Friday, January 9, 2009

Seamless Transition in "The Earrings of Madame de…"

Max Ophuls, 1953

After a long tracking shot of Louise (Danielle Darrieux) and Fabrizio (Vittorio De Sica) dancing at a ball, Ophuls fades to a shot of this painting and more dancing on a later night.  He employs a clever technique to maintain kinesis.

Here, the painting.

Darrieux steps in from the right of the camera, De Sica from the left.

They meet in the center of the frame .

Here they continue twirling as though they had been embracing before the shot began.

The camera resumes tracking along with them.

Had Ophuls faded from a shot of the dancing couple to another shot of dancing the image would have been cluttered.  A tracking shot where the camera met up with the couple to its left or right would have lost some kinetic tension; dancing into a motionless frame from the side would have had the same effect.  Here it is as if the camera moves backward between their heads—they seem to materialize in the center of the frame already in progress.