The magic of cinema has been brought to us, the viewer, time and time again. It is the sole reason we continue to go to the theatre. It is why we pay $8 for a ticket, $4 for popcorn, and $3 for an ICEE. As a viewer we want to be WOWed and amazed at the beautiful acting, song scores, and most importantly, the camera work. A given movie might not have the best actors or even the best storyline, but if the camera angles are just right, it can turn out to be, at least, watchable. Now that I am learning about the inner workings of making a movie, I get to dissect what each second means, whether it be the camera shot or clicking my pen as the camera goes from one character to the next. In the Bernard Dick reading, he talked about a multitude of topics, some complicated and some simple. It is now be my job to help you, the audience, analyze and dissect, just like I did.
The concept of subjective camera is a very simple idea. In Bernard Dick’s book, Anatomy of Film, he writes, “a subjective shot represents what the character sees” (56). As opposed to an objective shot, meaning what the camera can see, a subjective shot is the character’s perspective. He goes on to say that “subjective camera offers a one-sided take on reality”(56). We get to see what the character sees and we get to feel what he, or she, feels. To me, a subjective camera sequence refers, and shows us, that the viewer is in the scene. As a viewer, we take the perspective of the character we are following. An example of Subjective Camera is one of the most memorable moments the movie Saving Private Ryan. In the scene, Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), has just arrived onto the beach and is finally realizing the enormity of the battle. Starting at mark 4:18, we see the battle through Captain Miller’s eyes. The camera focuses on what he sees and his surroundings until mark 5:21.
The viewer got to see first hand what the character was seeing. It makes the scene feel larger than life and places the viewer even deeper in the cinematography. This scene, being at the beginning of the movie, gives the character and the audience a connection that they share for the rest of the film.
Linear Temporal Montage
Bernard Dick writes that “a linear sequence can contain montage” (65). According to Dick, a Linear Temporal Montage is when “one action links up with another, creating a miniature drama” (65). A scene like the one below is put together to show a short lapse in time but to also signify its significance to the characters. A montage takes actions and shortens them up only leaving the bare minimum for the viewer to look at. In other words, it takes the main points and emphasizes them. It can show the work ethic of a team getting trained for the season or, as in the scene I’m about to show you, elaborate how far they have come in terms of skill and camaraderie. In this scene from the 1994 classic, Little Big League, a once struggling baseball team hits its stride and produces their best game of the year offensively and defensively. This sequence was brilliantly put together in this to the Dion and the Belmonts hit, “Run Around Sue” and shows their prowess on the baseball field.
This scene shows the audience how good the Twins are and puts in their minds that they have come a long way from being the “Twinkies” to now a legitimate contender for the American League Pennant. The music plays a very important role in the scene because the up-tempo melody shows their drive but the constant beat shows their confidence. An “elliptical linear sequence” was shown in the scene to rid the action of the slow points of the game. It kept the sequence going allowing the audience to “make connections for themselves” (66).
A parallel cut is the technique of continuously alternating two or more “actions occurring simultaneously” (70). In the reading, Dick gives the example of the end of The Godfather, a “chilling ending” where the baptism of Michael Corleone‘s nephew is crosscut with a series of mass killings . Parallel cutting can be very important to the “flow” of the movie. When the audience knows what is going on for all the parties, conclusions can be added and the drama heightens while waiting for the outcome. ***Spoiler Alert*** At the end of The Dark Knight Rises Parallel Cutting occurs allowing the audience to come together for the final outcome. The police officer is on the bus trying to save the kids while Morgan Freeman’s character is trying to dismantle the nuclear detonator. At the same time this is happening Batman, Catwoman, and Commissioner Gordon are all trying to intercept the movement of the bomb.
Parallel Cutting allows multiple events to happen at once. The audience is now allowed to choose their own outcome for the event. Parallel cutting adds drama and suspense to a scene and leaves the viewer guessing until the outcome is fully reached.