Thursday, February 13, 2020

Observations on Film Art

I've been watching a good series of videos on the Criterion Channel called "Observations on Film Art". These video essays by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson that take a formal analysis of various films. I watched one this morning about the use of three-point lighting in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942), followed by one on classical Hollywood editing in Harold Lloyd's Girl Shy (1924).

These are fascinating for budding filmmakers to understand how some of these films are put together and how they work. It's like a master class in the construction of different film elements. These videos really make you appreciate how the techniques are used, and the effects that they create.

I keep thinking what an incredible time it must be to be a budding filmmaker. There is so much material out there to learn from. I was watching the 1992 documentary Visions of Light the other night, about the art of cinematography, and thinking back to how inspiring I found that film when I saw it as a kid in the '90s. There are so many great videos out there now on YouTube and streaming sites like Criterion that a young filmmaker could learn from. It really is like having a whole, virtual film school at your fingertips.

The great thing, to me, about this "Observations on Film Art" series is that it is of value to both scholars and filmmakers. If you're interested in learning about the theoretical and conceptual aspects of making a film, the videos do a good job of illustrating that angle. And as a filmmaker, you can learn how the films are put together and achieve the effects that they have on audiences. Learning this way provides a more comprehensive experience for both -- learning not just how something was done, but why.

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