Formal Analysis

The male gaze has been a long debated topic in cinema and it is the theory that the view point that we get when watching a film is from a male perspective. This idea was brought up in Laura Mulvey’s book¬† “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” where she talks about how woman are portrayed in films as well as how they’re looked at. She further explains how woman are only there in films for their “to-be-looked-at-ness” and are merely ornaments that are there to be admired. But what if the opposite is implied as well?What if certain characters are looked at from a female perspective?My goal is to show that characters can also be shown from a female perspective or more accurately, a “female gaze.”

One of the best examples of the concept of female gaze was in the famous mirror scene in “The Lady Eve” where the main character, who is portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck, is trying to figure out the type of a certain man. In the entire scene she is looking at the man through a mirror and giving her commentary on what kind of woman he likes and what kind of man he really is. But what is most evident in the scene is that we are looking at the man from a female perspective or “female gaze” We are looking at the man from her eyes and that is a great example of how “gaze” can go both ways when we watch films.

In the scene the man is shown through the mirror in sharp focus which implies that he is important to the scene while the woman offers a voice over. The camera is placed directly behind the mirror so that we can only see what the woman sees and in this case the woman only sees the man. Sound and dialogue is central to the scene as the woman continually shares her insights on what kind of woman the man likes. We are able to look at the man from her point of view and hear about what she thinks of him as well as all the woman trying to capture the man’s attention.

As more and more women wander around the man trying to capture his attention, the camera along with the mirror wander around as well with the different characters so that we see everything going on around the room. As we get a couple of glimpses of the woman we see that everything behind her is in shallow focus with very limited depth of field which emphasizes that everything behind is of no importance to the scene. When the man is standing up getting ready to leave she offers us an insight into his mind trying to explain why none of the woman he’s seen captures his attention. And then as the man is passing by her, she puts away the mirror and sticks out her feet purposely causing the man to trip and that was all part of her plan to meet the man.

In the scene we are only able to see everything from the viewpoint of the woman and all she cares about is the man sitting behind her who appears to be very rich and famous. In this scene the “female gaze” is very evident because we see how the woman portrays the man by giving commentary as various other women pass by him trying to get his attention and what he would say in each situation. So not not only do wee see everything from the woman’s point of view but we are able to find out a little more about the man and what type of woman he does not like.¬† This all shows that there are also female perspectives or “female gazes” in films and that certain characters are viewed from a feminine sense as well.

Blog Challenge #2

In the film Umberto D the historical and political context of war can be found throughout the film and where it is most noted perhaps is through the film’s use of mise-en-scene. Throughout the film war is one of the big issues other than poverty that affects Italy and it is evident in the film’s use of mise-en-scene. Throughout the film there are many signs of postwar struggle in the film’s setting because througho0ut the film we see many rundown buildings and poor neighborhoods and many poverty stricken people struggling to survive postwar. The effects of postwar can be most notably seen in the film’s main character Umberto D who has to struggle to pay his rent and support himself and his dog Flike. But no matter the circumstances, Umberto is a man of dignity and refuses to accept his situation and rely on others to help him with his issues. Even though poverty has affected his life gravely to the point where he struggles to find a placed to sleep, he refuses to beg people for money and rather be homeless which says a lot about his sense of pride. So the effects of war is evident both in the film’s plot as well as its overall progression and it is most evident in the scene where Umberto has to sleep with a hole in his wall which shows just how dire his situation had become and just how much war has affected his life. The war not only affected Umberto physically but emotionally as well because he realizes just how dire his situation has become and decides the only way to get out of it is through suicide and he was willing to take his dog and only friend Flike with him. But at the end of the day Flike is all Umberto really needs and it is all he had at the end and in a way his dog was the light shining at the end of the tunnel for him because the dog was the only thing that kept him strong though his time of greatest need. As for the political implications of the war, it can be seen in the opening scene where guards are breaking up a protest and refuse to listen to the people. The government apparently doesn’t care about the people’s problems which in a way was what the director was trying to show through the film. Apparently that is how he felt about the Italian Government in real life and he tried to use the film to show how little the government tried to help its citizens and how bad their situation had become.

Shot by Shot analysis

Scene analysis: Citizen Kane (dir.Orson Welles, RKO,1941)

Final Scene of the film where Charles Kane’s belongings are being burned and we then find out the meaning behind Kane’s last words “Rosebud.”

1.LS,Straight Angle, Long Take. A man is talking to a group of people about his thoughts on the word “Rosebud” and as he is talking the camera is backing up further and further and the man and the group of people are becoming more distant in the shot. As the camera’s angle becomes higher we get a better view of the background in sharp focus of the scene which is a vast room full of antiques and objects of great value, Fade out.

2.LS, High Angle, Long Take. Fade in, we see a big room with hundreds of boxes and objects and the camera is moving the whole time as it is taking us across the whole room to survey all the objects in the room and we are able to see the whole room. Soft, calm music is playing as we are crossing the room and then when we reach a sled at the other side of the room, a hand appears and takes the sled, Straight cut into the next shot.

3. LS,Straight on,Short Take. We see a dark room with a furnace and a man ordering people to throw away objects into the furnace and as the sled is being thrown into the furnace the camera is zooming in and the music intensifies as the sled is shown being burned,Fade out.

4.Close up,Straight on,Short Take.Dramatic music is being played as we see the image of the word “Rosebud” on the sled signifying that the sled was the “Rosebud”that Kane had mentioned and as the word Rosebud is melting away from the heat the camera is moving closer and closer and then the screen turns black and then it fades out.

5.LS, Low Angle,Short Take. The music is still being played as we see a castle from a low angle looking up and as the camera takes us higher and higher we are able to see smoke coming out of a chimney and that signifies the smoke of the burning of Kane’s most precious memory which was the sled Rosebud,Fade out.

6.Close up,Straight on,Short Take.Fade in, the music appears to slow down a bit as we see a fence and as the camera is moving lower and lower we see a sign which reads “No Trespassing” Fade out.

7.LS,Straight on, Short Take.Fade in, the music intensifies again as we see a gate and far off into the distance we are able to see the castle where Kane lived and ironically died and as the music is reaching its end we see the words “The End” fading into the screen which marks the end of the film.

This scene uses many fade ins and fade outs which can be found throughout the film as well as many low angled shots which can also be found throughout the film. The director also uses a Baroque style in this scene which can also be found throughout the film. And the use of low lighting can also be found in the scene as well as throughout the entire film as well as sharp focus when showing the backgrounds.

I think the use of fade ins and fade outs helped add effect to the transitions of the scene into he next one and it also allowed the scenes to run more smoothly because there are no interruptions to the scene. The low angled shots are also used throughout the scene to signify a sense of importance because when we are shown an object from a low angle that usually signifies the importance of the object we are being shown. The Baroque style is used throughout the scene to indicate the wealth that Kane was gaining and as he got wealthier the use of the Baroque style became stronger as entire scenes were drowned with antiques and fancy adornments. The use of the low lighting in the scene signified the end of Kane’s life as well as his last great childhood memory which was his sled Rosebud.






Scene Observation

The scene I picked was when the old Kane was leaving his room after destroying it and he passes by a mirror as he is leaving and his reflection is shown numerous times. One technique the filmmaker employed in the scene was reflecting Kane’s image across various mirrors so as to give the illusion that there is more than one reflection of Kane as he is passing the mirror. Another technique used throughout the film was the dim lighting which caused some characters to be covered in shadow and that helped add to the whole effect of the scene because it helped the viewer see the characters in a more darker mood. That technique was used repeatedly towards the end when Kane is old and his life is basically getting worse and the shadows help add to the continuing struggles that the Kane faces as he gets older. Also the filmmaker used a baroque style for many of his scenes and I think he used that kind of style to emphasize the wealth of Kane’s character because usually that kind of style is associated with wealth and power. It also adds to the overabundance that Kane’s character had in his life because he wanted to compensate for sense of loneliness so he surrounded himself with wealth and adornments so that he may feel happier but in the end that was all he had left.

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