Monday, June 30, 2008

Water Hazard

More from Otto Preminger's "River of No Return"

The indians swim through rapids toward the raft intent on killing the heroes.

Mitchum dispatches one but the other manages to board the raft and appears to lunge for Monroe's throat.

A moment later we see that it was not her throat he was after but her blouse, which he rips off.  It seems that once aboard the raft--or perhaps all along--his thoughts turn to rape.  So single minded is he that he fails to make even the most rudimentary attempt to prevent Mitchum from hurling him into the water.

Preminger demonstrates both the Indian's sub-human savagery and Marilyn Monroe's cleavage.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fire in "River of No Return"

In "River of No Return" Otto Preminger uses another dissolve as a foreshadowing device.   By this point in the film there has been nothing but animosity between the two leads.

After a brief dip in the rapids, Marilyn Monroe must be relieved of her wet clothes and wrapped in a blanket.  Robert Mitchum aids circulation in her calves.

The intimacy of the moment sets something stirring between them.  Something hot.

Monroe's come-hither gaze, Mitchum's tender (actually rather claw-like) caress: the flames of passion are fully ignited.

Unmistakably a fire.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Horizontal shadows, a hallmark of film noir, in two scenes from Otto Preminger's "Laura".

Here the blinds are down in broad daylight.  There are mini-blind shadows on the wall of the next room at a different angle, indicating a second light source--the sun plus one?

In this scene the artifice is so obvious it borders parody.  The shadows cover the entire rear wall virtually from floor to ceiling yet do not touch the actors.  The source of the light is to the left of the frame where, as we know from other shots of the room, there is a wall--the only windows are behind the camera's point of view.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beams of Light

From "Sleeping Beauty"

Good Magic:  soft pastels, sparkling snow flakes, spontaneously ricocheting, the room is cast in warm blue light.

Evil Magic:  sharp, angular, searing white, clearly directed at a target.

During Maleficent's Vision:  austere, emphasis on Sleeping Beauty's isolation.

After the Vision:  mournful, speckled with trickling white lights.

Gradually the mourners are illuminated resembling a Nativity scene.

Antonio Gaudi's Nativity Scene at the Temple of the Sagrada Familia

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Doom Generation

From the opening credit sequence of Doom Generation.  Araki likely intended this footage of a mosh pit under strobe lights to conjure the chaotic, inarticulate violence of the youth culture he would then broadly satirize.  In doing so he inadvertently captured a swatch of pretty abstractions.

Note:  the film was not very good.  I wouldn't recommend it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Incredible Shrinking Men

From Pedro Almodovar's "Talk To Her"

Alfred Kubin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Preparation for Willa Harper's Murder

From Charles Laughton's "Night of the Hunter"

Willa lies flat on her back with her arms crossed over her chest, apparently ready for burial.  The mood is eerily calm; Rev. Powell stands with his head bowed as though in prayer or observance of Willa's lamentations.  Willa is in a trance, unable to face the knowledge that her husband is a murderer.

  As we approach the murder the bedroom becomes a wicked, expressionist chapel with a satanic reverend.  The camera has receded from the bed, causing Willa to lose her humanity and become an object.  There is nothing outside of the room but darkness in spite of the fact that light appears to be coming in through the window on the left.  Perspective is skewed; Rev. Powell towers over the door frame while the ceiling is absurdly high for a modest farmhouse; the vertical wall to the right is shorter than the one to the left.  The asymmetrical triangles of light menacingly suggest the switchblade that Rev. Powell will use on his wife.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Waldo Lydecker's Guilty Conscience

From Otto Preminger's "Laura"

In one of the subtler clues in the murder case, Waldo Lydecker appears to be pursued by a man dressed in black during a dissolve.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blind Justice

From Otto Preminger's "Laura".

Throughout his investigation into Laura's murder, Detective Marc McPherson is frequently shown with his eyes in shadow, suggesting impartiality.

"Lustitia" -- Hans Gieng, 1543
The earliest know representation of blind justice.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Kingdom Sleeps

Stills from Sleeping Beauty.
Paintings from Edward Burne-Jones' Briar Rose Series.  1879-90

Fire in Bambi and Sleeping Beauty

The burning of the spinning wheels.