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The question of the correct use of film language terms also gave rise to discussions in this interaction between a police officer and a member of the video shop collective on the sidelines of a demonstration. Not much can be seen because the video cameras used hardly worked without daylight. Video store collective: "Wohndemo", Part II, 08/30/1980. Swiss Social Archives, image and sound database, video inventory at Videoladen Zürich F 9049-058, Online: Swiss Social Archives [as of May 11, 2021].
The historical examination of film requires an understanding of how moving images convey meaning. The superficial closeness to reality and the apparent "speaking for oneself" of this image medium hide the fact that our interpretation of the images and thus the conveyed meanings is strongly guided by the complex interplay of cinematic design elements that are subject to the images. Knowledge of these creative elements, the formal language of the film, is therefore an important prerequisite for historical film analysis. At the same time, a basic knowledge of the vocabulary of film language is a prerequisite for the textual description of film images, which in turn is indispensable for their analysis. The following is a brief overview of the most important elements of the cinematic formal language.
In this montage, the two shots are placed in a causal and temporal relationship to one another. The image of the working process of sowing in the context of the cultivation battle of the Second World War is linked in a cross-fade with the result of a field ready for harvest. Swiss Film Weekly Show,
Labor assignment (a special number) (0095-1), May 22nd, 1942, Swiss Federal Archives, Swiss Federal Archives, Swiss Film Stock Exchange (1940-1975) J2.143 # 1996/386 # 1474-1 # 1 *, online: Memobase [as of May 11th, 2021].
Montage is arguably the most important organizing design tool in cinematic narration. She relates the various attitudes and thus the individual narrative elements to one another and creates narrative continuity, moments of tension and meaning. Montage also constructs the space in the cinematic reality. For example, shots that were recorded in completely different locations can be combined into a single cinematic space by means of montage. There are very different ways of creating meaning with assembly. In the so-called continuity editing of classic Hollywood cinema, an attempt is made to design the cut and montage in such a way that the cut between the shots is not perceived as much as possible in order to suggest a coherence between the cinematic reality and the plot. Filmmakers can also draw attention to editing and editing, for example to accentuate contrasts, confrontations or analog levels of meaning, as is typical for early Soviet cinema, for example. By means of montage, different images can be superimposed or next to one another in fades or collages, which produces complex images, opens up new scope for interpretation or, for example, simulates simultaneity.
The term Mise en Scéne, the »setting the scene«, describes how the filmed space is organized and constructed in a certain setting, and how the people and objects in it are presented. This includes the actors, their costumes, the objects depicted and how they are arranged in the picture frame, as well as the exposure, the natural surroundings or the studio design, the colors, etc. In addition to the mise en scène, technical codes are also important elements of film language . These are things like setting size, image sharpness, camera perspective and movement, etc.
An example of an open picture composition. Swiss Film Weekly Show,
Labor assignment (a special number) (0095-1), May 22nd, 1942, Swiss Federal Archives, Swiss Federal Archives, Swiss Film Weekly Show (1940-1975) J2.143 # 1996/386 # 95-1 # 1 *, online: Memobase [as of May 11th, 2021].
The cinematic image composition makes use of the conventions that have developed in the centuries-old image traditions of the visual arts, from painting and sculpture to photography. The arrangement and symmetry of shapes and lines in the picture can suggest moods, create harmony or dissonance. At the same time, the image composition places the objects and people in the image in specific relationships to one another and thus creates meaning. In addition, the composition of the image is one of the most important elements in directing the gaze: it serves to guide the viewer's gaze. The proximity or distance of a person or an object to the lens is particularly important here, as is the positioning in relation to the center of the image, on which the unguided gaze naturally falls. An important distinction is that between open and closed image composition. In the closed picture composition, as it is typical for early Hollywood cinema, the action and the movement are always limited to the self-contained picture frame. With open forms of the picture composition, objects move in and out of the picture frame, which accentuates the awareness of the space that lies outside the picture area and thus determines the context of action.
In the first example, the size of the task of the cultivation battle and, above all, the need for a large number of workers is emphasized by means of a wide shot in which the people in the fields almost disappear. The zoom from the half-close to the Italian shot in the second underscores the emotional intensity of what is shown, the fading into the perspective of the old woman is intended to create identification.
Swiss Film Weekly Show, Labor Assignment (A special number) (0095-1), May 22nd, 1942, Swiss Federal Archives Film inventory of the Swiss Film Weekly Show (1940-1975) J2.143 # 1996/386 # 95-1 # 1 *, online: Memobase [as of May 11th. 2021].
One of the most noticeable and important cinematic design tools is the setting size. This variable describes how much of the subject and his environment is visible in the image and depends on the distance between the subject and the camera and lens. The spectrum ranges from wide shots, in which the filmed subject is almost lost in its panoramic surroundings, to detailed shots, such as the so-called Italian shot, in which the eye area of a filmed person fills the entire image (here
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