussed below under mask
techniques involving framing.

(See p. 106.)

Framing/Composition as Affecting Image

The frame around the image and the composition of the
image as it relates to the framing normally provides the
viewer with a "window view" of reality.

In this movie, as

one of his many dissociating techniques, the filmmaker

attempted to use framing and composition to subvert this
seemingly transparent, seamless, and fortuitous vision of

The filmmaker believed that the more the audience

was aware that the movie was planned and filmed, the less
believability the story would have.

Framing and composi

tion were thus used to draw the audience away from its
willingness to suspend disbelief.
In this film, normal framing was rarely used because
of the film's surrealistic orientation.

More ambiguous

framings and compositions were conceived to create a

contrived rather than natural photographic representation.
Realist-oriented film theorists like Kracauer saw the ideal
filmic image as resembling a spontaneously photographed

These framing strategies sought to subvert that

Framing, of course, related to several cinematic

Subject, camera, and mise-en-scene adjustments

were the major factors in creating the dissociating effects

of framing.

The lensed effects of lens type, depth-of-

field, and filters also contributed to and were influenced

by the framing.

The angle of view was used to enhance

especially unusual framings.

Lighting, too, shaped the

nature of the frame and composition, furthering greater


Finally, camera and subject motion were inti

mately connected with framing strategies.

Off-Centered Framing/Composition
The repeated use of off-centered framing was intended
to create an unusual way of looking at space.


constantly changing frame from one distracting view to the

next made space fluid.

The ability to choose often

bizarrely framed images provided the filmmaker with the

opportunity to picture the subject and mise-en-scfene in
unusual and sometimes shocking ways:

people were made to

stand in non-vertical fashion; a room was made to tilt so

that its entire contents appeared as if on a hill; a
character was squeezed into a corner or against an edge of
a frame.

Panning and tilting of the camera frame were

found to create a shifting, off-centered image.

seemed to move disconcertingly.


Several examples will serve to illustrate the film

maker's exploitation of the dissociating properties of

A close-up of David in shot 32 angled him from

the upper left to lower right corners of the frame, so that

he appeared as though he were standing on a diagonal.


this shot, the story's realistic dialogue contrasted

absurdly with the surreal image.

Shots 108 and 108A, among

the most elaborate shots in the film, showed how the

mise-en-scene itself could be altered through manipulation
of framing.
Isa dies.

Shot 108 began as a long shot of the car where

The framing was radically tilted to create the

impression of an inclined garage set.

Most importantly,

the car in the garage pointed downward, giving the

impression of falling and, by evoking suicide, suggesting
a symbolic rather than literal interpretation of the

Still another example in which action was

relegated to the edge of the frame occurred in shot 46, a

long shot.

Here, Isa, after having been verbally assaulted,

walks to and then sits in the lower left corner of the


Thematically, by moving her into the least

noticeable portion of the frame, the filmmaker suggested

her diminished will and utter powerlessness.

Finally, shot

13 depicted Isa turning off the television, walking across

the bedroom* and scattering pills on the night table.
Normal framing would have merely recorded her actions.
Here, instead of following the action, a moving

off-centered frame forms a spatially disconcerting exper

Isa does not naturally perform her actions, but

moves so as to create a dynamically changing image, thereby

violating the normal apprehension of space.
Oblique Framing/Composition
Oblique framing was used to create extreme composi
tional ambiguity in the shot's make-up or position.
Whereas an off-centered shot still retained enough clues to
give the impression that the camera was manipulating space,
oblique framing did not.

With the filmmaker's use of

oblique framing, a particular image could be changed into

an abstract shape so that its referential status was
ambiguous if not totally obliterated.

Once the mimetic

reference was destroyed, narrative meaning was also in

The effects of this technique, while envisioned in
pre-shooting for a number of shots, were not easily

The filmmaker found that it was not so easy to

dissociate a given image from its referent.

Again and

again, shots appeared to resist abstraction and continued

to portray the story.

Camera and subject motion as they

related to oblique framing often helped to increase the

amount of visual information (by showing more of the
subject) and hence, ironically, reduced the intended

An example of an oblique shot, which was clarified by
movement, was shot 101.

At first, it showed only a mean

ingless detail of the car's driver window; the window was

not even recognizable as such.

The image only becomes

apparent as Isa rolls up the window, the subject motion

clarifying the ambiguity.

So disconcerted, in fact, was

the filmmaker by this fortuitous realism that he sought

further dissociation by a strong special effect a change
in color to a reddish hue.
Mask Framing/Composition
Masks, devices or objects that altered the frame's
edges to form visually interesting borders, created
pictorial expressionism at the expense of realism.


usually imply that the viewer is looking through something.

Their normal employment is to depict a character's pointof-view through such objects as a key hole, periscope, or
field glasses.

In this movie, however, they were used

without meaningful relationship to the context or subject

of the narrative.

Thus, they not only added ambiguity to

the story; they imbued shots with new and non-literal

Masks were significantly related to several cinematic
techniques and strategies.

Masks always affected distance

of view; they created the impression of a slightly closer


Masks always made camera movement appear contrived

through bringing attention to the frame's limits.


editing two masked shots or a masked shot and a non-masked

shot together, especially invisible cuts, created an aware
ness of how unique the shots actually were.

The use of

masks thus detracted from the film's natural and seamless

Masks fell into four classifications:

black or

colored masks attached to the lens, objects placed before

the lens, and special placement of the multivision five
special effects lens.
The latter technique created the most visually complex
mask, and was used in all six shots (35-40)

that made up

the montage of Isa and David fighting in the bathroom.

Through the placement of the multivision five lens on a
prime lens of a smaller diameter than the multivision, a
mask was constructed that appeared to "decorate" the image.
This incorrect fit meant that the image appeared fractured
only in the borders of the frame; a normal fitting would
have distinctly fractured the image into five parts over
the entire frame.

In shots 35-40, the fight between David

and Isa was made to appear even more wild and hysterical by
the use of this multivision special effect.

The images of

the fight sequence were not only fragmented but moved

violently around the borders of the frame.

This movement

transformed the fragmented close-ups of the montage into

nearly unrecognizable abstract shapes.

In effect, by

resembling abstract patterns rather than actual shapes, the

fight sequence images evoked the feeling of violence rather
than merely depicting it.
Shooting Through a Mirror as a Method
of Framing/Composition
Shooting through a mirror could be considered a type
of mask, but it was found to be a unique method of composi
tion and, thus, it is treated as a separate category in the
List of Cinematic Techniques (Appendix D).

A mirror

created ambiguities as to what and where a subject was in


The mise-en-scene was expanded and consequently

complicated through the doubling of space.

permitted further manipulation of the image:

It also

could be spread on the glass itself (shot 24); the subject

or the subject's reflection in the glass could be photo
graphed, creating multiple and shifting subjects (shot 28);
props could be placed between the camera and mirror to
create dizzying visual ambiguities.

In shot 1 (Isa lying

in bed), for example, the entire scene was photographed in

a full-length wall mirror except for a single prop a
rocking chair placed ambiguously between the mirror and
the camera itself.

Thus, there were few hints whether the

actual scene or the scene's reflection was being viewed.

In reality, of course, the photographed rocking chair was

the actual object and Isa lying in bed was a mere reflec
Distance of View as Affecting the Image
Distance of view, the fourth category of cinematic
techniques under image, was obviously used in every shot.
A subject on screen always had some relationship to the

However, distance of view did not in and of itself

help the filmmaker dissociate the movie from reality.


some dissociation could be achieved through continually

varying distance of view.

For example, editing an extreme

close-up with an extreme long shot appeared to make space


On many occasions, this strategy was employed

to create a disconcerting movement between shots.

Angle of View as Affecting Image
The angle at which the subject appeared, or the angle
at which the camera viewed the subject, termed angle of
view, was found by the filmmaker to have strong connotative

Subject and camera angle were used to create

altered perception of space, varying from shot to shot and

thereby helping to disrupt the continuity of edited shots.
Space was made to appear flat in one shot, expansive in the
next, and angled in an almost oblique fashion in the
following shot.

It was always an expressionistic view at

which the filmmaker aimed with little regard for the

eventual placement of shots in the finished edited struc
Subject Angle of View
The filmmaker primarily used in-depth subject angle.
As has been noted in the discussion of the wide angle lens
{see above, p.
in the film.

86 ), the filmmaker desired to expand space

In-depth subject angle was yet another tech

nique used to expand space for the sake of increased visual

interest and expressivity.

Such manipulation obviously

distracted the viewer from the narrative.

A more pragmatic reason for the creation of spatial
expansion was the script's overwhelming number of interior

The narrative did not encompass a large geography,

creating the very real possibility that the film would

become too confining, too limiting in its number of

In-depth subject angle helped to alleviate this

potential problem.
A good example of in-depth subject angle use occurred
in shot 21, showing a close-up of Isa's hand picking up a
medicine bottle containing a near-fatal dose of pills.
filmmaker wished to create a forceful image.


Angling the

subjects to form a more interesting view was a major way of

accomplishing this goal.

Thus, in shot 21, the medicine

bottle was placed so that it appeared to tower upwards

toward the camera, and Isa's hand appeared to reach through

space away from the camera.

The effect was to create an

expansive rather than flat space.

Moreover, the effect

beautified the image in ironic contrast to the tragic

Whereas in-depth subject angle created an almost
overdone three-dimensional look, flat subject angle created
a strong two-dimensional appearance and contrasted sharply
with the more numerous three-dimensional shots.


subject angle had the effect of isolating the subject,

especially when used in conjunction with the close-up.


image became more "icon-like" and less real, icons having

symbolic and expressionistic implications.
For example, shot 55 shows Isa's reaction to her
husband David.

She views him through a large, louvered,

wooden room separator, her face pressed against one of the


The flat subject angle employed here seemed

almost to make Isa into a part of the two dimensional


The flatness as well as the fact that her face

is centered within the frame renders Isa more icon than

individual, stressing her isolated and dream-like state.
The filmmaker employed at least two other techniques to
create greater flatness in the shot:
lighting and a type of mask effect.

high intensity front

The mask, formed by

placing Isa's face behind the louvered partition,

reinforced the flat plane of action being photographed.

The lighting, falling only on the front portion of her face
and the mask, rendered the whole almost entirely without
Camera's Angle of View
The filmmaker also altered space by manipulation of
camera angle.

Two primary camera angles were used for

surreal purposes:

high camera angle and low camera angle.

A level camera angle was used to depict space from normal

eye level? this was viewed as inherently too naturalistic
and therefore was employed infrequently.
A high camera angle was perceived to render insignifi
cance to the narrative action.

A high angle, often called

a "God's eye view," gave the impression that the viewer was
looking down at smaller-than-life actions.

The high view

also offered an unusual or unnatural perspective which

served to distance the viewer from involvement with the
narrative and to confound him with respect to the drama's

In other words, highly dramatic moments in

the narrative were usually looked down upon, both literally

and figuratively.
Isa's stilted walk into the living room and up the
stairs (shot 56) offered a strong example of the effect of
high camera angle.

The living room had a cathedral

ceiling; the filmmaker made use of this facet of the

mise-en-sc&ne by placing the camera approximately twelve

feet above the floor.

The high angle as well as the

extreme long shot were intended to distract and distance

the viewer from the action, ironically at one of the most
dramatic moments in the story (Isa's imminent death).
Low camera angle had the opposite effect from a high
camera angle.

Referred to as a "worm's eye view," low

camera angle made the actions seem larger-than-life and

more dominant in nature.
all shots.

The low angle was used in almost

Even minor insert shots were often photographed

from an extreme low angle, adding undue significance to the

most inane action.

The low angle was also perceived to

help to enlarge the spatial dimensions of the mise-en-scene;

it exaggerated three-dimensionality.
unusual ways of looking at the world.

Low angles offered

Through their use,

the filmmaker worked to underscore the film's surreality.

Shot 44 demonstrated how an ordinary transition shot
was given undue import by use of low camera angle and other
techniques, almost mocking the film's simple story in the

The shot depicts Isa descending the living room

stairs and walking to the nearby porch door where she finds

As the shot begins with Isa above on the second

floor and the camera on the first floor, the low camera
angle only looked somewhat unnatural.

But as Isa descends

the stairs to the first floor, it becomes increasingly

clear that the camera is at an extreme low angle, appearing

to be almost below the floor.

As Isa reaches the first

floor, she towers over the screen.

A shot designed merely

to get Isa from the second to the first floor became

through the use of the low camera angle and other tech
niques almost a "major moment" in the film.
Lighting as Affecting Image
Lighting, the sixth category under image techniques,
included the interrelated categories of type, position, and

For example, a fill light (type) might be in a

top (position) and at low (intensity).

Artificial lighting in film is usually used to
simulate natural or normal light either indoors or out

In this film, with its attempt to dissociate from

naturalism, the filmmaker sought to violate the normal

expectations of film lighting.

Thus, his major strategy

was to employ lighting from unnatural sources.


lighting could not be made to look so absurd or artificial

that it would defeat the film's validity as a unified work
of art.

As with almost every other technical effect, the

filmmaker found that he could take increasing liberties in

dissociating lighting from natural illusion.

Lights could

come from floors, clouds of smoke, rotating fans, and any

other unusual source yet still maintain the film's
artistic reality.
Below, the filmmaker will discuss lighting with

respect to the original categories of type, position, and
intensity and the added categories of colored, available,
and special effects lighting.

Each of these categories

includes several subcategories (such as kicker, key, and

fill under types of lighting), of which only selected
examples are discussed.

However, descriptions of all

lighting techniques and the way in which they can be used

to create surrealistic effects are discussed in the
glossary (Chapter IV).
Type of Lighting
The filmmaker decided upon one dominant lighting type
for each shot; the same type was never used in two
consecutive shots.

This strategy, similar to what was done

with respect to filters and framing, tended to destroy the

continuity between shots.

The effect of a different

lighting type for each shot often changed the character of

a set even within a continuous sequence of shots.
A specific example of a lighting type and its use was
kicker lighting.

This light served to create highlights,

to separate foreground from background, to form shadows,

and to project light directly into the camera lens.


these strategies manipulated the naturalistic set in the

service of surreality.
Kicker lighting, especially when projected into the
lens, affected filters optically.

For instance, shot 100


showed Isa releasing the car's stick shift.

Lights in the

car and outside the view of the frame flooded into the
camera lens, which was fitted with a targeted defraction

This caused a ring of prismatic lines to form a

forcibly altered image.

Kicker lighting was intimately related to subject
motion because a moving subject weaved in and out of the

Shot 22 used this effect to artistic excess.


extreme close-up of Isa's profile portrayed her swallowing

an overdose of pills.

The filmmaker's strategy, as usual,

was to create a shot of disconcerting beauty for a tragic


Isa's profile was lit from the camera position by

a medium intensity key light.

Directly opposite the camera

and behind Isa was a high intensity kicker light, project

ing directly into the camera lens.

Thus, the background of

Isa's profile consisted of a completely white, brilliant

light directed dramatically at the viewer.
A star filter attached to the camera lens further
distorted the image.

It created a multitude of shimmering,

weaving starbursts, the weaving pattern caused by the

subject's movement and enhancing Isa's feeling of abandon

Shot 22 was a dramatic moment not only in the film

but in the filmmaker's own creative process, occurring

during the early stages of production (shooting).


filmmaker realized that, despite his extreme attempts at

dissociation, reality was not so easily destroyed.
Ironically, a new reality, in its own way believable, was

It was at this point that the filmmaker revised

his strategy of creating a consistent surreality to one

where the drama would flow from one surreal world to the
next, even within the same sequence of shots.
Position of Lighting
Position of lighting, like type of lighting, varied
from shot to shot, the same position rarely occurring in
two consecutive shots.

This strategy violated a cardinal

rule of filmmaking where lighting is normally consistent

and believable within a given scene.

The use of unnatural

and inconsistent lighting positions could make a scene more

frightening, glamorous, or dream-like.

For instance, by

projecting bottom position lighting onto a subject,

especially a face, the subject became more frightening.


general, the filmmaker used lighting position to create an

artificial, theatrical environment.
The lighting position in shot 34 was a case in point.
This shot depicted David at the bathroom doorway from Isa's

A highly reflective silver-like material

was laid on the floor.

Spotlights were then beamed onto

the material so that light was bounced up to David's


From this unnatural position, David's character

became strongly ominous and frightening.

Intensity of Lighting
Lighting intensity, the amount or strength of light,
helped the filmmaker create distortive effects of the image.
Unlike lighting type and position, lighting intensity
varied little throughout the film.

High intensity lighting

was almost always used due to the filmmaker's predilection

for strong shadows and highlights.

Extremely high inten

sity lighting created overexposure of the image, sometimes

with visually shocking results.
Such use in shot 15 dramatized Isa's walk out of the
bedroom, the subject moving from a long shot to an extreme

When she reaches the position for the extreme

close-up, she walks into a high intensity key light placed

near the door.

As she walks towards the door, she becomes

suddenly overexposed; the harsh, high intensity lighting

alters her face, rendering it unnaturally and unexpectedly
Colored Lighting
Colored lighting radically affected the subject and
mise-en-scfene, adding an unnatural and strongly expression
istic drama to the film.

It is usually associated with

theatrical stage lighting the expressiveness created at

the expense of realism.

It should be noted that colored

lighting was achieved through the manipulation of color

temperature (see p. 84).

Colored lighting seemed to achieve its most dramatic
effects in the last part of the film (shots 78-114).


filmmaker used yellow and blue lights to stylistically

complement the beige car and greenish garage, the cool blue
lighting creating a somber mood.

A smoke machine in the

garage set was used to theatrically mimic the exhaust from

the car.

The lighting beamed through the smoke, creating

surreal color and form.

Other sections of the film employed red colored lights
as a leitmotif with visually shocking effects.

For example,

in shot 4, Isa moves towards the camera and into the redcolored light, her immersion in the red mirroring her
suicidal state and foreshadowing the act itself.
The most predominant problem with respect to colored
lighting was that this highly unrealistic technique had to
be dramatic yet subtly employed.

If used too flagrantly,

the film would appear absurd, and its artistry destroyed.

Special Effects Lighting
Special effects lighting in this particular film
referred to the use of moving lights to achieve surrealis
tic ends.

In shot 11, for example, the light only somewhat

resembled the glow emitted from a micro television set

brought to Isa's face.

This poor simulation was intended

to bring attention to the film's artificiality.


effects lighting was used in all shots occurring in the

living room.

In shot 42, for example, David walks down the

stairs, overlooking the living room, and into the large

room itself; the shot was an extreme long shot.


special effect lighting was achieved through the use of a

rotating ceiling fan which formed striking moving shadows
throughout the room.

These shadows weaved continuously in

and out of the mise-en-scene, creating an eerie "fun-house"

atmosphere that seemed without purpose in the narrative.
This effect was constructed by the placement of a high
intensity key light on the metal post that connected the
fan to the cathedral ceiling.

The light beamed through the

moving blades of the fan to create strong, strobe-like,

weaving shadows.

These shadows appeared especially

mysterious in close-ups, such as number 61 (David kissing

Isa's body in the living room).

Obviously, dramatic

shadows such as these are not a usual part of a room.


resembled stylized stage lighting more than film lighting,

created an unnatural mise-en-scene, and confused the narra
tive thread.
Available Lighting
Available lighting is usually associated with realism
in film.

The technique, infrequently used in 1A, 2A & 3A,

was employed only in cases where it served surreal ends.

For instance, when the existing lights of a room were used,
their light was most often beamed directly into the

distorting filters attached to the lens.

These actual

lights together with the artificial lights created a harsh,

crude appearance.
Nowhere in the film was available lighting used more
expressively than in shot 20 a medium long shot of the
bathroom set.

The set was an actual bathroom lit by

luminescent globe fixtures above a large mirror.


direct and somewhat harsh source of available lighting was

thought to be more surrealistic than any lighting that the
filmmaker could have constructed.

The effect was made even

more surreal through the use of mist spot red and soft spot

With the combination of these two filters, the

globes created a soft unnatural reddish haze.

Special Effects as Affecting the Image
Special effects techniques which altered the image
differed from their movement counterparts because they did
not require motion to actualize their effects.


techniques were achieved in the post-shooting stage where

special laboratory processes were necessary.
Not only did special effects techniques alter the
character of the representation but, unlike most other
image-distorting techniques, they also changed the funda
mental structure of the image.

Ultimately, special effects

could transform the image to such an extent that its

original shape and character were literally unrecognizable.

In addition to the artistic questions raised by such
radical dissociation, these techniques were highly expen
sive to effect at the post-shooting stage.

This pragmatic

reason eliminated consideration of all but two techniques:

change in color and multiple exposure.
Change in Color Special Effects
Change in color referred to the shifting of colorvalues or to the red tinting of the shot.

Red was the

thematic color and major leitmotif throughout the film,

connoting blood, violence, and strong emotion.

In addition

to the expressive effects achieved by change in color, the

technique also seemed to transform the three-dimensionality
of the image into two dimensions.
Some shots were planned for change in color in pre
shooting; others in shooting.

The main criterion for

choosing this technique was whether it would dramatically

separate the shot from the rest of the film and hence,
distract the viewer from the story line.

Thus, shots

employing change in color were either points of view (as in

shots 59 and 96) or highly ambiguous shots (as in shots 101
and 102).

Such shots had already been far removed from

reality and somewhat isolated from the narrative flow by

other cinematic techniques.

Such a shot was number 96

which depicted a liquor bottle from Isa's unusually close

point of view (she is drinking from the bottle).


change in color made the shot distractingly different from
the sequence of shots within the scene.
The change in color technique made use ofseveral
complementary techniques.

Underexposing the negative made

it weaker and more pliable; it could thus be saturated more

easily with color.

The weak negative enhanced the two-

dimensional quality of the image; the image was simply less

palpable due to its underexposure.

Especially ambiguous

framing or composition techniques tended

to qualify shots

for change in color manipulation.

Multiple Exposure Special Effects
The second image special effect employed was multiple

This technique superimposed one image over

another, creating obviously surreal disjunctions.


exposure was used primarily in depicting the ornate table

clock, discussed below.

Two views, sometimes three, of the

clock were employed to emphasize the symbolic role of time

in the film.

The multiple exposure effect allowed the

filmmaker to picture only the sectional close-ups of

interest, eliminating superficial areas of the subject.
Shot 5 of the pendulum clock, as well as all other
similar and repeated shots, had two purposes:

to clarify

leaps in time within the literal narrative and to function

as a type of temporal suspense motif producing anxiety
because time is running out on Isa's life.

The filmmaker

wanted the clock face to be as large in the frame as
possible, yet he also wanted to include the beautiful
swinging movement of its pendulum balls.

No framing

technique could include both elements satisfactorily.


filmmaker found a more difficult and surreal solution by

showing the clock face in close-up with a multiple exposure
of the pendulum balls also in close-up.

The finished shot

depicted time but appeared to border on abstraction.

Shot 43 provided another example of the multiple
exposure effect.

The shot depicted Isa at the bathroom

doorway, screaming hysterically.

The master shot was a

multivision image that actually contained three pictures of

Isa screaming.

A multiple exposure of Isa, using the

equivalent positions and techniques of the original multi

vision three image, was superimposed on the master shot;
the only difference in this secondary shot was that Isa is
naked and tied with ropes.

This effect showed how she

views herself; it was the superimposition of a subjective

shot and was not based on any facet of reality.
More emphasis was placed on dissociating the image
from the illusion of reality than dissociating movement.
In fact, movement techniques were primarily used to enhance
the effects created for the image.

It was clear that

almost any image technique could be employed to create

surreal effects.

This was not so with movement.

Can one

conceive of a surrealistic camera pan?

Camera Movement
The filmmaker employed five major camera movements:
panning, tilting,

zooming, hand-held camera, and lens

The cost of professional quality tracking made

its use rather prohibitive.

As indicated above, while

movement techniques appeared to be more neutral than image

techniques, camera movement could be employed to dissociate
the film from reality and create expressive meaning.


was to a certain extent true of all camera movements, but

it was especially the case with the highly disconcerting
technique of lens movement.

Normally, movement is

unobtrusive; the camera simply follows the subject's


On the other hand, when the camera movements were

used to distract from the narrative or were completely

independent of it, they were intended to remind the audi
ence that they were seeing an orchestrated spectacle of
negligible plausibility.
Panning Camera Movement
Panning included a normal speed and a swish pan.
Normal speed panning is almost always employed simply to
follow action over a greater lateral span of space than the
camera frame permits.

Given this fact, the technique could

only create dissociating effects when it was made to occur
for no apparent reason.

This brought undue attention to

the technique and, consequently, destroyed the film's

natural "window-view" of reality.
An obvious example of normal speed panning was imple
mented in shot 28.

While in the bathroom, Isa walks from

the washing machine to the sink opposite it.

Whereas a

camera normally follows what a character does that is, a

character's actions dictate a camera's movement in this
shot it was clear that the character (Isa) is following the
camera that is, the camera is illogically dictating the
character's movement.

The frame moved into its respective

positions before the subject moved in other words, prece

ding the narrative action.

Specifically, in shot 28, the

camera brought the viewer to the bathroom sink before Isa

actually arrived there (in the frame).

The effect of this

violation of a filmic convention was to draw attention to

the film's unnaturalness, reinforcing the perception that a
film was indeed being seen, not a "window-view" of reality.
Another method of bringing unnatural attention to
normal speed panning was to have the camera set up on an
unlevel tripod in order to create a continuously offcentered frame throughout the pan.

Shot 113A, for instance,

depicted David getting out of the car and walking around


The camera followed him, but with a changing off-

centered frame that distracted from normal representation.

The more severe swish pan was employed to create
extremely rapid motion in the film.

This technique drew a

great deal of attention to itself and detracted from the

illusion of reality.

It was perceived to create a feeling

of sudden, even dizzying tension.

The swish pan was employed most effectively in shot 29
where the camera suddenly moved from Isa's reflection in
the mirror to David standing in the doorway.

Here, the

swish pan was the most effective means of conveying Isa's

shock at seeing David.
than rapid motion?

What better way to convey shock

Technically, this shot necessitated a

rapid pan from one pre-determined frame {medium close-up of

Isa) to another (medium close-up of David).

This meant

there could be little or no error in the accuracy of the

starting and stopping points of the camera movement.
Tilting Camera Movement
Like normal speed panning, tilting camera movement
usually follows actions naturally, hence eliminating the
need for edits and, through a smooth vertical movement,
reinforcing a continuous illusion of reality.


fast, and noticeable tilts seemed to be more prone to the

dramatic than their equivalent pans.

Thus, the filmmaker,

when given a choice between the tilt and the pan, would
generally choose the tilt to heighten the drama and create
speed of subject action.

Tilting, combined with off-

centered framing, created even greater distortion of motion.
Another means of creating visually shocking effects was to
combine tilting with editing.

Here, as the camera tilted

upward or downward the shot was cut while the tilt was in

The effect was to abruptly cut the action just

as it reached its crescendo and thus further heighten it.

These various effects are well illustrated in shot
number 15.

Here, Isa walks from the bed, located in the

background, to the bedroom door in the extreme foreground

i.e., next to the camera.

Initially, the tilt was necessi

tated for a purely utilitarian, even pedestrian reason:

namely, to keep Isa's face in the frame.

But the filmmaker,

when previewing the shot during shooting, noticed that he

could maximize the visual distortion inherent in this shot
through the employment of highly off-centered framing,
thereby keeping Isa's face on a diagonal.

Moreover, while

editing during post-shooting, the filmmaker cut the shot of

Isa walking toward the camera to the closing bedroom door
at the moment that Isa's face reached full view within the

The effect was perceived as one of startling visual

impact, disproportionately dramatic to the narrative and

thus more expressive and surreal.
Zooming Camera Movement
Unlike normal panning and tilting, zooming was never
used for its normal utilitarian function of following a


Instead, its increasing and decreasing magnifica

tion was employed for surreal visual emphasis.


stylized use dissociated the film from imitative reality,

imparting to it a contrived and pre-planned implausibility.
Zooming affected many cinematic techniques, among them
lens type, depth-of-field, filters, and special effects

Framing and distance of view were dynamically

altered by the zoom's shifting implosion or explosion.

Other camera movements and all subject motion had to be
carefully orchestrated within the compositional dictates of
this technique.

Editing could delete parts of the zoom (as

in shots 79, 81, 83).

Finally, sound effects and music

could help to emphasize the zoom movement.

One shot, number 79, from the above mentioned series
of zooms, serves to illustrate the expressive use of

Here, Isa sits at the kitchen table, looking into

the clock directly in front of her.

The camera impulsively

zooms into her face and then suddenly cuts to the clock
face seen from her point of view.

Here, the use of the

zoom helped to link these two static shots, creating a

sense of stylized unreality.

To further stylize the scene,

the clock face was multiply exposed.

(See above, p. 123.)

Moreover, by repeating this shot three different times, the

filmmaker imbued the scene with undue significance that
clearly fought against literal narrative meaning.

Hand-Held Camera Movement
An uneasy visual jumpiness was created by hand-held
camera movement.

It was used to accentuate violent, fast

moving sections of the narrative.

Like most other camera

movements, this technique achieved dissociating effects not

so much in and of itself as with the combined effects of
other techniques.

On several occasions, the use of the

hand-held camera transformed the image into a blur of

abstract shapes and colors.
Hand-held camera movement was a crucial technique in
perhaps the most surreal section of the film:
"Blood Bath" sequence (shots 71-77).

the montage

This montage built

wild movement and enormous amounts of blood into almost

abstract shapes.

The expressionistic distortion of this

sequence emphasized the terror and repulsiveness of the

suicidal subject matter.

Strong sweeping strokes of hand

held camera movement caught only glimpses of subject


Isa's movements of slashing her wrist threw her

into violently wild contortions around the set and in all

directions of the frenzied, unbalanced frame.
Other techniques also contributed to the striking
effects of the "Blood Bath" sequence.

The camera speed was

adjusted to three times more than normal; consequently, the

action was three times as slow when projected, thereby
rendering the wild motion more dance-like and ritualistic.

These movements, in turn, affected the use of the multivision
five lens employed in all montage shots as a type of mask.
Every movement was asymmetrically fragmented by the multi
vision five's prismatic structure, forming reflections and
refractions of the subject action around the original image
and, especially, the edges of the frame.


Isa's hysterical screaming (see synchronous dialogue,

p. 162) affected all the movement techniques by under
scoring the frenzied motion with strong explosive sonic

Finally, the violent effect achieved through the

use of the above-mentioned techniques ironically contrasted

with the mechanically impersonal, repetitious contrapuntal
Lens Movement of the Camera
Lens movement, a category developed by this researcher,
referred to every physical movement of the lens except
zooming (such as movement of special effects lenses,
filters, and rack-focusing).

The alteration of the image

by moving optical distortion not only visually dissociated

the film from reality-but drew attention to the fact that
the narrative was not "occurring"; it was fabricated.


movements, unlike other camera movements, were techniques

that inherently contained dissociating effects.
The employment of these stylistically extreme tech
niques intended to distract the viewer from the internal

workings of the drama.

Hence, the filmmaker used them

sparsely, reserving them for highly dramatic moments.


ostentatious techniques were only considered during the

shooting stage after the filmmaker looked through the
camera to note the effect of the particular lens dissocia
Lens movement directly affected filters and special
effects lenses; the actual physical movement of these lens
attachments could be seen kinetically.

Rotating the focus-

ring during the actual shooting, not simply between shots,

created fluctuating changes in the depth-of-field.


camera movements like panning, tilting, and zooming were

affected as well.

Lens movement also reinforced all

subject motion that is, the optical distortion would move

with the subject.

For example, shot 23, a hand-held medium

shot, depicted Isa abruptly forcing a number of pills into

her mouth.

A special lens movement was developed in the

shooting stage, with its purpose to unexpectedly jar the

image at the exact moment Isa swallows the medication.
This "jarring" was accomplished by covering a plate of
glass, placed in front of the lens, with petroleum jelly.
This optical distortion caused by the jelly was static and
almost imperceptible until Isa thrusts the pills into her
mouth and the glass is physically jolted.

The abrupt

movement of the glass caused the optical distortions to

Subject Movement
A major purpose of this study was to create a unified
work of art.

Dissociating subject movement from reality

ran very close to violating this objective.

could have stylized the acting.

The filmmaker

But this creative strategy,

as Kuleshov and other theorists have warned, is so far

removed from nature that it could well have made the film
ludicrous or absurd.

Balazs, too, stressed the spectators'

emotional identification with the film.

Acting with

ridiculous subject motion might have transformed the

characters into nonsensical clowns that merely mocked the
story, precluding such identification.

On the other hand,

dissociation through subject movement could be achieved

within limits.

A slight unreality to the acting was

permissible as long as it avoided extremes.

Subject motion

could be made more dance-like, ritualistic, or abstract,

but a consistent directorial strategy had to be maintained.
Normally, subject movement occurs before, and is sponta
neously captured by, the camera.

In this film, the

director wished to create movement for the camera within

limits emphasizing artifice and dramatic implausibility.
Subject movement obviously served to propel the
implementation and actualization of other techniques, for
example, depth-of-field, framing, angle-of-view, lighting,


Many times, these would achieve their full effect

only with appropriate subject motion.

Spatial relations

were often defined by the subject's movement through the


A simple action like David's walk around

the car (shot 113A) was orchestrated to create a discon

certing off-centered effect as the camera panned to follow
him, and necessitated a high camera angle to take in the
whole scene.

Moreover, when David pauses in the middle of

his walk stopping subject motion all sound accompaniment

also ceased, for the first and only time in the entire
Five types of subject movement were used to create
specific effects throughout the film:

upward motion,

downward motion, movement toward the camera, movement away

from the camera, and left-right motion.

A given shot

might, and probably did, utilize more than one type of

subject motion.
Upward Motion of the Subject
Upward motion was used to move the subject up the
frame of the camera.

Used in a dissociating fashion, this

movement could appear to be leading to a development in the

story when in fact there was none.

In effect, this

strategy was intended to distract the viewer through the

manipulation and elaboration of incidental and trivial

Shot 27 illustrated the dissociating effects

achieved through upward subject motion.

In this shot (a

close-up of Isa's face) her face moves upward in the frame

as she climbs atop a washing machine in the bathroom.
is she climbing on top of a washing machine?
motion led to no development.


The subject

The action simply ended by

dissolving into red; that is, the shot was edited into a
special effect dissolve to red.

(See p. 152.)


intended viewer, prevented from seeing the next logical

development, would obviously be thrown into ambiguity and
Downward Motion of the Subject
Downward motion was used to move the subject down the

Essentially the same as upward motion, it also

activated and enhanced other dissociating techniques.


most outstanding use of this technique was to create a

pseudo-wipe, or a metaphorical closing curtain, by using
the closing action of the garage door in shot 9 2 (upward
motion had opened the "curtain1' in shot 83) .

So exagger

ated was this effect that it distracted from the normal

narrative flow.

In actuality, the "closing curtain" closed

nothing, and thus it became an action of false and mislead

ing impact.
Another use of downward motion in shot 19 depicted an
extreme close-up of Isa's finger moving down the bathroom
mirror and the film frame.

The finger self-consciously

revealed her face as reflected in the mirror.

This down

ward motion was reinforced by the parallel sound effect of

her squeaking finger against the mirror.

This sound might

be assumed to have increased the realism of the shot, but

this was not the case.

So unnatural and expressionistic

was the image that the addition of realistic sound only

served to introduce further violation of expectation and

The overall effect of the shot was to create a

heightened drama for an essentially trivial action.

Movement Toward the Camera as
Creating Subject Movement
Movement toward the camera tended to increase the
subject's import.
frame increased.

Physically, the subject's size in the

The complex shot number 4 discussed

previously under wide angle lens and shallow depth-offield was a medium shot of Isa lying in bed.

Later, she

rises to look at the clock, located in the frame's fore

ground, this action resulting in her movement toward the

Here, the mise-en-scene was a labyrinth of tightly

knit lights and props.

Attached to the camera itself was a

complex series of filters and lenses.

Isa's every movement

was highly affected by these factors, and vice-versa.


movements were carefully blocked in order to take full

advantage of this shot's expressive technical potential:
Isa begins by lying in bed (in such a manner that she

appears blurred); she crawls up toward the clock and
camera, yet has to remain in place (the camera could not
pan with a special split field close-up lens) and still
come into focus (by moving through a shallow depth-offield); and she appears to look at the clock without
actually facing it (an illusion created by the split focal
points in the close-up lens and the unusual clock place
ment) .

Thus, subject movement toward the camera did much

more than carry forth the narrative; it orchestrated a

number of inter-dependent techniques that combined to
distortively increase the subject's import.
Movement Away from the Camera as
Creating Subject Movement
While movement toward the camera created greater
subject import, movement away from the camera tended to
diminish the subject's visual dominance.

Shot 55, dis

cussed previously with respect to flat subject angle,

depicted Isa standing directly in back of a flat wooden
louvered room separator that created a formal mask within
the frame.

(See p. 106.)

The shot employed high intensity

front lighting but no back lighting, and therefore, the

background was completely black.

Isa moves backward, away

from the camera, and into that darkness.

Thus, two tech

niques diminished the importance of the subject:


movement away from the camera and lighting helped to

achieve a type of Chaplinesque fade-out.
Left-Right Motion of the Subject
Left-right subject motion served to define and estab
lish space, and thereby created the illusion of greater
depth that is, increased the sense of three-dimensionality
in the mise-en-sceyie.

For example, in shot 90, Isa closes

the garage door and then moves to the right side of the

This subject motion became significant only through

the use of complementary depth-inducing techniques such as

in-depth subject angle, camera angle, framing, wide angle
lens, and distance-of-view.

These related techniques

affected Isa's movements, rendering them oddly disturbing

due to their peculiar placement in space.

This imparted to

the shot a spatially dynamic and yet unnatural character

that connoted drama and significance far greater than was
called for in the narrative.
Editing as Creating Movement
Editing, more than any other group of techniques,
affected the narrative's temporal reality.

The major

strategy used to destroy narrative time was to create

ambiguity as to how, when, and where different actions

For instance, the sequence of shots including

Isa's death (108) and David's discovery of her (110) was

arranged in such a way that the amount of time that passed

between the death and the discovery was left in doubt.


way this was achieved was to open the "curtain (garage

door) on the action in shot 109 and then to begin shot 110
with an ambiguous cloud effect (caused by a smoke machine),
permitting David to appear to enter subsequently.


effect, the editing was employed to render the action


Even the temporal relationship among all

three suicide attempts was called into question.

time actually passed between each attempt?

How much

Only hints were

In fact, each suicide attempt was made to appear

almost a separate film by the addition of titles and

dramatic music introducing each one.

These editing strate

gies were intended to keep the audience constantly guessing

as to what was actually happening in the story.
Editing could also cause the actions to be viewed less
discursively; already disconnected in time, each shot's
relation to one another was removed or technically

Every edit discouraged connecting one shot's

action to the next.

Editing techniques attempted to pre

vent a logical and visually transparent or seamless

illusion of reality.

Still, enough semblance of continuity

remained for the filmmaker to believe that the audience

could put together the fragmented puzzle of actions to form,
at least, an impression of the story.

Invisible Cutting
Invisible cutting normally lends itself to a more
realistic reproduction of reality.

This is achieved by

carefully matching all material that is present in two

consecutive shots.

However, in 1A, 2A & 3A the filmmaker

stretched and manipulated this technique to its outer


Only the subject action technically matched.


subject moved from one shot to the next, but other techni
cal properties in the shots such as lighting, filtration,
and depth-of-field were manipulated to consistently detract
from a smooth, seamless transition.

The effect of this

strategy was to create a disconcerting uneasiness; the

film's action propelled forward, but it did so within a
constantly changing universe of the work that necessitated
consistent reframing or reschematization by the viewer.
In effect, shots were artificially built up, one on top of

These invisible cuts could almost be classified

as jump cuts, a disruption of normal continuity by the

omission of film footage.

(See below, p. 142.)


latter technique was purposely reserved for editing that

did not even match the subject's action.

Invisible cuts,

though not invisible, still managed to retain some conti

nuity by at least matching subject action.
The discontinuous effects of invisible cutting were
obtained or enhanced by a variety of other techniques

employed within separate shots.

The widespread use of

different filters and lighting of different types, posi

tions, and intensities for each separate shot contributed
to the dissociation between invisibly cut shots.


field might change so radically between two shots that it

was made to look as if the characters were in a different

The individuality of separate shots remained

dominant; by changing the qualities of each shot, the

filmmaker consistently reminded

the audience that this was

One of the surprising outcomes of this strategy was

that actions still seemed coherent, considering the dis

jointed flow.
The editing of shots 7 and 8 illustrated the film
maker's own brand of "invisible" cutting.

Shot 7, a medium

shot, depicted Isa sitting in bed, placing her hands up to

her face, and beginning to weep.
action in close-up:

Shot 8 continued this

Isa weeps and then, removing her hands

from her face, glances at the micro television set.


the cut between shot 7 and 8 was made, as it should be,

during the weeping action, the filmmaker created extreme
discontinuity between the same actions by his abrupt
changes in lighting, camera angle, and filtration.


softly lit, almost pleasant atmosphere of shot 7 was trans

formed into a harsh and shadowy atmosphere in shot 8.


camera angle was altered from a level angle to an extreme

low angle to help effect the change, and the alteration of
filters enhanced this soft to harsh transformation.


was, in effect, the same room was made to appear like two
different rooms by the filmmaker's purely technical (not
actual) manipulation of the mise-en-scene.

The creation of

almost two different fictive worlds in back-to-back shots

obviously went a long way towards the creation of surreality.
Jump Cutting
Jump cutting eliminated continuity of the main action

It provided complete spatial and temporal dis

traction from the thrust of the narrative and its illusion

of reality.

Its effect was intended to make the spectator

almost literally "jump" because of its complete disregard

of the flow of action between shots.
One use of the jump cut where actions were added
rather than eliminated, with disconcerting results,
occurred in shots 15, 16, and 17.

Here, the simple act of

opening the bedroom door occurred repeatedly.

The film

maker attempted to give undue significance to a relatively

trivial action, thereby suggesting the implausibility of
the drama.
Another example of jump cutting was more unusual.


film directing, there is a rule that when cutting from one

shot to another, the camera should never switch to an

opposite direction.
"180 degree line."

This rule is often referred to as the

Breaking it inevitably leads to confu

sion because the spectator is forced to view movements and

positions from opposite directions without any logical

Shots 10 and 11 illustrated this breach of a

filmic convention.

Here, Isa's movements (picking up the

micro television and bringing it to her face) in shot 10

were disconcertingly reversed in shot 11; yet, as usual,
the actions were still comprehensible.
Rhythmic Cutting
Another editing technique that contributed to distrac
tion for stylistic effect was a type of rhythmic cutting.
In this method, as conventionally used, the shots are cut
according to a prescribed measure or tempo.

The two

montage sections ("Grabbing Pills" and "Blood Bath") flowed

so hermetically with the music that they could be viewed as
loosely employing this technique.

The "Grabbing Pills"

montage (shots 35-40) used sweeps of harsh atonal music to

link the wildly abstract shapes of hysterical and violent
activity between Isa and David (see p. 167).
Montage as an Editing Technique
Montage, a thematic rather than narrative sequencing
of shots, was used in two major portions of the film:


"Grabbing Pills" montage (shots 35-40) and the "Blood Bath"

sequence brought this violence to the act of suicide

The montage structure violated linear chronologi

cal time, forming visually poetic impressions rather than

realistically depicting action.

By breaking, almost

completely, the spatio-temporal illusion of reality,

narrative actions were reduced to impressions that were
surreal in both implication and connotation.
It was the "Blood Bath" montage (shots 71-77) that
consecutively built abstract and expressionistic forms to a
violent and emotional height that was one of the most
surreal moments of the film.

As blood pours from Isa's

wrist, one disconcerting shot after another flows with the

hard driving beat of the music.

Every cut emphasizes

abstraction, increasing the dissociation process, and

driving the narrative's linear time and space farther

The tragic and repulsive nature of each shot was

the major element that linked the shots together, such

linking achieved thematically rather than discursively.
Subject and camera movement were critical in creating
a wild and frantic effect in the two montage sequences.


these sequences, a kind of rhythmic cutting (see above,

p. 143) was employed to drive the viewer from one strong
visual motion to the next.

During shooting, the filmmaker

realized that blocking the camera and subject motion

restricted the impulsiveness of movement.

His change in

strategy was to overshoot far more film than was necessary,
providing him with varied material from which to choose.
In this strategy, the actor (in this case, actress)
improvises rather than rendering a precise and predeter
mined set of actions.

At the same time, hand-held camera

movement was employed to enhance the effect of frenzied


Together, the shots appeared to flow in an

uncontrolled fashion, thus conveying the

feeling not the

idea of physical terror engulfing the subject.

images, formed by the multivision five lens


(used to create

a special mask), fractured the image itself, adding to the

wild movement.

This lens also captured Isa's emotional

All these techniques were supported by the

montage editing to form vibrant, abstract, and impulsive

The "Blood Bath" montage of shots 71-77 showed one
shocking image of Isa after another.

The artificial blood,

which poured from tubes in Isa's sleeve, simulated a

slashed wrist and was edited to fill more and more of the
frame until, at the end, the image became a vociferous red
Long Take as an Editing Technique
A contrastive technique with this film's use of
montage editing, the long take tended to render time in a
slow-paced rather than fast-paced manner and consequently,


to give the impression of chronological and narrative time,

unlike montage.

In the long take, shots lasted an inordi

nate amount of time for no logically apparent reason;

usually the actions did not justify the time spent on them.
The technique served two purposes.

First, the length of

time spent on the actions created for them a symbolic and

expressionistic rather than narrative significance.
Second, the dramatic change in tempo of the long takes
altered the universe of the work and demanded a renewed
suspension of disbelief.
Long takes began each of the three distinct sections
of the film (see shots 1-3, 66-68, and 78-84).

By changing

the pace at precisely these moments of the film, the film

maker intended to draw attention to the uniqueness and
discreteness of each section.

Moreover, the opening long

takes of each section of the narrative necessitated a

rearranging of expectations at these critical junctures,
emphasizing the chimerical nature of the film's illusion.
Tonal Cutting
Visual diversion from the thrust of the action was
also obtained by tonal cutting.

This effect was created

when a relatively understandable shot was edited to an

ambiguous or minor shot in the drama.

The minor shot might

consist of a seemingly meaningless object or prop.


photographed object retained its ambiguity (of identity or

place) and distracted the viewer from the illusion of the

As the shot progressed, the object's identity

would become increasingly apparent.

The dissociation caused by tonal cutting was exempli
fied when shot 88 began with only the garage door filling
the frame (seen from within the garage).

After a pause,

the door slowly opened to reveal Isa who was standing


The beginning of the shot could be perceived

ambiguously; the abstract pattern of the door's panels did

not render meaning to the image until the garage door began

This ambiguity of representation permitted

surreal interpretation:

The opening door was figuratively

an opening curtain this to introduce the highly theatrical

set used for the entire third part of the film.
Insert Shot for Use in Editing
The distraction caused by tonal cuts was similar to
that created by the use of insert shots.

In this editing

strategy, an apparently trivial or illogical detail was

"inserted" into the narrative, its very disjunction
violating audience expectations and creating surreal

Actions in the narrative, such as the garage

door closing (shots 91 and 92), were significantly exagger

ated by visualizing them in two consecutive insert shots.
Secondary insert shots were also constructed in shot
numbers 48A, 92, and 106.

Minor actions gained a

disproportionate significance because they were on the
screen longer.

Their role in the film became ambiguous,

leading to a less literal and more surreal reading of the

Movement as Created by Special Effects
Movement special effects altered not only the visual
character of the representation, like their counterpart
under image, but also the temporal nature of the action.
Time would take longer to pass, or could visually stop; or
ambiguous lapses in time could be created.

All these

distortions changed the presentation of the story line;

created a point of pure visual interest (i.e., beauty);
raised questions as to the plausibility of the narrative
(i.e., altered the universe of the work); and multiplied
the film's surreality (necessitating an alteration in
suspension of disbelief).
Fast and Slow Motion Special Effects
By manipulating the camera speed to be slower than
normal, fast motion was obtained.

The technique's jerky

and implied humorous effect was inconsistent with the

film's aesthetic basis; however, some actions could be
accelerated without appearing comical.

Fast motion imbued

the first three shots of the film, containing only slight

movement, with a sense of anxious unreality.


slitting of her wrist, in shot 70, became an even more
violent act by this technique and hence, would impact that
much more on the intended viewer.
Conversely, the camera speed could be manipulated to
be faster than normal so as to create slow motion.


created a dream-like and depressive quality to the movement.

Slow motion was used subtly; a speed was chosen that
achieved the desired effect without hindering narrative
progress or creating visual boredom.
Usually, slow motion was called for in pre-shooting.
Decision as to actual speed was made in shooting.


filmmaker viewed the action of the camera and subject and

made his best determination as to the number of frames per

Shot 114 was the only case where the technique was

further altered in post-shooting.

(See sextet framing,

p. 155.)
This technique affected both camera and subject

Hand-held camera movement always employed slight

slow motion to tone down its jarring nature.

Editing was

generally affected by the altered flow of photographed


The technique was used extensively in such shots

as 23, 35-40, 50, 59, 71-77, 95, 97A, and 114.

In shot

97A, for example, Isa smashes a liquor bottle on the garage

floor, the use of slow motion extending the hysterical act
to an unnatural degree.

Dissolve Special Effects
Editing commonly employed the dissolve special effect,
a technique by which a visually smooth transition between
shots is achieved by means of fading from one shot to the

As it is classically used, the technique conveys a

lapse in time that is, a change from one time period to


This filmmaker, however, rarely employed the

dissolve for its usual denotative meaning; such use was

considered lacking in dissociative effect.

Instead, he

found more unusual contexts for its use, tending to employ

it for its purely visual and expressive properties rather
than for its conventional signification.

Thus, the

dissolve was used only and specifically where it was clear

that no lapse in time occurred or where time was so irrele
vant that its use only served to unnecessarily complicate
the narrative and hence, create further confusion and

Used in this purely visual and stylized way,

the dissolve was intended to force the viewer to attempt

expressive and surreal rather than literal and logical
readings of the film.
Shots 80-81, 82-83, and 84-85 illustrated the above
uses of the dissolve.

This series of shots depicts a zoom

to Isa's face (refer to the section of analysis having to

do with zooming for a full description of this series of
shots, p. 128), a cut to the pendulum clock (an insert

shot), and a dissolve back to Isa's face three different

Here, the dissolves served no function with respect

to indicating a clear transition between shots or between

time periods.

In a sequence that could have shown a clear

passage of time, a host of cinematic techniques of which

the dissolves were one were employed to undermine if not
completely obliterate narrative time.

Far from clarifying

the passage of time, the three dissolves complicated it,

adding surreality and expressiveness to the sequence.


a brief moment, for instance, the dissolve actually super

imposed the image of the clock face onto Isa's own face.
Thus, the use of the dissolve, a technique normally
employed to clarify time, ironically served to dissociate
time from the narrative sequence.

Another use of the

dissolve linked two special effects shots (108 and 108A) to

form a continuous zoom (see p. 158).

The continuous zoom

depicted Isa's head dissolving into the multiple and

rotating images of the pendulum clock after her ostensible

Here, the effect of the dissolve was again a purely

visual and expressive one:

it appeared that one was

actually "entering" the inside of Isa's mind to discover

her innermost thoughts and fantasies.

Could the death

itself have been merely a dream?

Multiple Dissolves as a Special Effect
Used in groups, the dissolve special effect formed

multiple dissolves, a technique by which an action was
repeated over a long period of time.

Such multiple

dissolves created a divertissement or digression from the

narrative action, concentrating viewer attention on the
abstract qualities of spatio-temporal movement.

The tech

nique violated linear presentation of time, motion, and

space, thereby creating an expressive rather than referen
tial use of reality.
A series of seven multiple dissolve shots was con
ceived in pre-shooting for the close-up of Isa's hand
placing the car key in the ignition to start the car (shot

During shooting, the filmmaker added the multivision

three special effect lens to create abstract shapes and

movement throughout the frame.

In post-shooting, two of

the repeated shots were edited out for the sake of brevity,
leaving five shots.

The cumulative effect of these

dissolves was to distract the viewer from the narrative

story and force him to focus on the visual and stylized
quality of the technique itself.

Such a digressionary

interlude obviously served to dissociate the film from

reality and to create an abstract universe within the work.
Dissolves To and From Red as a
Special Effect
To portray clear transitions of time, the special
effect of dissolving to and from the pure color red was

employed in the movie.

Normally, the fade-out and fade-in

accomplish this task by drawing the image to black and then

returning to a new image or time.

But this strategy

provides a visual pause and a chance for the viewer to

re-frame expectations for the next scene.

The filmmaker

did not want this narrative-supporting pause in the action,

yet he needed a temporal-eclipsing devise.

Instead of

fading in and out of black, he decided to dissolve to and

from the color red, the film's thematic color and leit
Such a device, rarely employed in film, yielded
obvious dissociating effects in 1A, 2A &3A.

The audience

was expected to ask of such an effect, "What?" and "Why?"

Meanings beyond the narrative were expected.

The technique

was employed extensively throughout the film in such

diverse moments as shots 1-3, 17, 26-28, 41, 51, 58A, 65,
77, and 78.

In shot 17, for example, the last of the

repeating bedroom door closings occurred (see jump cut,

p. 142) .

To indicate that a span of time was about to

pass, the image of the closing door was dissolved to red

or, more graphically put, appeared to be submerged in a
fluid red.
A variation on dissolving to red, the technique of
cutting directly to red, was employed to create a staccato
effect or a quickening of the film's pace.

The technique

was developed to accentuate the editing flow of the intro
duction to the film's second part (shots 66-68) in which
the pace was unusually slow and long.

Cutting to and from

red instead of dissolving quickened the pace, and still

served as a time-eclipsing device.
Freeze Framing Special Effects
One technique, freeze framing, stopped all movement;
the image resembled a still photograph; time was halted.
The technique was essentially like a projected slide.


suddenness of the device almost broke the filmic universe

and hence, violated narrative plausibility.
Freeze framing, employed only once, dramatically
introduced and closed in effect, "framed" the film's final
shot (114):

David carrying Isa's corpse out of the garage

and walking out of the picture.

The freeze frame itself

depicted an exterior shot of the opened garage and two

police cars parked in the driveway.

The beginning and

ending freeze frames were exactly the same.

The beginning

freeze served as a kind of "opening curtain" to what


the revelation of Isa's corpse.

The final

freeze frame effectively closed the "curtain"; it literally

ended the film.

The "message" had been delivered and the

shot could return to its opening dormant state.

The freeze

frame technique, along with sextet framing (discussed

below), effectively extended what might have been a shot of

rather brief duration into a shot of dramatic proportions.
This was, of course, appropriate for the film's final shot.
In effect, the strategy of the freeze framing created a
kind of epilogue, not attached to but, within the film

Moreover, it radically altered the conditions for

interpreting the final part of the narrative.

The freeze framing technique was not envisioned during
the pre-shooting or shooting stages.

It was arrived at,

with sextet framing (see below), during post-shooting in

order to extend the film's final shot beyond what the film
maker had originally intended to accomplish with simple
slow motion.

The length of time the two separate freeze

frames remained on the screen was a problem solved only by

editing the image to the completed sound film that is,
synchronizing the freeze frame with the music.

The musical

structure was the greatest factor in arriving at this

editing decision.

Each freeze frame served to introduce a

change in music, the sudden halting of motion together with

the musical change creating greater emotional impact.
Sextet Framing Special Effects
Similar to double framing, sextet framing printed each
original frame six times on a new negative, causing action
to be slowed down six times.

In effect, it was a series of

six freeze frames, creating a staccato-like slow motion.

The individual frames appeared as a series of still

photographs which were quickly shuffled through:


was completely dissociated from reality.

This technique, like freeze framing {see above), was
developed in post-shooting for shot 114, the film's final

Slow motion was not considered surreal enough for

the last images of the film; sextet framing offered a solu

tion to this problem.

Together with the two symmetrical

freeze frames, it almost completely detached the final

portion of the narrative from the film, due to its almost
three-minute length.

As stated above, it created a kind of

surreal epilogue within the film.

The effects of sextet framing were most unusual.
Besides fundamentally altering David's walking, it should
be mentioned that a police car flashed its red emergency
lights during the shot, enforcing the film's red leitmotif.
Sextet framing deformed and stilted the lights' sweeping
actions, transforming them into surreal, strobe-like,
abstract entities.

The effect was not unlike animation.

Flash Framing Special Effects

During two early invisible cuts in the film, the film
maker chose to jar the viewer's illusion of reality by the
addition of flash frames.

As used by this filmmaker, two

or three colored frames were inserted into the action for

an instant of time.

This rarely used technique was

developed in post-shooting.

Because the filmmaker believed

the early edits needed some type of extreme violation of
expectation, red flash frames were added to shots 7 and 8,
emphasizing the film's leitmotif and creating a visual
"punch" to the invisible cuts.
Reverse Motion Special Effects
A unique variation on reverse motion was developed
specifically to dissociate the dramatically climactic shot
number 108 from reality, a shot depicting Isa sitting in
the driver's seat of the gas-filled car.

Overcome with the

noxious substance, she spasmatically dies, dropping onto

the steering wheel and tripping the car's loud horn.
Normal reverse motion is created by photographing in
reverse; the film goes through the camera backwards.


the filmmaker's variation, subject motion was also reversed.

In other words, all actions were blocked backwards, so that
when the filmstrip was projected forward, Isa's actions
would be as scripted.

However, the actress could not

imitate the actions in perfect reverse; therefore, nuances

in her movements were stylized and unnatural, almost
assuming the quality of animation.
Such stylized unreality at a crucial moment in the
narrative Isa's death scene was intended to create severe
dissociating effects.

If Isa's death were made to look

cartoon-like and false, perhaps her death was an illusion,

a fantasy, a dream.

And if the plausibility of her death

were thrown into question, then the plausibility of the
entire narrative was suddenly threatened.
The special effects employed in this shot did nothing
to decrease such implausibility.

A continuous zoom kept

the frame constantly moving inward towards Isa.

The zoom,

like the subject's actions, had to be performed in reverse.

All movement camera and subject looked unrealistic.


the end of the shot, the frame was completely filled with
the character's black hair.

Just as this blackening

reached its full effect, the image dissolved into the next
special effect shot (108A).
Rotating Multivision Five Lens with
Zoom as a Special Effect
The clock was the subject in the frame's center for
shot 108A, a special effects shot utilizing a rotating
multivision five lens with a zoom.

Four other images of

the clock rotated around the central one, which became

increasingly close, finally eliminating the four surround
ing clocks.
This insert shot was added to graphically depict the
passage of time but in such a stylized manner that it
detracted from the story.

The dissolve, which linked the

combined zooms between shots 108 and 108A, was never inter
rupted between the shots, creating the illusion of one long
continuous zoom.

The shot's unreality was intended to thematically
affect the sequence.

Isa's death was stylized; its

technical artificiality was so extreme, even within the

contextual surrealism, that its occurrence was questionable.
Did Isa, in fact, die?

Was her death a dream or fantasy?

Superimposed Dissolve as a
Special Effect
Another similar fantasy-inducing technique was the
superimposed dissolve.

This special effect was one in

which a second image, almost exactly like the first,

appeared to grow onto the original picture.

For example,

the effect was

used in the point

of view shot 34 togive

the impression

that a knife grew

into Davids hand. The

shot depicted David with an empty hand, having just dropped

a ball of twine.

By dissolving to the same image, differ

ent only in that he

the impression

held a large

knife, the shot created

that the knife grew into his hand.

The technique was accomplished by first photographing

the shot complete with the action of the ball of twine fall
ing, and then stopping the camera.

The subject did not

move while a knife was placed in his hand.

Once the knife

was in place, the camera began filming again.


editing, the images were cut so that the first image would
perfectly dissolve into the second, revealing only the

The relationship of movement to image and sound to
image is critically different.

While movement effects

actually altered the inherent structure of the image, sound

affected the image only referentially.

This was so because

action was literally recorded on the film's image-track;

sound, being an entirely different medium, had its own
unique track.

This essential difference affected the film

maker's strategies in dissociating the film from the

illusion of reality.

The filmmaker achieved dissociation

through the manipulation of sound techniques by altering

the nature of the sound itself

(so that its natural

referent was made unclear), by altering the expected rela

tionship between the sound and its referent the image, and
by utilizing purely abstract and expressionistic sound
i.e., non-referential sound.
To prevent realism, the filmmaker's strategy was to
use all sound techniques only expressionistically.


instance, he rarely used sound when the image seemed to

demand such accompanying noise (a door closing, a ball of
twine dropping, David talking on the telephone).

In fact,

when it did, he would more than likely not use a sound.

a sound were used say, the sound effect of David opening
the medicine bottle in shot 45 it was so abstract and
distorted as to be unnatural.


The sound track was rich with music, sound effects,
and dialogue.

All were interwoven to create a web of

enigmatic and expressive response.

The separation among

the three was continually diminished so that they became a


As many as twelve tracks were sometimes playing

simultaneously, all intermixing into one expressionistic

sound track.
There was only one occasion in the film where no sound
of any kind was employed.

In shot 113A, as David walked

around the car containing Isa's corpse, each individual

sound disappeared, one by one, until he was left in
complete silence.

This stark contrast and dramatic pause

appeared to significantly change the film from one universe

into another.
In all, sound created its own dramatic and unique
presence that was never subservient to the image.


multiplied the ambiguity of the already ambiguous images to

further undermine narrative reality.
Dialogue, the first of the major categories under
sound, is usually of two types;

synchronous and asynchro

In synchronous dialogue, there is total, or almost

total correspondence, between image and sound (word, grunt,


In asynchronous dialogue, rarely employed in this

film, there is no such agreement.

Synchronous Dialogue
Two types of synchronous dialogue tracks were used in
the film:

narrative dialogue tracks which consisted of

scripted lines for the actors, and a continuous track of

Isa's noises and sounds (non-scripted).
Narrative dialogue would normally support realism of
the image.

However, in this filmmaker's use of such

dialogue, the soundtrack was dubbed in such a way as to

subtly distort the quality of the sound.

If the voices

still remained synchronous with their accompanying visuals,

they nevertheless seemed distinct.

The effect produced was

one in which the voices did not seem to quite mesh with the
particular room or mise-en-scene in which they were sup
posed to have occurred.

One way this was achieved was to

adjust the volume of the sound during the mix without

regard for the character's relative position in the miseen-scene.

For example, in shot 45, in the enclosed porch

scene, David's voice is too loud for his relative position

within the frame.

This unrealistic use of dialogue volume

was intended to violate the viewer's expectations and

hence, distract from the story's realism.
Isa's roughly synchronous dialogue track, consisting
largely of noises and sounds rather than words, also
contributed to the film's surreality by its altered and
expressive sonic qualities.

During the mix, Isa's voice

(grunts, groans, hysterical screaming, heavy breathing,
etc.) would be raised and lowered dramatically and illogically, without necessarily matching her actions on screen.
The sound mixer also employed a number of distortive sound
mechanisms to create echo, reverberation, attenuation,
compression, and equalization of sound.

Moreover, the fact

that the filmmaker was not overly concerned with achieving

perfect synchronism made the dubbing process (the matching
of sound to image) relatively easy.

Such rough or imper

fect synchronism obviously added its own expressionistic

effects to the film.

The "Blood Bath" montage (shots 70-

77), depicting Isa's hysteria after slitting her wrist,

illustrated one of the most expressionistic uses of non
scripted dialogue in the film.

Here, the volume of Isa's

screaming was raised to dramatic proportions; and, then, to

dissociate the sound from reality even more, an extreme
echo effect was added to the sequence.
Sound Effects
Sound effects, or noises made during the film, are
normally employed to complement and support the visual

Doors closing, clocks ticking, horns beeping

ordinarily enhance the objective realism of the shots.

this film, however, sound effects were used to alert the
audience that they were perceiving a highly orchestrated
and subjective series of actions.

Sounds would suddenly



and unnaturally "pop on," either without reference to a

particular image or visual action, or without being "in
sync" with the image itself.
were employed:

Two types of sound effects

parallel or synchronous and off-screen or

Parallel (Synchronous) Sound Effects
In this kind of sound effect, as normally used, the
sound produced is in perfect "sync" with the image or
action making the sound.

However, in this film, the film

maker dissociated the sound effect from its intended refer

ent in three ways:

first, the quality of the sound did not

technically duplicate or match the image which produced it;

second, the sound volume and mix were altered to produce an
unreal presence; and third, only certain images and actions
within a shot, subjectively chosen, actually produced their
normal sound accompaniment.

It should be noted that the

ultimate effect of such dissociations was very nearly to

turn synchronous sound effects into asynchronous ones (see
off-screen sound effects below).
The dissociating effects of the parallel category were
best illustrated in shot 87.

Here, Isa, quite drunk and

still drinking, ebbs up and walks out the door of the


First, to draw attention to her drinking, the

filmmaker dubbed an artificially loud "clinking" noise to

the action of the glass hitting the table.

While "in sync"

with the action, the distorted sound did not match the
quality of the action.

Moments later, Isa pushes her chair

out from the table, an obviously noisy act.

But, in this

case, the filmmaker dubbed no accompanying sound, and the

chair "produced" only silence.

The absence of sound, here,

had a rippling effect, for the "clinking" of the glass

preceding it now appeared even that much louder in contrast
to the "silent" chair.

Of course, the strategy precluded

the realistic and objective role normally associated with

such "parallel" effects.
During pre-shooting and shooting, the filmmaker
gathered ideas as to what sounds he later wanted, but it
was only when the edited film was repeatedly screened that
he made strategic decisions.

The chosen sound effects were

recorded and the sound effects tracks edited in order to be

sound tracks.

These tracks were later mixed among the other

Different phases of post-shooting allowed

for constant revision and elaboration of the filmmaker's

Off-Screen (Asynchronous) Sound Effects
Sounds from sources not directly linked to the action
on the screen are often termed off-screen sound effects.
Two types were heard during the film.

One was a track

consisting of a ticking clock underlying every shot, and

creating a presence of anxiety throughout the film.


sound had little function in conveying narrative reality;
rather, it altered the film expressionistically, either
directly or subliminally.

The second type of asynchronous

sound effects consisted of various other off-screen sounds.

In many of these, the sound when it first appeared was
synchronous or parallel (that is, the object making the
sound was in the picture), only to become asynchronous as
it continued.

For example, a "receiver-off-hook" signal

began synchronously in shot 56 but continued asynchronously,

and with anxiety-inducing effect, through shot 60.


another example, a sound of running water began synchro

nously in shot 28 and then continued for the most part,
asynchronously to form an underlying and disconcerting
tone through shot 33.
The various sounds endowed the film with ambiguous

Their seemingly disproportionate significance was

intended to either distract the viewer from the narrative

or, in surrealistic fashion, force him to create new and
expressive meanings.

The ticking clock added anxiety and

suggested that time might be running out on Isa.

The "off-

hook" signal foreshadowed the harsh and abrasive rhythms of

the rape to follow.

The persistent running water created

confusion in narrative dialogue.

Off-screen sound effects also worked their way into
the musical fabric of the film, the last of the three sound

categories to be discussed below.

The electronic and

atonal nature of the music seemed to both "accept" and

enhance the expressive nature of the off-screen sounds.
Sound and music together became a powerful and expressive
Music alone affected more of the film, more of the
time, than any other single technique because it played
almost throughout the entire movie.

Only once was music

actually seen being played in the drama (shot 9); so

dissociated was the micro TV's music that it hardly was a
part of the actual narrative thread.

All other music was

either commentative or contrapuntal.

It either "flowed"

with the action or against it.

Film music established a mood for the work, a mood
which violated what one might expect from a realistic
narrative with this particular content.

While the subject

of suicide would seem to lend itself to sad and emotionally

empathetic music, the filmmaker generally employed cold and
severe music to establish a mood of almost unabating ruth
lessness throughout the film.

This he attempted to achieve

by the use of electronic or atonal music.


mechanical, and repetitious, it transformed a potentially

sympathetic content into a harsh and gaudy one.
While the subject matter consistently called for

emotional identification, the music and other techniques
were intended to distance and even repel the viewer from
the narrative.

The viewer would be presented with an

emotional conflict:
not be able to.

he would want to identify but he would

Such an effect would prevent him from

suspending his disbelief and thereby encourage surreal and

symbolic interpretation.
Commentative Music
Commentative music flowed with the action.


less, its mood often demanded a different response than

might be expected.

In this fashion, the cold and imper

sonal electronic "Title Theme Music," which introduced each

of the film's three sections, created ambiguity because its
mood contradicted rather than reflected the sad and tragic
The filmmaker had some rough ideas about the music in

These were discussed with the composer at

this stage and during shooting.

But the specific music was

finally decided upon only by playing it with the finished

film at the post-shooting stage.

This represented a con

stantly evolving creative execution.

Contrapuntal Music
A greater unreality or surrealism was obtained by
contrapuntal music.

This music formed a separate mood that

seemed not to follow the action.

Rather, it commented

obliquely, transforming "normal" interpretations of the

narrative into alternative ones.

In fact, at times,

contrapuntal music formed an impression which strongly

fought against the story line.

Use of this disconcerting

effect was mostly reserved for the highly dissociative

third part of the film on the death by asphyxiation (shots

Here, the music ran a slow, random, and sparse

course, detracting from the story and its visually express

ive and theatrically explosive images.

The judgments, recommendations, and observations in
this section are those solely of the filmmaker/researcher
and are based on his actual experience of producing and
analyzing this particular film.

For the purpose of this

glossary a brief description of each dissociative technique

is provided that employs references from general film

Accordingly, the techniques discussed in this

chapter are only those techniques employed in this

This glossary should in no way be construed to be
comprehensive in its variety of techniques.

The ascribed

characteristics of each technique, and the recommendations

for their use, are those perceived by the researcher and
not by any respondents.
The techniques are listed in alphabetical order for
the convenience of the reader.

A complete list of cine

matic techniques organized by image, movement, and sound

may be found in Appendix E.
Available Lighting employs the actual lights of an already
existent filming location or the naturalistic lighting
built into a constructed set.

The use of available

lighting in an interior tends to create greater realism.
A surreal use of available lighting can be obtained by
altering the transmission of natural illumination in other
words, by making the lights appear unreal in the mise-enscene.

This can be accomplished in two ways:

1. through

optical distortion achieved by the use of fog filters,

defraction filters, or various special effects lenses (by
the projection of light directly into the camera); and
2. through the use of artificial lights normally associated
with filming.
Black and White Filmstock is a type of filmstock, or
"unexposed film that is to be shot in the camera"

and is

without color and is composed of shades of gray from black

to white.

It can be "in black and white or monochrome,

sepia, or the like."^

The use of black and white filmstock is especially
effective when employed in a color film.

The radical

change in filmstock implies that the black and white

section is fantasy, dream, or some other alternative
reality, and may violate the responder's "normal" apprehen
sion of reality.

^-Edward Pincus, Guide to Filmmaking (New York: New

American Library, 1972), 56.
^Webster's New International Dictionary of the English
Language, 2nd ed. (Springfield, MA: G. and C. Merriam
Company, Publishers, 1937), 278.

Bottom Position Lighting is a lighting position whereby
light emanates from the bottom of the

s u b je c t.-^

In a normal environment, sources of lighting do not

usually project from low positions.

This technique alters

the mise-en-scene, creating an unexpected and strange

Projecting light onto a subject from

a low angle tends

to make the subject somewhat frightening. This

can be used

thematically to connote new or ambiguous meaning in the

Change in Color is a special effect whereby

the color of

the image is changed after it is shot.^

This technique alters the nature of the filmstock and
induces a violation of expectation in much the same manner
as a switch from color to black and white filmstock.
Particular colors can be chosen for their affective and
thematic connotations.

For example, red often connotes

violence or blood; blue can evoke feelings of melancholy,

coolness, etc.

Such colors can be used thematically

throughout the film to create ambiguity in the filmic

interpretation of the narrative.
Change in color is often associated with the

^Pincus 87.
^Adapted from Pincus 99-100.

complementary technique of underexposure.

By underexposing

the negative, it becomes weaker and more pliable for change

in color.

The weak negative also enhances the two-

dimensional quality of the image.

Colored Lighting refers to the placement of specific light
ing that alters part of the shot's color temperature.
This category of lighting does not resemble reality;
it is usually associated with theatrical stage lighting as
it tends to add an artificial drama to the set.


expressionism is created at the expense of realism.


colored lighting is used too flagrantly, the film can

appear so unreal and manipulated that it appears ludicrous.
A proper balance between stylistic expressivity and narra
tive believability must be established throughout the film
when employing this technique.
Unexpected colors create an unnatural feeling in the
set a sense of unreality.

This can be heightened by the

employment of colors that evoke feelings.

Such use can be

coordinated with the thematic motifs of other color tech


Subjects can move in and out of colored lighting,

often creating sudden shocking effects.

Color Temperature refers to the "differences in the color
quality of . . . various light sources."5


^Kenneth H. Roberts and Win Sharpies, Jr., A Primer

for Film-making; A Complete Guide to 16mm and 35mm Film

differences are measured in Kelvin degrees.

The technique

of colored lighting is also a variation of color tempera

ture, but achieves its effect through actual placement of
the lights.
Color temperature can be used to alter the color of
either the entire image or parts of the image.


shifting of the temperature can render the image bluish or

yellowish, depending on the interior and exterior balance
of the filmstock.
A more creative use of color temperature for surreal
effect is achieved by having one area of the image normally
balanced but others with an improper temperature.


example, interiors can be normally balanced, but windows

which emit daylight will produce an unearthly bluish glow.
Exterior shots can be correctly balanced, but light from
depicted interiors will have an unusually warm, yellowish
Commentative Music (asynchronous and parallel) is "by
definition asynchronous . . .

it can, and most frequently

is, parallel, enhancing and conveying subtle particulars of,

but nevertheless duplicating, the visual mood."5
A surreal use of this technique is to have the music

Production (Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc.,

1982), 56.
^Roberts and Sharpies 365.

parallel the visual action but with an alternate meaning or

For example, happy music can be played during a

murder or sad music during a love scene.

This creates

ambiguity as to the meaning or purpose of the scene in the

narrative? it also violates normal expectation of the story,
especially through its seeming closeness to the action.
Compositional Diffusion Filter is a filter that consists of
painting a glass surface before the lens with petroleum
jelly or some similar substance.

By painting the glass

surface, certain areas of the image become diffused in

various gradations.

The technique necessitates that the

image be quite static.

This technique creates a contrived and stunning beauty
that has the potential to violate the normal expectation of
the narrative, such as beautifying the image of a killing.
To even out the image, a diffusion filter can be employed
to work in conjunction with this technique.
Contrapuntal Music (asynchronous and non-parallel) refers
to music which "seems to run its own course, almost as
if it were telling its own version of the visual story,
sometimes uncannily underscoring the emotions and actions
on the screen, at other times commenting obliquely on the
actions, and at still others, providing a somehow illumina
ting contrast."7

7Roberts and Sharpies 366.


Surrealistically, this technique can be used to alter

the normal interpretation of the narrative, creating ambi
guity because the mood of the music differs from the narra
tive story.

Contrapuntal music forms a separate mood that

does not follow the action.

It creates an oblique or

alternate independent interpretation that violates the

expected response.
Cut To and From a Color is an abrupt transitional device
that is used to separate time and/or space.

Similar in

nature to the fade-out and fade-in, the technique differs

in two respects:

1. It joltingly shifts the viewer's

attention by direct cuts instead of dissolves or fades.

Cutting instead of dissolving creates a staccato effect,
quickening the pace of the film.

2. The use of color

instead of neutral black can evoke response in and of


It can be employed as a leitmotif or thematic

device to unify various individual scenes.

Deep Depth of Field (also known as "deep focus") is a
"technique of photography which permits all distance planes
to remain clearly in focus, from close-up ranges to
This technique is more closely associated with the
realistic tendencies of film.

The technique can be used

Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies, 3rd ed. (New

Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. , 1982)",' 471T.

surrealistically as a means of contrasting one or more
shots with others that depict a scene.

In a series of

shots that are blurry and hard to see, for example, deep
focus can be employed to suddenly alter the environment to
one in which everything is in clear view.

This causes a

sudden change in the universe of the work which detracts

from the transparent illusion of reality.
Diffusion Filter refers to a type of filter that
"modif[ies] some of the light by refracting many of the
rays and thereby displacing the focus of the light rays
before they strike the film. . . . Since the filter
refracts the rays and displaces the focus, it can be used
to soften hard lines or blemishes as much as possible
without being obvious."9
Heavy diffusion creates so little contrast and softens
the image to such an extent that it renders the image more
painterly than normally expected in film reproduction.
Thus, it imbues the shot with an unreal quality.

The image

becomes more abstractly beautiful and less illusionistic.

Dissolve (also called a "lap dissolve")

"refer [s] to the

slow fading out of one shot and the gradual fading in of

its successor, with a superimposition of images, usually at
the midpoint."

^Roberts and Sharpies 40.

lGiannetti 476.

Dissolves can be used in ways other than expected; in
other words, not only as smooth editing transitions to
convey the change from one time period to another.


purely abstract visual interest of a shot can be stressed

by dissolving from one time period to the same period.


viewer expects a new time but, instead, is again in the

same temporal period; the dissolve merely superimposes one
shot upon the next.

This creates visual ambiguity and a

violation of expectations as to the logical progression of

the narrative.
Dissolve To and From a Color refers to a technique that
consists of a shot dissolving to a full color screen and
then dissolving from the color screen to the next shot.
Essentially, it replaces the more usual fade-out and

The device conveys a change in time and/or space.

The color screen can serve two purposes in dissocia

ting a film from reality:

First, the uncommon nature of

the technique violates the audience's expectations.

Second, the colored screen breaks the image's space and
time but without the pause or rest which a plain black
screen would provide.

The color can also be consistent

with the thematic needs of the film.

Downward Motion is a type of subject motion in which the
subject moves vertically downward toward the bottom of the

This technique can be used in two ways to dissociate a
film from reality.

First, the technique can stylistically

simulate a vertical wipe.

This is done by having the

subject's movement cut off vision of the image.


instance, the closing of a Venetian blind can accomplish

this effect.
Second, other technical effects can be utilized to
enhance downward motion.

For example, special effects lens

movement can have its optical distortion synchronized with

the subject's downward motion.
Fast Motion (also called "accelerated motion")

is "an

action . . . photographed at a slower rate than 24 frames

per second,

[which] when the film is projected at the

standard rate of 24 fps . . . will appear to be moving at a

faster rate than normal, and will often seem jerky.

This technique often creates a humorous effect which

limits its appropriate use.

However, subtle employment of

fast motion can accelerate subject movement to create an

unnaturally anxious pace.

Violent or sudden action can be

accentuated by use of the technique.

Flash Framing requires insertion of one or two frames of an

^ A d a p t e d from Giannetti 88.

^-^Giannetti 478.

image, color, black, or white.

When projected, the

frame(s) will appear for only a fraction of a second,

forming an almost subliminal impression.
The technique can obtrude upon the transparency of the
filmic illusion by inserting frames within a shot or
between invisible cuts.

This distracts the viewer from the

narrative and can add a purely visual or filmic excitement

to'a scene.
The technique can also briefly flashforward or flash
back a shot from another part of the scene.

This confuses

the narrative and can create extra-mimetic response.

Flat Subject Angle is a type of subject angle where the
subject before the camera is photographed "from a straight
front position."13
The use of this angle can imbue the subject with an
icon-like presence.

Such an effect can be enhanced by the

implementation of front lighting and depth-of-field.

Sparse use enables the filmmaker to create an alternate
interpretation of the subject and mise-en-scene, thus
transforming the universe of the work.
Fog Filter refers to filters that "are based on the
principle that fog creates a bluish halo around any bright
object because of the defraction and dispersion of light by

13Roberts and Sharpies 141.

the small droplets of water making up the fog."1 ^


filter is used to create the same effect that the inter

action of light and fog produces.
In interiors, a violation of expectation can be caused
by the very existence of fog.

The unreal bluish haze tends

to enhance the "beauty" of the image at the expense of


It can also add an eerie quality to the scene

that creates mystery in the drama.

Fog Half Filter (see Fog Filter) creates the impression of
fog for only half the frame.

It presents a truly unreal

mise-en-scene that alerts viewers to the abstract pictorial

qualities of the image rather than to the story.
Freeze F r a m e .is a technique that stops all motion on the
screen by reprinting one frame a number of times.


effectively transforms the moving illusion into a type of

still photograph.

This radically changes the illusion of

reality, almost destroying it.

Time, in a film, can

literally be halted; and this calls for a response differ

ent from the prior illusion and even from the story itself,
i.e., to visual effect alone.
Music or sound effects can dramatically complement
this effect by starting or stopping when it begins or ends.
This draws the viewer away from the internal drama and can

^ R o b e r t s and Sharpies 41.

be perceived to demand a purely cinematographic response.
Gradual Color Filter is a type of filter that immerses the
image into various gradations of color, which have no basis
in realism.

Usually half the frame is tinted and half is

unaffected increasing pictorialism at the cost of realism.

As with all color effects, a gradual color filter can
employ a color consistent with the thematic needs of the
The gradual color filter can be used with other
filters to render the image even more painterly.


this filter can be physically rotated to color different

areas of the frame during one shot.

Such lens movement

makes it apparent to the viewer that the image is being

manipulated or recreated, thus dissociating the shot from
the illusion of reality.
Hand-Held Camera Movement is a type of camera motion where
the camera is physically held by the cameraperson without
any support or mechanical effect on the motion of the

This allows for quick spontaneous movement that is

often associated with documentary realism.

Surrealistically, this effect can be used to create a
jumpiness to the image.

It can be employed to accentuate

violent and fast-moving narrative action.

The technique

dissociates the film from reality not so much in and of

itself as it does in combination with other techniques,

such as special effects lenses and rhythmic cutting.


technique increases ambiguity because the image is less

clear and more unstable.
High Camera Angle is a type of camera angle where "the
camera is pointed downward at the subject being photo
graphed. "15
This camera angle can render the subject's action less

The audience is given the impression that

they are "looking down" at what is happening.

This angle

is sometimes referred to as a "God's eye" or "bird's eye"

view due to this impression of reality.

The technique can

be used interpretively to distance involvement with the


High views also offer an unusual perspective that

veers away from naturalistic illusion.

High camera angles can be juxtaposed with low camera
angles to create extreme alternating views of a particular
scene; each connotes opposite significance.
To further the disorienting quality of this camera
angle, off-center framing can be employed.

Often these two

techniques can distort space and subject motion for surreal

High Contrast Filmstock has a great density difference
resulting from a given exposure.

15Roberts and Sharpies 142.

For example, the film

either records completely black or completely white.
The image loses depth and becomes almost completely
two-dimensional in quality.

Subtle details in the image

are lost so that the picture becomes almost an abstract

series of shapes:

The reality that exists has a stark

haunting nature which only remotely echoes the illusion.

High Intensity Lighting is an intensity of light where the
strength or amount of light is of a relatively great number
of footcandles or of high wattage.17
High intensity lights can be employed to create
dramatic highlights.

The intensity enables modeling of the

light to form a very contrived and expressive image which

dissociates itself from reality.

It also usually increases

the depth-of-field of a shot.

Horizontal Diffraction Filter is a filter that, when struck
by light, forms linear spectrums of light across the frame.
These lines, although beautifying the image, distract
the viewer from the internal action of the drama, thus
dissociating the film from reality.

The filter can be used

in conjunction with other filters.

The horizontal diffrac

tion filter did not so much affect other filters as it

added its own particular effect to them.

Adapted from Webster1s 580.

17Adapted from Pincus 8 6-89.

In-Depth Subject Angle has the subject before the camera
angled in such a way as to create depth.1
This technique can be used to expand the spatial
relations of the mise-en-scene.

Four other techniques work

well with this angle, and help to increase the artificial

production of three-dimensionality:

wide angle lens, off-

center framing, low camera angle, and subject motion.


combination of these techniques can create a contrived

quality to the set, altering the natural suspension of
Insert Shot (also known as a "cut-in") is a type of editing
used to depict a detailed action or a part of the scene.
Often, close-ups of various characters are considered
insert shots when those characters are reacting to the main
action of the drama.
The insert shot can be employed surrealistically,
however, when it is used to distract the viewer's attention
away from the main action or drama.

This imparts a sense

of significance to the action but does not explain its

importance and thus creates ambiguity.

The shot can be

elongated so that it lasts on screen an inordinate amount

of time, seemingly denoting even greater significance.
This ambiguous distraction from the drama violates the
normal apprehension of a story, causing confusion as to its

1Roberts and Sharpies 141.

Invisible Cutting (often called "unobtrusive" or "match"

is "basically . . . cutting from one shot to


[so that] any material simultaneously present in

both shots must match."1

"It is within the scene in

continuity, where the illusion of temporal continuity must

be maintained, that the cut must be rendered unobtrusive.
This technique inherently supports the transparent and
seamless representation of reality.

Surrealistically, the

technique can be stretched or transformed to almost a jump

cut by technically having the action between the two shots
"match," but by having other factors in the shot detract
from the invisible transition between shots.

For instance,

lighting, filters, camera speed, etc. might be altered

between two shots.
This creates an effect whereby the action of the
narrative flows through different atmospheres, creating a
surreal awareness of the individual shots that violates the
viewer's expectations.
Jump Cutting is a type of editing that is "the simple
cutting out of footage that would otherwise give the
sequence normal continuity.

Much more rarely used is the

^ R o b e r t s and Sharpies 195.

2Roberts and Sharpies 195.

type of jump-cut in which [the] camera viewpoint changes
very slightly on the cut, giving the impression of a jump
in the action."21
The technique creates highly noticeable and disjointed
transitions which detract from the flow of the narrative
and make the viewer highly conscious of the cinematographic

The technique ruptures subject motion and the

normal apprehension of time in a film, causing violation of

Key Lighting refers to "the main light illuminating the
Strong key lighting is employed dissociatively when it
forms shadows, pools of light, or highlights that transform
the scene from the natural to the expressionistic or

The mood of the mise-en-scfene can evoke an

opposite feeling to the narrative or add a new interpreta

Kicker Light refers to a light "placed directly opposite
the subject from the key light."23
Surrealist use of this light serves the special
purpose of creating highlights, separating background from
foreground, projecting light directly into the lens for

21Pincus 125.
22pincus 83.

23Roberts and Sharpies 74.

optical distortion in filters, and forming shadows.


these effects manipulate the set to serve new and different

dramatic ends rather than realistically illuminate the
Left-Right Subject Motion is a type of subject motion where
the subject moves from the left-hand part of the frame to
the right-hand part of the frame, or

v i c e - v e r s a .


Surreal use of this motion reinforced the space of the

mise-en-sc^ne or redefined it in order to establish new
spatial areas.

For example, to instigate a narratively

distracting camera movement, the subject can move towards

one side of the frame.

This type of use also brought

attention to the frame's borders, emphasizing the artifi

ciality of the cinematographic illusion.
Lens Movement is a series of techniques that refer to every
actual physical movement of the lens that is visible on
screen, except zooming.

For this reason, it is rarely used

and is generally considered a technical defect since it

destroys the transparent and seamless cinematographic

Such lens movements include rack-focusing,

filter movement, and special effects lens movement (e.g.,

multivision lens).
The surreal alteration of the image by actual physical
optical distortion not only dissociates the film from

2^Adapted from Giannetti 88.

reality but draws attention to the fact that the narrative
is fabricated rather than "occurring."

The technique dis

tracts the viewer from the internal workings of the drama

to such an extent that its use is best reserved for highly
dramatic moments.

Perhaps its greatest attribute surreally

is that it fundamentally alters the universe of the work.

Long Take refers to any shot that lasts an inordinate
amount of time.

Its most potent use is where there is

little or no dramatic action.

When the long take is used surreally, the action
usually does not justify such time spent.
serves two purposes:

Such surreal use

First, the length of time spent on

the actions imparts greater significance to them.


creates ambiguity, for their import rests on other than

strictly narrative aspirations.

Second, the change in

tempo and the extensiveness of the shot make the viewer

conscious of the manipulative function of the shot.


violates expectations of normal illusionism.

Low Camera Angle is where "the camera is tilted upward to
view the subject from below.

. . .,,25

Surreal use of this technique occurs with more extreme

low angles, often referred to as "worm's eye views."
technique imbues the image with a larger-than-life

^^Roberts and Sharpies 143.


significance, and the image tends to dominate the action
out of all proportion.

This strong dramatic presence is

not created by the mimetic use of the camera; reality is

altered to connote the dramatically surreal.
Such use of the low camera angle is often enhanced by
the distorted perspective of the wide angle lens and by the
disconcerting use of off-center framing.

Camera movement,

from this unnatural angle, also becomes odd and unnatural.

Subject motion, especially toward and away from the camera,
becomes infused with a constantly changing expressive
Low camera angles can be juxtaposed with high camera
angles to create extreme alternating views of a particular
scene; each connotes opposite significance.
Mask Framing refers to a kind of framing "whereby a portion
of the movie image is blocked out. . . ."26

Its mos-t

common use is to create the effect of a subjective view

through field glasses, a periscope, or a key hole."27
The effect of such a subjective view is often to
create surreal interpretation of the photographed subject;
one appears to be viewing the subject from some special and
privy position.

Masks also bring attention to the

26Giannetti 480.
27Roberts and Sharpies 210.

photographic nature of the film.

They tend to give the

impression of a slightly closer view, thus affecting

distance of view.
Masks can be classified into at least four types:
black masks attached to the lens, colored masks attached to
the lens, objects in the mise-en-scene placed directly
before the lens, and unusual placement of special effects
lenses (e.g., multivision five).

Another costlier method

of forming masks is to create them by special effects

laboratory processes.
Mist Spot Color Filter is a filter that creates gradations
of misty color that surround a clear central spot, empha
sizing the action occurring in the center of the frame.
The color can be coordinated with other color effects in
the film.
The technique distracts from the illusion of reality
by altering normal reproductive photography.

It creates

significance in the frame by means other than the internal

workings of the drama.

Subject motion can be directed

according to the unique demands of this filter, further

adding to the artificiality of the image.
Montage (not to be confused with the European "montage"
which means editing) refers to transitional "sequences
of rapidly edited images, used to suggest the lapse of time

or the passing of

t s

"The rationale behind such a

sequence is the presenting of a selected impression of

material, the full presentation of which would burden the

It represents a careful gauging of the event's

relative importance to the film and can be considered a

rendering in filmic time rather than actual time."29
This technique's violation of linear chronological
time forms impressions of what is happening rather than
realistically depicting action.

Narrative actions can be

reduced to mere impressions that are surreal in both impli

cation and connotation.
Movement Away from the Camera is a type of subject motion
where the subject moves away from the camera, becoming
progressively smaller.30
Subject movement away from the camera tends to
diminish the subject's visual importance.

The technique

can be used surrealistically to contradict narrative action

or add new meaning.

For instance, a critical development

in the story can occur as the characters disappear into the

scene, thus diminishing its significance.
The technique can strongly affect and be affected by

28Giannetti 481.

29Roberts and Sharpies 197.

30&dapted from Giannetti 89.

lens type, depth-of-field, filters, special effects lenses,
framing/composition, distance of view, lighting, camera
movement, editing, and movement special effects.
Movement Toward the Camera (see Movement away from the
camera) is a type of subject motion where the subject moves
toward the camera, becoming progressively larger.31
This subject movement tends to increase the importance
of a given subject.

Actions can contradict or diverge from

the narrative in an opposite fashion to movement away from

the camera (q.v.).

For instance, a minor action can be

played directly in front of the camera, creating for it a

sense of significance that is unfounded in the story.


this way, the meaning of the narrative can be altered and

dissociated from reality.
This technique strongly affects and is affected by the
same techniques listed under "movement away from the
Multiple Dissolves (see also Dissolve) are dissolves
employed in groups that can repeat an action a number of
times or show different views of a given subject.
The technique creates a type of divertissement or
digression from the narrative story and forces the audience
to look abstractly or expressionistically at visual action,
thus completely altering the universe of the work.

33-Adapted from Giannetti 88.

Multiple Exposure is a special effect where images "are
superimposed by exposing the film with one shot and then

If done with two shots, the procedure is called

double-exposure, and if three are used, triple-exposure,

and so on."32
This technique can depict a number of illusions of
reality at the same time.

Consequently, the finished

picture can become a composite of different times, different places, and/or different views of the same scene.


effect is to create surreal response in that the film is

dissociated from the mimetic.
Multivision Five Special Effects Lens breaks up the image
five times:

four repeated images cluster around the edges

of the frame and surround a more predominant view of the

same subject.
This distorted view of reality fragments both subject
and movement, rendering them more abstract in nature.
Narrative action thus becomes ambiguous and more difficult
to understand.
The lens can be specially placed on different diameter
prime lenses so as to vary the percentage of the frame that
the central image comprises; here the lens becomes a type
of mask (q.v.).

32Pincus 101-102.

Multivision Three Special Effects Lens

(see also Multi

vision Five) breaks the image into three parts, all radia
ting around a central axis.

The multivision three lens

provides a different pattern of abstraction than the

multivision five (q.v.) but accomplishes much the same
effect as its sister lens.
Normal Speed Pan Camera Movement is where the camera is
panned at a smooth speed to avoid jerky movement.

A normal

speed pan "must be made very slowly to avoid stroboscopic

This technique, by definition, does not lend itself to
surreal aspirations.

However, camera movement usually

follows the subject's movements.

By violating this normal

expectation and having the subject follow the camera's

movements, the technique can dissociate itself from normal
representation and achieve surreal effect.

The conditions

of response become abnormal; the viewer is highly aware

that the narrative is, in fact, acted.

In effect, the

seamless illusion of reality is destroyed due to the lack

of believability.
Oblique Framing refers to a kind of framing where the
"camera is positioned at an angle to the action taking
place in front of it [i.e., tilted], but when the recorded

33pincus 69-70.

19 6
image is projected onto the screen, the spectator has the
impression that it is the image that is at an

a n g l e .


This technique can create extreme ambiguity as to the

make-up or position of a shot.

Clear depiction of the

story is defeated, and the abstract qualities of the image

become significant.
Off-Centered Framing refers to a type of framing where the
center of action is shifted to "outside the lines of the
The technique provides an unusual and unexpected way
of viewing space that violates normal expectations for
narrative representation.

The composition of the picture

itself becomes increasingly important, emphasizing artifi

ciality at the expense of transparent illusionism.


use of this technique can be consistently employed to

achieve a film's overall photographic style.
Off-Screen (Asynchronous)

Sound Effects refer to a category

of sound effects where there is a lack of agreement or lack

of correspondence between image and

s o u n d .


Such lack of correspondence can make the off-screen

sound so abstract as to create a type of music using real

34Roberts and Sharpies 92.

35Roberts and Sharpies 92.
3Adapted from Giannetti 485.


Less abstract usage can also promote surreal

response; in this case, the sound extends from one shot

into other shots where the source of the noise is no longer

For example, a telephone's ring can continue

throughout an entire scene.

As film time progresses, the

sound becomes less real and its effect is perceived to be

other than that of serving a narrative function.


distracts from the story and can add meaning, different and
surreal, to the narrative.
Overexposed Aperture concerns the adjustable opening or
hole in the lens which "determines the amount of light
admitted through the lens.

. . . the size of the aperture

is regulated by the iris or diaphragm, or iris diaphragm. "37

When the diaphragm is open too wide, letting too much light
onto the film, the image is

o v e r e x p o s e d .


This particular aperture causes highlights to be

overly bright and unrealistic.

The brightness of the image

gives it a shimmering quality which dissociates it from

Parallel (Synchronous) Sound Effects refer to sound effects
"in which the spectator actually sees the creator of the
sound as he hears it and in which the meaning of the sound

37Roberts and Sharpies 45.

38Adapted from Roberts and Sharpies 47-48.

image is identical with that of the visual image.

A dog

barking on camera, hands clapping visibly as we hear the

sound, the roar of a train as it speeds by us on the screen
are examples ."^
Parallel sound effects have a sense of reality about
them, but three technical strategies can divorce them from

First, the quality of the sounds can be altered

so that they do not truly match the image which produces

them (by equalization, attenuation, compression, etc.).
Second, the volume and mix of the sounds can be altered so
as to produce an unreal presence (for instance, a soft
sound for an image of someone loudly screaming).


certain visuals can be chosen that do not actually make the

sounds heard (for example, a car screeching to a stop
producing the sound of a car's horn).
Besides the violations of expectations that are
created with such methods, these strategies raise questions
as to the intended meaning of the manipulation and selec
tion of particular noises.
Reverse Motion Special Effect is a technique that photo
graphs the action in reverse or backwards; the film-strip
winds in reverse in the camera.

Consequently, during pro

jection, all movement is backward as the film-strip is

being shown forward.

29Roberts and Sharpies 354.

It is self-evident that this technique inherently
lends itself to complete alteration of movement.


another, more subtle use of reverse motion is created by

blocking the actors' actions, any camera movement, or set
motion all in reverse.

The filming then proceeds to be

photographed in reverse.

Thus, when the film-strip is

projected in forward motion, all the actions performed in

the movie are in forward order; the final effect is one
where all subject and camera movements are directed in the
proper narrative order.

But subtle nuances in movement,

that truly make it realistic, are lost or highly distorted

by the double reverse in motion.

This creates a stylized

and artificial manner of movement which is quite discon

certing to the viewer.
Rotating Multivision Five Lens with Zoom is a combination
special effect creating such a cohesively unified image
that the technique needs to be singled out and defined.
The multivision five lens (q.v.) is rotated so that the
four repeated images revolve around a centrally located
image of the same subject.

As these images rotate, the

camera zooms into the central image, its relative size in

the frame increasing proportionately.
This highly stylized and surreal technique can be used
essentially as a unique method of "fading-out" or of
extending an action or depiction of an action.

So artifi

cial and contrived is the image, that it violates


expectations and distracts from the narrative.

Shallow Depth of Field (often called "soft-focus")

is the

"blurring out of focus of all except one desired distance

This technique isolates the subject from the surround
ing space.

The presentation of space most importantly,

the areas of the frame which are blurred becomes highly

ambiguous visually.

Often these blurred areas can become

aesthetically pleasing, especially by the incorporation of

colored lighting/color temperature techniques which form
almost total surreality.

The technique molds reality for

aesthetic purposes and detracts from narrative representa

Shooting Through a Mirror is a special framing/
compositional device that literally consists of taking a
picture through its reflection in a mirror.
The technique alters the spatial relations of the
camera and scene; it tends to expand space.

The reflected

image creates spatial ambiguities most evident in what is

reflected and what is actually before the camera.


motion in and out of the reflection and into the actual

path of the camera causes confusion and can violate normal
representational expectations.

4Giannetti 484.


Sextet Framing is an effect in which each "frame . . .

[is] printed . . . [six times] to slow down the action.
. . . Multiple framing does not result in perfectly smooth
action unlike shooting at a higher speed in the camera,
which slows up action smoothly."41
This extreme special effect gives the impression of a
series of rapidly progressing "still photographs" that are
projected onto the cinema screen; motion is completely
dissociated from reality.
To introduce such an extreme effect, the first frame
can actually be a freeze frame that lasts until sextet
framing begins.

By doing this, the audience is better

prepared for this radical divergence from normal cinematic

Slow Motion is a motion special effect whereby shots "of
a subject [are] photographed at a faster rate than 24 fps,
which when projected at the standard rate produce a dreamy
dancelike slowness of action."42
Another effect of this technique is that subject
motion itself seems depressed adding this impression to
the story.

Ready apprehension of this technique is

surprisingly difficult to obtain.

The camera must be

4^-Adapted from "double framing," Pincus 101.

42Giannetti 484.


slowed down to a great extent for the effect to even be

The speed of 64 fps can create a slight attenuation of
the action that can be used consistently, with only
subliminal perception of its effect.

This speed creates a

slight dreamy quality without lingering too long on every

Softener Filter is a filter that reduces the amount of
contrast in the image.

It creates a more painterly quality

which dissociates the whole picture from the illusion of

Soft Spot Filter is a filter that is a softener filter with
the central area unaffected by the optical distortion,
enabling the filmmaker to highlight a certain action by
locating it in the central portion of the frame.

Due to

this blocking, subject motion can appear more contrived and

unreal, in other words, less spontaneous.
Special Effects Lighting refers to lights that move during
the shot.

Their motion is highly noticeable in the image.

The blatant artificiality of this technique dissoci

ates it from realism.

The most apparent problem with its

use is the need to be restrained lest the technique become


Its most successful surreal use is obtained when

the nature of the light source remains ambiguous; here, the

viewer questions the illusion detracting from the narrative,

raising questions as to the associated action's plausi
This technique may be illustrated by the light emitted
from a television set that falls on the person watching.

moving special effects light of extremely high intensity

may overly simulate the fluctuations in the TV picture as
they fall on the subject.
Split Field Close-Up Special Effects Lenses permit the
subject to be very close to the camera lens by changing the
focal relationship of the lens optically.

The split nature

is created by physically cutting the lens in half so that

only half the area of the frame is affected by its optical

Hence, one subject may be extremely close to

the camera whereas another may be quite distant.

The lens

often violates the normal expectations of photographed

The split field close-up lens is normally fixed on the
camera so as to be unobtrusive to the image.


in a surreal film, the lens can obtrude and become notice

able on screen.

Once the restrictions of rendering the

lens invisible are eliminated, many liberties in using the

radically different planes of focus can be realized.
Subject movement can weave in and out of the different
focal planes so that, at times, two visions appear; this
motion and use of the lens are highly disconcerting.


lens can be rotated around the frame so that the focus
areas change during the shot itself.

These effects optic-

cally distort reality and can potentially add strong

dramatic impact to the visual image.
Spot Lighting refers to a high intensity light that is
focused on a particular area of a scene, usually to high
light certain actions.
Usually not associated with film lighting which
strives for realism, this technique brings attention to the
artificial or less natural aspects of lighting.


lighting can thus be employed surreally in a film because

it does draw attention to unnaturalness and, hence,
violates expectations.

It can highlight either particular

subjects or areas of the mise-en-scene.By spot-lighting a

superfluous or insignificant subject or

area, the filmmaker

can distract from the narrative action in a given shot.

Star Filter is a type of filter that refracts

light in such

a way as to form stars.

The filter's star-like optical distortions enhance the
glimmering qualities of a shot, making the image aesthetic
ally pleasing.

This stylistic beautification dissociates

the image from the illusion of reality.

It can be employed

with depressing or tragic narrative action to create ironic

Swish Pan (also known as a "flash" or "zip" pan) is a very

rapid panning movement "of the camera from one position to

the camera is moved so quickly that the inter

mediary positions are



This technique manipulates space and infuses it with

rapid motion.

The technique draws attention to itself and

hence detracts from a transparent or illusionistic repre

sentation of reality.

It can eliminate or be used in con

junction with cutting back and forth.

Synchronous Dialogue is the "agreement or correspondence
between image and sound

[word], which are recorded simulta

neously, or seem so in the finished print.


. . . [words] appear to derive from an obvious source in

the visuals."44

"[Synchronous dialgoue] is a situation in

which . . . [dialogue] and images are synchronous on the

screen as they would be in real life, as in the picture of
a [person speaking]."45
Synchronous dialogue is, by definition, realistic.
However, the dialogue tracks can be altered so that the
voices do not quite "match" the screen action in two ways:
1. By having the volume adjusted disproportionately for the
subject's position on the screen; 2. by altering the nature
of the sound through such devices as echo, compression,

43pincus 70.
44ciannetti 485.
45Roberts and Sharpies 352.


equalization, etc.

Such violations tend to divorce the

narrative from reality and destroy cinema's transparent

Target Defraction Filter (see Horizontal Defraction Filter)
is a filter that performs a similar dissociating function
to the horizontal defraction filter.

The target filter,

however, forms spectrum-like lines which branch out from a

central axis.
Telephoto Lens (also known as a "long lens") refers to
any "lens with a focal length longer than normal . . .
which means that the lens takes in a narrower angle of the
The telephoto lens tends to flatten or compress space
in an unnatural fashion.

The effect on a shot taken with

this lens can be contrasted with the effect obtained from

adjacent shots taken with a wide angle lens.

Such contrast

ive use of the two diametrically opposed lens types creates

narrative disjunction especially when the adjacent shots
are invisibly cut.
Tilting Camera Movement is a vertical movement of the
camera across a subject.47
This technique, like normal speed panning, usually

46pincus 34.
47pincus 68.

follows action, eliminating edits and reinforcing a
continuous illusion of reality.

However, surreal effects

can be obtained by strong, abrupt, and noticeable tilts

which bring attention to the camera's function.


stylized tilts generally accentuate drama and speed in the

film, and when used with subject movement, can create a
highly fluid space.
Tonal Cutting is a type of editing where the purpose is to
give the effect of a gradual progression such as "from
sharp to soft focus or light to dark image."48
Surrealistically, this technique creates visual
relationships that can increase ambiguity.

The stylistic

and purely visual interest of these relationships can over

come the story and detract from it.

Contrasts, pauses in

action, and linkages of dissimilar action can serve an

aestheticism almost unrelated to the narrative and can
underline happenings in the story which are more surreal.
For example, the element of time can be stressed by start
ing and stopping numerous shots with the view of a clock.
Upward Motion is a type of subject motion where the subject
moves vertically upward toward the top of the frame.49
Like downward motion, this technique can be used to
create a type of "wipe."


The motion can be visually

Roberts and Sharpies 198.

49Giannetti 87.

employed to bring attention to the top portion of the
frame; such use is abstract in nature and does not serve
narrative ends.
Wide Angle Lens is a type of lens that "has a focal length
shorter than the normal lens . . . (e.g., a lens of focal
length less than 20mm for 16mm film . . .)."59

tends to

exaggerate perspective.
The exaggeration of perspective is the most surreal
attribute of this lens.

It enhances and distorts spatial

relations of scenes, imparting to them a greater sense of


As a subject moves closer to the camera, the lens'

distortive capabilities become increasingly apparent.


resulting effect forms visually dramatic moments that can

flow with or against the narrative, leading to surreal
A low camera angle can be employed with a wide angle
lens to create an unusual and dramatic presence of space
and perspective.
Zooming (also known as a "zoom shot") is "a form of camera
movement, although the camera never moves the impression
of movement being created by increasing or decreasing the
magnification of an object in the scene."51

59Pincus 34.
51Roberts and Sharpies 107.

The illusion

of movement is achieved solely by the manipulation of the
Surreal use dictates not that the lens follow the
subject action but, rather, that the zoom movement appear
to move in and out of its own accord emphasizing action or
areas of the setting that have surreal meaning.

The zoom

can also distract from the narrative by moving in or out

for visual or stylistic purposes only.

This purely

aesthetic use violates expectations of the story-telling

nature of the film.


The conclusions and insights yielded by this study
fall into three major areas:

film and the illusion of

reality, the nature and use of cinematic technique, and the

creative process.

Each area is discussed in turn below.

Film and the Illusion of Reality

Several conclusions may be subsumed under the area of
filmic reality.

They concern:

the resilience of reality

and of the narrative story, the use of distortion to create

realism versus surreality, the violation of the viewer's
suspension of disbelief, the nature of film's photographic
illusion, the beholder's share in the creation of reality,
the limited story as encouraging surreal interpretation,
and the evaluation of various theories of film in light of
the findings of this study.
The germinating question of this study was:

In what

ways can the most mechanically mimetic art form be detached

from reality solely by the use of technique?

This aesthe

tic problem was explored by the creation of a motion

picture and the analysis of the filmmaker's creative

The filmmaker's subject matter constituted a

logical narrative, essentially a series of progressive

actions involving the three attempted suicides of a young
married woman named Isa:

attempted suicide by overdose of


pills, attempted suicide by slitting her wrist, and success

ful suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Simply stated, the filmmaker's intended goal was to
create a surrealistic film.

An arsenal of cinematic

techniques were his major tools by which to render the

actions of the story incomprehensible or unbelievable.


other words, he wished to alter the story through technique

so that it was transformed from a literal and logical
narrative into an abstract and expressive symbol.
Perhaps the key finding of this study was the film
maker's difficulty in achieving this goal.

During the

filmmaking process, especially while editing the film, he

was surprised at the resilience and continual reassertion
of the simple narrative.

Throughout the film and in spite

of the battery of dissociating techniques, it seemed

evident that the story kept emerging as the predominant
source of interest.

For instance, two shots with com

pletely different qualities could be edited together, but

once viewed next to one another, the actions were perceived
by the filmmaker as continuous and as furthering the
narrative development.

Uncannily, the actions of the drama

flowed remarkably well.

The story was emotionally colored by a host of disso
ciating techniques, but this alteration did not destroy its
consistency; in fact, it seemed to enhance it.



instance, a multivision lens formed three images out of a

character's face in shot 113.

But the filmmaker perceived

that no audience would interpret this picture as creating

pure abstractive images.

Rather, he felt that most would

view the distortion as furthering confusion that would

actually enhance the story's chaotic ending.

Layer upon

layer of techniques would deform the original image and

sound? still, in spite of these techniques, one could
perceive a story.

The fragmented and distorted images and

sounds that were edited almost randomly together in the

"Blood Bath" montage sequence (shots 70-77) appeared to
further the narrative aim of depicting the trauma of slit
ting one's wrist.

Far from transforming the story into a

minor element, the strong and forceful cinematic techniques

became subservient to its weight.

They added interpreta

tion to the story rather than obliterating it.

The narra

tive still remained dominant; ironically, it was being

expressed by the very techniques intended to destroy it.
The continual reassertion of reality brought to light
a critical issue in this study and in film study generally.
There is often thought to be a difference in the cinema
between the use of distortion to create realism and the use
to create surreality or expressionism.

But this distinc

tion may not be so firm as some think.

Try as he might,

the filmmaker's extreme distortions would often serve the

threads of narrative believability.

The question is

whether one can indeed ever dissociate film entirely from


By way of example, to create the illusion of

falling, a film may distort its representation in order to

gain the maximum believable effect (cf. Hitchcock's stair
case sequence in Vertigo, described by the director himself
in Truffaut's Hitchcock) .1
Given this fact, the artistic lesson for this film
maker has been not to "fight" filmic reality.

The presence

of realism seems to be ingrained in the art form.

This was

the pivotal argument of such realist-oriented theorists as

Bazin and Kracauer.

As much as technique theoretically

distorts film's realistic basis, that realistic basis

appears to be like "granite," as noted by Eisenstein.^


fact, so strong is film's realistic pull that this film

maker learned he need not refrain from using all the
dissociative and expressionistic techniques in the cinematic arsenal.

Film seems to start with reality as a given.

It cannot be destroyed.

It is inviolate.

The expressive world in the film appeared to form a

new reality that had a believability of its own.

^Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock (New York: Simon and

Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 1967), 186-187.
^Sergei Eisenstein, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory,
trans. Jay Leyda (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World,
Inc., 1949), 5.

Consequently, the filmmaker decided to create a changing
surreality that would throw the viewer from one world into
the next.

For instance, the setting in which the actions

took place was continually changed by such technical means

as filters, lights, lens types, etc.

Lighting was used to

create the impression of a completely different room for an

insert close-up of a character (shot 8).

The character

seemed to jump from one fictive world into another even

though the actual set remained unchanged.

Thus, a consis

tent surrealistic environment was not relied on.

This inconsistent surreality not only "threw" the
story from one world to another but also violated the
required suspension of disbelief that normally remains
consistent throughout a work.

As the mood and tone of the

film radically changed, the chronological progression

should have been ripped apart.

At times, these radical

switches in the mise-en-scene occurred even within a single


Ironically, however, the filmmaker believed that the

viewer would be able to dismiss or alter his suspension of

disbelief to allow acceptance of the continuity of the

Thus, one's suspension of disbelief may be more

resilient than it is generally thought to be in film.

The filmmaker kept asking himself, throughout produc
tion, how far he could go in his distortion of the image.
His answer was a continual testament to film's inherent

No matter how artificial any image appeared, the

thread of believability, however thin, remained.


this was due to the powerful link between an image and its
referent, the model and its reproduction.

A photograph of

a man, even the most distortive photograph, presupposes

that man's actual existence.

Film's strong basis in

reality is, according to Bazin, its unique characteristic

as a medium.3

The reproduction may be greatly distorted

from its original model, but one tends to accept its

believability simply by virtue of the photographic nature
of that reproduction.

The production of this particular

motion picture seemed to lend credence to Bazin's crucial

The need to make sense, to find patterns, and create
logic appeared to defy the various strategies aimed at
subverting these aspects of the traditional story.


ing the lead of Gombrich and others, the strong pull of

reality probably indicated the power of the "beholder's
share" in making meaning of the artistic i l l u s i o n . ^


this view, one's previous learning, knowledge, experience,

expectations, cultural assumptions that is, his basic
"schema" control what he sees.
much see the image as "know" it.

In fact, he does not so

The viewer is willing to

^Andr Bazin, What Is Cinema?, 2 vols., trans. Hugh

Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1:14.
^E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 2nd ed. (Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961).


accept all the distortion and focus on the merest remnant

or thread of reality because reality is all he knows.


other words, the beholder sees the image as real based on

his previous schema and knowledge.

Moreover, his knowledge

of the intimate connection between the image-model and the

filmic reproduction Gombrich believes such properties of an
art form are themselves learned continually allows him to
accept the reality of what is merely the photographic illu
sion, no matter how distorted it may be.

In effect, the

viewer is constantly confirming and re-confirming his

previous schema.

The end result is that the photographs he

is seeing appear to be real.^

Given the realistic basis of the photographic illusion
and the temporal basis of the narrative form or sequence of
actions, the filmmaker/researcher came to the conclusion
through the creation of his film and the analysis of his
creative process that the medium of film has an inherent
narrative tendency which is more difficult to destroy than
first anticipated.

No matter how abstract or expression-

istic a given shot or sequence of shots appeared within the

film, the filmmaker observed that he still seemed to want
to construct a story, a pattern, a logical thread of time

5Jonathan Weil, "Student Performance in Recognizing

and Interpreting Ambiguity in Poems and Painting," unpub
lished dissertation for the Ph.D., New York University,

and action.

He sensed that even the most abstractly visual

film would have story-like aspects simply by virtue of the

inherent temporal and realistic properties of the medium.
Even in the most non-referential sequence imaginable, two
rectangles moving across the screen, one still must wonder
whether they would be interpreted as a chase.

Like the

realism of film, is the story, too, inviolate?

Any number of examples from 1A, 2A & 3A illustrated
the indestructibility of the story.
or distortive

No matter how extreme

the dissociative techniques employed, the

narrative thread kept reasserting itself.

The "Grabbing

Pills" montage of shots 35-40 consisted of merely wildly

moving close-ups of bits and pieces of the action.


the filmmaker perceived that the actions were transmitting

the essence of the story, namely that the two characters
were fighting.

The final shot of the film (114) trans

formed the image of the husband carrying the wife out of

the garage into almost animation-like surreality, yet it
was felt that the audience would first try to understand
the remnants of the story remaining in this three-minute
special effects shot.

The filmmaker could see that, even

in spite of the surreal and abstractive techniques, the

action on screen conveyed a story line.
While the film had to be a realistic narrative with a
logical sequence of actions so that the creation of sur
reality could be obtained only through the manipulation of

cinematic techniques, it is curious to note that the
minimal nature of the story itself encouraged the possi
bility of surreal interpretation.

As logical and sequen

tial as the story-line was, it was really no more than a

series of step-by-step actions.

No motivations for Isa's

almost seemingly random acts were provided, and the actions

did not embody a clearly stated theme.

Hence, the film

maker had laid groundwork that was favorable to his surreal


Still, despite all the efforts seemingly devoted to

creating surreality, realism emerged.

This is no better illustrated than in an analysis of
any given series of actions within the film.

For instance,

shots 53-55 merely depicted Isa standing in front of a

partition and watching her husband David talk on the phone
while she swallowed an overdose of pills.

This sequence

had limited narrative purpose in the script.

But the

filmmaker suspected that the viewer would, without much

difficulty, imbue the scene with narrative purpose:
David calling the police?


Was he planning to leave her?

Was he speaking to her family?

In other words, it was felt

that an audience would expect, indeed demand, that these

actions have a bearing on the story's development.


example occurred after the rape and near death of Isa in

shots 64 and 65.

Here, after having raped his wife, David

takes a rose, plucks off a few petals, and then drops the
rose near her face.

Again, the audience was likely to form

meaning out of this simple and limited action.

They could

ask if this was an act of grief or mourning, a gesture of

farewell, or simply a sign of David's nervousness.

potentially ambiguous and symbolic element, the rose iron

ically ended up simply reinforcing and binding together the
narrative thread, however thinly this thread had been sewn.
Nevertheless, the reader is not to construe that the
use of cinematic techniques did not play a significant
dissociative and expressive role within the film's narra

For instance, lighting often appeared to change the

rooms in which the drama occurred into theatre-like worlds

that altered the interpretation of the original actions.
The tenacity of film's realistic illusion does not negate
the expressive nature of the film medium.


theorists like Bazin and Kracauer seem to deny expressive


Parker Tyler, on the other hand, sees the

expressive power of film along with its redeeming realism.

He postulates the "shadow of an airplane" that can be
deformed by technique to create a new interpretation of its

Yet as deformed as that shadow may become, it

is indelibly linked to its source the real airplane.

Indeed, one of the significant theoretical findings of

this study was the way it seemed to either refute or

^Parker Tyler, The Shadow of an Airplane Climbs the

Empire State Building; A World Theory of Film (Garden City,
NY; Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1973).


support these theoretical positions.

Although tending to

sustain the realist theories, it refuted extremes of all

theoretical camps.

Regarding those in realist theory, this

filmmaker could see that, despite the claim that to alter

the reality at all by virtue of cinematic strategies is to
violate the medium, technique could indeed manipulate
photographed reality in an artistic manner.


these manipulated images were by their nature consistent

with the medium for they could only be achieved by the
cinematographic mechanism.

This awareness also led the

researcher to question the validity of the view that there

is an unalterable "camera-reality," as propounded by

However, the study found, on the whole, that

Kracauer's realist-oriented views were more consistent with

the medium than the views of surrealist-oriented theorists
like Arnheim.

For example, Arnheim's vision of film as

completely detached from its photographic and/or realistic

basis seemed to go against the grain of the medium.


filmmaker found that even meaningless or animation-like

images appeared to have a connection to the real world.
The researcher alio discovered the limitations of con
ceptual or abstractive theory.

For instance, to depict the

psychotic aspects of suicide, shots could not be completely

abstracted by such means as special effects to convey this
pure "idea" as theoretically speculated by Lindsay,
Miinsterberg, Wollen, and Metz.

The illusion of realism


that remained tied such concepts to their specifically

depicted events.

As for expressionist theory, its views

seemed for the most part to be supported by this study and

indeed to be the most valid.

Expressionist theory accepts

film's photographic link with reality while still promoting

alteration of the representation to gain the maximum
aesthetic effect and affect.

But extremes in expressionist-

oriented theory were also refuted.

For example, Pudovkin

theorized that shots could be edited in such a way as to

convey a pure "feeling" such as happiness.

This extreme

stance, once again, disregards the realistic facets of

photographic representationalism and the narrative tendency
of cinema.
The Nature and Use of Cinematic Technique
The second major area of conclusions concerned the
nature and use of cinematic technique, especially its
dissociating properties.

The classification and treatment

of technique in this study tended to regard each one as a

discrete and mutually exclusive category.

While it is true

that the analysis of the film and of the filmmaker's

creative process benefitted from such discrete treatment,
such an approach was misleading.

Techniques simply do not

work independently of one another but always in an inter

dependent manner.

Indeed, the use of one technique is

usually changed by the use of another in combination with



A rippling effect is constantly at work and must not

be ignored when analyzing the use of techniques in the

dissociation process and in the creation of affective
Techniques act upon one another.

For example, an off-

centered frame combined with a tilting camera commands

movement infinitely more potent than the single or indivi
dual strengths of each technique.

Techniques act in con

cert with each other synergistically; they create combined

response that has larger implications than their discrete

In sum, their whole is always greater than their

Faced with the growing number of techniques, the
potential "language" of cinema is astounding.

Instead of

looking at hundreds of singular techniques, one may

actually be dealing with a language containing thousands of
permutations, all having the ability to communicate an
infinite degree of feeling and thought.
Caution regarding the individual cinematic techniques
is most crucial when reviewing the glossary of Chapter IV.
The various relationships among techniques arrived at in
this chapter are only the starting points for understanding
the complex and changing affective meanings of cinematic
techniques resulting from their use in dissociating a film
from the illusion of reality.

Their actual effects and

affects can only be analyzed by considering their combina

tions in a particular film where these technical configura
tions create unique subjective response.
Further complicating the matter, cinematic techniques
have different ranges and kinds of connotative meaning:
some are less bound to their contexts than others.
in point is the dissolve versus the close-up.

A case

A dissolve,

by virtue of its conventional signification in film, has a

generally accepted connotation namely, a lapse in time or

This meaning is largely fixed regardless of the

content or subject matter for which it is used.

A close-up,

on the other hand, possesses meaning only in the context of

its particular subject.
view of something.

In other words, it is a detailed

For example, a close-up of a smile has

the opposite meaning of a close-up of a frown.

The fact

that cinematic techniques are at different levels of

abstraction is of crucial importance when analyzing the
means by which these techniques are employed to dissociate
a film from reality.

One cannot simply categorize and

treat each cinematic technique as equal to every other one.

One further observation regarding the meaning and
dissociating effects of cinematic techniques should be

In his description and analysis of techniques,

the filmmaker/researcher observed that the specific disso

ciative use of one technique often transformed it into a
second and different technique.

This was particularly true

with techniques that could be considered polar or near-

polar opposites such as invisible and jump cutting,
parallel (synchronic) and off-screen (asynchronic) sound
effects, and normal (centered) and off-centered framing.
Thus, for example, to take an almost simplistic case,
invisible cutting is unobtrusive and therefore basically
non-dissociative by definition.

Only when the unobtrusive

or "match" cut was made obtrusive or discontinuous, did it

become an effective dissociative technique.

But, at this

point, it could hardly be called invisible; it was much

closer to a jump cut.

Thus, certain techniques, by

definition, cannot be used dissociatively; they acquire

dissociative ability only by virtue of their transformation
into a different technique.
Techniques do not have true comprehensible discrete

Their meaning always depends on the subject

matter with which they interact.

In other words, what is

photographed (i.e., the image-model) has an existential

meaning all its own.

Christian Metz theorized that the

shot is similar to an assertive sentence;

and so doing this and that."^

"Here is such

Techniques affect that

representational assertion altering, manipulating, or

interpreting the photographed illusion.

7Christian Metz, Film Language; A Semiotics of the

Cinema, trans. Michael Taylor (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1974), 4.

The Creative Process
The third and last area to be discussed centers around
the creative process as it relates to the filmmaker/
researcher of this study and as it may be applied to film
research and film education in general.
The most crucial creative process finding concerned
the three stages of filmmaking:
and post-shooting.

pre-shooting, shooting,

Faced with analyzing these stages and

describing the manner in which his strategies evolved, the

filmmaker/researcher was impressed by the consistent evolu
tion of the creative act and by the extensiveness of
creative revision.

Ideas rarely remained fixed or con

sistent from pre-shooting to post-shooting.


were continually being added, deleted, or modified so that

they would work in combination with each other and create a
gestalt effect.

This process could, at times, virtually

eliminate the original intended effect of a shot or series

of shots.

For instance, the addition of one new and useful

technique could alter the technique or techniques that were

originally called for.

All too often the employment of a

new technique would necessitate wiping the slate clean and

starting anew.
The filmmaker/researcher found that, for the most
part, radically changing revisions in technique were
decided at the shooting stage.

It was only here within the

camera frame that a trial-and-error process could be

effectively employed.

Indeed, the photography truly

dictated the later steps of editing and sound.

In the

shooting stage, a very short period of time, decision after

decision had to be made in the heated pressure of shooting.
Entire revisions of the film rested and resonated on this
short and hectic period.

While it is true that certain

cinematic techniques, by definition, could only be

achieved during post-shooting (for example, most special
effects), even these techniques were, for the most part,
envisioned and pre-planned at the shooting stage.


it is true that the post-shooting stage often served as a

time where certain strategies employed in shooting and
their intended effects were revealed.

For example, it was

only in editing the film that the filmmaker realized the

extent to which he had created discontinuous "invisible"
cuts during shooting.

Obviously, such an insight was a

critical determining factor in the way the film was edited.

One critical factor regarding all creative process
studies in which the researcher is also the creator of a
work of art is the interplay among creator, researcher,
and responder.

In this study, the filmmaker has made a

film, analyzed his creative process, and responded to that


In effect, the filmmaker/researcher/responder has

worn three different hats.

This has implications for both

future film research and film education.

Because the

filmmaker was the artistic creator and the viewer-responder

to his own film, one cannot be sure whether the desired
strategies and intended effects were indeed as he conjec
tured them to be.

It might prove beneficial to show his

film to a small group of viewers and record and analyze

their response.

These responses might be usefully compared

to the creator's own reactions and responses to the film

for similarities and differences.
Because the filmmaker as a unique creator is different
from all other filmmakers, replication of this creative
process study is also necessary.

Do other films achieve

their intended dissociation similarly?

Do other filmmakers

employ the same techniques with the same frequency to

dissociate a film from reality?

Does the film's unique

content, as this researcher believes, play a crucial role

in the dissociating process, or is that dissociation
achievable without regard to and unaffected by the parti
culars of content?

In short, would other filmmakers in

their attempts to dissociate a film from reality find

similar results?

The task of describing and analyzing

one's creative process is meaningful, of course, in its own

right, but it is only through such replication that
significant contributions to film research and education
can be made.
With respect to film education, this research will
hopefully lead to a more viable and realistic kind of film

Teaching strategies and film production

courses will have acquired a hard-fought grounding in the
actual process of filmmaking.

Other creative artists will

be able to compare their own methods of filmmaking with

that of the filmmaker.

Various methodological components

of this study could probably be usefully transferred to

teaching strategies within film education.

The three

stages of filmmaking pre-shooting, shooting, post

shooting; the list and glossary of cinematic techniques;
the vertical and horizontal analysis of cinematic tech
niques (see Methodology, pp. 18-22); and the shot notebook
itself all contain strategies, teaching tools, and insights
that could be useful in both film production and film
appreciation courses.
Indeed, the filmmaker/researcher found the shot note
book (see Appendix C) to be an excellent tool for organi
zing and analyzing his creative process.

By having to

write down each and every cinematic technique and strategy

employed and by having to explain his motivations and
intended effects for each, the artist found that he had a
better and more comprehensive understanding of where he had
come from, what he was doing, and where he was going.


admittedly laborious and self-conscious process forced the

filmmaker to think and re-think even the simplest and most
obvious of strategies and intentions.

But he is certain

that the film benefitted from this discipline.

By record

ing, describing, and analyzing his process, the filmmaker

gained a more solid grasp of how he works; this will have a
direct bearing on his future artistic development.


importantly, the beauty of this creative process study, and

of perhaps all such studies, is the truth and clarity with
which the artist can learn from the researcher.

Books and Dissertations
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Armour, Robert A. Film: A Reference Guide.
Greenwood Press, 1980.
Arnheim, Rudolf. Film as Ar t .
California Press, 1974.

Westport, CT:

Berkeley: University of

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Poets at Work. By Rudolf Arnheim, D. A. Stauffer, Karl
Shapiro, and W. H. Auden. New York: Harcourt, Brace
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Arnheim, Rudolf, D. A. Stauffer, Karl Shapiro, and W. H.
Auden. Poets at Work. New York: Harcourt, Brace and
Company, 1948.
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a New Art. Trans. Edith- Bone. New York: Dover
Publications, Inc., 1970.
Bawden, Liz-Anne, ed. The Oxford Companion to Film.
York: Oxford University Press, 1976.


Bazin, Andr^. What Is Cinema? 2 vols. Trans. Hugh Gray.

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.
Beardsley, Monroe C. Aesthetics: Problems in the
Philosophy of Criticism. New York: Harcourt, Brace
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Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Inc., 1974.
Boyum, Joy Gould.
"The Grapes the Lilacs Grow: A Novel."
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Burnshaw, Stanley. The Seamless We b .
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New York: George

Cary, Joyce. Art and Reality: Ways of the Creative

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Centeno, Augusto, ed. The Intent of the Artist.
ton: Princeton University Press, 1941.


Cowley, Malcolm. Writers at Work: The Paris Review Inter

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Dickinson, Thorold. A Discovery of Cinema.
University Press! 1971.

London: Oxford

Eberwein, Robert T. A Viewer's Guide to Film Theory and

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New York:

________ . Notes of a Film Director. Trans. X. Danko. Ed.

R. Yurenez. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1970.
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Franklin, Roger.
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3rd ed.

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Hall, Stuart.
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Katz, John Stuart, ed. Perspectives on the Study of Film.

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Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.

Paramount Pictures, 1958.

The following narrative involves the successful
suicide attempt of Isa, an attractive, married woman in her
early thirties.

All scenes take place in and around her

two-story house.

In the course of the narrative, Isa will

make three different kinds of attempts on her life:

suicide by overdose of pills, suicide by slashing her wrist,
and suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
is successful.

The last attempt

The story opens with Isa lying in her

bedroom upstairs.
Isa lies in bed seemingly asleep although it is day

She is clothed in a nightgown.

and she begins to look around.

Her eyes slowly open

Her head barely moves.

ticking sound is heard; it is an old wind-up clock by her


Time passes.

After she looks around, she slowly removes the covers.

Isa stands next to the bed.

She walks toward the bedroom

Before reaching it, she slows down and then stops.

Then she walks toward the bed.

She sits on the bed.

hands move up to her face and cover it.



Isa begins to

Her hands part, revealing her face.

Isa looks and

sees her dog.
Her dog, Sasha, is eating next to a micro television
that is lying on the floor.

The television, also an alarm

clock, suddenly turns on, frightening Sasha away.

Isa then

crosses the bedroom and picks up the small television to

look into it.

On the set, a man walks up a staircase and

passes across the TV screen.

Isa is shocked.

She removes the television from close

to her eyes and turns it off.

it down.

She looks for a place to set

Deciding to place it on the bureau, she walks

over to it but realizes that it is covered with pill


Isa makes room for the television and places it

Isa slowly crosses the room again, toward the door.
Reaching the door, she opens it, exits, and then closes it.
Time passes.
Isa goes to the bathroom.

She looks at her face that

is reflected in a medicine cabinet mirror on the bathroom


Her hand moves down to a bottle of pills.


it, she takes nine, washing them down with a glass of


She wants to take all the pills at once.


tarily, she pauses to reflect on this difficult and

uncomfortable task.

Abruptly, she presses the nine pills

into her mouth, grabs the glass of water, and swallows


She gags and chokes.

She places the pill bottle

back on the medicine cabinet shelf.
Isa takes out her toothbrush and toothpaste and then
closes the medicine cabinet door.

But instead of preparing

to brush her teeth, she begins to squeeze the toothpaste on

the surface of her mirror image.
She again faces
all over the mirror.

the mirror.


She prepares tobrush


putting toothpaste on her toothbrush.She puts

them down

on the sink and then opens the medicine cabinet.

takes fifteen pills.

Again she

After taking the pills, she closes

the door and resumes brushing her teeth.

Her husband comes to the bathroom door.
a roll of twine.

He is holding

He says:

"I've fixed the

Venetian blinds. They needed new rope

in them."
He pauses.
"I'm worried.

You became suicidal last night.


scares me when you talk like that."

He again pauses, thinking about what to say next.
Then he speaks:
"I want that bottle of medication of yours."
Isa speaks:
"No, it's my medication."
"Whenever you need a pill, I'll give you one."
David has been holding a ball of twine.

The ball of

twine falls to the floor.

Suddenly David tries to grab the

bottle of medication from Isa.

They struggle but he

finally overcomes her and reaches for the pills.

Once he has them he tries to open the bottle.
"I can't open this.

I'm going to the kitchen."

He leaves the bathroom.

as motionless as a statue.

Isa stands and waits.

She is

Isa walks down the stairs to

the enclosed porch.

She guesses that this is

where David

has gone off to open

the bottle. Opening the

porch door,

she indeed finds David.

enclosed porch.


with a large knife.

Both David and Isa are in the

is trying to open the bottle of pills

Finally, he opens it.

"It looks like there are fewer pills here.

to count them.

I'll be right back."

Isa suddenly says, "No!"

But she stops, catching

herself from saying anything more.


I'm going

Her husband leaves the

He walks through the hall to the kitchen.

Isa runs up the stairs, looks into the bathroom, and

then runs over to the bedroom bureau where she keeps large
numbers of pill bottles.

She knocks over a lamp on the

bureau onto the floor as she madly searches for another

bottle of pills.
Approximately an hour has passed.
kitchen talking on the telephone.

David sits in the

The den, located on the

first floor, is separated from the kitchen only by a

slatted partition.

Isa, now in the den, walks up to the

slatted den partition.

For a moment she looks at David

through the bars of the partition and then begins to take

still more pills.

As she does this, she continues to look

at her husband who is in the kitchen still talking on the

After taking the pills, she returns to the bathroom
hallway and walks through it.

When she reaches the other

end, she stops, braces herself, and turns the other way.
Now her walk is stilted.

The pills are taking effect.

trips and falls to the hallway floor.


She struggles to get

Isa accomplishes this and returns to climbing the

When she reaches the second floor, she collapses

again and lies on the floor.

She reaches into her pocket

and takes out still another pill.

falteringly takes off her clothes.
the staircase.

She takes it.


She crawls back toward

She is extremely dizzy.

She slides down

the stairs but doesn't quite make the first landing.


faints and time passes.

David, finding Isa sometime later, begins to drag her
to a sheet on the living room floor and then leans down
and kisses Isa's naked body.

David, lying next to Isa,

begins to rape her while she is fully unconscious.

Time has passed.

David has raped Isa.

He walks over

to a vase with a red rose in it.

Taking the rose out of

the vase, he walks over to Isa and drops it beside her.

large segment of time passes.

Weeks later, Isa and her husband sit at the kitchen

They had been talking but now say nothing.

holding a large knife.

with the knife.

Isa is

She plays out cutting her wrist

She then brings it to her face.

David is

motionless, watching her.

Time passes again.
lies in bed.

Now, twenty minutes later, Isa

She has been sleeping and then her eyes open.

Her husband is standing at the bedroom door, looking in.

Once again time passes.
Hours have passed and Isa lies in bed motionless with
her eyes open.

The large knife is by her side.

it up and points it to her eye.

She picks

Again a large span of time

Isa sits in a chair in the den.
knife in one hand.

She holds the large

She places the knife on her wrist.

Emotion building, she slashes her wrist.

Hysterical and in pain, Isa wheels herself around the
den as blood pours from her veins.
save herself.

Finally, she decides to

She closes the cut with her half-slip and

then runs for help.

Another long period of time passes.

Days have noticeably elapsed.

Isa is dressed in

different clothes, and her wrist is properly bandaged.


sits at the kitchen table drinking heavily, dreaming, and
staring at the clock.

Hours pass as she stays in this

She gets up from the table and grabs the bottle of

Isa walks out of the front door and enters the

There is a car in the garage.

Isa closes the

garage door and makes her way toward the car.

She is still

drinking from the bottle.

She walks up to the car door and opens it.
walks, she falters, trips, and drops the bottle.
smashes on the garage's concrete floor.
driver's seat and closes the door.

While she

She gets into the

Isa starts the car.

The car begins to fill the garage with carbon monoxide.

Isa passes out.

Time passes.

David enters the garage and discovers what Isa has


In shock he screams:
"You've killed yourself!"
He gets into the passenger side of the car and turns

off the engine.

Isa is motionless.

she falls on his lap.

caresses her hair.

He looks down at her head and

Time once again passes.

The garage door is open.


He moves her arm and

Police cars surround the

The police attempt to help David who, in a

complete daze, is holding Isa's corpse.

meaninglessly around the police cars.
in killing herself.

He wanders
Isa has succeeded


Extreme close-up




Medium shot


Medium long shot


Long Shot


Extreme long shot


Point of view


Off screen






Special effects



"1st Attempt"

Int. L.S.: Bedroom.

is daytime.
Isa is
lying in bed, seem
ingly asleep. She
wears a ripped pink
flowered nightgown.

"Title Theme" Music.

Time passes.

Int. E.C.U.: Isa's eye.

Isa's eye twitches
because she is
struggling to sleep.

"Title Theme" continues.

Time passes.

Int. M.L.S.: Bedroom.

Isa has been continu
ing to attempt to

"Title Theme" continues.

Time passes.

Int. M.S.:
Isa in bed.
Her eyes slowly open
and she begins to look
around. Her head
barely moves. Looking
toward the clock, she
suddenly lunges toward

Bartok-like music begins.


Int. C.U.: The clock.

The clock reads 11:30
in the morning.

"Bartok" continues.




Int. L.S.: Bedroom From

the door.
Isa comes to her

"Bartok" continues.

She looks around and

slowly removes the
covers from herself.
She is disheveled and
Isa stands next to
the bed momentarily.
She walks towards the
door. Before reaching
it, she slows down and
then pauses.
Then she walks back
towards the bed. She
sits on the bed.

Int. M.S.:
Isa sits on
the bed.
Her hand moves up to
her face and then
covers it. Isa begins
to weep.

"Bartok" continues.


Int. C.U.: Isa's face.

Her hands part,
revealing her face.
She is looking...

"Bartok" continues.


P.O.V.: Isa's In bed

Her dog, Sasha, is
eating next to a micro
television that is
lying on the floor.

"Bartok" continues.

The television, also

an alarm clock, sud
denly turns on,



frightening Sasha


Int. L.S.:
Isa crossing
the bedroom.
Isa gets up and
crosses the bedroom
toward the television.

"Bartok" continues.
EFX: TV Music.

She leans down, picks

up the television...

Int. E.C.U.: Profile of

...and places it
directly to her eyes.

"Bartok" continues.
EFX: TV Music continues.


P.O.V.: What Isa sees on

the television screen.
A man walks up a set
of stairs and passes
the TV screen.

"Bartok" continues.
EFX: TV Music continues.


Int. M.S.:
Isa with
Isa is shocked. She
removes the television
from close to her eyes
and turns it off.

"Bartok" continues.
EFX: TV Music is turned

She looks for a place

to rest it. Deciding
to place it on the
bureau, she walks over
to it, but realizes
that it is covered
with pill bottles.
Isa overturns a lamp on
the table and it further
scatters the pills over
the bureau top. The
scene is in disarray.
Isa makes room for the



television and places
it down.


Int. C.U.: Back of Isa's

head as she turns into
the camera.
She begins to leave
the bedroom...

"Bartok" continues,


Int. M.S.: Follow as Isa

leaves the bedroom.
...hurriedly leaving
the bedroom.

"Bartok" continues.


Int. M.S.: Isa.

Isa opens the bedroom
door and exits.

"Bartok" continues,


Int. M.S.: Isa and door.

The door closes.

"Bartok" continues,

Time passes.

Edited out.


Int. E.C.U.: Bathroom

mirror image of Isa's eye.
Reaching, she touches
the mirror image of

"Bartok" continues.

Her finger gently

moves downward pausing
at her mouth and then
continues downward.

Int. M.L.S.: Bathroom.

Isa's hand continues
to glide down the
mirror image of her
self toward the sink's

"Bartok" continues.



shelf where a bottle
of medication rests.


Int. C.U.: Medicine

Her hand reaches for
the bottle. She takes
the lid off.
The cap is a "safety cap"
resting loosely on top of
the bottle.

"Bartok" continues.


Int. E.C.U.: Profile of

Isa's mouth.
She places a pill in
her mouth, takes a sip
of water, and swallows

"Bartok" continues.

She repeats this

action once more.

Int. M.S.: Isa in bath

She wants to take all
the pills at once.
Momentarily she pauses
to reflect on this
difficult and uncom
fortable task (i.e..
swallowing nine pills
at once).

"Bartok" continues.

Abruptly she presses

the nine pills into
her mouth, grabs the
glass of water, and
swallows them.
She gags and chokes.

Int. M.S.:
The camera pans to follow
her actions.
She takes a tube of

"Bartok" continues.



toothpaste and a
toothbrush in her
But instead of prepar
ing to brush her
teeth, she begins to
squeeze the toothpaste
on the surface of her
mirror image.

Int. C.U.: Mirror image

of Isa with toothpaste
being spread on the sur
face of the mirror.
Isa composes a picture
and then in disgust
smears out the compo
sition with her hand.

"Piano One" begins.


Int. M.L.S.:
Isa stops smearing the

"Piano One" continues.

She regains her compo

sure just long enough
to empty fifteen more
pills into her mouth.

Int. C.U.: Isa's face.

She walks back to the
washing machine in the

"Piano One" continues.

Time passes.

Int. M.L.S.:
Isa in
Isa gets up from the
washing machine on
which she has been

"Piano One" continues.



sitting and brushes
her teeth.
She is very shaky.


Int. M.C.U.:
Isa through
the bathroom mirror.
watches herself brush her
teeth. Suddenly the
camera swish-pans to tdie
bathroom door where David
David stands at the
It is evident
that he knows something
is very wrong; thus, he
passively observes the
psychopathic mess that
Isa has created.

"Piano One" continues.

It is apparent that he
is highly concerned.
He holds a ball of
29A) Int. C.U.:
She does not know how
to act.

Int. M.S.: David speaks

through his shock and

"Piano One" drifts down.

"I've fixed the Venetian
They needed new
rope in them."

He pauses.
And speaks more about
what is really on his
"I'm worried.
You became
suicidal last night. It
scares me when you talk
like that."



Once again he pauses
to gather his thoughts:
"I want that bottle of
medication of yours."


Int. C.U.:
She speaks:

"No, it's my medication."

Int. M.C.U.:
He speaks:
"Whenever you need a pill,
I'll give you one."


Int. C.U.:
Isa, a prep
aration shot for the
upcoming P.O.V.
Isa silently responds
to David's ultimatum.

"Piano One" in background.


P.O.V. (C.U.):
Isa's of
The camera pans
down to a C.U. of his
hand that holds the ball
of twine.
He drops the twine.

"Rape One" begins.

David's hand begins to

move forward.
David's hand continues
to move forward toward
the medicine bottle.

Int. M.C.U.:
Isa's face.
She reacts to David's
aggressive action.

"Rape One" continues.

She tries to protect

her bottle of medica

Int. E.C.U.:
Isa's hand
grabbing the pills.
Isa's hand does grab
the pill bottle first,

"Rape One" continues.



but David's hand grabs
her hand.


Int. C.U.: David's face.

He struggles to remove
the medication from

"Rape One" continues.


Int. C.U.:
Isa's face.
She struggles to
retain the medication.

"Rape One" continues.


Int. C.U.: Medication

The medication bottle
is torn from Isa's

"Rape One" continues.


Int. E.C.U.:
Isa's face.
She loses possession
of the bottle of medi

"Rape One" continues.


Int. M.C.U.:
David in
bathroom door.
David is shaken. He
pauses to compose him
self. Then he attempts
to open the medicine

"Rape One" continues.

David speaks:

"I can't open this.

going to the kitchen."


Int. E.L.S.: Hallway

outside bathroom.
David walks out of the
bathroom and down the

"Rape One" continues.


Int. M.L.S.: Hallway

looking into the bathroom.
Isa walks up to the
door frame and places
her hands on both

"Rape One" grows louder.



sides of the door
Isa is trapped
She stands
and waits and is as
motionless as a statue.


Int. E.L.S.: Balcony and

Isa enters the frame
from O.S. and walks
down the stairs to the
enclosed porch.

"Open Spaces" drops in.

44A) Int. M.L.S.:

Isa from
the enclosed porch.
She looks into the
porch, finding David
who is opening the
bottle of pills.

"Open Spaces" continues,


"Open Spaces" continues.

Int. M.S.:
It is daytime.
David stands, attempt
ing to open the medi
cine bottle with a
large knife.
He succeeds in opening
the bottle.
He speaks:


Int. L.S.:
porch, reverse angle,
with David's back to the
camera and Isa in the
background facing him.
Isa, pleading, embar
rassed, and angered,

"It looks like there are

fewer pills here.
going to count them.
be right back."
"Open Spaces" under




But she stops, catch
ing herself from say
ing anything more.
David walks out of the
room, passing Isa as
she stands motionless.
She is thinking.

He walks away from the


New shot.
Int. M.S.: David.
David continues to
walk out of the porch.
As he leaves, Isa
takes stock of the
situation; she is
destroyed and confused.

"Open Spaces" continues,

She sits down, com

pletely dejected.
Time passes.
48A) Int. C.U.:
Isa running
up the stairs.
She runs quickly.

"Open Spaces" builds.


Int. M.L.S.:
Isa runs up the stairs
to the bathroom.
looks in and then
changes her mind,
going to the bedroom.

"Open Spaces" continues.


Int. E.L.S.:
looking at the bureau.
Isa looks hastily for
a bottle of pills on
the bureau.
it, she has a fit and
throws the lamp over
onto the floor.

"Open Spaces" continues.




The lamp has been lying

on its side all along.

Int. C.U.: Red lampshade

on bureau.
The lamp falls before
(in front of) the
camera; its shade
fills the frame.

"Open Spaces" continues.

Time passes.

Int. C.U.: Glass Clock.

The clock face reads

"Open Spaces" continues.

Time passes.

Int. C.U.: Glass Clock.

The clock face reads

"Open Spaces" continues.

Time passes.

Int. E.C.U.: Isa in Den.

She stands in front of
the slatted partition
that separates the
kitchen from the den.
The shot is photographed
through the slats of the
She takes another pill.

"Open Spaces" continues.


Isa's through
the partition. The shot
is of David who is now
talking on the phone.

"Open Spaces" continues.





Int. E.C.U.:
Isa in den.
Isa takes another pill
and then walks O.S.

"Open Spaces" continues.


Int. E.L.S.: Living room.

Isa walks into the
living room. Her
movements are becoming
stilted the drugs are
taking effect.

"Open Spaces" builds.

The phone is ringing

and Isa tries to answer
She trips and falls to
the floor.
She gets up waveringly
and attempts to climb
the stairs.

Int. M.S.: Living room

Isa attempts to climb
the stairs. She col

"Open Spaces" builds.


Int. M.L.S.:
Isa at the
top of the stairs.
She gets up and falter
ing ly takes off her

"Open Spaces" continues.

Grabbing for support,

she makes her way down
the stairs and col
lapses again on them.
front up.
58A) Int. M.S.:
Isa falling
on the stairs. She col
lapses directly into the

"Open Spaces" continues.





Isa's as David
drags her on the living
room floor. David is
wearing a red robe. The
image is extremely shaky.

"Rape Two" darkly starts.


Int. E.L.S.: David drag

ging the naked Isa to a
white sheet.

"Rape Two" continues.


Int. M.L.S.: David.

He leans down and
kisses Isa's body and
takes off all her
It is evident
that David intends to
rape Isa.

"Rape Two" builds.


Int. Special Effects Shot:

Glass Clock.
Several images of the
clock show that time
is passing.

"Rape Two" continues.


Int. E.L.S.:
Isa lying
in the living room on the
white sheet. David
stands above her.
Isa lies naked, front
up, on the white sheet.

"Rape Two" under.

David is getting up
and is putting the
robe on himself.
It is evident that
David has raped Isa
while she was uncon
scious by overdose.
Momentarily he stands
above her, looking
down at her hauntingly.

Int. M.S.:

David in the

"Rape Two" continues.




living room looking down

at Isa.
The camera fol
lows David's movements.
David continues to
loom above Isa.
He walks over to a
vase with a red rose
in it.
Taking the
rose out of the vase,
he walks over to Isa
and expressionlessly
drops it beside her.

Int. C.U.: Isa's head on

the white sheet with the
red rose next to her.
She is completely

"Rape Two" reaches


Time passes.
"2nd Attempt

Int. L.S.:
Isa and her husband
sit at the kitchen
They had been
talking but now they
say nothing.
Isa is
holding the large
She plays out
cutting her wrist with
the knife.
Then she
brings it up to her
He is motion
less watching her.

"Title Theme" music.




Time passes.

Int. M.L.S.:
Isa is lying in bed.
She has been sleeping
and then her eyes
Her husband has
been standing next to
her, looking down at

"Title Theme" music.

Time passes.

Int. M.S.:
Isa lies motionless
with her eyes wide
open. A large knife
is lying by her side.
She picks it up and
places its point to
her eyes.

"Title Theme" music.

Time passes.

Int. E.L.S.:
Isa sits on a chair.
She holds the large
knife in one hand.

"Blood Bath" begins.

She places the knife

on her wrist.
She is wearing a shirt
and a skirt.

Int. C.U.:
Isa in the
Gaining confidence.
she slices her wrist.

"Blood Bath" continues.



Blood pours.
Her head turns away
from the scene.

Int. C.U.:
Isa's head.
Isa's head turns away
from the bloody sight.

"Blood Bath" continues.

The camera pans down to

her wrist.
She throws the knife
down and covers her
wrist with her other
Blood spurts from her

Int. M.L.S.:
Isa gets up from the
chair, still holding
her bleeding wrist.

"Blood Bath" continues.

She staggers around

the den.

Int. C.U.:
Isa's wrist.
The camera follows Isa's
wrist as she staggers
around the den.
Isa is contorted in

"Blood Bath" continues.

She brings her wrist

up to her face and
then down again.

New shot.
Int. E.C.U.:
Isa's bloody
Isa places her hand on
the wound, hoping to
stop the gushing blood.

"Blood Bath" continues.





Int. E.L.S.:
Isa in den.
Isa, still contorted
in pain, falls to the
floor that is covered
with blood.

"Blood Bath" continues.

75A) Int. E.C.U.:

Isa's face.
Isa is in agony with
She is scream

"Blood Bath" continues.

75B) Int. C.U.: Isa in den.

Isa continues to fall.

"Blood Bath" continues.


"Blood Bath" continues.

Int.C.U.: Isa's face as

she lies on the floor.
She decides to attempt
to save herself.
has changed her mind;
she is now afraid of
She reaches down into
her skirt for her half


Int.C.U.: Isa's wrist.

She still holds her
bleeding wrist.

"Blood Bath" continues,


Int.C.U.: Isa's wrist.

Another angle with blood
The entire
frame is filled with

"Blood Bath" continues,


Int.M.S.: Isa lying on

the floor covered with
Isa reaches into her
skirt and reaches for
her half-slip.
bing it, she rips it

"Blood Bath" culminates,



She wraps the half
slip around her bleed
ing wrist.
The white
half-slip becomes
filled with blood.

"3rd Attempt1

Int. L.S.:
Kitchen table.
Some days later, Isa
sits at the table
The bottle
is half-empty and she
is half-drunk.

"Title Theme" music.

She takes another gulp

from her glass.
The glass clock is on the
table, facing her.

Int. L.S.:
Kitchen table.
The glass clock is in the
Isa looks into the
glass clock.
Thus, she also looks into
the camera.
The zoom
lens surges forward
slightly and then pauses.
Isa looks at the glass

"Title Theme" continues.


Int. C.U.:
The glass
The clock face reads

"Title Theme" continues,





Int. M.S.:
Isa staring.
Isa, though in a stu
por, subtly reacts.
The zoom lens surges
forward slightly and then
Isa looks at the glass

"Title Theme" continues.


Int. C.U.: The glass

The clock face reads

"Title Theme" continues.


Int. M.S.: Isa staring.

Isa reacts to the
The zoom lens surges for
ward slightly and then
Isa looks at the clock.

"Title Theme" continues.


Int. C.U.: Glass clock.

The clock face now
reads 2:02.

"Title Theme" ends.


Edited out.


Int. M.C.U.: Another

angle of Isa.
Her head has dropped
to the kitchen table.
The zoom lens surges
forward slightly and then

"Piano Two" begins.


Int. E.L.S.: Kitchen

Isa raises her head
from the table. She
is disoriented.

"Piano Two" continues.

She gets up from the

She grabs the bottle




and her car keys.

The camera follows her as
Isa walks up to the
front door, opens it,
and walks out of the

Int. C.U.: Garage door

from inside. The shot is
a C.U. that will when the
door is opened reveal
Isa stands reactionless before the

"Piano Two" continues,


Ext. E.L.S.:
Garage with
car in it and Isa stand
ing at the entrance.

"Piano Two" continues.


Int. M.S.:
Isa closes the garage

"Piano Two" continues,


Ext. M.S.:
Garage door
The garage door closes
into the camera lens.

"Piano Two" continues,


Ext. M.C.U.:
Bottom of
garage door closing,
sealing the garage.

"Piano Two" continues.


Int. M.C.U.:
Isa with
back resting against the
garage door.
Isa, very disoriented
and confused, pauses
to think about what
she intends to do.

"Piano Two" continues,

She looks at the tail

pipe of the car.





P.O.V.: I s a s of the
liquor bottle as she
drinks. The bottle
whirls around the garage.

'Piano Two" continues,


Int. L.S.:
Isa at the
garage door.
Isa steps away from
the garage door. She
lifts the bottle of
booze and takes a

"Piano Two" continues,


P.O.V.: Isa's of the

liquor bottle as she
drinks. The bottle
whirls around the garage.

"Piano Two" continues,


New shot.
Int. E.L.S.:
Garage, car,
Isa realizes that she
has been walking
towards the passenger
side of the car. She
becomes disgusted with
her disorientation,
smashing the bottle of

97A) Int. M.L.S.:

Isa smash
ing bottle.
Isa smashes the bottle
of booze in disgust
that she has walked to
the wrong side of the

Edited out.


Int. M.L.S.:
Isa opens
the car door.
She gets into the
driver's seat and
closes the door.

"Piano Two" continues,

"Piano Two" continues.

"Piano Two" continues,




100) Int. C.U.:

Isa releases the
stickshift into

"Piano Two" continues.

101) Int. M.L.S.:

Isa rolls down the

"Piano Two" continues.

102) Int. M.L.S.:

Isa rolls down the

"Piano Two" continues.

103) Int. M.S.:

Isa inside
the car.
Shot from the
rear seat.
Isa begins to place
the key in the igni

"Piano Two" continues.

104) Int. E.C.U.:

The key
goes into the ignition.
Isa starts the car.

"Piano Two" continues.

105) Int. C.U.: Tailpipe.

Exhaust exudes from
the tailpipe.

"Piano Two" continues.

106) Int. C.U.:

Exhaust continues to
exude from the tail

"Piano Two" continues.

107) Int. E.L.S.:

Car in
The garage is filled
with smoke.

"Piano Two" builds.

108) Int. M.C.U.:

Isa in car.
Isa, drunk and asphyx
iated with carbon
monoxide, falls uncon
scious, her head

"Piano Two" continues.



hitting the steering
Time passes.

108A) Special Effects:

Zoom into clock
with multiple shots and
109) Int. C.U.: David.
garage door opens to
reveal him.
David discovers Isa.
He screams:
110) Int. L.S.: Car in garage.
David walks up to the
passenger side of the
car and opens the door
getting in the car.

"Piano Two" continues,

"Piano Two" under


"You've killed yourself!"

"Piano Two" up again.

He is coughing from
the gas.
He sits in the passen
ger seat.
111) Edited out.
112) Int. C.U.: David's reac
tion shot.
Isa is on his lap.

"Piano Two" slows down.

He looks down at her

113) Int. C.U.:
Isa's face on
David1s lap.
David caresses her
Time passes.

"Piano Two" continues.




113A) Int. L.S.: David outside

the car.
David gets out of the
passenger door and
walks slowly around
the car until he
reaches the driver's

"Piano Two" halts abruptly.

He begins to open the

114) Ext. E.L.S.: Garage with
door open. Several
police cars are outisde
with lights flashing.
David, in a complete
daze, holds the corpse
of Isa.
He wanders meaning
less ly around the
police cars.

"Title Theme" music begins.


Scene: Intro 1A

Shot(s): 4

X Pre-Shooting
Date: 6/24____________





Colored Lighting

After the zoom-in the E.C.U.

of her eyes becomes a more
subjective shot (i.e., depict
ing Isa's feelings) with the
introduction of the red color.

Wide Angle Lens & In Depth

Subject Angle

Glass clock to dominate frame

(this to create a conflict of
compositional interest Isa
v s . clock). Noticeably con
trived framing for pictorial
impact yet unrealistic.


For dramatic visual impact

imposed on the image.

Subject Motion Towards the


To work with the Zooming so

as to create greater impact.


^Pages retyped from original handwritten forms.

Scene: Intro 1A_____________
X Pre-Shooting
Date: 6/24

Shot(s) :





Colored Lighting

After the zoom-in the E.C.U.

of her eyes becomes a more
subjective shot (i.e., depict
ing Isa's feelings) with the
introduction of the red color.

Wide Angle Lens & In Depth

Subject Angle

Glass clock to dominate frame

(this to create a conflict of
compositional interest Isa
vs. clock).
Noticeably con
trived framing for pictorial
impact yet unrealistic.


For dramatic visual impact

imposed on the image.

Subject Motion Towards the


To work with the Zooming so

as to create greater impact.


Scene: Intro 1A____________
Date: _______________

Shot(s) : 4

X Shooting
Date: 3/1




Colored Lighting gelled
light at side of camera
(near and directly hitting

When Isa lunges forward, she

will move into red that accen
tuates and gives expressive
import to her movements.

Wide Angle Lens

To exaggerate proportions and


Shallow Depth of Field

Only the clock's area is in

focus (stressing that this is
the only important area).
Much of the time Isa is out of
focus and becomes an abstract
shape (ambiguity).

Filter Diffusion Filter

To render the image more

painterly and to soften the
edges of the Split Field C.U.

Split Field Close-Up Lens

To create tension by two

different focus areas that
also render an artificiality
to the picture.

Zooming eliminated

Did not technically work with

the Special Effects Lens.

Subject Motion Towards the


Blocking for drama Isa comes

from background and eventually
overtakes the dominant clock.
Also, Isa's head forms a type
of wipe across the frame at



end of shot. Movement for
In beginning of shot
(Isa in blur), she is merely
an abstract shape (ambiguity).



Scenes: Intro 1A
Date: _______________



X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/2


Cut from Red (Special

This shot starts the main

action. The narrative begins.

Commentative Music
"Bartok" begins

To reinforce that the narra

tive has started.

Synchronous Dialogue

Isa's track to form a discon

certing real/unreal voice
track that does not "balance"
with the visual.

Scenes: Taking Pills


X Pre-Shooting
Date: 6/27______





Framing/Composition (see
Distance of View:
(When camera pans to these

The actions take place too

close to the lens looking
almost too contrived, artifi
cial violation of expecta

Panning and Tilting


Overconscious and nonsynchronous following of the

To draw attention to
the photographic nature of the
film (i.e., photography leads

Scenes: Taking Pills

Shot(s): 28


X Shooting
Date: 8/4




Low Camera Angle waist

To look up at dominant subject.


To create artificial visual

tension within the frame.
Photography that interprets
reality with expression.

Gradual Red
(Red in left hand
corner and Fog in
lower right)

(with the heavy use of
Any light blossoms
out forming a halo effect
which is completely unnatural.
Overexposed Aperture
(linked with Movement)

End of shot has Isa over

exposed, creating an unreal
shimmering bright image.
This creates a new area
entered by the movement.

(See Pre-Shooting notes)


Some readjustment necessary.

Camera tilts to a more normal
low angle shot during the

Scene: Taking Pills________

Shot{s) : 28



X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/3


Dissolve from Red

To signify in a highly stylish

manner that time has passed.
Establishes again the red


Continued use of "Piano One."


Continued use of Isa's

synchronous dialogue track
(with sound distortion) to
create an unnatural sonic
presence for her.

Sound Effects Tap water


Running sink water gains

disproportionate import. A
"detail" used to create an
unnatural effect (ambiguity).

Scene: Grabbing Pills_______
X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/1____________

Shot(s) :





Key Lighting (flat)

Individualizes shot, separa

ting subject from mise-enscene.

Shallow Depth of Field

Separates subject from miseen-sc^ne.

Special Effect: Every
other frame is a red Flash
Frame, forming a strobe
like effect.

To surrealistically create
highly evocative strong
movement that conveys

Hand Held Camera Movement

Unnatural or over-natural
shakiness to the image.

Special Effect

Rattling screeching continues

to create strong tension.


Scene: Grabbing Pills

Date: ________________


X Shooting
Date: 8/4_________




Diffusion Filter

To create a painterly effect.

Multivision Five
(Shot with a 50mm prime
lens so that the image is
around the edges of the
frame and forming a kind of
mask, see below)

Edges of frame actually split

apart the image creating more
of a sense of confusion.
To eliminate Special Effect?

Mask (see above)

The Multivision Lens is being

used to create an elaborate
device that both accentuates
movement and violates

Key Lighting

Single source to create a

harsh effect.

Shooting Through a Mirror

To create a type of "echoing

of the image as well as
increasing the ambiguity of
the image.
Note: This "echoing" seems to
exaggerate movement.

Hand-Held Camera Movement

To create a shaky, nervous,

and violent image.

Subject Movement

In all directions. Camera and

Subject Motion are erratic
often diverging from one
another's synchronism. This



exaggerates the movement in
the shot.

Slow Motion


Mixed with the Hand-Held

Camera and Subject Motion, it
alters the natural apprehen
sion of motion.

Scene: Grabbing Pills



X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/3



Rhythmic/Tonal Cutting

Edited to the actions of the

screen so as to form increased
movement to create visual
violence throughout Montage

Commentative Music

Continuation of "Rape One."

Note: The piece of music con
tains dark tones that
accomplish much the same
effect as the original special
sound effect.


Isa's synchronous dialogue

track continues but only Isa's
screaming is heard (i.e.,
David does not have a sound).
This lends an interpretive
role to the sound.

Scene: Grabbing Pills


X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/1





Key Lighting High
Intensity (at a low

To create unusual shadows on

Isa from the hand rail
shadows that are dominant.

Distance of View Extreme

Long Shot

To depict Isa as small with

the connotation of little

Panning and Tilting


Slight motion to render the

frame less static.

Scene: Grabbing Pills



X Shooting
Date: 7/28




Filter Softening

To give texture to the image

(esp. with Isas movement in
and out of focus).

Low Camera Angle at foot

of stairs

To create a sense of ominous


Filter Gradual Red

(Angled with diagonal of

On Right side Isa walks into

red color. Color detracting
from realism and increasing

FiIter Half-Fog

From left side of frame.

Thus: Intermesh of Filters to
create different qualities of
the pictorial image within the
Frame (conflict and violation
of expectations).

Key Lighting cookie used

on second floor to create
shadows at top of stairs

Isa walks in and out of

licfht to make the mise-enscene unnatural and frighten

Kicker Lighting High

Intensity (coming through
the rotating ceiling fan)

To further the intentions of

the Key Lighting but with the
addition of movement.


Shot changes its depiction and

alters the significance of the
Low Angle shot
changes as Isa goes down the
stairs from a Low Angle that



looks directly up at Isa to an
extremely Low Angle (due to
the awareness that in actual
ity the camera is just at
floor level).

Lens Movement


Focus pull that rotates the

Gradual Red Filter so that it
moves to the bottom of the
frame to create a violation
of expectation.

Scene: Grabbing Pills______
Date: _______________


Shot(s) :


X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/2


Tonal Cutting

Abrupt time/space change from

Shot 43. Works due to:
1. Shot 44 beginning with
Isa off-screen.
2. Dramatic change in

Commentative Music NEW

"Open Spaces." A direct cut

from the loud tone of Shot 43
to the quiet open music with
great ambiguity as to the
sounds. This music creates
ambiguity in the internal
drama because the Music might
actually be Isa hearing
subjective sounds.


Continued but with an abrupt

change in content and volume
from loud to soft.

Scene: Intro 2A___________
X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/1

Shot(s) :




Date: __________


High Camera Angle

To compose a shot that

includes both David (who is
standing) and Isa (who lies
in bed).

Distance of View Medium

Long Shot

To create a feeling of "look

ing at" rather than placing
the viewer within the action.


Should isolate and stress the

importance of both David and

Dissolve to and from Red

To enhance the tableau (epic)

quality of the images with
total disregard of their
temporal continuity.

Music Commentative?

A "kettle drum" ushers in this

next tableau.

Scene: Intro 2A



X Shooting
Date: 8/4




Diffusion Filter
Soft Spot Filter
Compositional Diffusion
Filter (Vaseline etched
and painted onto a glass
plate before the lens)

All these Filters create a

painterly and provocatively
overcomposed image creating
ambiguity as to the intent of
the shot. David wears a dark
suit and this suit contrasts
greatly with the white covers
of the bed; the Filters reduce
the contrast.

There is no motion in the
frame except for the tiny
TV screen.

To create an unnatural picture,

The ambiguous question is:
What has gone on?

Scene: Intro 2A


D a t e : __________________ Date:


X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/3


Cut to and from Red

To separate different times

and spaces from one another
(violation of expectations).

Long Take

To create a new and different

apprehension of viewing time
in the film.
The artificial
stiltedness is increased.
statement is being made:
"This is Isa and David staring
at one another while Isa lies
in bed, having been watching
television. David evidently
has interrupted Isa's TV
viewing draw from it what you
THUS: Through technique
alone, a rather straightfor
ward shot has been rendered
ambiguously due to the crea
tion of conflicting signifi

Commentative Music

Continuation of "Title Theme."

Cold, stark music that
detracts from the humanness of
the shot, again connoting
meaning not found in the

Scene: The Gas_____________
X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/14___________


Shot(s) :


104____ ____________
Originally 102


Wide Angle Lens

To create distortion esp. for

Isa's movement.

Shallow Depth of Field

To concentrate viewer1s
attention on the actions and
place them in isolation.

Filters Diffusion and


To create a "dream-like"

Off-Center Framing

To form ambiguity as to the

viewer's perspective of space
throughout the seven shots.


To create a visually beautiful

shot that depicts an ugly
subject {violation of expecta
tion) .

Jump Cut

Commentative Music?

Interrupted action throughout

the seven shots that construct
number 104. Make it apparent
that the actions are being

Scene: The Gas


Originally 102


X Shooting
Date: 8/6





Multivision Three

To create an exaggerated
degree of motion within the
entire area of the frame.

Gradual Red Filter

To alter and interpret

reality. To impart new

Subject Movement


Greatly exaggerated and

expanded by the Multivision
Three image because it is
shown three times simulta

Scene: The Gas

Shot(s) : 104_________________
Originally 102




X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/3


Multiple Dissolve Special
Effect (Dissolved Insert
shots repeated so as to
overlap. Each shot has a
different length of
dissolve 16-24-32-etc.)

To create an abstract movement

and shapes that ordinarily
would merely carry the narra
tive now becoming a purely
visual divertissement.

Insert A is edited out.

Too much repetition.

Jump Cut From Shot 103

Repeat of action from 103 to

begin confusing the audience.

Contrapuntal Music

Continuation of "Piano Two."

Strong abstract music to
further confuse the audience.


Continuation of Isa's
synchronous dialogue track.

Sound Effects Keys shaking

and being inserted into the
car ignition

Repetition of the same sound

with each Insert Shot this
mixing goes well with the
loose Music, almost seeming
a part of the piece.

Scene: The Gas_____________
X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/8

Shot(s) :




Date: __________


Wide Angle Lens

To distort and expand image.

Deep Depth of Field

Clarity of subject and miseen-scene (see below).

Star Filter

To create a sparkling quality

to the images.

Oblique Framing

Disorienting depiction of
space, esp. Isa's fall (see

In depth Subject Angle

A dramatic expanded view of


Low Camera Angle

Create drama and significance

for Isa's position and move

Lighting Position Low

Odd and unnatural source for

lights to come from (from

Multiple Exposure Clock

Perhaps too much.

the clock motif.



To create purposeful camera

movement that draws attention
to itself.

Subject Movement Towards

the Camera

(Isa's image is in-depth.)




Clock see above, perhaps in

and out.

Reverse Motion Special


To create unnatural movement.

Commentative Music

Reaches climax and ends with

Music then ENDS.
Scene goes to full red.

Scene: The Gas


Date: ________________

Shot(s) :


X Shooting
Date: 8/6_________




Off-Center Framing

So as to make the car point

downward to give the impres
sion of a car crash an
unbalanced feeling.

Color Temperature

5400 degrees to make the image

brassy and unreal and to match
with the transition shot of

Colored Lighting blue and


Creation of lighting that

could not exist in a car. The
lighting is, if pressed for a
label, stylish. And this
stylishness is to drive home
the point that this may be the
most significant shot in the
f i lm.

Star Filter

To add a glimmering quality to

the light.

Reverse Motion
(Camera up-side-down)

Final projected image will be

in correct order. Although
the actions occur in this
sequence in order, they are
very unreal looking.


Also adjusted for the Reverse




When Isa's head hits the
steering wheel, a loud
synthesized sound of a horn
is heard.
Shot 108
dissolves into red.
horn effect then lowers and
the "Theme" works in with
or against it.

To create a synchronous sound

effect that still retains an
altered quality A feeling
that the sound is there for
audio-visual reasons more than
its being a natural sound that
would occur in reality.

Scene: The Gas_____________
Date: _______________




X Post-Shooting
Date: 9/3


NOTE: The Special Effects of Pre-Shooting and Shooting are
changed to a special dissolve: a full Zoom-in of Isa to a
Special Effects shot of the clock (108A).
Invisible Cutting

The mise-en-sc&ne, the subject,

and the subject's actions all
look different so as to dray,
attention to the change in the
shot from 107.

Zooming "processed
motion" (reverse)

Unnatural movement of the lens

with a full zoom-in to Isa's
black hair. When screen is
black with her hair, the shot
dissolves to 108A.

Contrapuntal Music

Highly expressionistic music

that builds to a climax.
"Piano Two" alerts the
audience that the motion that
they are seeing is altered.
Volume increased in mix for
greater emphasis.


Continuation of Isa's
synchronous dialogue track.
The volume (impact and import)
increased in mix.



Off-Screen Sound Effect

Continuation of the loop of

the car's idling.
This to
help form a sonic crescendo
whereby all sounds intertwine
to abstraction dissociate
themselves from their corres
ponding image.

Synchronous Sound Effect

When Isa hits her head on the

steering wheel, the car's horn
loudly erupts: CRESCENDO!

Scene: The Dead


X Pre-Shooting
Date: 7/8____________





An average objective shot

To break the surreality of



Out from flashing red police

light to add dynamism to the
Red screen dissolves into the
red police light.

Slow Motion Slight

To create movement that is

slightly altered.

Contrapuntal Music

Sentimental music that becomes

"cold" and steely this
against the touching last

Scene: The Dead

Shot(s) :
X Shooting
Date: 8/7




Filter: Plastic sheet over
camera (Raining that day so
that the rain and wind
shift the "filter" con

To create manipulated framing

that is as unreal as it is

Color Temperature differ

Outside: Normal gray

The difference refers to an

intrinsic unreality of the
image a complete change from
the original strategy (an
average objective shot).

Subject Motion Towards
the Camera


Suspenseful (will I use

Special Effects?) in that the
audience might be expecting
to see David bringing Isa into
full view a man walking in an
entirely artificial environ

Scene: The Dead





X Post-Shooting
Date: 8/24


Sextet Framing Special

To create an unusual motion

but not true slow motion.
narrative has finished.
shot becomes a purely visual

Freeze Frame Beginning of

shot and end of shot

Freeze Frame on red police

light bursting out head and
This completely
dissociates the shot from even
cinematic reality.

Commentative Music

"Title Theme" begins with

first appearance of Freeze
Which changes into...
"Submission Blues" at the
freeze in the end of the shot.
This ends the film and begins
the end titles.
"Submission Blues" is a
cogently happy piece with a
sense of dissonance.
extra-mimetic interpretation
might be "so what?" as to the
feelings and meanings of the

Image (as affected by:)
Film stock
Black and white
High contrast
High speed*
Slow speed*
Color Temperature
Lensed effect
Wide angle
Underexpos ed
Depth of Field
Neutral density*
Gradual red**
Target defraction**
Horizontal defraction**
Compositional diffusion**
Fog half**
Mist spot red**
Soft spot**

Techniques not employed for dissociative purposes

1A, 2A & 3 A .
**Added technique.

Special effects lenses**
Split-field close-up**
Multivision three**
Multivision five**
Normal (centered)
Shooting through a mirror**
Distance of View
Close-up shot
Medium shot
Long shot
Angle of View
Subject angle
Camera angle
Point-of-view (level determined by eye level of
person seeing)
Spot lighting**
Intensity (wattage)
Colored lighting**
Special effects lighting**
Available lighting**

**Added technique

Special effects
Change in color
Change in brightness*
Change in contrast*
Change in image size*
Change in emulsion position*
Split screen*
Multiple exposure
Superimposed titles*
Matte shot*
Movement (as created by:)
Camera movement
Normal speed pan
Swish pan
Hand-held camera movement**
Lens movement**
Subject movement
Upward motion
Downward motion
Movement toward the camera
Movement away from the camera
Left-right motion
Invisible (unobtrusive or match) cutting
Jump cutting
Rhythmic (metric or tempo) cutting
Long take**
Tonal cutting
Insert shot
Parallel editing*
Flashback/flashf orward*
Reaction shot

Techniques not employed for dissociative purposes in

1A, 2A & 3A.
**Added technique.

Special Effects
Fast motion
Slow motion
Multiple dissolves**
Dissolve to and from a color**
Cut to and from a color**
Freeze framing
Sextet framing**
Flash framing**
Reverse motion**
Rotating multivision five lens with zoom**
Superimposed dissolve**
Ripple dissolve*
Flip over wipe*
Optical zoom*
Skip framing*
Double framing*
Sound (as created by:)
Synchronous dialogue
Asynchronous (voice over) dialogue
Voice over narration*
Sound Effects
Off-screen (asynchronous)
Room tone*
Commentative (asynchronous and parallel)
Contrapuntal (asynchronous and non-parallel)
Actual music
Actually heard
Visibly performed*

Techniques not employed for dissociative purposes

1A, 2A & 3A.
**Added technique.


To Whom It May Concernt

I can understand the difficulty of the uninitiated to see

how Theodore Caserta's script "1A, 2A, & 3A" would transfer
to the screen.
As Truffaut once said, "Every film must have a beginning,
middle and end, but not necessarily in that order".
As head of production for Jacoby/Storm Productions, I believe
in order, sequence and logic) all of these elements I find
in Mr. Caserta's script. He has developed a difficult theme
which flows easily and with great clarity from one scene to
the next.

Frank Jacoby





N onn M a in STresi
S tratford C onnec!cuTG 66C i

(203) 386-4000

July 2. 1984

Theodore Masuk Caserta

242 Random Road
F a irfie ld CT 06432
Dear Ted,
Thanks fo r giving me the opportunity to read your film scrip t
t itle d , "la 2a & 3a". The s c rip t 1s an understandably coherent
story that should make a very Interesting film . I sure hope
you l l Include me In your audience when you have the premier
showing. Good luck with this endeavor.

Joseph Sonniers
Supervisor Motion P1cture/V1deo Dept.


Y 6 H S T



4 8 5 Third A v a r u a / N . w York, N. Y. 10017 / Tol

212 8 7 8 5 9 0 0 t

Coblo: A l PHAWIN,



July 9, 1984

To Whom It Hay Concern:

After reviewing the script titled 1A, 2A 3A by Theodore Hasuk Caserta,
find this to be a clear straightforward dramatic script capable of
being produced by any qualified professional filsmaker in a coherent
and understandable manner. Thus, proper execution of this work would
then be easily understood by a wide variety of audiences. This script
presents no unusual production problem of any kind and should prove, in
capable hands, to be a fine narrative piece.

Henry-H. Wait
Director of Film c Video Production