The Narrative of Citizen Kane

After his success in the radio with the sci-fi drama “The War of the Worlds”, Orson Welles won a contract with RKO pictures; giving him complete creativity on the project  In 1941, he created what is considered by filmmakers as one of the best films in history, “Citizen Kane”. This film presented and developed many innovations in the world of cinema. From technical contributions, the game with lights and special effects. But we must emphasize the narrative aspect of this film.

This movie has a simple story. A reporter is assigned to decipher the last words of Charles Foster Kanes; “Rosebud.” Throughout other characters, the life of the main character is narrated. The film may have a simple plot but it is the way that Orson Welles builds the story that highlights it.

Welles explored different and new methods to create his story. He avoids linear and chronic narrative, using flashbacks to tell the story of Charles Foster Kane. He also uses the voice of multiple narrators to reconstruct the life of this individual; demonstrating it in the for interviews.This concept in literature is called an unreliable narrator since the author uses other characters to tell the life of Charles Foster Kane. Welles was able to understand this literary concept and put it into action on the big screen. In addition, through the editing, in an impressive way, he was able to tell the story of the deterioration of Kane’s first marriage in less than 3 minutes.

Orson Welles used storytelling techniques in a creative way. The uses of flashback and how the plot has a non-linear structure; leaving the traditional narrative. They use the technique of montage to give jumps of time and space in the film. “Citizen Kane” is a film that shines in all cinematographic aspects and will continue to influence the world of cinema.

Example how Orson Welles used editing to tell the story of the deterioration of a marriage in less than 3 minutes : 

[ author of the video: davidsmorgan ]

[ Picture by https://giphy.com/channel/maudit ]

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Nanook of the North: a change in the narrative

 

Nanook of the North

Throughout his exploration in Canada, the director Robert J. Flaherty started to develop a fascination towards the Inuit tribe. Flaherty, with his crank camera, began to film the daily life of this tribe and, with just a couple of months, he had a huge amount of film. But, unfortunately, the editing room was set on fire caused by a cigarette lit. Thanks to this event, Robert J. Flaherty took action and began filming once again and, in 1922, he released what is considered the first documentary film, “Nanook of the North”.

This film shows us the life of Nanook and his family in the struggle within a complicated environment to live. There is no doubt that this film was revolutionary. The production of this documentary shows us scenes from remote places; introducing a diverse and exotic culture to the audience. In addition, they play with the aesthetics of scenery surrounded by nature and balance it with the narrative of the documentary. Although this film is important for the history of cinema, at the time it received many criticisms.

The director has been criticized for portraying events staged as reality. The name of the main character is not Nanook but Allakariallak. Nala was not his wife in real life, but a person chosen for the role. In the igloo scene, the director had to intervene, since he needed to build it in a way that the camera could fit and that natural light would come in to be able to record. There were also several scenes that were staged such as the seal hunt or how the main character didn’t know what a rifle was; giving the film a more primitive touch.

Flaherty, by organizing images and stories, builds a narrative for this documentary film. We can see how he and his crew members integrate themselves in a completely different environment to provide a cinematic experience that had never occurred at that time. Although most of these scenes were altered and edified by the director, it does not detract from the importance of the film. This documentary manages to project a whole new world and culture to the audience.

 

 

 

[ title: Nanook of the North, picture by konterz, Licence CC ]

Surrealism in film

Stemmed from Dadaism and the rejection of orthodox art, Surrealism was born. This movement started in Paris in the roaring 1920’s and was founded by Andre Breton. The Surrealist prime objective was freedom from the restrictions of rationality and a bourgeois society. They also followed inspirations from the father of the psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. He believed that when the mind was semi-conscious or in a dream state, it’s when the mind could be liberated. That’s why most of the work is represented in a dreamlike state.

From paintings to literature, Surrealism was being manifested in many ways and through time it moved his ways to film. One of the prime examples of surrealist cinema is the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In 1929 he released his film Un Chien Andalou. Co-written by the Painter, Salvador Dali, this film captures the essence of surrealism. By dispensing linear narrative, they are freeing the viewers from normal storytelling; showing them scenes that looked dreamed like and questioning the rationality of the plot. In the film, they also showed shocking and violent imagery to disrupt reality. The perfect scene that represented jolting imagery was when the man cut an eye with a razor blade. Where in that time it must have been unsettling for the viewers.

Surrealism is also the rejection of traditional institutions in society and religion. Showed in 1930’s Luis Buñuel film l’age d’Or, this film uses Christian imagery and use it as a form of mockery. By combining the theme of sexual oppression and Christianity, it was an attack on the bourgeois and the traditional rationality that the viewers had in that time.

Surrealist filmmakers aimed to attack rationality through their films. They intended to derange meaning, to upset and disorient the audience by using shocking imagery. Expressing the illogicality of the narration and plot by depicting in the dreamlike scenery. This movement truly took film and revolutionize it by talk about social commentary and questioning the morality of the people.

[ image by: https://imnotmorrissey.tumblr.com/post/7848258557 ]

 

Romanticism in Princess Mononoke

Romanticism is the birth of a new set of ideas; a mindset and a way of feeling it wasn’t a political movement, rather an artistic one. This movement began in Western Europe towards the end of the 18th century. Romanticism was born as a consequence of the rejection against the enlightenment: where the scientific and the Industrial Revolution began. The transition of handmade production passed to be made from machines; this includes the development of new machinery and factories such have the textile industry. Another consequence is the urbanization and the advances in the scientific field.  Romanticism is the reaction of a transition to the modern world; where we leave the old to and embrace the new.

Romanticism is mostly found in different types of artistry. From writers, philosophers, artist and even musicians hopped on the movement. All of them have one thing in common; the nostalgic feeling of wanting everything how it used to be: where back then simplicity was valued.

Romanticism was a movement for people to escape the harsh reality from back then. Romanticist, by rejecting enlightenment; they refused to adhere the concept of it, reason cannot explain everything. They value emotions such as happiness, sadness, terrors, rather than logic itself. Practitioners believe that your knowledge comes from the experiences of your everyday life, Where the art of contemplation is used for critical thinking. “The subject of contemplation is gradually produced” (William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads). Romanticist also had a deep respect for nature. They think that being one with nature can be more giving rather than studying and picking up a book. “Let nature be your teacher” (William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned). Lastly, Romanticist cherished individuality and the imagination of a person.

As Romanticism ends in the 19th century. There’s no doubt that this period in time has inspired many writers and artist. Even until now, you could see the influence of romanticism in this day and age. One of them that constantly uses this posture in his work and sparked my interest is Hayao Miyazaki.

Japanese director and company owner of Studios Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki has shown examples of interpretation of the Romantic Movement throughout his filmography. From his first film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the sky to The Wind Rises. All of them share a common theme; nature. But, out of all his film, Princess Mononoke is the prime example of romanticism in today’s work.

The Film Princess Mononoke is about prince Ashitaka after he saved his village from an angry god. Before the god died; he puts a curse on his arm. Now, Ashitaka, instructed by his elder, must go and travel to the westward to find a cure. He finds himself in Iron town, where the leader of the town, Lady Eboshi and the villagers are in a constant fight with forest spirits, gods and the daughter of the goddess Moro, San (Princess Mononoke).

Throughout the film, there are many depictions and symbolisms that show the concept and values of romanticism. For starters, the plot itself is about humans going to war with the spirits or the forest, when the ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal villagers use their guns against the gods of the forest. Also when the villagers take their goods or cut down their trees; the gods and spirits of the forest fight against them. Here, seeing the relationship between humans and nature. Where humans want to dissect the environment for their own selfish needs. “We murder to dissect” (William Wordsworth, The Tables turned)

In the film, Miyazaki’s hand drew scenery is very much appreciated throughout the whole movie; beautiful scenery of nature itself. He uses symbolism and colors to show the difference between a healthy forest and one touched and dissected by humans. Dark colors to show a sick forest. An example is the scene is when the villagers are crossing a path to get to their village and what you see around the characters is deforestation. When the film wants to show a healthy forest, the colors are vibrant and in a classic Miyazaki way, he ads tiny forest spirits (akudamas) to symbolize an untouched, healthy forest.

Another instance of romanticism in this movie is the over control of emotions. As I said, romanticist valued emotions rather than logic itself. Ashitaka, being cursed by a boar god that was consumed by the emotion of hatred. In addition, Ashitaka’s cursed hand has control over him because he is driven by hate. Making him, try to distract himself and feel other emotions that aren’t hate to slow down the curse from spreading in his whole body. In the movie, the goddess daughter, San is driven by the feeling of revenge and Okkoto (the blind boar god) was driven by pride. Showing how emotions controlled the characters actions.

One of the main characters, San can be considered as a representation of a person that follows the values of romanticism. San lives in the forest with the gods and knows how important nature is. She’s against Lady Eboshi’s actions which is using nature’s resources and exploiting them for her own good. This character presents nature fighting back against humans that deed out of nature. Meanwhile, Ashitaka is a character that’s being introduced to all does values and it’s new to it. Where throughout the movie he learns how to coexist with nature and at the same time learns a valuable lesson from nature itself.

Romanticism is a movement that has a deep respect for nature. They believe that the only way to learn is to live and accept nature. Princess Mononoke, in a very imaginative way, is a prime example of how humans and nature need to coexist.This film depicts the environment as a victim of the corruption of the industrialization and the ambitions of humans to control nature. Where in a classic Miyazaki way; turns nature way into an embodiment of living things such’s has spirts or goods. He makes nature a sole identity that acts and reacts like one. San, the goddess daughter, is character that symbolizes the essence of a persona that follows the romanticist spirit. With the help of Ashitaka, they founded a way where humans and nature can come together and submit to nature’s way. Just like romanticist believed, that the only way to truly learn is to give yourself to nature.

 

Bibliography:

[image: https://pandycake.tumblr.com/post/38660467974]

The movie “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki

Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia. “Romanticism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 6 Dec. 2017, www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism

Worthworth, William. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. 1800

Worthworth William. The Tables Turned. The Works of William Wordsworth. England, Wordsworth Editions, 1994, pp.481-482.

Scenography in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Prior to the War, Germany was in shambles and left people in a state of fear and confusion. During that time period, society needed to convey their feelings one way or another. From paintings, architecture, and sculptures; German expressionism was born. This genre broadly influenced many fields but it stands out in German Cinema. One of the prime examples of German Cinema is the 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Directed by Robert Weine, this film tells the story of a small German Town and the arrival of Dr. Caligari. Here he shows up at a carnival presenting his show, the somnambulist Cesare who can predict the future. Throughout the film, it shows the characters slowly lose the rationality and how their emotions start to waver all over the place. Being a silent film they relied on makeup, costume and over exaggerated movements to convey the message to the audience. However, one of the things that stood out was on the film was the scenography.

The production design of the scenography emitted the aesthetic of the German expressionism. The set consisted of extreme distortion in the design such as twisted branches, roads that lead to nowhere, uneven houses, inaccurate shapes, and angles. It is dominated with sharp forms, oblique and curved lines creating a certain mysterious and nightmarish feel in the film. The set designer played with the black and white colors to created shadows to create an environment and set the dark atmosphere of the characters.

Expressionism is about experimenting with the emotions and the perception of people. This film used hand-painted backdrops, obscure architecture, and inaccurate angles to create a narrative where they disconnect the audience from reality. The style of the film reflects the uneasiness and the state of mind that the characters portrayed. Truly, this film is a prime example of German Expressionism.

[Source: https://creepy-gifs.tumblr.com/post/41379012470 ]